LE9, Canonical's Profits, Steam Deck, & Loongson 3A5000 Made For An Exciting July

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 1 August 2021 at 06:36 AM EDT. Add A Comment
July was a pretty damn exciting summer month amid the pandemic thanks to many interesting Linux software and hardware announcements.

During the course of the past month on Phoronix were 232 original news articles and 19 featured multi-page articles / Linux hardware reviews. While normally the summer months tend to be quite light on exciting announcements, July 2021 was certainly an exception with a lot of great Linux kernel progress, Valve announcing the Steam Deck, and more.

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Here were the most viewed news articles on Phoronix over the past month:

"le9" Strives To Make Linux Very Usable On Systems With Small Amounts Of RAM
It's well known that the Linux desktop can be quite unbearable when under heavy memory pressure as has been showcased over the years and more attention these days turning to the likes of OOMD/systemd-oomd and other alternatives to better deal with Linux low/out-of-memory scenarios especially with today's desktop software and web browsers consuming increasing amounts of memory. Another effort coming to fruition for helping this scenario is the "le9" Linux kernel patches.

Canonical Has Been Weathering The Pandemic Well: Turned A Profit, Back Above 500 Employees
Thanks to Canonical's distributed workforce with most of their employees working from home even pre-pandemic and the booming Linux ecosystem, the Ubuntu maker performed very well over 2020 and even grew its headcount back above 500 employees and managed to swing from a loss in 2019 to a profit in 2020.

Linus Torvalds Calls On Paragon To Send In The New NTFS Driver
One year ago was the surprise of Paragon Software wanting to mainline their NTFS Linux kernel driver. The Paragon "NTFS3" kernel driver provides much better read/write support for Microsoft's NTFS file-system than what is available with other kernel or FUSE options for this file-system support on Linux. It looks like this driver might finally be mainlined soon.

Valve Announces Steam Deck As Portable SteamOS + AMD Powered Portable PC
Following months of rumors about new gaming hardware from Valve, today they announced Steam Deck as a new handheld PC gaming device starting at $399.

Loongson 3A5000 Benchmarks For These New Chinese CPUs Built On The LoongArch ISA
While Loongson has been known for their MIPS-based Loongson chips that are open-source friendly and have long been based on MIPS, with MIPS now being a dead-end, the Chinese company has begun producing chips using its own "LoongArch" ISA. The first Loongson 3A5000 series hardware was just announced and thanks to the company apparently using the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org we have some initial numbers.

XWayland 21.1.2 Released With NVIDIA Hardware Acceleration Support
XWayland 21.1.2 is out today and while it may seem like "just a point release", it's quite an exciting one at that since it does bring NVIDIA hardware acceleration for XWayland when paired with their new NVIDIA 470 series driver.

Debian 11.0 "Bullseye" Gets An August Release Date
The Debian release team has just announced their planned release date for Debian 11.

Linux 5.14 Can Create Secret Memory Areas With memfd_secret
The "memfd_secret" system call is being added to the Linux 5.14 kernel to provide the ability to create memory areas that are visible only in the context of the owning process and these "secret" memory regions are not mapped by other processes or the kernel page tables.

Linux Regressed Its Floppy Disk Driver - Someone Actually Noticed Just A Few Months Later
It turns out there is actually people running modern versions of the Linux kernel in 2021 that also are using floppy disks.

Following NetBSD, DragonFlyBSD Now Has "COVID"
There is now covid going around the BSDs... DragonFlyBSD has ported it from NetBSD.

GNOME 41 Alpha Released With Many Desktop Changes Accumulating
The GNOME project is out today with their first alpha release of the forthcoming GNOME 41 desktop environment.

FreeBSD Working On A New Installer, Updates To Their Linux Compatibility Layer
The FreeBSD project just published their Q2-2021 report concerning all of their different development activities from April through June.

Firewalld 1.0 Released With Big Improvements
Firewalld was started by Red Hat a decade ago for managing Linux firewall functionality with Netfilter. Ten and a half years after the first release, Firewalld 1.0 was released this afternoon.

ASRock Rack Has One Of The Best, Most Open-Source Firmware x86 Server Motherboards
For those wanting to get into open-source firmware development or even just to have a small SOHO x86_64 low-cost Intel server platform that is as open as possible, ASRock Rack happens to now boast one of the best solutions.

Debian 11.0 "Bullseye" Is Very Close To Release - Now Under A Full Freeze
Following the soft freeze and hard freeze, Debian 11 "Bullseye" is now under a full freeze ahead of its official Debian 11 stable release.

More Than Five Years In The Making: Creating A New Linux Random Number Generator
The "Linux Random Number Generator" (LRNG) effort as a new drop-in replacement for /dev/random is now up to its 41st revision and in development for more than five years.

Steam On Linux Still Tap Dancing Around 0.9% Marketshare
Even with Steam Play continuing to get into quite good shape for running recent Windows game releases on Linux with ease thanks to the work Valve has been investing into Proton, DXVK, VKD3D-Proton, and lower-level Linux graphics infrastructure, for now at least the overall marketshare is holding steady at around 0.8~0.9% for the past number of months.

PipeWire 0.3.32 Released With Numerous Fixes
A new release of PipeWire was made on Tuesday for this audio/video stream management solution for Linux that can replace the likes of JACK and PulseAudio.

Fedora Workstation 35 Looks To Use Power Profiles Daemon By Default
Fedora Workstation 35 is looking to ship with power-profiles-daemon by default and to have it enabled for benefiting newer laptops.

Intel Reported To Be Looking At Acquiring GlobalFoundries
The latest surprise news under Intel's new leadership is that they are reported to be exploring a deal to acquire GlobalFoundries, the company ultimately formed when AMD decided in 2008 to spin off their semiconductor manufacturing business.

And the most popular featured articles:

An Early Look At Windows 11 WSL2 Performance Against Ubuntu Linux
For those making use of Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) for enjoying Linux application support within Windows, here are some early benchmarks of the inaugural Windows Insider Preview build of Windows 11 with WSL2 against Windows 10 and then Ubuntu Linux bare metal on the same hardware.

Linux Leading Over Early Windows 11 Benchmarks For AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Performance
With Microsoft making public this week their early Windows Insider Preview builds of Windows 11, curiosity got the best of me to give it a whirl in looking at the performance of the early Windows 11 preview build compared to Ubuntu Linux.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX / ASUS ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage On Linux
With an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX Zen 3 processor and Radeon RX 6800M graphics, the ASUS ROG Strix G15 laptop may be promising for those wanting high performance and graphics backed by AMD's much enjoyed open-source Linux GPU driver stack. Plus this ASUS ROG Strix G15 (G513QY) is one of the first two "AMD Advantage" laptops. But when it comes to using it on Linux, it's not without some struggles before being able to enjoy the compelling performance.

Squeezing More Performance Out Of The Linux Kernel With Clang + LTO
With the Linux 5.12 kernel bringing support for building the kernel with link-time optimizations (LTO) when using the LLVM Clang compiler, here are some benchmarks looking at that performance impact as well as more generally seeing how the LLVM Clang compiler performance is looking when building the Linux kernel relative to GCC.

Mesa RADV vs. AMDVLK Radeon Vulkan Performance For July 2021
It's been a while since last looking at the performance of AMD's official "AMDVLK" open-source Linux Vulkan driver against that of the popular Mesa "RADV" Radeon Vulkan driver. But here are some fresh benchmarks for those interested while using the latest-generation Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card paired with the in-development Linux 5.14 kernel across testing both Vulkan drivers.

GCC 8 Through GCC 11 Stable Plus GCC 12 Compiler Benchmarks
For today's benchmarking is a look at how the GNU Compiler Collection has performed over the past few years going from the GCC 8 stable series introduced in 2018 through the recently released GCC 11.1 stable feature release plus also including the current early development snapshot of GCC 12.

Linux Gaming Performance With Radeon Vulkan NGG Culling
The newest performance optimization merged this week for Mesa's "RADV" Radeon Vulkan open-source driver is NGG culling for Navi 1x/2x graphics cards. NGG Culling "NGGC" isn't enabled by default at this time but can be easily activated and depending upon the software under test can provide some minor performance gains on top of all the other optimizations seen in recent times for RADV.

Ubuntu vs. Arch Linux On The ASUS ROG Strix G15 / Ryzen 9 5900HX
This past week were the initial Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 9 5900HX with the ASUS ROG Strix G15 laptop. Ubuntu was used as the default test platform as usual given its popularity and arguably the most relevant Linux distribution to use given that it's the most common Linux distribution at the moment for preloads on laptops by multiple vendors. In any case, as usual many users were quick to say "but Arch Linux!" as if it was going to make a dramatic difference in my findings. Well, here are some Ubuntu 21.04 versus Arch Linux benchmarks on that AMD Advantage laptop.

Intel Tiger Lake Performance Between Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 21.04 Linux
With having hands on with a Dell XPS 13 9310 (Dell 0DXP1F) with the Core i7 1185G7 Tiger Lake processor (compared to prior Linux tests with the i7-1165G7), here is a fresh look at the performance of Microsoft Windows 10 Pro as shipped by Dell with all available stable updates versus a clean install of Ubuntu 21.04 Linux.

Ubuntu 21.04 vs. Windows 10 Trade Blows On The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX / ASUS ROG Strix G15
While the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX performance is great on Linux once overcoming any laptop support quirks like with the ASUS ROG Strix G15 "AMD Advantage" laptop running into keyboard and WiFi issues on Linux depending upon the kernel version, how does the performance compare to Microsoft Windows 10? Here are some benchmarks of that ROG Strix G15 AMD laptop under Windows 10 as shipped by ASUS against Ubuntu 21.04 when upgraded to the Linux 5.13 stable kernel.
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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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