Tag Archives: Ahead

DRM-Misc-Next Continues Prepping More Code Ahead Of Linux 5.15


Another weekly batch of drm-misc-next patches were submitted on Thursday for going into DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 5.15 merge window. This drm-misc-next material continues to represent core Direct Rendering Manager changes as well as alterations/additions to the smaller DRM drivers.

Last week was an initial batch of drm-misc-next changes destined for 5.15. This week’s is a bit less exciting but still noteworthy and there still are a few more weeks to go before the feature cut-off for this next merge window. The new material this week included:

– Dropping of sysfs statistics around DMA-BUF attachments as it ends up introducing a performance regression. Fortunately, that feature was just submitted in the prior pull request and thus not yet in a mainline kernel release, so they are not regressing/breaking the user-space interface.

– DMA-BUF fixes.

– Extending the x86 EFI frame-buffer (EFIFB) code to work on all architectures.

– Support for the WS2401 panel.

There are also some VGA arbiter (VGAARB) changes too as part of this pull. That goes along with changes pending over in the PCI subsystem over reworking the default VGA device selection. See this patch message for details on how the default VGA device selection would change. One of the main motivations for this work is over some BMC-based VGA adapters not enabling VGA legacy resources and that in turn leading to no default VGA card being discovered and in turn breaking X.Org auto display detection.

The list of drm-misc-next patches this week can be found via the dri-devel list.

Linux Gets New Thermal Driver Code Ahead of Alder Lake


The thermal subsystem updates for the Linux 5.14 kernel include more work on Intel’s int340x driver that is used by newer Intel laptops for dealing with their varying thermal control capabilities and exposing more thermal information to user-space for use by Intel’s Thermal Daemon (Thermald). This cycle the work includes a new driver that will be used by next-gen Alder Lake SoCs.

Among the Intel int340x thermal work for Linux 5.14 is the introduction of a new processor_thermal PCI MMIO-based driver. This PCI driver registers a thermal zone and the temperatures and trip points are using PCI MMIO rather than ACPI methods for communication. This PCI MMIO thermal driver is set so far just to be used for upcoming Alder Lake SoCs and isn’t used by already supported int340x-using hardware.

Also for this next kernel the Intel int340x code exports more attributes via sysfs. The current DDR memory data rate is exposed as a new “ddr_data_rate” attribute on sysfs for those wondering if the DDR speed is being set lower for thermal reasons.

The other new attribute on sysfs for int340x is “rfi_restriction” for showing or setting the Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) protection state. This is part of Intel’s recent work around radio frequency interference mitigation on Linux.

The Intel thermal work and other new code in this subsystem can be found via this pull request. The work though hasn’t landed as it looks like the thermal code will be re-submitted but without the NVIDIA Tegra changes due to build breakage.

VPN for Enterprises in 2020 and Future Ahead

In the last decade, many enterprises having facilities spread across multiple continents have adopted digital systems. Wide Area Networks (WANs) are extensively used to interconnect those digital systems. However, WANs are mainly built upon telephone leased lines that are too expensive for enterprises. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have emerged as a cost-efficient solution for enterprises; VPNs use a less expensive and widely available public network, the Internet.

VPN is a networking architecture that utilizes the public network to support secure communication between many branches or users. In VPN architecture, a secure medium is established within the public Internet, forming a tunnel between the sender and receiver for sharing sensitive data. This way, VPN has empowered enterprises to expand their services to connected branches and remotely working users like employees, partners, and branch servers.

A major reason for the adoption of a VPN is to tackle increasing cyber or denial of services (DDOS) attacks to the enterprise network. As per Verizon’s report, 43% of cyber-attack breaches involved small business victims. With its tunneling capability, VPN establishes a point-to-point connection between branch/users and servers on the Internet.

How VPN is powering enterprises?

We have seen the explosion of digital devices in the form of laptops, mobile, and many devices that are used in business operations. Employees of any enterprise are spread in different parts of the world, and multiple businesses are collaborating to share their private networks for the exchange of application data. VPN is helping to keep the connection secure and private, enables data encryption, and allows device scanning capabilities for any malware presence on devices.

The use of VPN services has created a bottleneck for enterprises as it reduces the network speed and slows down data-related operations. But due to the emergence of layer 2 tunneling protocols (L2TP) and virtual private LAN service (VPLS), the issue of network speed was addressed, and it is now possible to run latency-sensitive business applications on VPN.

Another key benefit is that a VPN establishes a common logical network over the Internet that can be accessed from any country. The Internet is easily accessible in any country, thus enabling secure connectivity while enterprise users travel across many countries. Such access is important because some countries have blocked several portals in their public internet access. Also, some countries have formed regulations for data exchange with the rest of the countries in the world. VPNs can be useful in that case to bypass these kinds of rulesets.

VPN Market

There are many VPN providers in the market today. All of them offer features that are suitable for businesses with a different scale. While choosing a VPN for business operations, enterprises should keep in mind the security perimeters offered by VPN, the number of servers spread across the world, dedicated IP support, logging policy, data encryption, level of configuration, device compatibilities, impact of performance on business network, and the tentative scale of enterprise network.

Many security solutions companies have entered the VPN market. McAfee acquired the TunnelBear VPN, and Norton has launched a VPN for mobile users. According to the Global Market Insights report, the VPN market was $18 billion in 2018 and will hit the $54 billion mark until 2024.

Future on VPN

In the last five years, the concept of virtualization and software-defined networking has shaped the technology ecosystem of enterprise IT infrastructure. This rapid change is driven because of the usage of cloud services along with an explosion in the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm. Network admins are focusing on managing and defining policies to all the connected devices from one pane of glass in an automated and intelligent way.

Currently, the manual intervention of users is required to enable VPN on their devices. VPN is supposed to make a transition to enable automation and intelligence for architecture and connected devices in upcoming years.

Another trend that developed a few years back was that tech giants like Google, Facebook, and McAfee launched cloud-based VPN services to replace traditional VPN. This move was a response to be aligned with cloud services offered over the Internet. In upcoming years, cloud VPN will be more adopted as the move to cloud increases.

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IT Matters: How to Get Ahead in 2020

At the turn of the decade, the key to business success remains essentially the same. Companies, large or small, need to find a way to do more with less – and it is the same in IT. Those who manage to reduce their overheads while improving their computing and networking infrastructure will be best placed to drive bigger business benefits. At the core of these efforts will always lie a secure, fast, and reliable network that empowers each worker in the business to get their tasks done efficiently and with minimal risk of exposing sensitive data.

In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a number of very exciting announcements and trends that took off to make a huge impact on the IT sector in the new year. The crucial step for businesses and resellers alike is to ensure they are well acquainted with the promising new technologies. Most vendors run insightful webinars, publish handy guides, and whitepapers to help educate the market on what’s there to gain from the innovations and how they can be best deployed. These days, there is little excuse for not understanding how new technologies can benefit a business, and those who stay ahead of the curve are the ones who will see the greatest ROI.

Having this knowledge enables IT managers to make smart choices about their next steps and ensure that no opportunities are missed. Going into 2020, there are three key IT areas that need to be prioritized by those wishing to get ahead of the competition.

On the wave of Wi-Fi 6

802.11ac Wave 2 was originally hailed as the next big thing for wireless networking in 2019 but failed to deliver outside lab tests. Following that disappointment, we are now beginning to see the first applications of the next wireless standard, 802.11ax – or Wi-Fi 6. This technology is most likely going to be one of the most rapidly deployed standards because of the improvements it delivers.

For example, in ideal or rather “lab” settings, the standard can carry up to 10 Gbps – a huge leap forward given that today the fastest we usually see in real-life installations without Wi-Fi 6 is 1.2 Gbps. Of course, we won’t be reaching the promised 10 Gbps in real deployments, but the speeds are already so much more impressive than what we are used to that we will see wireless speeds surpass the 1Gbps (LAN) and even heading towards the 5Gbps mark.

Yet, the beauty of Wi-Fi 6 is not just in its high speed, it also fixes a lot of density problems. We all have more connected devices than ever before, and the capacity of our access points is now stretched to the point where they simply can’t cope. The new wireless standard utilizes cellular network technology to cater for the modern busy environments, by communicating with multiple devices at once in a much more orderly fashion by using time timing slots to make sure everyone gets their fair share of access, much like speed dating to put it in layman’s terms. For businesses, the decision is simple – just think about the multitude of devices, from smartphones to IoT, that would instantaneously become much more efficient with Wi-Fi 6.

Switching on the multi-gig and Ultra PoE

This may be one of the best-kept secrets in the world of networking, but switches have received a major enhancement that the industry hasn’t seen for the past ten years. The evolution of switches has been very stagnant, but towards the end of 2019, multi-gigabit switching became a focal point. These switches will become even more vital because they now enable us to introduce higher connection speeds over existing cabling infrastructures.

When thinking about Wi-Fi 6, one of the key considerations is the cost of implementation. Wi-Fi 6 enabled access points do not present a huge financial outlay, whereas upgrading the existing data cabling to meet the new standard in a building becomes very expensive. Businesses must not only consider the cost of the hardware but, more importantly, the labor that goes into replacing the cables. Moving into next year, we’ll see more businesses wanting to achieve higher data throughput, and the introduction of multi-gig switches makes that much quicker and more affordable.

Also, many switches now offer 802.3bt PoE (Power over Ethernet) capability under the name PoE++ or Ultra PoE, and this is a very significant change. In simple terms, this PoE standard delivers 60 Watts when powering a device off a switch. With the increasing number of PoE devices launched on the market, such as WiFi6 APs, LED lighting, or monitors, this presents a further opportunity for businesses to reconsider how much they need to wire-up their premises.

Automated network security and data governance

Media attention to network security hasn’t slowed down over the past year, but it is still worth questioning how much businesses know about threat management and what technology is out there to help them. Resource-poor SMBs need to find ways to manage the high demands on data governance within their limited budgets and teams. The deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as a solution to this problem may seem too futuristic, but it has become more realistic and achievable than ever – even for small businesses.

We have not moved much further from the initial GDPR panic around protecting sensitive data, and the increase in cyber threats – from hacking to ransomware – is making it imperative for businesses to pay close attention to this area. Investing in advanced threat protection (ATP) solutions that leverage AI, ML, and cloud technologies will be the difference between thriving and struggling companies in the new year.

ATP essentially scans anything that enters the network, and when it detects unknown files or software, it checks it against a cloud threat system that leverages from AI and Sandboxing technologies to identify a potential threat and immediately stop it from spreading. As soon as an ATP discovers a new threat, it also updates the database so that any other connected devices are aware of it immediately. This automated and simplified approach to network security is perfect for SMBs as it takes out a lot of hassle, lowers the risks, and does not require an in-depth understanding of the issues. Resellers, on the other hand, are able to provide a proactive approach to threat monitoring, moving away from the reactive management of the past.

Succeed through setting priorities

With so much going on, it can be difficult for businesses to decide what to focus on first. Arguably, the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 are extremely tempting, but without the foundations in place, the new wireless standard will hardly impress. This is especially true for organizations with a high density of devices, as low access point capacity will quickly become a major limiting factor. Smaller businesses with fewer connected devices can already start looking for the most appropriate access point to manage their Wi-Fi 6 demands. However, those in busier environments, where density will be a problem, will first need to upgrade to multi-gig switches.

That said, there is little point in improving the speed or capacity of a network that is not sufficiently secure – this is like putting a new engine into a car that doesn’t have any brakes. Although ransomware seems a few years old now, it is still a growing threat, and SMBs are more likely to be targeted than large enterprises. So, investment in security solutions needs to be prioritized for businesses to make 2020 a success.


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Linux 5.5-rc3 Released With A Lot Of Fixes Ahead Of The Holidays


Linux 5.5-rc3 is out following a week of seeing many bug/regression fixes landing as we approach the half-way point of the Linux 5.5 kernel.

At least from my monitoring of Linux Git, one new change this week worth noting with Linux 5.5-rc3 is the fix for booting new AMD Threadripper 3960X/3970X systems without needing any workarounds. There are also some scheduler and power management fixes that respectively made it in this week — it’s on my TODO list during the holiday benchmarking for seeing if those (or other) recent changes addressed some of the odd performance encountered with Linux 5.5 earlier on in the cycle (some significant gains but also regressions).

As for the 5.5-rc3 announcement, Torvalds commented, “it’s bigger than rc2 was. Of course, “rc3 is bigger than rc2” is almost always true, but this time it’s quite a bit bigger, and just looking at commit counts, this is one of the bigger rc3’s we’ve had in quite a while.

In any case, Linux 5.5 is bringing a lot of improvements and new features with Linux 5.5-rc3 putting it one step closer to being released. At this stage it’s looking like Linux 5.5.0 stable should be out before the end of January but could slip into the first weekend of February if bugs make Linus Torvalds hesitant. As the next week or two with 5.5-rc4 / 5.5-rc5 will likely be lighter due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so it’s quite possible this release will indeed slip to February depending upon how many bugs persist into the new year.