Category Archives: Stiri IT Externe

Wi-Fi 6 Adoption: It’s All in the Timing | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

The Wi-Fi 6 era is nearly here. The next-generation wireless technology, widely known as IEEE 802.11ax before the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a new consumer-friendly naming structure, is expected to arrive before the end of the year. A certification program to ensure Wi-Fi 6-labeled devices meet industry agreed-upon standards for interoperability and security is due in the third quarter.

Wi-Fi 6, which will eventually supplant the 802.11ac (or Wi-Fi 5) standard that most current networks and devices run, promises several innovations that increase speeds, throughput, and spectral efficiency.

With more than 13 billion active Wi-Fi devices deployed globally, accounting for more than half the world’s daily internet traffic, the advent of this new specification is a big deal. And enterprises — which need to manage the soaring number of devices that connect to wireless networks in ways that reduce costs, automate operations, and resolve problems faster – are especially excited.

However, they need to be wary of letting that excitement get the best of them and deploying early Wi-Fi 6-enabled products that may end up as paperweights because of compatibility issues.

Wi-Fi 6 access points are hitting the market – which is great — but not all are created equal. Businesses need to be careful about purchasing and deploying them unless the vendor can assure the products will be software upgradable to support the Wi-Fi 6 certification requirements due out by the end of the quarter.

The risk in jumping in too early with devices that are based on a draft standard of Wi-Fi 6 and can’t be upgraded is two-fold: missing out on features that end up being included when the ink on the final certification program is dry, or, worse, interoperability problems with client devices supporting the eventual certification.

Early adopter risk – fast adoption of new technology with little to no track record of user experience — of course is a familiar phenomenon, from the first organizations to get on the cloud to people who buy 5G phones before 5G networks have been widely rolled out.

Wi-Fi 6 is different in that the very standard (IEEE 802.11ax) on which devices are based has yet to be finalized and, as happened with many of the earlier 802.11 specifications, you can expect to see multiple iterations of products. You can see the current timeline for expected finalization on the IEEE 802 TGax taskgroup page as January 2020.

The Wi-Fi 6 features supported in the early products that vendors are releasing can vary, supporting some but not all of the capabilities such as OFDMA (which increases network efficiency and reduces latency in high-demand environments), MU-MIMO (which allows more data to be transferred simultaneously to/from a large number of concurrent clients), 1024-QAM (which increases throughput in Wi-Fi devices by encoding more data in the same amount of spectrum); and Target Wake Time (designed to improve battery life in Wi-Fi devices such as Internet of Things (IoT devices).

Buy and deploy too soon, without the ability to upgrade, and you could miss out on some key features and face compatibility problems with newer devices acquired in the future.

There’s historical precedent for this pitfall with the 802.11n standard (now called Wi-Fi 4) that preceded 802.11ac and was released in 2006. Vendors released a slew of early 802.11n products based on a preliminary draft of the standard, only to see the final specification contain significant changes.

By contrast, the 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) specification in 2013 followed the draft quickly and contained few to no changes. But who knows how events will play out with Wi-Fi 6.

Organizations at present would be smart to adopt a caveat emptor attitude toward products that its makers claim to be Wi-Fi 6 certifiable. Until the certification program, there’s really no way to know. So make sure the products come with an insurance policy – firmware upgradeability to enable anything and everything that ends up in the final standard.

The hype around Wi-Fi 6 is real – it will be a significant advance in boosting the efficiency of wireless communication. It’s only a matter of time before every enterprise moves to the new standard… but getting that timing right spells the difference between a wise investment and wasting money on sub-optimal infrastructure.

Make sure you’re proceeding with confidence.

Related Network Computing articles:

Wi-Fi 6 is Coming: It’s Not Too Early to Plan for 802.11ax

Verticals and the Road to Wi-Fi 6 Deployments

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Radeon RADV Vulkan Driver Tackling NGG Stream-Out


One of the areas the RadeonSI OpenGL and RADV/AMDVLK Vulkan drivers have had a challenging time promptly support with AMD Navi GPUs has been the NGG (Next-Gen Geometry) functionality but it’s slowly getting worked out.

The NGG engine support has required various fixes to the graphics drivers, Navi 14 NGG support is borked, and various other Next-Gen Geometry support issues in the Navi driver code. At least on the software side the open-source developers have continued to improve the support and today the latest improvements arrived for the Mesa RADV Vulkan driver.

Samuel Pitoiset of Valve’s open-source Linux graphics driver team has now managed to get stream-out functionality working on NGG. Samuel implemented NGG stream-out functionality but the Vulkan transform feedback support is still disabled by default. The problem with the transform feedback support is that it can still randomly hang, similar to NGG issues also seen with the RadeonSI OpenGL driver.

But at least a lot of NGG activity is happening to the Next-Gen Geometry support for Navi/GFX10 so hopefully by the time Mesa 19.3 rolls out in December the support will be in better standing.

Intel’s Gallium3D Driver Is Running Much Faster Than Their Current OpenGL Linux Driver With Mesa 19.3

Last month I did some fresh benchmarks of Intel’s new open-source OpenGL Linux driver with Mesa 19.2 and those results were looking good as tested with a Core i9 9900K. Since then, more Intel Gallium3D driver improvements have landed for what will become Mesa 19.3 next quarter. In taking another look at their former/current and new OpenGL drivers, here are fresh benchmarks of the latest code using a Core i7 8700K desktop as well as a Core i7 8550U Dell XPS laptop.

This month so far Intel’s new Gallium3D OpenGL driver has seen OpenGL 4.6 support added, an optimization to help the Java OpenGL performance (one of the deficiencies noted by our earlier rounds of benchmarks), and other performance work.

For some weekend benchmarking fun I tested the Core i7 8700K desktop and Dell XPS 13 laptop with Core i7 8550U graphics while comparing the OpenGL driver options. The driver state for both the i965 and Iris Gallium3D drivers were of Mesa 19.3-devel Git as of this week and also running with the near-final Linux 5.3 kernel.

With Mesa 19.3 due out in December, this is the first release where Intel developers are planning to default to their Gallium3D driver for Broadwell and newer. That change-over hasn’t happened yet but based upon our testing, it certainly is looking feasible.

An Improved Linux MEMSET Is Being Tackled For Possibly Better Performance


Borislav Petkov has taken to improve the Linux kernel’s memset function with it being an area previously criticzed by Linus Torvalds and other prominent developers.

Petkov this week published his initial patch for better optimizing the memset function that is used for filling memory with a constant byte.

The new memset approach is talked at length in this kernel mailing list message.

Veteran kernel developer Ingo Molnar was quick to comment and brought up that the improvements could offer performance implications. “That looks exciting – I’m wondering what effects this has on code footprint – for example defconfig vmlinux code size, and what the average per call site footprint impact is? If the footprint effect is acceptable, then I’d expect this to improve performance, especially in hot loops.

It will be interesting to see where this work leads.

Archman Linux: Pure Arch With Extra Flair | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Sep 13, 2019 11:12 AM PT

Archman Linux: Pure Arch With Extra Flair

Developers released the latest edition of
Archman GNU/Linux on Sept. 5. The Xfce desktop edition updates the Nov. 5, 2018, release.

Archman is an Arch Linux-based rolling distribution featuring the Calamares system installer, Pamac package manager, and a selection of preconfigured desktop environments. The distro’s name is derived from the combination of Arch Linux and Pacman package management.

The new version comes with a customized Xfce 4.14 desktop environment. The customization is immediately noticeable in the design of the desktop panel.

The panel is centered at the bottom of the screen. Its positioning consumes about 70 percent of the bottom screen area. Combined with a smart hiding feature, the overall visual effect is to make the entire screen real estate available for use.

Archman -- Xfce 2019-09, code-named Lake With Fish

Archman — Xfce 2019-09, code-named ‘Lake With Fish’ — is a stable release ready to use. It comes with several essential productivity applications to get you started. The rest you can add as needed.

Another modified design adds special windows display treatment to the panel. The open windows are grouped as icons only in the panel display. Many other cosmetic changes are built into the desktop’s design.

One is the switching from the Papirus icon set to the Surfn Arc icon set. Another is providing an alternative package installer. Added to the Archman repository is TkPacman, a lightweight graphical user interface for pacman.

tkPacman is a nice alternative. It makes handling system updates easier. The pamac package manager, an Arch Linux staple, comes with its own command line interface utility.

Archman Linux Xfce menu and control panels

The Xfce menu and control panels allow considerable flexibility in adjusting the appearance and the usability without a big learning curve.

Desktop Delights

The Xfce desktop environment is an ideal lightweight environment that is loaded with functionality and customization options, but it is not so ideal if you want eye candy and animations as part of your desktop display.

The newest desktop release gives a slightly more modern look and feel to your screen. The Xfce environment puts a lot of speed and computing functionality into legacy hardware. However, if you run it on a relatively more powerful computer, you might have to settle for enjoying speedy performance while tolerating bland appearance.

Other desktop options are available, though — Archman is not a one-trick Linux distro. Recent 2019 Archman releases are Budgie, Deepin, GNOME, JWM, KDE Plasma, LXQt and MATE.

Archman Linux Xfce desktop

Archman Linux offers numerous desktop environments. The modified Xfce desktop has several modern features that make it one of the more configurable desktops available.

Allure, Not Angst

From a user’s viewpoint, Arch Linux distros are infamous for their troublesome installation and configuring processes. Arch Linux distros come with a few more stumbling blocks than other Linux options. This, plus archaic software management routines, makes most Arch Linux releases too hard-core for many Linux users, especially Linux newbies.

Arch anything is a challenge that may not be worth the effort for typical daily computing needs. For example, most Linux distros provide an automated installation routine that comes with a standard set of everyday applications. Arch Linux offerings, on the other hand, are designed to start with a bare-bones system. You can add software you want rather than having to remove what you do not want, or ignore the bloat.

Most Arch-based Linux distributions merely let you burn the downloaded ISO file to DVD to use as an installation medium. They usually do not boot your computer into a standalone demo or live session mode.

Archman does — and much more. The result is a very user-friendly computing experience.

Installation 101

Archman Linux is part of a new breed of Arch Linux systems that strive to make getting started less challenging. I am not saying you can install Archman Linux in a flash and not see any glitches.

I usually grouse loudly when going though Arch distro installations. More times than not, it takes several attempts interspersed with hunting online for fixes and workarounds. Archman Linux spared me from those antics when I installed it on several aging computers and a few new boxes.

This distro makes it easier to go from downloading the ISO file to booting into the desktop. The Archman ISO brings some modern touches to the task of installing a custom Arch-based system.

The ISO boots into a spry live session. You then can click on the Calamares Installer. This handy alternative method provides a semi-automated routine that includes partitioning the hard drive with a built-in Gparted-style tool.

Once you get beyond installing the distro, Archman Linux provides a pleasant computing platform. Unlike other Arch distros, Archman Linux has a small but useful set of preinstalled system tools and productivity applications, so you start off with more than a minimal software inventory.

Family Familiarity

Archman is pure Arch Linux with a touch of class. The developer calls this distro the “optimal optimized Arch Linux environment.”

The Archman package repository has its own customizations and system configurations. It uses almost all Arch Linux repositories.

The Archman package repository has very few packages. Arch repositories by design opt for superior quality over numerous similar mundane packages that serve the same computing tasks. They include distribution artwork, configurations, several packages that are not supported in the official repositories, and hardware drivers that are not yet supported.

The community developers built this operating system to bring what they regard as the awesomeness of Arch Linux to users who might be reluctant to try it, according to the website. It is a rolling distro, so updates and new features are pushed out to existing users as they become available. You do not have to deal with reinstalling each upgrade.

Bottom Line

The distro’s origin is Turkey. That by itself is not an issue, but the reach of the Archman community’s language localization seems a bit short.

In numerous documentation and website displays, the use of English is a bit awkward. The flawed English does not seem to be a factor within the operating system itself though. Still, if you are struggling to deal with Arch idiosyncrasies, side-stepping some of the phraseology can add to the frustration.

Distros based on Arch Linux usually are not a good starting choice for newcomers to the Linux operating system. Users need a better handle on how Linux works to use Arch-based distros successfully. Considerable background reading is necessary for things to make sense with minimal frustration.

Arch Linux distros in general are not ideal operating systems for users with little Linux experience. Developers of distros such as Archman Linux are trying to change that reputation. Archman Linux can be a good second OS to use as a tool for learning more about how Linux works.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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