Category Archives: Stiri IT Externe

GhostBSD 21.09.06 Released For This FreeBSD-Based Desktop OS


BSD --

GhostBSD 21.09.06 is now available as the latest release of this desktop-minded, FreeBSD-based operating system.

The principal change with GhostBSD 21.09.06 is switching back from using OpenRC as the init system to FreeBSD’s rc.d for this handling of starting services. GhostBSD had enjoying OpenRC’s service status feature but in the end it wasn’t worthwhile due to GhostBSD needing to keep the OpenRC handling up-to-date with FreeBSD services catering to rc.d. After spending more than the past month transitioning back, GhostBSD is now ready to go with using rc.d.

OpenRC is expected to remain in the GhostBSD source tree at least until next year but there isn’t the manpower available to keep the services up-to-date with it compared to just using FreeBSD’s rc.d for starting services.

GhostBSD 21.09.06 also has a number of fixes and other improvements as laid out by the GhostBSD.org announcement.


Latest POP_OS! Release Brings COSMIC Overtones


When I reviewed POP!_OS 20.04 in May 2020, I saw its potential to be one of the best starting points for any new Linux user.

The latest release, POP!_OS Linux 21.04 issued June 29, clearly shows that the in-house tweaking of the GNOME desktop to the COSMIC GNOME-based desktop is even more inviting.

Given this distro’s rising popularity, it will continue to hold that distinction. COSMIC is an attractive offering for seasoned Linux users as well.

That is a bold statement, but developer System76 has made some bold moves to push this distro to the forefront and spark its popularity among newcomers to Linux — as well as with seasoned users. That was true for the changeover to a modified GNOME desktop last year. It is even truer with this latest release’s added COSMIC polish to GNOME.

COSMIC stands for Computer Operating System Main Interface Components. While it is not an out-of-this-world or strikingly new desktop environment, it does provide enough change to the traditional GNOME user interface to be better than the original.

That has been System 76’s goal from the get-go. The company has refined the desktop experience primarily for its own line of Linux-powered computers. But even running POP_OS! on your own unoptimized hardware, this Linux distribution soars like a heavenly creature.

What’s Up with COSMIC

Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) is the first release of System76’s distribution with its own revamped GNOME desktop environment. Earlier releases were based on stock GNOME with additional System76 tweaks.

Numerous distro makers using the GNOME desktop modify its user interface. So that is not a remarkable innovation at all.

What is noteworthy, however, is the subtlety of the innovations that produce a much better hands-on experience using GNOME’s underpinnings. I am not a zealous fan of GNOME in almost any modified version. I find that the desktop environment is too inflexible in meeting the demands of my workflow.


Much of that displeasure is a reaction to power-user features easily accessible to fully functional panel bars and keyboard shortcuts that supplement navigating around multiple open virtual workspaces. GNOME just gets in the way of executing my on-screen workflow needs.

The modified COSMIC GNOME integration soothes and solves much of that workflow blockage. The COSMIC desktop comes with a fully customizable dock. It splits the Activities Overview function into Workspaces and Applications views. It provides the ability to open the launcher with the Super key, as well as various trackpad gestures.

The COSMIC desktop also brings streamlined launching and switching between applications. All these features make the interface simpler and more straightforward to use.

POP_OS! Workspaces

Meet the COSMIC layout. Workspace overview is still displayed in a vertical column when you click on the Workspaces button at the top left of the screen. You can also use the Show Workspaces button on the far left of the bottom dock or near the right side of the top panel.


More Under the Hood

In short, COSMIC with POP_OS! just has enough new options to deliver an adjusted GNOME desktop to satisfy my personal computing tastes and meet most of my workflow needs. Is it an all-around perfect computing solution? No! But it is much closer to meeting that goal without having to leave GNOME behind.

One glaring example is the option to have minimize/maximize buttons for windows. Add to that the ability to tile windows with the mouse by clicking and dragging tiled windows to rearrange them.

COSMIC also adds an ability to upgrade the recovery partition, an improved search feature, and a plugin system for the launcher to let you create your own plugins. Plus, the new release comes with updated components and a newer kernel from the upstream Ubuntu 21.04 release.

Another nice touch is being able to move the workspaces to the left or right edges of the screen. To do that, open Settings and go to Desktop | Workspaces.

But the System76 designers left a glaring old GNOME menu display in place. The application menu remains full screen. That might be a visual impediment to which new users will have to adjust. The popup or dropdown one- or two-column menu most Linux operating systems use is not a part of the COSMIC display.

POP_OS! Applications launcher

One thing that has not changed with COSMIC’s design is the full-screen applications launcher. Press the Applications button and then select the software category. You can see the selected category (in this case System applications) in the top square overlay. The full-screen menu with all software is somewhat visible under the displayed System folder.


A More Likable GNOME

POP_OS! is largely a “take it or leave it” offering. If you really like the GNOME environment, you should love how System76 morphed the UI into something unlike any other GNOME desktop revisions in any other Linux distro. If you are not familiar with GNOME yet, this is a much better version to make that introduction.

One example of this likability is how COSMIC handles workspaces. POP_OS! uses a vertical layout along the edge of the screen for the workspace overview. But the designers made up for that GNOME carryover somewhat by adding a Workspaces button in the top panel. I give designers credit for building in the ability to easily drag and drop applications to a different Workspace.

Another new element is the centered bottom dock. But I find the dock provides less utility than a fully functional bottom panel. Functionality should include more than just a holding spot for quick access apps.

YES, the latest POP_OS! has a top panel that resembles a classic Linux layout. But this panel bar lacks full functionality. However, it does provide access to other system icons on the right end. It also includes a Workspaces button in the top panel.

Unusual Tiling Option

Usually, tiling window managers is a separate kind of desktop environment in Linux distros that offer that option. POP_OS! does include it as an option. Tiling windows is not for everyone. In COSMIC, the tiling window manager is highly tweaked.

The window tiling feature automates the process of arranging window sizes in split-screen configurations. But it is not a typical Linux feature that has universal appeal.

I doubt new users to POP_OS! will find it particularly endearing or useful. However, other components of COSMIC will certainly make trying this new release worthwhile; like trackpad gestures, for instance.

Keeping Track of Gestures

System76 seems quite committed to making gestures a new Linux OS staple for trackpads. Its designers have done a good job to make this a palatable feature.

If you are handy with the Chromebook platform, you no doubt already are proficient in using trackpad gestures. Lately, I use Chrome OS quite a bit. It is a nice change of pace and lets me combine the benefits of tablets and my favorite Linux applications. I think my growing affinity for Chromebooks has made me feel more at home with the latest release of POP_OS!.

The included gestures are:

  • Swipe four fingers right on the trackpad to open the Applications view;
  • Swipe four fingers left to open the Workspaces view;
  • Swipe four fingers up or down to switch to another workspace;
  • Swipe (in any direction) with three fingers to switch between open windows.

Trackpad’s gestures is a game-changer for desktop Linux in general and for POP_OS! in particular. It is efficient and user-friendly.

Bottom Line

The combination of an Ubuntu base and GNOME customization makes POP!_OS with the new COSMIC integration a winning choice. New features and more tweaking make this release extra productive.

The only decision you need to make to download POP_OS! is your hardware configuration. It must be a 64-bit system. This release will not run on older 32-bit computers.


Another factor is the type of graphics your system uses. One download ISO file is strictly for Nvidia graphics cards. Otherwise, click on the other ISO choice.

The only other hardware requirement to meet is two GB RAM with at least 16 GB storage.

If you like the performance that this latest POP_OS! release gives you on your current computer, sit back and enjoy. Then think about how super-fast it will run on a spiffy new System76 computer that enhances the optimized operating system software.

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?

Please email your ideas to me and I’ll consider them for a future column.

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



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Linux 5.15 Adds New Syscall To More Quickly Free Memory Of Dying Processes


LINUX KERNEL --

To help out memory pressure / out-of-memory killing solutions like systemd-oomd or Android’s LMKD, Linux 5.15 is introducing the “process_mrelease” system call to more quickly free the memory of dying processes.

Earlier this summer I wrote about a proposed “process_reap” system call for more quickly reclaiming memory when under pressure. It’s that work that evolved into “process_mrelease” and this new system call is now ready to go for Linux 5.15.

The aim in that using this system call can allow for reclaiming memory of a dying process quickly and more predictably than the status quo.


Linux — particularly Linux on the desktop — traditionally hasn’t coped too well when under memory pressure but there has been steady progress in recent years with systemd-oomd, various kernel innovations, and now process_mrelease being the latest work in this area.

The patch merged to Linux 5.15 by way of Andrew Morton’s patch series goes on to explain this process_mrelease system call:

For such system component it’s important to be able to free memory quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately the time process takes to free up its memory after receiving a SIGKILL might vary based on the state of the process (uninterruptible sleep), size and OPP level of the core the process is running. A mechanism to free resources of the target process in a more predictable way would improve system’s ability to control its memory pressure.

Introduce process_mrelease system call that releases memory of a dying process from the context of the caller. This way the memory is freed in a more controllable way with CPU affinity and priority of the caller. The workload of freeing the memory will also be charged to the caller. The operation is allowed only on a dying process.


Cutting Through the Fog Surrounding Private 5G Networks


About a year ago, Deere & Co. grabbed headlines for entering the Citizen’s Band Radio Service (CBRS) auction and buying licenses for spectrum. It plans to use the spectrum in private 5G networks in manufacturing facilities and to enable intelligent agriculture, both in rural areas that are not tops on operators’ rollout lists.

Since the auction, it seems, everyone in the fast-evolving wireless networking ecosystem, except Deere, has talked endlessly about their private 5G network plans: wireless operators, network integrators, equipment vendors, and spectrum license owners. And all will team with partners to deliver the next-gen networks.

Defining “private 5G network”

The pressing question is how enterprises define “private” 5G networks, this at a time when providers express interest in staying involved after the network is built by selling management, monitoring, security, multivendor systems integration, and oversight services to enterprises. These options are in sharp contrast to the time-tested DIY private net approach that Deere seems driven by.

Operators clearly want in on the private 5G network opportunity by offering managed network options, with companies offering network operations centers (NOC) from which to provide the above-mentioned services, as well as SLAs.

Enterprise-handled?

Do we assume that enterprises handle configuration and ongoing configuration management, performance management, and setting service levels? These foundational tasks must be high on the decision list for those seeking private networks.

Once enterprises determine the ROI of a private 5G network is better than that associated with using an operator’s public 5G service, which comes down to the application and geographic coverage issues, the options are aplenty.

Enterprise IT needs to decide exactly how much, if any, of a private 5G network it wants provided and managed. They must also decide where they stand on top issues and which assets they currently possess.

The checklist

Specs and standards: In an emerging ecosystem, it’s always wise to consult with relevant industry and standards-making bodies to determine what has been defined, what’s pending, and what important areas ate TBD. Whether it’s industry associations and/or standards-crafting bodies, enterprises, and the entities they need to make private 5G networks are on the road to making these high-speed nets a reality

Talent: Does your enterprise have staff with the knowledge and skills needed to handle and manage the private 5G network? If not, it’s available for hire or pay from independent contractors, in some cases those firms that helped U.S. operators with their current 5G public network rollouts.

Equipment partners: In the last year, network operators have announced partnerships with an array of wireless equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Siemens AG, to team to build private 5G networks, most of which are already working with enterprises themselves on pilot tests to gain crucial experience with the opportunity. These engagements are underway around the globe.

Security: Enterprises currently on 5G are aware the technology in and of itself is secure. However, this make-or-break responsibility may be beyond the skillsets of some users’ corporate IT and related departments. These firms can engage third-party entities that understand their business, applications, performance levels, and goals.

Spectrum: The CBRS auction enabled Deere, Chevron, several power companies, and manufacturers to buy licenses for 10 MHz slices of spectrum in the shared usage band. There are mechanisms – spectrum access systems – in place to prevent interference in the CBRS spectrum. Companies such as Federated Wireless provide spectrum to enterprises -often as part of network solutions – since the CBRS auction closed.

In August, Federated and Anterix, a holder of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, announced a partnership to provide a dual-band offering to enterprises in the utilities vertical industry. IT managers should expect more vertical-specific solutions providers – with valuable knowledge of focused applications and experience working in specific markets – to emerge.

Design, construction, and management: Options for private 5G nets are emerging. For example, Betacom, a longtime design and deployment partner to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, launched a fully managed private 5G network service in late May. The company handles network design, deployment, and management for the offering. Betacom explains enterprise customers retain ownership of the network and local control of their data. Management is provided by its NOC, which is hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Exploring the wireless WAN: For those enterprises looking for a managed, high-speed connectivity without owning all the components, Boise, IA-based Cradlepoint offers wireless WAN managed service that can include edge networking gear such as 5G routers. Cradlepoint was acquired by Ericsson in September 2020.

Time and timing

Given the early state of the private 5G network ecosystem, IT managers and their businesses aren’t hard-pressed to make a quick decision. This can be a positive since many of the players in the ecosystem haven’t established a track record in the space per se.

Those operators, vendors, integrators, and service providers seeking entry into the ecosystem have made news with partnerships, initial services, and tests with household names in the U.S. and abroad; actual commercial deployments are largely in the early stages.

This leaves plenty of time for enterprises to evaluate all aspects of the private 5G network opportunity. The menu of options is under construction.



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ASUS Platform Profile Support, Alder Lake PMC Support + More Land For Linux 5.15


LINUX KERNEL --

The platform-drivers-x86 area of the kernel continues to be quite active with particularly offering better support for modern Intel/AMD laptops. With Linux 5.15 there is another big batch of improvements that landed at the end of last week.

Highlights of the x86 platform drivers work for Linux 5.15 includes:

– ASUS laptop support for ACPI platform profile handling has landed, similar to the platform profile support for Dell and Lenovo laptops for making it easy to manipulate the system’s power management behavior depending upon power or performance preferences.

– The ASUS WMI driver also has the additions around being able to enable a connected eGPU on select laptops and also being able to disable the dGPU on various ASUS laptops. There is also panel overdrive support too.

– Alder Lake support has been added to the Intel PMC driver.

– A platform driver for the meraki-mx100, a cloud managed security appliance from Meraki.

– The Gigabyte WMI driver now supports the X570 GAMINGX and B450M S2H V2 motherboards.

– Various fixes/quirks for a number of different laptops.

See the pull for the full list of changes.