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65 Daniel Stone Takes us deep into the Linux graphical stack android apps

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who we are This issue… we reveal a foolproof method of leaving Windows and getting started with Linux Mint. So what key event introduced you to the world of Linux? Jonni Bidwell I had some bad habits when I was a student, one of which was computational group theory. They locked the lab at night, which is when I do my best (ahem, overdue – Ed) work, so I learned about SSH and forwarding X traffic and, eventually, installed Gentoo. The rest, as they say, is a rewarding role on a leading magazine for Linux enthusiasts!

John Lane I’d been honing my unix-fu on an early Slackware for my day-job coding X/Motif front ends when I first saw Windows 95 and its increasingly familiar blue screen of death. I knew the world had changed enough for me to go out and buy a Linux CD set. I still have it somewhere…

Nick Peers It was the perfect storm: more usable virtualisation software meant I didn’t have to tie up my PC or take risks with dual-boot setups at first, while the emergence of more user-friendly distros lowered the barrier to entry enough to tempt me in, despite my innate laziness.

Les Pounder It was the late 1990s, a time when Internet access was slow. I tried a coverdisc that contained Mandrake Linux. This lead me to Corel Linux (Debian-ish) and then on to Suse, Ubuntu, Crunchbang, Linux Mint…

Mayank Sharma It was dad puffing away at the desktop at 2am (not an uncommon sight when you have a journalist for a father). But that night he was labouring to get Slackware to dial out on the modem. This was in November 1999 and the Halloween documents had him convinced that Linux was something he needed to get his kids into.

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Hello world I say it every year (probably) that there’s never been a better time to get into Linux. It’s never been easier to use, there have never been so many features, it’s never been so smooth to install, it’s never been so much fun – and you hold in your hands the best guide to getting Linux up and running on your PC. For the 2018 Escape Windows guide we’re going with Linux Mint 19. Any Windows user is going to feel right at home with this version of Linux thanks to its classic Cinnamon desktop: it is so fast, so straightforward, so easy to update and offers so many features from its Software Centre. So go dive in on page 34 now! For those new to Linux we show you how you can try Linux Mint without even installing anything–you do need an optical disc. Then if you like what you see, get it to install alongside Windows. Linux Mint is now a well-established version of Linux. It has a strong community that ensures help is easy to find, the software is well polished, and it’s been developed for the users. If you try it, we’re sure you’ll love it. In the rest of the magazine you’ll get a treat of the wide range of topics that open source and Linux covers – from the Roundup of video-editing tools to our Raspberry Pi section for makers. There’s also an interview on developing the Linux graphics stack. In the past Linux has (deservedly) had a bad reputation for graphics support, but recent years have seen that completely reversed, to the point that in this year Linux benefited from a same-day driver release for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 range. So dive in, have fun, tell us how you got on and enjoy!

Neil Mohr Editor neil.mohr@futurenet.com

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November 2018 LXF243     3


Contents

FREE GIFT Subscribe now! Page 26

Reviews

QNAP TS-453Be NAS 

18

Lindsay Handmer says this capacious NAS-targeted drive is suited for the home or small office. Who are we to disagree?

ESCAPE

WINDOWS

AMD Threadripper 2950X 

19

Few things make Jonni Bidwell as happy as 16-cores all maxed out working on his latest chess problems.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 3.0 

Smash your way out of the Windows trap and embrace the freedom of Linux and the open source world! Get your easy-tofollow guide on page 34

20

Mayank Sharma says when the Ubuntu apocalypse strikes we can be assured this Debian-based distro will be up and running.

Elive 3.0 

21

There’s something about this distribution that compels Mayank Sharma to go out of his way to find any shortcomings..

Tails 3.9 

22

As accessing the Tor network doesn’t take much effort, Mayank Sharma wonders if using a Live distro just for that is worth it?

Dynalist 

23

The Dynalist outliner delivers an elegant 21st century reboot to a neglected 90s technology... and Will Meister gets all hazy.

Two Point Hospital 

roundup

Interview

24

Management won’t come out of their topfloor glass office as Fraser Brown practises extreme surgery on the Linux Format team.

Video editing 

28

Desperate to turn his amateur attempts at shooting film into praise-worthy masterpieces, Shashank Sharma tries his hands at video editors.

4     LXF243 November 2018

A Wayland of a time! 

42

Jonni Bidwell meets Daniel Stone to find out what’s hot in the crazy world of the Linux graphics stack. Hold on to your hats – you’re in for a fun ol’ ride!

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contents On your free DVD

Raspberry Pi User Pi news 

Mint 19 Cinnamon Peppermint 9 Slax 9.5 Page 96

54

It’s Pis in space as the Astro Pi Challenge launches, we reveal how to visualise vinyl, and get your Pi-ass to Mars!

Pimoroni Breakout Garden 

55

Les Pounder once tried to grow a Raspberry bush by planting a Raspberry Pi in his garden. Hopefully this type of garden will bear more fruit!

Minecraft Zero 

tutorials

56

Les Pounder spent the weekend hacking Minecraft in a classroom full of kids, and here are the hacks that the kids wanted.

Weather monitoring 

Terminal: Calcurse  58

Alex Cox is sick of craning his neck towards the sky and wondering what to wear outside, so it’s time to make more of his weather sensors.

anaglyph: 3D photography 

OpenVPN: Secret server  88

storage: Benchmarking 

92

sysadmin: gVisor sandboxes 

News 

6

Linus Torvalds takes time out from Linux – we comment on what this means for the open source community.

12

Weird things with newsletters, forcibly converting Windows users, loving the MX Linux toolbars and letters make prizes!

15

Les Pounder reports on all the exciting demos and talks from this year’s PyConUK, which was held in Cardiff’s city hall.

Answers 

16

Solving printer problems when using Mint 19, better ways of using LibreOffice Writer, and speeding up a browser’s slow startup.

www.techradar.com/pro/linux

76

Universal packages are only part of the story… Valentine Sinitsyn discovers how making containers proper sandboxes helps improves the Linux kernel’s guts.

Regulars at a glance

Linux user groups 

72

What’s the fastest filesystem? John Lane guides you through testing and benchmarking drives and creating fancy gnuplot graphs to bring some clarity.

Kent Elchuk will help you take control over the building and editing of your Android app with the classic open source Java development environment NetBeans.

Mailserver 

68

Dennis Jarecke takes an existing website sitting on your home server and hides it from everyone but your closest friends using the OpenVPN library.

We suspect Mihalis Tsoukalos is an Apple fan-boy as he explores FoundationDB from the fruit-fronted corporation.

Build an Android app 

62

You don’t need to buy a special expensive camera to take three-dimensional photography as Mike Bedford reveals how to do anaglyph in Gimp.

Coding Academy FoundationDB 

60

Most bash ninjas can do just about anything from the terminal, even organising appointments and tasks list. Shashank Sharma shows you how.

Subscriptions 

26

Back issues 

66

In-depth

Overseas subs 

67

Open culture 

HotPicks 

81

Alexander Tolstoy would have loved to have visited the world famous Salisbury cathedral, its 123m-tall spire and its still working clock, but he was far too busy visiting the best FOSS including: Gnome, KWipe, Qtwaifu2x, Darling-dmg, Qt Box Editor, Keepassxc, Bimp, Gydl, Xed, Eduke32 and ACR.

Your free DVD 

96

Next month 

98

48

Transform locked and walled social networks, giving control back to the people! We explain how you can dump Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more!

November 2018 LXF243     5


Newsdesk

This ISSUE: Linus Torvalds Valve VR ANS patent dispute Linux’s #MeToo moment Firefox backs anti-tracking measures Linux

Linus Torvalds takes a break from Linux The creator of Linux has stepped back from his duties due to his “unprofessional” behaviour. inus Torvalds has announced he’s taking a break from his work as a maintainer to address what he calls his “unprofessional” behaviour. In his release announcement for Linux 4.19 release candidate 4 (http://bit.ly/LXFLinux419RC4), Linus explains the reasons. “I’m not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me,” he says. “The fact that I then misread people and don’t realise (for years) how badly I’ve judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good.” Linus has long been known for his outspoken and sometimes combative nature, but a few recent incidents have brought things to a head. The Maintainer Summit (http://bit.ly/ LXFMaintainer2018), an annual invite-only gathering of kernel developers to discuss issues with Linus, was rescheduled because he apparently forget when it was on, and booked a family holiday for the same time. Linus claims he suggested that the Maintainer Summit should go ahead at the original time and place without him, but this was overruled. Linus says that, “Yes, I was somewhat embarrassed about having screwed up my calendar, but honestly, I was mostly hopeful that I wouldn’t have to go to the kernel summit that I have gone to every year for just about the last two decades.” Linus continues: “I had completely misread some of the people involved. It wasn’t actually funny or a good sign that I was hoping to just skip the yearly kernel summit entirely, and on the other hand realising that I had been

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ignoring some fairly deep-seated feelings in the community.” According to Linus, members of the Linux community confronted him about his “lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not okay and I am truly sorry.” Another issue was in The New Yorker (http://bit.ly/LXFNewYorker) an article that details a number of expletive-ridden emails Linus had sent to developers. Greg KroahHartman, a leading kernel developer, will take

Linus Torvalds is taking a break from maintaining the Linux kernel.

“Members of the Linux community confronted Linus about his “lifetime of not understanding emotions” over Linus’ responsibilities temporarily. Meanwhile, a new Code of Conduct has been adopted (http://bit.ly/LXFCodeofConduct) designed to “help make the kernel community a welcoming environment to participate in.” As for Linus, he promises he won’t be gone for long. “This is not some kind of ‘I’m burnt out, I need to just go away’ break. I’m not feeling like I don’t want to continue maintaining Linux. Quite the reverse. I very much do want to continue to do this project that I’ve been working on for almost three decades.”

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newsdesk Gaming

opinion

Valve VR goes more open Valve’s Moondust VR demo gets a Git repository, while a new interview goes in-depth on making Steam Play work with Linux. alve, the company behind hit games like Half-Life, as well as the all-conquering Steam game store, continues to impress us with its forays into open source. First of all, eagle-eyed Michael Larabel of the Phoronix website spotted that Valve had created a Git repository (which you can visit at http://bit.ly/ LXFValveGit) for its Moondust virtual reality technical demo. By creating a Git repository and starting to fill it with files, including an MIT licence, it looks like Valve could be open-sourcing the VR tech of Moondust, hopefully making it easier for developers to create virtual reality games and experiences. You can read Michael’s report at http://bit.ly/LXFMoondust. Meanwhile, GamingOnLinux has an illuminating interview with Philip Rebohle, developer of DXVK (http://bit.ly/LXFDXVK). DXVK is an open-source project that provides a Vulkan-based D3D11 and D3D10 implementation for Wine, which is the basis of Valve’s Proton software, which enables Windows-only DirectX games to run in Linux as part of Valve’s acclaimed Steam Play initiative (see last issue for more information). In the interview, Philip explains what it’s like working with Valve. “There are some things that

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I probably wouldn’t have done without Valve requesting it, such as adding OpenVR support or focusing on certain games early on,” he says, explaining how anti-cheat and DRM software present in some Windows games is making Valve’s support in Linux more difficult. “I’m not an expert on anti-cheat or DRM technology,” Philip says, “but those that don’t work are typically very invasive, access Windows kernel APIs, rely on undocumented APIs, and may prevent debugging. All of that makes it very hard for Wine to support them.” The full interview also touches on some of the fears people have that Steam Play could hamper native Linux support in games. It’s well worth a read: http://bit.ly/LXFRebohleInterview.

Valve’s embrace of open source is certainly welcome.

Patents

Patently public domain madness! Google’s attempt to patent public domain algorithm ANS slated. oogle has a contentious history when it comes to patent applications, and its latest move to patent asymmetric numeral systems (ANS), a widely used data compression algorithm, has attracted a fresh round of criticism. This is mainly due to the developer of ANS, Jarek Duda, who had published his work with the intent that it was for the public domain and free of restrictions. In an Ars Technica article that goes into the specifics about Google’s patent application and Duda’s objections over it (http://bit.ly/ LXFANSGoogle), Jarek claims that the technique Google’s trying to patent was suggested by himself in an email exchange in 2014, a claim that a preliminary ruling in February by European patent authorities

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agrees with. The US Patent Office has now issued a non-final rejection of Google’s application (http://bit.ly/LXFGoogleRejection), citing Jarek’s work, along with an already existing patent and other evidence. However, as this is a non-final rejection, there is a worry that Google will continue to pursue this application in its bid to make video codecs royalty free. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has published a scathing post (http://bit.ly/ LXFEFFANS) where it calls on Google to drop the application, stating that it’s not “okay for one of the world’s biggest companies to get a software patent on a minor tweak to someone else’s work,” and that “ANS should not belong to tech giants willing to push applications through a compliant Patent Office. ANS should belong to all of us.”

Open Core disruption

Arpit Joshipura General manager, Networking, The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation recently partnered with Heavy Reading to conduct a survey to gauge industry perceptions of open source across networking technologies. Key findings indicate CSPs show an high level of sophistication around new technologies and approaches. Ninety eight per cent of CSPs are confident that open networking solutions can achieve the same level of performance as traditional networking solutions, and 69 per cent are already using open source networking solutions in production networks. SDN in particular is seeing strong deployment, with nearly 60 per cent of CSPs reporting they have either already deployed SDN (39 per cent), or are currently trialling SDN (20 per cent). The survey shows open source has become core to how service providers are reinventing their networks and basic assumptions on how networks are managed have evolved. More details on how networks are evolving through virtualisation, automation, big data analytics, cloud-native principles, will be investigated over the coming months. Initial findings are available at www.lfnetworking. org/resources.

November 2018 LXF243     7


Newsdesk

Kernel Watch

opinion

Early beginnings

Linux’s #MeToo moment means Greg Kroah-Hartman steps up while Linus steps back, writes Jon Masters. reg Kroah-Hartman announced the release of Linux 4.19-rc6, having stepped in temporarily while Linus takes some time off for personal reflection. In his announcement, he noted that, “It all just works on my systems, and I have not heard of any major outstanding issues as of this point in time.” Indeed, by all accounts, Greg has done an outstanding job, which isn’t surprising when one considers that he’s used to maintaining the -stable kernel trees relied upon by many.

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Jon Masters is a kernel hacker who has been working on Linux for more than 22 years and works on energy-efficient ARM servers.

This is my very first column with Linux Format. I’m one of a number of excited authors who have moved over from Linux User & Developer. I look forward to continuing my coverage of Linux kernel development and am grateful to Neil and the team for the opportunity. Please get in touch and let us know what you like (or don’t like) about the content. Most importantly, let us know what you’d like to see covered here! I’ve been using Linux for about 22 years, since beginning university studies in my early teenage years. I remember it taking two weeks to download Slackware 96 onto about 100 floppy disks as I only had “high speed” internet access once a week. It took two sets of disks as the first set had a few duds. I also remember having to reinstall when confused by an fsck prompt on a failed boot (this was before Linux had journalled filesystems). I learned a lot because, well, I had to just to use Linux. Yet I was grateful even then for the community – especially my first Linux User Group (OxLUG). These days, I run Fedora on Arm and x86 systems, but I sometimes miss that old 386 and its all-night builds.

8     LXF243 November 2018

#MeToo The Linux kernel community had an overdue appointment with reality this month. It began with a message from Linus Torvalds titled “Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note”, and would end with a high-profile story in The New Yorker magazine in which several well-known developers would accuse him of years of abusive emails that had driven them out of the community. The start was innocuous enough. An email from Linus announced the 4.19-rc4 release candidate kernel, and apologised for his “screwing up my scheduling for the maintainer summit.” He had apparently been confused between two events and almost missed the Kernel Summit until it was moved in response to his travel snafu. But there was a deeper undercurrent. Linus said he had hoped that “maybe you can just do it [the Kernel Summit] without me.” Needless to say, the leading kernel event just isn’t the same without the leading kernel developer present, and so this notion had quickly been “overruled”. But it had also led Linus to an introspective “look yourself in the mirror” moment, in which he realised that he had been trying to avoid some issues that might come up in the discussion at such a event, chief among them his lack of empathy for others. He said that, “This week, people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal.” It would be easy to focus exclusively on Linus and his past behaviour in this summary. After all, he has been famously verbally

abusive to many developers for a long time. A quick Google search is more than enough to reveal the kinds of invective that has been levelled over time (much of which is not printable). That could be used to create a narrative, certainly. But focusing solely on the behaviour of Linus Torvalds, and the (apparently genuine) desire he may have to change his ways for the better would not do enough justice to the hard work of those who are seeking to make a positive and lasting change. Developers such as Sage Sharp and Valerie Aurora (who feature in The New Yorker piece) have tried for years to foster a more collegial atmosphere, but their efforts have all too often been rebuffed. As a result, both they and others have chosen to leave the community rather than stick around and continue to put up with what they saw as behaviour that never changed. The bottom line is that where we ended up wasn’t really good for anyone. After all, the developers who have left have been behind some really cool technologies that we all use and rely upon every day. That USB device you’re plugging into your laptop? That container image you’re using with an overlay filesystem? These are just two examples of technologies developed by people who have since left the community because they didn’t feel welcome. And they’re not alone. It’s difficult as one who usually covers technology to address this topic without appearing to become political or to take sides, but it’s important to share that anecdotally there are a number of people who would choose to be involved with Linux kernel development today who do not do so because they just don’t want to have to deal with the kind of behaviour that’s occurred on occasion over their years of involvement. At the same time, there are many wonderful people involved in the kernel, many of whom have hearts of gold and are among the nicest humans alive. As I said previously, it would be easy to focus exclusively on Linus, but the truth is that there’s a positive wave of change happening throughout the world we live in as more people find their voice and speak out, and it’s indeed a positive sign that Linus embraced the opportunity to change. His mail included a new Code of Conduct, which replaces the older (and much maligned) Code of Conflict. In the new document, a pledge is made by the maintainers to foster “an open

www.linuxformat.com


newsdesk Opinion

GAME ON! Meanwhile, the Amazon team posted a patch titled Coscheduling for Linux, which seeks to extend the Linux scheduler, known as CFS (completely fair scheduler) with support for limiting which processes (known as tasks within the kernel) can be coscheduled onto the same underlying core at the same time. Many modern processors, including x86 cores, include support for a technique known as SMT (Simultaneous MultiThreading) invented by Susan Eggers (incidentally the first woman to receive the prestigious EckertMauchly Award for Computer Architecture, just this year) back in the mid-90s. This enables two threads to run at the same time on logical processors that share certain CPU resources, such as the L1 data cache. Threads that share a core can cooperate, but they can also compete, or even interfere with one another, and so there are reasons why it can be advantageous to prevent coscheduling them together. This is made doubly true in the case of the “L1TF” (L1 Terminal Fault) CPU vulnerability. On impacted CPUs, it’s important not to run two untrusted virtual machines on SMT threads (called Hyperthreads in Intel’s implementation) of the same core at the same time. The Coscheduling patch is meant to prevent this. The chances of these patches being merged as-is are almost zero, but they should hopefully revive a discussion about the best upstream solution.

and welcoming environment” by adhering to various standards and responsibilities that are enumerated. Enforcement for the new CoC is to be handled by the Technical Advisory Board (TAB), an elected group of representatives from across the kernel community. Linus will return to kernel development in a few weeks, for the 4.20 cycle. However, only time will tell whether his reflections will translate into lasting changes.

Ongoing development Kees Cook (@kees_cook) tweeted “The last of the crypto VLAs removed! Lots of people helped get rid of kernel VLAs (at least 108 commits by

“only time will tell whether Linus Torvalds’ reflections will translate into change” 15 people across four kernel versions)”. This is good news for those relying on the robustness of Linux cryptography. VLAs (Variable Length Arrays) are what they sound like: a (mis)feature of the C language in which the programmer need not pre-determine the size of an array containing data objects, but instead rely upon the compiler to automatically allocate storage on the stack. However, kernel stacks are extremely limited in size, and overrunning them tends to result in Very Bad Things Happening Very Quickly. Thus VLAs were always dangerous in kernel code, but especially in sensitive-security code.

Spectre-v2 hardening Jiri Kosina posted a patch series titled “Harden spectrev2 userspace-userspace protection”, which seeks to improve the speculative execution side-channel mitigations in upstream (non-vendor) kernels against Spectre-v2. As a reminder, Spectre-v2 concerns the “branch predictor” hardware within a processor that seeks to guess which parts of the kernel code will run next based upon previous behaviour. This hardware can be “trained” by a malicious program to influence another, causing it to deliberately guess wrongly and pull data into the CPU

www.techradar.com/pro/linux

caches during speculative execution of future code. This can then be extracted through a side-channel technique. While the upstream kernel includes support for a special “IBPB” (indirect branch predictor barrier) processor operation to flush predictors on process switches, it didn’t contain protection against two threads running on the same core attacking one another. This is added through the STIBP (single thread indirect branch predictor) barrier, soon to be conditionally enabled only in cases most susceptible to attack, for performance reasons.

Jonni Bidwell might seem familiar to readers of Linux Format magazine…

Oooh, four and a half years and over half a million words, and they finally give me my own column. So I’m just going to tell you about some Linux-themed activities of mine lately before the boss starts tapping the desk in an unsettling manner. I CAN RUN GTA V ON LINUX. I have dreamed of this day for five years. I saw other people were doing it with DXVK (before Proton was announced), but until recently I couldn’t make it work. The trick is to disable esync, spoof its video card detection, install some windows fonts and add a DLL override. Elementary. It may be unplayable because the mouse behaves like it’s stuck in a window, but don’t tread on my dreams. I also have the Steam Playapproved Nier:Automata too. It didn’t work out of the box for me, but this was more of an Arch Linux issue than a Proton one. Arch prefers to use its own runtime libraries rather than the older ones bundled with Steam, which works well until games hardcode library paths. Both of these diversions are symptoms of huge progress for Linux gaming, but also speak to the numerous obstacles that yet need to be surmounted to get close to parity with Windows gaming. Or perhaps the real game is fiddling around making things that were never intended to work on Linux work (or nearly work).

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Newsdesk opinion

vida la viva V4L!

Internet

Firefox updates its stance on anti-tracking Users will now by default be blocked from being tracked. ozilla has announced that users of its Firefox web browser will, in the “near future”, be protected by blocking tracking. The company will also provide simple tools to help users gain better control over what data they share with the websites that they visit. According to the blog announcing the news, which can be read at http://bit.ly/ LXFFirefoxtrack, Mozilla will do this by releasing a series of features over the coming months that will focus on three key initiatives. First, the company will look into improving page load performance, so any third-party trackers that are found to slow down page loads will be blocked, with a view that this will be implemented by default in version 63 of Firefox. Mozilla will then remove cookies and block storage access from third party cross-site tracking, with an aim to bring this protection to all users in Firefox v65. Finally, the company has committed to blocking harmful tracking practises, such as anything that identifies users

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Ezequiel Garcia Senior software engineer, Collabora

The Video4Linux subsystem (V4L) has been the default programming interface for media developers, most notably for video capture devices, but also for encoder, decoders and streaming video output devices. Unfortunately, for most of its existence, V4L has fallen behind in support from vendors. However, over the past few years more vendors have begun contributing to the upstream kernel community, including to the V4L framework. New features are happening to enable it to support the features that new hardware requires. This is the case of the Request API, which is meant to support lower-level codec hardware, the new generation of cameras such as those that are now standard in smartphones, and the experimental explicit synchronisation API, which reduces latency and improves efficiency while providing a simpler interface. With such enhancements being implemented, and more coming in future, V4L will become the de facto standard for codec support. For instance, users will be able to have hardware accelerated playback of HD video using the same software stack on the Linux distribution of their choice, on either ARM, x86 or Risc-V!

10     LXF243 November 2018

Laptops

and the devices they use, or which can be used to mine cryptocurrencies without the user’s consent on their hardware (a worrying new trend). To test out these features early, download Firefox Nightly (http://bit.ly/LXFFireFoxNightly).

Get Firefox’s upcoming anti-tracking features early with the Nightly build.

Licences

Lenovo 4 Linux

GPL’s irrevocable

Update to Lenovo’s ThinkPad BIOS optimises sleep states.

What happens if you want to take your code out of Linux?

enovo’s support of Linux on its laptops now includes a new BIOS update for its ThinkPad devices, which has an optimised sleep state for laptops running Linux. The fact that the world’s largest vendor of computers isn’t blocking Linux installs, but is instead openly supporting and improving its support of Linux is very welcome. The new feature was spotted by Twitter user @hdevalence (http://bit.ly/LXFLenovoBIOS), which shows a new BIOS option for a Linux Sleep State. According to the user, their ThinkPad X1C6 is running v1.30 of the ThinkPad BIOS. This can be installed with sudo fwupdmgr update .

fter the news of Linus Torvalds stepping away from Linux, as well as a new Code of Conduct being implemented, some people have been wondering what would happen if they took their code out of the Linux kernel and rescind the licence grant. According to a developer who claims to be a lawyer, you’ve not signed away ownership of your code and “Gratuitous licenses are revocable at will”. These claims come in a rambling and at times rather offensive message, but it raised questions in the community about what rights you have to remove your code and revoke the GPL licence. However, an in-depth article from 2008 (http://bit.ly/LXFGPLLaw) explains in detail how and why the GPL v2 licence is irrevocable. While some contributors may be concerned that they’ll lose their right to take away their code if they don’t agree with a project, it also saves us from having code removed by people who don’t agree with changes within projects.

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Lenovo continues to embrace Linux on its laptops.

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newsdesk

Distro watch

What’s down the side of the free software sofa?

opinion

show a bit of respect

Robolinux 10.1 The latest version of this Ubuntu-based distro brings a range of new package updates, and is supported until 2023. It’s built on Ubuntu 18.04 and is available in Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce editions. The most recent versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, Open VPN, GParted, LibreOffice and more are included. For a full rundown   of the new features, visit the downloads page at:   https://robolinux.org/downloads.

K Robolinux 10.1 will be supported until 2023.

KDE neon 20180925 By the time you read this, the newest version of KDE neon will have been released. This is a distro based on Ubuntu (18.04 in this case), and is designed to provide the cutting-edge KDE Plasma desktop. According to the release statement (which can be read at http://bit. ly/LXFKDEneon), “Our packages are built on the latest Ubuntu LTS edition and today we have moved to their new 18.04 release. This means our users can get newer drivers and third-party packages.”

KDE neon brings the very latest KDE Plasma desktop to an Ubuntubased distribution.

OSGeoLive 12.0 This major release of the Lubuntu-based specialist distribution that can be run from a live disc or USB stick, and comes with an assortment of geospatial software and free world maps, is now available to download. This latest version updates its base operating system to Lubuntu 18.04 (LTS) and includes a number of package updates, new tools and a better documentation generation process. For more information about this fascinating, and worthy, distro, make sure to visit http://bit.ly/LXFOSGeoLive.

OSGeoLive is a specialist distro for running open source geospatial software.

Nitrux 1.0.15

The latest version of Nitrux, a Linux distribution for desktop PCs that’s based on Ubuntu and comes with a unique “Nomad” desktop (which is based on KDE Plasma) is now available to download. The new version comes with a number of software updates, bug fixes, performance improvements and better hardware support. The Linux kernel has been updated to 4.18.5, and there’s an updated graphics stack as well. For the full rundown of new features, visit:   http://bit.ly/LXFNitrux.

www.techradar.com/pro/linux

Keith Edmunds is Tiger Computing Ltd’s MD, which provides support for businesses using Linux

So Linus has been taken to task over some of his responses on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. He’s apologised, and is taking steps to behave better in future. We can learn from this. This is about professionalism, which is an attitude of mind rather than anything to do with money. Managing Linux systems and associated software isn’t a straightforward task. If it was, most Linux support staff would be out of a job. Those of us who support users are there because we know more about the subject than those users do. However, I believe that too many support staff are disrespectful of their customers. There’s even been TV comedies based on that tenet. But they’re users, not “lusers”. They come to us seeking help, and we should be grateful for the recognition. Helping one another respectfully – whether at work or play – is part of what makes a rich and diverse society. Linus admitted he was wrong. It takes a big man to admit that, particularly when he’s a person of influence. If he can vow to treat those he works with better, then so can we.

Nitrux bills itself a “your next OS”. It’s certainly a very nicely presented Ubuntu-based distro.

November 2018 LXF243     11


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Write to us at Linux Format, Future Publishing, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA or lxf.letters@futurenet.com. We’ll be adding past Linux User & Developer issues to the archive.

letter_of_the_month Successful escape I have been using Linux for about 10 years now. I work in IT and use Windows, macOS, Linux (all forms from Ubuntu, Mint, to XenServer, Kali, Raspberry Pi’s and more). I’m not writing to say I’m this super Linux geek, not by any means. About two years ago I had a client who needed an upgrade to his business PC. His list of demands: something that doesn’t crash so often or gets infected so easily. I showcased Linux and explained the software he would be able to use to run his business and save some mullah! He was intrigued and admitted that he had heard of Linux but thought that it was for more technical users. He decided to take a chance because he was tired of Windows, so I helped him purchase a new Desktop PC. I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, WPS Office, GNUCash, Firefox – all open-source software. For two years I had not heard much at all from him. However, just recently he contacted me because of an issue. I went over, and I was amazed to find the system is running exactly as when I first installed it and he knows his way around Ubuntu fairly well now! He explained to me his system has never crashed, nor has he had issues with viruses. He swears by his new Linux PC – and the issue itself was with a broken printer. By the way, love the mag and keep up the awesome work! This is one of the ways I stay informed about all things Linux! Rob Perez, via email

Neil says

Subscriber or not? I was confused to receive your “recently unsubscribed” newsletter as actually, I had not unsubscribed and I wasn’t aware that my subscription had expired. I had in fact only recently renewed my subscription for another two years! But I’m a little bewildered, because I also received by snail mail a letter informing me that Linux User & Developer magazine will no longer be published and that the remainder of my subscription will be transferred to Linux Format. I’m unsure of the number of issues left of LU&D. Truls, via email

Neil says Accept my apologies for any confusion. As you’ve noticed, these subscriber newsletters are fired out from our marketing team, so I suspect there’s a small window of potential confusion between them building mailing

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Linux Format 243 (Sampler)  

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Linux Format 243 (Sampler)  

You can subscribe to this magazine @ www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk