CERN Releases 300TB of LHC Data to the World

Do you remember the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) run by CERN? The device that people feared would create a black hole? In a move that’s rarely done, the organisation has now released terabytes of data onto the web for everyone to use.

The large release is explained by Kati Lassila-Perini, a physicist working on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, who explained the data release simply by saying “Once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly”. That simple, they’ve done what they can with the data and they want to see what others can do, hoping that it can benefit others by “inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow”.

If you want to view the data it’s easy enough to get your hands on from here, but CERN has also provided a bunch of tools to help you analyse the data (both raw data from the detectors within the LHC and the datasets they created). Not stopping there they’ve even provided a custom CERN Linux environment ready for use on a virtual machine, alongside scripts and apps that you can find on Github.

While the data is from 2011, that doesn’t stop it being amazing information that normally you could only read in press releases and journals. So who is going to study the universe and particles this weekend?

Bash for Windows 10 Unfazed by Deadliest Linux Command

Linux Bash shell came to Windows 10 recently as part of the latest Windows Insider preview build. Immediately, people began to experiment, some to see how well the shell was implemented, while others went straight for a command capable of wiping the entire system on a Linux operating system “rm -rf /”.

For those not familiar with Linux and the Bash shell, the reason this command is so deadly can be broken down into its three parts. “rm” is the command for removing or deleting files. “-rf” contains the additional commands for recursive and force. In combination, this causes all files, folders, and subfolders to be removed, without providing any prompt for the user, even those which are write protected. Finally, “/” represents the root location of the file system, where all files and folders are stored and where the command will look for files to delete. Often usage of this command is restricted or generates a warning on modern Linux systems as, should it be executed, everything will be deleted.

This danger made it an obvious choice to try out on Windows 10’s Bash shell though you would hope it was tried from the safety of a virtual machine or throwaway installation. Fortunately (or unfortunately), this command doesn’t cause anywhere near the damage it does to Linux, although the Bash terminal itself is not so lucky, being reduced to a useless black window when started up.

https://twitter.com/shanselman/status/717846035515584512

Windows isn’t fully safe from misuse of the Bash shell, as if you run the terminal as administrator and target the /mnt/c directory, the C drive can be deleted. Although, with the lengths you have to go to in order to wipe your operating system, if it happens then it’s likely your own fault, and really, it’s no more dangerous than the command line already in Windows.

Orbweb.me Now Also Supported on All Thecus Linux NAS’

It has been a little over half a year since Thecus introduced the support for Orbweb.me on their WSS-based NAS’. That was so successful that the support now has been extended to all of Thecus’ Linux-based NAS’ too. Whether you run the older Thecus OS 5.0 or the recently released Thecus OS 7.0, you can now have easy access to your NAS and everything that’s connected to it from anywhere.

Some might say, I already have access to it all from everywhere, that’s the point of a NAS. But the ease of which you have access to it, how easy it is to use, and the security behind it isn’t always the same. The Orbweb.me application brings a new remote access experience to Thecus Linux NAS from any web browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox as well as mobile devices powered by iOS and Android.

Orbweb.me is a P2P (Peer To Peer) module that allows users to easily view, stream and manage files in their NAS anytime and anywhere. Best of all, you don’t need to know your IP address and it works well over shared connections too.

Orbweb4.0 offers several features including webcam monitoring with timeline view and snapshot. All these features further increase Thecus NAS functionality. The Orbweb.me application is also available to download for any windows PC in its basic version, but because of the partnership between Thecus and Orbweb, Thecus NAS include a subscription for the Orbweb.me Ultimate Version that otherwise require an annual $69.99 subscription fee.

Thecus NAS uses an arsenal of security protocols and features to maintain user´s data safety. To prevent data from coming under attack when data is being transferred, Orbweb.me uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure all data traffic.

Microsoft Demo Linux Bash Terminal on Windows 10

At Build 2016, Microsoft showcased something almost unbelievable, the Linux Bash shell running natively on the Windows 10 operating system, using Ubuntu binaries. Kevin Gallo, director of the Windows Developer Platform ran the demonstration during the keynote he delivered at Microsoft’s developer conference. This functionality is born of a collaboration between the producers of Ubuntu Linux, Canonical, and Microsoft with the goal of allowing developers to make use of Linux-only tools even when working on Windows.

The Bash shell isn’t the only thing that is coming over to Windows 10 either, with a wide array of Linux GUI-less utilities also being made available to run on the bash terminal. According to Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland “most of the tens of thousands of binary packages available in the Ubuntu archives” will run, not only utilities like cp, find, grep, and ssh, but also aptitude, apache, MySQL, python, perl, ruby, php, gcc, tar and so on.” The whole thing works by translating the shell’s Linux system calls directly into Windows system calls in real time, which should yield impressive integration with the operating system.

Both Gallo and Kirkland see this move as strengthening the position of both of their platforms, with Gallo wanting to make Windows more accessible to developers while Kirkland sees it as extending the reach of Linux and Ubuntu, as well as the importance of open-source software over proprietary apps. The implications of this move by Microsoft could be quite extensive as the addition of the enormous array of open source software available on the Linux platform may, in fact, draw users away from using Windows-specific applications. However with the Microsoft Azure platform already making use of Linux and Microsoft SQL server, they may be starting to fully embrace the Linux OS and may just be a win for them in the end.

Welcome The First Ubuntu Tablet

When it comes to tablets people are often faced with the decisions between Windows and iOS operating systems, but that could soon be coming to an end with the first official Ubuntu tablet coming soon.

The Aquarius M10 is the first official tablet that will run Ubuntu, the open source Linux-based operating system. Costing you €259 (around £203) for the HD version of the tablet or for a mere extra 40 euros at €299 (around £235) you can grab the full HD variation of the tablet. Featuring a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor and 1,280 x 800 display for the HD model or a 1.5GHz processor and 1,920 x 1,200 on the Full HD model, the tablets contain relatively common numbers for the modern market.

With 2GB of Ram, 16GB of expandable storage and 8-megapixel and 5-megapixels on the back and front of the tablet respectively it is a perfect little starter for tablets. The key point is that using Canonical’s open source software, the device will switch to a desktop PC when connected to a mouse, keyboard and external screen. Carry round computer anyone?

The device is slated for release in the second week of April and we are sure that some people reading will be more than interested in these tablets.

QNAP Launches TDS-16489U Dual Xeon E5 Double Server

QNAP’s newest server, the TDS-16489U, is an amazing one that sets itself apart from the rest in so many ways. I want one so badly even though I have absolutely no need for this kind of power. This must be how a normal person feels when they see a Bugatti Veyron. But let us get back to the new QNAP dual server.

The TDS-16489U is a powerful dual server that’s both an application server and storage server baked into on chassis for simplicity and effectiveness. It is powered by two Intel Xeon E5 processors with 4, 6, or 8 cores each while supporting up to 1TB DDR4 2133 MHz memory with its 16 DIMM slots. These are already some impressive specs, but this is just where the fun begins.

The dual server has 16 front-accessible drive bays for 3.5-inch storage drives as well four rear-facing 2.5-inch drive bays for SSD cache. Should this not be enough, then you can expand that further by use of NVMe based PCI-Express SSDs too. The system has three SAS 12 Gb/s controllers built-in to couple it all together.

There are just as many connection options as there are storage options in the TDS-16489U. It comes with two normal Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as four SFP+ 10Gbps ports powered by an Intel XL710. Should that not be enough, then you can use the PCI-Express slots to expand with further NICs of your choice. The system supports the use of 40 Gbps cards too. It also comes with a dedicated IPMI connection besides the normal networking. The PCI-Express x16 Gen.3 slots can also be used with AMD R7 or R9 graphics cards for GPU passthrough to virtualization applications. A true one-device solution for applications, storage, and virtualization.

The TDS-16489U combines outstanding virtualization and storage technologies as an all-around dual server. With Virtualization Station and Container Station, computation and data from the guest OS and apps can be directly stored on the TDS-16489U through the internal 12Gb/s SAS interface. Coupled with Double-Take Availability to provide comprehensive high availability and disaster recovery, backup virtual machines can support failover for the primary systems on the TDS-16489U whenever needed to enable data protection and continuous services. QNAP Virtualization Station is a virtualization platform based on KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) infrastructure. By sharing the Linux kernel, GPU passthrough, virtual switches, VM import/export, snapshot, backup & restoration, SSD cache acceleration and tiered storage.

“Software frameworks for Big Data management and analysis like Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark can be easily operated on the TDS-16489U using virtual machines or containerized apps, and with Qtier Technology for Auto Tiering the TDS-16489U empowers Big Data computing and provides efficient storage in one box to help businesses gain further insights, opportunities and values,” said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP.

With all the above, we shouldn’t forget that it still also runs QNAP’s QTS 4.2 operating system that provides everything you know and love from that. Included is the comprehensive virtualization applications that we’ve also seen on our consumer models, but this is where you truly can take advantage of what QNAP created and run multiple Windows, Linux, Unix, and Android-based virtual machines on your NAS. All the backup solutions and failover, from local to other NAS or the cloud. You can do it all. Share files to basically any device anywhere is made as easy as possible.

Should you still not have enough storage in this impressive unit, then you can expand with up to 8 of the QNAP enclosures and reach a seriously impressive 1152 TB raw storage capacity controlled by this single 3U server unit. The CPU power, dual system capabilities, virtualization options and impressive storage option will let you deploy an impressive system with a very tiny size and total cost of ownership compared to traditional setups.

Key Specifications

  • 16-bay, 3U rackmount unit
  • 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Family processor (with 4-core, 6-core and 8-core configurations)
  • 64GB~1TB DDR4 2133MHz RDIMM/LRDIMM RAM (16 DIMM)
  • 4 x SFP+ 10GbE ports
  • hot-swappable 16 x 3.5″ SAS (12Gbps/6Gbps)/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) HDD or 2.5″ SAS/SATA SSD, and 4 x
  • 2.5″ SAS (12Gbps) SSD or SAS/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) SSD;
  • 4 x PCle slots;
  • 4 x USB 3.0 port

The new QNAP TDS-16489U dual-server is now available.

How Dell Plan to get More People Using Linux

When you buy a new PC, it’s almost certain that it’ll be running one of two types of operating systems, Microsoft Windows or Mac OSX. Despite this market dominance, Dell plans to get more of their customers using Linux with its series of “Project Sputnik” laptops that hope to secure a following of their own.

The newest Sputnik laptop from Dell is the XPS 13 Developer Edition and it looks far different from the typical view of Linux, sporting a sleek, thin design. This XPS 13 also brings a number of features that users typically expect from Windows and Mac laptops including a 4k screen, Intel Skylake processors and even Thunderbolt 3 support, all of which are firsts for a Linux laptop. Due to the lack of support for Skylake chips in Ubuntu, the Linux version of the laptop was released later than its Windows-running cousin, which is unfortunate.

Sputnik’s main goal is to bring new laptop technologies to Linux, which will allow it to match most equivalent Windows laptops and has already been in the works for four years. Originally, Sputnik planned to focus on Ultrabook-form laptops and touch screens as the main technologies, both of which were new at the time, but the project has come a long way since then. Dell’s next goal is to incorporate docking technology into the XPS 13 DE as well as continuing to develop the software and drivers that may be required to make use of even higher resolution screens that could feature in future Sputnik laptops.

While Dell’s main focus may always be on the more mainstream Windows laptop market, Project Sputnik is totally unique, making Dell the only major PC manufacturer with such a focus on releasing Linux-running products. Dell even reports that they have seen Mac users moving over to their Sputnik laptops, due to both Linux and OSX being Unix-based making the switch easier than from Windows. While Linux diehards may choose to install their operating system of choice regardless of the laptop, it is hard to deny that a trusted name like Dell throwing their support behind Linux and releasing it pre-installed on a number of their laptops is a bad thing. Will it lead to a Linux revolution? Probably not, but Dell may just get a few extra customers from Linux-fans and converts alike.

Microsoft Estimate Around 8000 Companies Looking To Try SQL Servers On Linux

Microsoft recently announced their interest in providing their SQL server software for Linux operating systems. It would seem the news has been well received, with over 8000 companies looking to try SQL servers on Linux.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Cloud and Enterprise, stated that by his estimates around 8000 companies were already signed up to try SQL Server 2016 on Linux, with at least 25% of that being fortune 500 companies.

Given that companies like Amazon and Oracle offer similar services, the fact that so many are interested in what Microsoft could provide shows the reputation their software has for businesses. With the move showing that Microsoft is serious not only about the open source community that is commonly found using Linux but also offering alternatives to the cloud for companies to use.

While the cloud offers scalable solutions and choices for companies all over the world, many companies are hesitant to take it on board due to the fact that they lose control over its security and access. Being able to run SQL servers on Linux, using Microsoft’s software would help businesses keep their servers in-house, offering that little bit of choice that companies are often forced to forgo in exchange for cheaper rates.

Microsoft Bringing SQL Database Software To Linux

Microsoft is well-known for three things, their hardware (such as the Microsoft Surface series), their operating systems and their software. The problem being is that a lot of these are closely tied together, their hardware uses their operating system and normally come pre-installed with their software. You can get their operating systems or software alone, but putting their software on another operating system tends to work quite badly (or if you are using the Mac version of Windows Office, you may be missing some of the features available on Windows). This is set to change with Microsoft announcing that their SQL database software will be coming to Linux soon.

For clarification, at least, some of Microsoft’s SQL server’s core capabilities will be coming to Linux, with what parts being heavily influenced by demand and feedback. With Microsoft looking to build their own Linux distro and even opening up their .NET framework for Linux and Mac OSX users, maybe we could see a more and more open approach regarding their software.

With open source software being a big part of companies and governments, Microsoft may be looking to not only get community support in increasing their software capabilities but possibly winning back some of the markets that are going to open source solutions.

Linux Mint Site Hacked – Genuine ISO Replaced by Malware

The official website for Linux Mint has been hacked, and the ISO download of the operating system was replaced with a malicious version on Saturday (20th February), the head of the project has announced. The fraudulent version of the Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon edition was inserted into the site via a backdoor exploit, redirecting users from the real URL to absentvodka.com, which hosted malware posing as Linux Mint.

Anyone that downloaded Linux Mint from the official website yesterday (torrents or direct HTTP link downloads are thought to be unaffected) should read on for instructions on how to deal with the problem.

The post on the Linux Mint Blog – which includes instructions to help remove the malware version – reads:

What happened?

Hackers made a modified Linux Mint ISO, with a backdoor in it, and managed to hack our website to point to it.

Does this affect you?

As far as we know, the only compromised edition was Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon edition.

If you downloaded another release or another edition, this does not affect you. If you downloaded via torrents or via a direct HTTP link, this doesn’t affect you either.

Finally, the situation happened today, so it should only impact people who downloaded this edition on February 20th.

How to check if your ISO is compromised?

If you still have the ISO file, check its MD5 signature with the command “md5sum yourfile.iso” (where yourfile.iso is the name of the ISO).

The valid signatures are below:

6e7f7e03500747c6c3bfece2c9c8394f  linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-32bit.iso

e71a2aad8b58605e906dbea444dc4983  linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-64bit.iso

30fef1aa1134c5f3778c77c4417f7238  linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-nocodecs-32bit.iso

3406350a87c201cdca0927b1bc7c2ccd  linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-nocodecs-64bit.iso

df38af96e99726bb0a1ef3e5cd47563d  linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-oem-64bit.iso

If you still have the burnt DVD or USB stick, boot a computer or a virtual machine offline (turn off your router if in doubt) with it and let it load the live session.

Once in the live session, if there is a file in /var/lib/man.cy, then this is an infected ISO.

What to do if you are affected?

Delete the ISO. If you burnt it to DVD, trash the disc. If you burnt it to USB, format the stick.

If you installed this ISO on a computer:

  • Put the computer offline.
  • Backup your personal data, if any.
  • Reinstall the OS or format the partition.
  • Change your passwords for sensitive websites (for your email in particular).

Is everything back to normal now?

Not yet. We took the server down while we’re fixing the issue.

Vulkan 1.0 Specification Released

DirectX 11 has been the dominant API for a significant amount of time and doesn’t really allow for effective scaling across a wide range of hardware configurations. Thankfully, DirectX 12 is a major step in the right direction and could revolutionize the way game engines communicate with hardware. Theoretically, the new API should reduce CPU overheads and result in better optimization, although this is down to the developers. DirectX 12 isn’t the only low-level API on offer and there’s a great open source alternative, codenamed Vulkan which supports Windows 7, 8.1, 10, Android and Linux!

This is going to be an enticing proposition for anyone who dislikes Windows 10, and it could help with optimization on SteamOS. AMD originally submitted the XGL proposal from their work on Mantle and this was accepted by the OpenGL Next working group. As a company, AMD’s open source ethos ties in extremely well with Vulkan and they are going to release a beta driver with Vulkan functionality.

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD said:

“The release of the Vulkan 1.0 specification is a huge step forward for developers. The Vulkan API, which was derived from Mantle, will bring the benefits of low-overhead high-performance Graphics API to the benefit of cross-platform and cross-vendor targeted applications,“ 

“The promotion of open and scalable technologies continues to be the focus at AMD, as a pioneer in the low-overhead API space. As a member of the Khronos Group, AMD is proud to collaborate with hardware and software industry leaders to develop the Vulkan API to ignite the next evolution in PC game development.”

I cannot wait to see Vulkan’s impact compared to other APIs and it’s quite plausible to see major performance benefits. However, I think it will be challenging to encourage developers to adopt Vulkan because the majority of users seems to be excited for DirectX 12 and prepared to upgrade to Windows 10 despite many concerns regarding privacy.

Warner Brothers Scraps Plans For Batman: Arkham Knight Linux And Mac Versions

Batman: Arkham Knight will go down in history as one of the worst PC ports ever released. The PC version is marred by atrocious optimization with sudden frame-drops, bugs, instability and a host of other inexcusable problems. The reason behind this catastrophe revolves around money, and Warner Brothers decision to cut costs on the PC development. The publisher hired Iron Galaxy, a studio without much PC experience, and this clearly was a project which overwhelmed their small team. Since the game’s release, Warner Brothers has proudly proclaimed that the PC port is now a top priority, and promised to rectify the poor performance.

However, this doesn’t seem likely due to the abandonment of SLI support, and minor changes from the latest patches. Not only that, some reports have suggested that the latest patch has actually resulted in worse performance. As you can see, Batman: Arkham Knight is a shambles on the PC platform and for that reason, we’ve stopped using it for benchmarking purposes. It’s a terrible indicator of GPU performance, and there’s no consistency in the numbers whatsoever. According to a recent Steam post, the studio has cancelled plans to launch Mac and Linux versions. The announcement reads:

“We are very sorry to confirm that Batman: Arkham Knight will no longer be coming to Mac and Linux. If you have pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Knight for Mac or Linux, please apply for a refund via Steam.”

This is extraordinary and even though these operating systems are niche for PC gaming, it’s not doing Warner Brothers’ reputation any favours. Furthermore, SteamOS is slowly increasing in popularity, and it’s disappointing to see a major game remain exclusive to Windows. Although, I wouldn’t be too concerned because the Windows version barely functions and requires either luck or brute force to run properly. Warner Brothers hasn’t shown much respect for PC players of late and it’s a worrying trend.

Tomb Raider 2013 Heading to Linux and SteamOS?

Are you a fan of gaming on SteamOS or Linux? Although admittedly the two operating systems aren’t mutually exclusive anyway. Well, it looks like the 2013 release of Tomb Raider may be heading to the platform in the not too distant future, as the game was recently discovered in the SteamDB. We’ve heard of a lot of games being leaked via SteamDB, so there’s certainly some credibility to the rumour.

It’s a great game and one that I’m sure a lot of gamers on Linux would be eager to enjoy. There’s still a lot of work to be done to make SteamOS and/or Linux a more establish gaming platform, but it’s nice to see bigger titles, albeit a few years old, heading that way at a steady pace. With the new Tomb Raider game having just launched on PC, it’s a shame the new one isn’t already available to the open source part of the gaming community, but perhaps if the 2013 release does well, we could see Rise of the Tomb Raider ported over as well.

Not a lot is known about the port to Linux at this time, only that it has cropped up on the SteamDB, so for all we know, it may never see the light of day. We don’t know who’s doing the port either, so it could either be an in-house project or something that has been leased out to another studio, but hopefully we’ll find out soon enough. With SteamOS seemingly falling into obscurity this last few months, it may be too little too late to start moving more games to the platform, but Linux is still growing in popularity, slowly but surely.

Do you play games on SteamOS or on Linux? Are you looking forward to hopefully being able to play Tomb Raider (2013) on these platforms? Let us know in the comments section below.

AMD Says DX12 And Vulkan “Serve a Need And Add Value”

The advent of low-level APIs such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan have the potential to revolutionize the way modern games scale across various hardware setups. Clearly the gains compared to DirectX 11 are still unknown until a game’s engine offers a direct comparison between the two APIs on identical hardware. Theoretically, it could be the most significant change to PC gaming in years and allow for enhanced optimization. There’s a huge debate regarding Microsoft’s DirectX 12 system and the open source Vulkan API. In a recent interview with Tom’s Hardware, AMD’s VR director, Daryl Sartain described the current state of modern APIs and how mantle contributed to the development of DirectX 12:

“I view Mantle as something – because we did a lot of contribution to the features into DX12 –  that has been spun into DX12 in so many ways. But to your question on Vulkan versus DX12, without getting into all the religious aspect, what I said yesterday [on the VR Fest panel] is that I think that both serve a need and add value. Can you make an argument that one is better than the other? You can make an argument about anything. Just bring a lawyer into the room.”

“But I do believe that, and what I most am concerned about is our ISVs, the ISV community, where they gain the greatest benefit. You know, there are some people developing on Linux, all different flavors of life – so it’s a difficult question as to which [API] should we be focused on, which one is better”.

“My opinion is that Windows as a platform, as an OS, is far better and far more evolved today than some of the previous generations, and that’s to be expected. DX12 and its integration into Windows is a great experience, is a great development environment, and has great compatibility. Does that mean that Vulkan doesn’t have a place? No. I think that answer really has to come from the development community, not from us.”

This is a fairly non-committal response but it’s too easy to see a clear advantage from either API. At least there’s a clear alternative to DirectX 12 if you want to go down the open source route. Given the success of Windows as a gaming operating system, I cannot see DirectX 12 being overtaken unless there are some very clear performance or feature benefits.

Computer Completes a Rubik’s Cube In A Spellbinding Time

There are many things in life that are quite annoying and include inventions such as Predictive Text; however, the Rubik’s Cube certainly adds a new dimension to the word “Frustrating”. But, what happens if you mix a homemade computer with arguably the world’s most difficult game?

Well, two software engineers from Kansas, US, decided to find out and it becomes apparent this computer was able to successfully complete the iconic puzzle in a mind-bending 1.047 seconds, this means that it successfully found the correct permutations quicker than it would have taken for you or me to say the word Rubik’s Cube.

The current Guinness World Record is a rather poor 2.3 seconds while humans are currently well behind on a snail-like pace of 4.9 seconds, although, that is still pretty fast. If you’re wondering, this record is held by a 14-year-old who goes by the name Lucas Etter in November 2015.

Below is the video, as you can see, the cube is being held within a 3D printed frame via “drilled holes with four USB cameras pointing at the puzzle. The robot is then hooked up to a Linux-based computer running a Kociemba Rubik’s cube-solving algorithm that takes the information delivered from the cameras and then works out in milliseconds which moves to make”.

The creators, Jay Flatland and Paul Rose uploaded the video and are currently applying for it to be officially recognized as a new world record, one would assume this would be a time which stands for a long while, although, you know what assumptions are.

Ian Murdock Founder of Debian Linux Passes Away Age 42

Many users would have come across Ian Murdock’s work, more so if you are a user of Linux-based operating systems. It is with great sadness that we must report that Ian Murdock has passed away at the age of 42.

Ian Murdock’s passing was announced on a blog post via the Docker website, where he was a member of the Docker community. Ian is best known for the Linux Debian distribution, an open source operating system that has formed the basis of many other open source projects, and the very definition of open source has been built upon it. He is also known as a creator of the commonly used command, apt-get, an easy way of finding and install the latest software on Linux-based operating systems.

Both Ian’s family and the community as a whole have requested that the press and the public respect their privacy at this time and that any enquiries be sent through Docker. If you wish to share your condolences with those who knew him you can send them to in-memoriam-ian@debian.org, where they will be kept and archived for viewing and recalling at a future date.

Please see the memorial left at Debian.org here and join us in remembering a man who gave so much to the world.

Raspberry Pi Foundation Asked to Install Malware

Earlier this week the Rpi foundation were approached by a lady called Linda. Linda asked the team if they would ever so kindly distribute an exe file alongside their Linux operating system, Raspian. The e-mail they were sent asks if the foundation would perform the miracle of running an exe on a Linux operating system in return for a sum of money based on a Price Per Installation scheme (PPI).

It’s amazingly surprising the sheer cheek that this company has, as they’re asking one of the world’s most know organizations to cheat its customers. Why on earth would this company think they would go along with it? I don’t know. However, I can safely say that the foundation has not accepted this fantastic offer. The Raspberry Pi foundation is now a huge corporation with over 5 million Pi boards having been sold since the release of the original Pi. The use of an open source operating system has also done them wonders. There are thousands upon thousands of scripts and programs for the Pi available to the public.

Pi Facts: The name “Raspberry” originates from the fruit-based naming tradition for microcomputers in old days. “Pi” refers to “Python” because Python was one of the first programs ported to run on Raspberry Pi. Hence the rather unusual name.

Image sourced from Adafruit

The Underbelly of Red Star OS Reveals Tracking Features

Red Star OS was revealed in early 2015 as North Korea’s operating system after it was snuck back to the states by ex-google employee Will Scott. Since then the operating system has been under investigation and most recently a pair of german researchers have released their information regarding the operating system.

While the operating system may look like a copy of Mac OS X this seems to just be a fancy skin that does nothing more than conceal the Fedora Linux base that the system is built upon. While an open source operating system at heart, Fedora has been modified with several pieces of technology that are made to help track potential security risks from the country.

Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of the German IT security company ERNW GmbH revealed some interesting information regarding their “marking” tactics. The specifics of this watermarking tactic means that every document located within the computer is watermarked, including devices that are temporarily connected to the system, such as by a USB stick. While this may seem like a good idea this applies to all files and is “done stealthily and touches files you haven’t even opened”.

The operating system also includes heavily locked down settings, meaning that even trying to alter things such as virus checkers or firewalls results in either an error message or an instant reboot.

QNAP Releases TS-x53A IoT-Centric QTS-Linux Combo NAS Series

Network attached storage devices have evolved a lot in the last 10 years from somewhat underpowered systems with the single purpose of serving your files across your network to what they are today. We first saw the introduction of the HDMI port for direct media playback, I think it was Thecus who was first with this, but the other companies were quick to follow and now they all have these entertainment combo units. Qnap’s are easily identifiable by the QvPC feature that allows you to use your NAS as an HTPC replacement too.

It does however not stop here and the world of technology keeps evolving. We recently saw QNAP announced the Hybrid QTS-Android NAS lineup and now they’ve introduced yet another great combination, the new TS-x53A series that are the world’s first QTS-Linux dual system NAS. The new QNAP TS-x53A series will be available in four different models: A 2-bay, 4-bay, 6-bay, and an 8-bay version. The features and functions of the four new QTS-Linux NAS stay pretty much the same besides the amount of drive bays available.

The new TS-x53A series is powered by a 14nm Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor with 1.6GHz (2.08GHz Boost) and hardware encryption engine. It also features the 8th generation HD Graphics from Intel that allows the TS-x53A series to provide 4K UHD HDMI output with 3K H.264 hardware-accelerated transcoding and playback. The systems are available with either 4GB or 8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM and upgradeable to a maximum of 8GB. The small 2-bay model only features two Gigabit Ethernet ports while the other models all have four Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports, and all of them come with plenty of USB 3.0 ports too.

“The next-generation TS-x53A QTS-Linux Combo NAS series is specially designed as a Linux-based gateway for the IoT era” said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP, adding “Alongside its high-speed data transmission and advanced snapshot features, it supports versatile HDMI applications and 4K video playback & transcoding. The TS-x53A series greatly extends possibilities for work and multimedia use, providing users with a complete storage solution with higher value to cost.”

Technically you could already run QTS next to Linux with QvPC and the container technologies that QTS provides, but these new servers also provide the Linux Station that can act as a great base for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and development. You can naturally also run all other OSes such as Windows, Android, and MacOS through the container and virtualization station. The TS-x53A series can also provide a secure private cloud environment for file backup and sharing.

The NAS series features all the great things that we know from other QNAP NAS, but there is one more thing that sets this series a little apart. The TS-x53A series supports OceanKTV, QNAP’s NAS-based karaoke systems with two 6.3mm microphone jacks and one 3.5mm line-out audio jack. With all this storage available, you can build yourself an impressive karaoke box while you still enjoy all the other benefits.

AMD Tackles Nvidia’s GameWorks with Open Source GPUOpen

While AMD’s graphics hardware has largely remained competitive with rival Nvidia, the software side of things has fallen behind for a while. A large part of this is due to Nvidia’s GameWorks software, a proprietary set of tools that helps developers implement features. While AMD cards can run GameWorks optimization is near impossible to do and AMD cards generally get crippled by it. Today, AMD is hitting back with GPUOpen, a comparable library of tools they will be open-sourcing.

With the open source GPUOpen, the permissive MIT-licence will allow developers to optimize for both AMD and Nvidia and still use only one set of tools. AMD is hoping this will mean developers will be more likely to pick GPUOpen over GameWorks and optimize more for AMD cards. AMD has included equivalents to most of GameWorks, with TressFX, ShadowFX, GeometryFX and AOFX. It will also feature a number of other tools like a rendering engine, ray-tracing SDK, cloud SDK and AMD’s CodeXL debugger and performance profiler.

The final prong is a new open-source Linux driver. Right now, the Linux driver comes in two flavours with the closed source one performing well ahead of the open-source on. Moving into the future, the AllOpen stack will have open-sourced OpenGL graphics, motion video codecs, and OpenCL GPU computation. The Professional/Gamer stack will have an open source motion video codec, but closed source OpenGL and OpenCl modules. Over time, the OpenCL module will bring in Vulkan which will then be open sourced while the OpenGL module will remain closed-source.

Combined with the earlier Boltzmann Initiative, AMD is making big strides with their software development. Combined with their new Crimson Catalyst software suite, AMD is putting forward a new face to consumers and developers. With this, AMD may be able to reinvent themselves and make others see them in a new light.

Microsoft Embrace Linux With Azure Certification

Microsoft is a company best known for a range of options, both hardware and software, in the modern world. From their Surface tablets to Microsoft Office, a widely known thing about Microsoft is that you pay for what you get. While they offer some free tools, Office and even Microsoft Windows, cost a small amount if you want to use them. This makes it all the more surprising when they announced that you can now get a certification for managing an operating system on Azure, their cloud based system. The operating system in question will cost you nothing, it’s Linux.

The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Linux on Azure Certification will be used to show that you as a professional can run and manage Linux based servers on Microsoft’s cloud system (Azure). While this is a surprise, only a few years ago Azure didn’t support anything like Linux, however, it is not a giant surprise given the recent push by companies and governments to embrace open source software.

In order to get the new certification, you need to have passed not only the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator but also the Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure solutions exam.

While it’s nice for Microsoft to continue supporting open source software, and even with competing operating systems, I see it being a rare case where people (and companies) will be paying out hundreds for certification of free software.

AMD Crimson Performance Gains on Linux are Disappointing

AMD recently overhauled the Catalyst Control Center software suite and created a more visually appealing design entitled, “Crimson”.  Furthermore, the latest driver includes a whole host of new features and optimization enhancements. If you’d like to know more, feel free to check out our full review here. While Crimson is receiving an overwhelmingly positive reception from Windows users, it appears the performance gains on Linux are minimal. The highly revered Linux-based site, Phoronix decided to test the driver’s performance using a number of GPUs. As you can see from the image, Linux users still have to use the outdated user-interface but this was expected:

The original press slides from AMD proclaimed there would be “Linux performance improvements” from “112% to 155%”. However, Phoronix’s testing shows a complete lack of progress and in some cases the update driver actually performs worse. Here we can see the performance differences between the 15.9 and 15.11 drivers. Honestly, the results are within a margin of error and nowhere near the 112% to 155% percent gains AMD promised. Obviously, this can improve via future driver revisions but this doesn’t look promising for Linux users on AMD hardware. Please note, this just one example, and Phoronix’s benchmarks show a similar pattern throughout various games.

I hope this is just an isolated incident due to AMD’s completely reworked driver package. Whatever the case, it seems like you’re not going to see huge fps boosts at this current time.

Have you upgraded to the Crimson Radeon software yet? If so, let us know what you think of it.

QNAP Launches TS-531P with 10GbE Support and Container Station

QNAP released a new and powerful 5-bay NAS with upgradeable memory, quad-core CPU, SSD cache support and 10-Gigabit Ethernet support. The new QNAP TS-531P features an Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-314 quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor with 1.4GHz, hardware encryption engine, and floating point unit, and it comes in two versions with either 2GB or 8GB DDR3 memory.

Right out of the box, the QNAP TS-531P features four Gigabit Ethernet ports that naturally support Link Aggregation and Failover, but you can expand it with either a 10GbE SFP+ or 10Gbase low-profile add-in card for even better connectivity. 10GbE is finally starting to make a proper entry into the market as more and more SMB devices start to feature what used to be reserved to the enterprise sector and it is something that I’ve been waiting for in a long time. The TS-531 supports add-in cards with up to two ports, allowing you a total of either 6 Gigabit Ethernet ports or 4 GbE and two 10GbE ports in this NAS.

This is an SMB NAS that comes with all the essentials in this area, which also means that the HDMI port for direct usage as HTPC that we see on personal oriented NAS devices isn’t there. There are however three USB 3.0 ports for expansion where one of them is located on the front for easy access together with the one-touch copy button. These ports can also be used to expand the storage abilities with up to two QNAP expansion enclosures, either the UX-800P 8-bay or UX-500P 5-bay units. With two 8-bay expansion units, you can have up to 168GB raw storage capacity using 8TB drives.

The TS-531P supports Container Station that allows users to operate multiple virtual Linux systems thanks to the LXC and Docker lightweight virtualization technologies. You can easily download more through the built-in Docker Hub Registry or create your own. It supports import and export and permission settings along with a flexible user interface, and informative dashboard. Container Station will also support the Online Document app that is currently in development. It will allow users to directly view, edit and store files of various types (office documents, images, and text files) on their TS-531P without the hassle of back-and-forth file transfers.

The QNAP TS-531P will naturally also support all the other great features that we have come to know from QNAP, from the comprehensive backup options that include cloud offerings over the powerful Qsirch search feature to the surveillance station and everything in between. It is available now starting from €513.41 and €648.81 respectively for the 2GB and 8GB models.

SteamOS Games Perform up to 58 Percent Worse Than Windows 10 Versions

Valve originally unveiled SteamOS to enhance the capabilities of hardware configurations and provide a more customizable user-interface. Gabe Newell criticized Windows 8 and famously said:

“Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”

Additionally, early indications were very positive and Valve managed to attain large performance increases on an OpenGL-powered Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2. However, according to Ars Technica, various developers claim Linux drivers and sub-par OpenGL tools are not adequate to match DirectX performance on Windows. Valve recently launched their new range of Steam Machines designed to run a gaming-optimized version of Linux. As a result, it seemed the opportune moment to test performance variation between the two operating systems. Ars Technica conducted a number of benchmarks and they make for some interesting reading:

Bizarrely, the source engine titles on Valve’s own operating system perform quite badly compared to the Windows 10 versions. This is surprising as you would expect Valve’s game engine to perform much better and even exceed the Windows 10 results.

Here we can see the results scale across each graphics preset, and SteamOS struggles to properly utilize the bench system’s GPU.

Once the resolution is increased, there isn’t a change to the overall pattern, and Windows 10 still manages to leap ahead by a significant margin. Why? As previously mentioned, drivers are just nowhere near good enough, and Linux still suffers from a complete lack of software support. On another note, as DirectX 12 games become the norm, I can only see the gap increasing. Perhaps the highly-anticipated Vulkan API can change things, but for the meantime SteamOS is not an operating system to use if you care about pure performance numbers.

Twitch Will Install Arch Linux Later Today

Despite being a video streaming service, Twitch has gained fame through a series of “Twitch Plays” events. While those have all revolved around games like Metal Gear and Pokémona more ambitious project will start in about 12 hours. Using the same chat-based collaboration, Twitch will attempt to install Arch Linux on a virtual machine. Anyone who connects to the stream will be able to command and control the installation process.

While installing a Linux installation is pretty straightforward these days, we can expect a lot of trolls in the first while. After all, that’s what happened with Pokémon and Dark Souls when they first started out. With the large range of options available to trolls, expect the start to be really bloody. It would not be surprising to see commands to wipe the disk or put the VM into a perpetual reboot cycle to occur.

There a few milestones set so far for the installation which are to

  • Boot Arch Linux from the hard disk
  • Write a python ‘Hello World!’ script
  • Configure a fully working X server
  • Pull up the Twitch screen in the virtual machine

If the install goes relatively well, it will be interesting to control via Twitch the machine that itself is logged into Twitch and ends up controlling itself. That is, of course if the VM doesn’t get recruited into a botnet or becomes a spambot.

Valve Removing Linux Games With SteamOS Compatibility Problems

Valve has reportedly been removing a number of Linux games which don’t meet their quality control requirements or suffer from compatibility problems on SteamOS. According to Gaming on Linux, the SteamOS icon was removed from titles including Ticket to Ride, Anodyne, Lume, WAKFU, Starbound, Evoland, Oniken, StarMade and Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten.

The developer of StarMade suggested this was due to the game requiring Java and should be rectified soon:

Although, other developers are completely unsure why the SteamOS icon has been removed. Possibly, Valve is testing each Linux game for features such as full-screen support and only approving those it deems acceptable. This could be a positive step to add polish to Linux games and make the end-user know every approved game is fully functional. On Windows, many of the older games struggle to work, yet Steam still sells them without any qualms.

To clarify, Valve are not removing games without the SteamOS logo from your library, but it’s certainly an unusual development. Gaming on Linux is a niche outlet but there is a lot of potential if the Vulkan API manages to outperform DirectX 12. The popularity of Windows 10 doesn’t make it seem likely though.

Have you tried SteamOS?