Linux CoC, Debian, Speck & Kernel Happenings Rounded Out Q4-2018
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 28 December 2018 at 03:05 PM EST. Add A Comment
FREE SOFTWARE --
Taking a break from our various year-end recaps, here is a look at the most popular Linux/open-source news from the quarter that's about to wrap up. So far there were more than 1,200 original news articles on Phoronix over the past three months and topping out reader interest in this time has been the latest Linux kernel happenings, various community controversies, new hardware fun, and several prominent new software releases.

Before getting to the list recapping the most popular topics for Q4'2018, just a quick reminder that now through the end of the year we are running our Phoronix Premium holiday special should you want to support our site and ensure a successful 2019 while enjoying the site ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, and other benefits.

The Linux Kernel Is Now VLA-Free: A Win For Security, Less Overhead & Better For Clang
With the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel, it is now effectively VLA-free... The variable-length arrays (VLAs) that can be convenient and part of the C99 standard but can have unintended consequences.

NVIDIA RTX, AMD On Linux & Distro Performance Dominated Linux Discussions In October
During the month of October on Phoronix there were 330 original news stories and 26 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews penned by your's truly.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ Released For $25 USD
The Raspberry Pi Foundation today unveiled the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ ARM SBC that costs just $25 and offers Bluetooth, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and a 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 processor.

Linus Torvalds Shows His New Polite Side While Pointing Out Bad Kernel Code
When Linus Torvalds announced last month that he would be taking a temporary leave of absence to work on his empathy and interpersonal skills as well as the adoption of a Linux kernel Code of Conduct, some Internet commenters thought this would lead Linus to being less strict about code quality and his standards for accepting new code to the mainline tree. Fortunately, he's shown already for the new Linux 4.20~5.0 cycle he isn't relaxing his standards but is communicating better when it comes to bringing up coding issues.

Apple's New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting
Apple's MacBook Pro laptops have become increasingly unfriendly with Linux in recent years while their Mac Mini computers have generally continued working out okay with most Linux distributions due to not having to worry about multiple GPUs, keyboards/touchpads, and other Apple hardware that often proves problematic with the Linux kernel. But now with the latest Mac Mini systems employing Apple's T2 security chip, they took are likely to crush any Linux dreams.

Debian's Anti-Harassment Team Is Removing A Package Over Its Name
The latest notes from the Debian anti-harassment team on Wednesday caught my attention when reading, "We were requested to advice on the appropriateness of a certain package in the Debian archive. Our decision resulted in the package pending removal from the archive." Curiosity got the best of me... What package was deemed too inappropriate for the Debian archive?

The Controversial Speck Encryption Code Will Indeed Be Dropped From The Linux Kernel
While Google got the NSA-developed Speck into the Linux kernel on the basis of wanting to use Speck for file-system encryption on very low-end Android (Go) devices, last month they decided to abandon those plans and instead work out a new "HPolyC" algorithm for use on these bottom-tier devices due to all the concerns over Speck potentially being back-doored by the US National Security Agency.

Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping x32 Support
It was just several years ago that the open-source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI, but already kernel developers are talking of potentially deprecating the support and for it to be ultimately removed.

Patches Revived For A Zstd-Compressed Linux Kernel While Dropping LZMA & BZIP2
For more than a year it's been talked about adding an option to support Zstd-compressed Linux kernel images while it looks like that Facebook-backed high performance compression algorithm for kernel images could soon finally be mainlined.

EA SEED's Halcyon R&D Engine Experimenting With Vulkan & Linux Support
Halcyon is a research and development engine being built by Electronic Arts' SEED group (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division). While previously they talked up Microsoft DirectX ray-tracing and have been experimenting with it, they have also begun work on a Vulkan back-end for Halcyon that also includes Linux support.

Linus Torvalds Comments On STIBP & He's Not Happy - STIBP Default Will End Up Changing
It turns out that Linus Torvalds himself was even taken by surprise with the performance hit we've outlined on Linux 4.20 as a result of STIBP "Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors" introduction as well as back-porting already to stable series for cross-hyperthread Spectre V2 protection. He doesn't want this enabled in full by default.

ODROID Rolling Out New Intel-Powered Single Board Computer After Trying With Ryzen
While ODROID is most known for their various ARM single board computers (SBCs), some of which offer impressive specs, they have dabbled in x86 SBCs and on Friday announced the Intel-powered ODROID-H2.

The D Language Front-End Finally Merged Into GCC 9
The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) has a new language front-end! The D language support has finally been merged.

An Open Letter To Solus From Its Founder Ikey Doherty
Solus, the promising Linux distribution started back in 2015 by Ikey Doherty that led to the creation of its own "Budgie" desktop, has been without its founder since this summer. While the circumstances under his decision to fade away from the project aren't clear, he is well and has shared this message to relay with the community.

AMD Contributes 8.5x More Code To The Linux Kernel Than NVIDIA, But Intel Still Leads
Given all the new hardware enablement work going into the Linux kernel recently, I was curious how the code contributions were stacking up by some of the leading hardware vendors... Here are those interesting numbers.

Dropping Profanity In Kernel Code Comments: Linux Gets "Hugs"
In seeking to comply with the Linux kernel's new Code of Conduct enacted by the recent 4.19 release, a patch series has been sent out today replacing profane kernel code comments with "hugs".

Some Linux Gamers Using Wine/DXVK To Play Blizzard's Overwatch Banned - Updated
Multiple individuals are reporting that they have been just recently banned by Blizzard for playing their games -- seemingly Overwatch is the main title -- when using Wine with the DXVK D3D11-over-Vulkan translation layer.

The Linux Kernel Adopts A Code of Conduct
Prior to releasing Linux 4.19-rc4 and Linus Torvalds taking a temporary leave of absence to reflect on his behavior / colorful language, he did apply a Code of Conduct to the Linux kernel.

Linux 4.19-rc4 Released As Linus Temporarily Steps Away From Kernel Maintainership
Linux 4.19-rc4 is out today as the very latest weekly development test kernel for Linux 4.19. It's another fairly routine kernel update at this stage, but more shocking is that Linus Torvalds will be taking a temporary leave from kernel maintainership and Greg Kroah-Hartman will take over the rest of the Linux 4.19 cycle.

10 Reasons Linux Gamers Might Want To Pass On The NVIDIA RTX 20 Series
Continuing on from the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 expectations on Linux shared earlier this week, here's a list of ten reasons why Linux gamers might want to pass on these soon-to-launch graphics cards from NVIDIA.

And the most popular featured articles/reviews on Phoronix in Q4 included:

Bisected: The Unfortunate Reason Linux 4.20 Is Running Slower
After running a lot of tests and then bisecting the Linux 4.20 kernel merge window, the reason for the significant slowdowns in the Linux 4.20 kernel for many real-world workloads is now known...

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti To GTX 980 Ti TensorFlow Benchmarks With ResNet-50, AlexNet, GoogLeNet, Inception, VGG-16
For those curious about the TensorFlow performance on the newly-released GeForce RTX 2080 series, for your viewing pleasure to kick off this week of Linux benchmarking is a look at Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing graphics cards in my possession when testing the NGC TensorFlow instance on CUDA 10.0 with the 410.57 Linux driver atop Ubuntu and exploring the performance of various models. Besides the raw performance, the performance-per-Watt and performance-per-dollar is also provided.

The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server
In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I've retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests... I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

The Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact On Linux 4.20, Decimating Benchmarks With New STIBP Overhead
As outlined yesterday, significant slowdowns with the Linux 4.20 kernel turned out to be due to the addition of the kernel-side bits for STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) for cross-HyperThread Spectre Variant Two mitigation. This has incurred significant performance penalties with the STIBP support in its current state with Linux 4.20 Git and is enabled by default at least for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode. Here are some follow-up benchmarks looking at the performance hit with the Linux 4.20 development kernel as well as the overall Spectre and Meltdown mitigation impact on this latest version of the Linux kernel.

AMD Athlon 200GE: Benchmarking The $60 Zen+Vega Chip
At the high-end of the AMD desktop CPU 2018 spectrum is the insanely fast Threadripper 2990WX while at the opposite end of that spectrum is the recently announced Athlon 200GE. For just $60 USD is this Zen+Vega chip that we have begun testing and have our initial Linux performance benchmarks out today compared to a range of lower-end and older desktop CPUs as well as integrated graphics test results, power consumption data, and performance-per-dollar metrics.

FreeBSD ZFS vs. Linux EXT4/Btrfs RAID With Twenty SSDs
With FreeBSD 12.0 running great on the Dell PowerEdge R7425 server with dual AMD EPYC 7601 processors, I couldn't resist using the twenty Samsung SSDs in that 2U server for running some fresh FreeBSD ZFS RAID benchmarks as well as some reference figures from Ubuntu Linux with the native Btrfs RAID capabilities and then using EXT4 atop MD-RAID.

Raptor Talos II POWER9 Benchmarks Against AMD Threadripper & Intel Core i9
For those curious about the performance of IBM's POWER9 processors against the likes of today's AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 HEDT processors, here are some interesting benchmarks as we begin looking closer at the POWER9 performance on the fully open-source Raptor Talos II Secure Workstation. This open-source, secure system arrived for Linux testing with dual 22-core POWER9 CPUs to yield 176 total threads of power.

Windows Server 2019 vs. Linux vs. FreeBSD Performance On A 2P EPYC Server
When Microsoft rolled out their Windows 10 October 2018 Update they also released Windows Server 2019. Now over the slower holiday period I am finally getting caught up in benchmarking Windows Server 2019. For this initial benchmark comparison is a look at the Microsoft Windows Server 2019 performance against a handful of Linux distributions as well as FreeBSD 12.0 for seeing how this latest Windows Server performance compares on a dual AMD EPYC 7601 server.

macOS 10.14 Mojave vs. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS vs. Clear Linux Benchmarks
With macOS Mojave having been released earlier this week, I've been benchmarking this latest Apple operating system release on a MacBook Pro compared to Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS with the latest updates as well as Intel's high-performance Clear Linux rolling-release operating systems to see how the performance compares.

8-Way Linux Distribution Benchmarks On The Intel Core i9 9900K - One Distro Wins 67% Of The Time
Following last week's release of the Intel Core i9 9900K, I spent several days testing various Linux distributions on this latest Core i9 CPU paired with the new ASUS Z390-A PRIME motherboard. I was testing not only to see that all of the Linux distributions were playing fine with this latest and greatest desktop hardware but also how the performance was looking. Benchmarked this round on the i9-9900K was Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu 18.10, Clear Linux 25720, Debian Buster Testing, Manjaro 18.0-RC3, Fedora Workstation 29, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and CentOS 7.

About The Author
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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 10,000 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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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