Tag Archives: Google

Google Brings Linux to Chromebook » Linux Magazine

Linux-based Chromebooks are not capable of natively running Linux apps and utilities. Last year, Google launched project Crostini to allow Linux apps – primarily command line tools and utilities – to run natively on ChromeOS using containerization.

According to some media reports, at the Google I/O summit this year, Google announced that “all Chromebooks launched in 2019 will be Linux-ready right out of the box.” It means all new Chromebooks will have Crostini enabled by default.

“Crostini is the umbrella term for making Linux application support easy to use and integrating well with Chrome OS. It largely focuses on getting you a Terminal with a container and easy access to install whatever developer-focused tools you might want. It’s the default first-party experience,” said the Project Crostini page.

Both Google and Microsoft are trying to lure developers towards their platforms, and they see a benefit in providing Linux command-line utilities that many developers/sysadmins need to test, build, and run their cloud-native applications.

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Google Worked On A New Aspeed Control Driver For Linux 5.2


Aspeed BMCs have seen a lot of mainline Linux kernel driver activity from a recent Aspeed video engine driver to an AST2500 SoC DRM driver queued for Linux 5.2 and now also joining that is the Aspeed P2A CTRL driver.

This Aspeed P2A control driver was worked on by Google developers and is for dealing with the AST2400/AST2500 where supporting a PCI-to-AHB MMIO bridge for leeting the system read/write to the BMC’s physical address space as part of features like sending files to the BMC. The 500+ lines of code for the ASPEED_PTA_CTRL “aspeed-pta-ctrl” driver is used for managing this interface.

The driver by Google’s Patrick Venture was added to the char-misc-next area ahead of Linux 5.2. The commit explains:

The host may use this to send down a firmware image by staging data at a specific memory address, and in a coordinated effort with the BMC’s software stack and kernel, transmit the bytes.

This driver enables the BMC to unlock the PCI bridge on demand, and configure it via ioctl to allow the host to write bytes to an agreed upon location. In the primary use-case, the region to use is known apriori on the BMC, and the host requests this information. Once this request is received, the BMC’s software stack will enable the bridge and the region and then using some software flow control (possibly via IPMI packets), copy the bytes down. Once the process is complete, the BMC will disable the bridge and unset any region involved.

The default behavior of this bridge when present is: enabled and all regions marked read-write. This driver will fix the regions to be read-only and then disable the bridge entirely.

The memory regions protected are:

* BMC flash MMIO window
* System flash MMIO windows
* SOC IO (peripheral MMIO)

The DRAM region itself is all of DRAM and cannot be further specified. Once the PCI bridge is enabled, the host can read all of DRAM, and if the DRAM section is write-enabled, then it can write to all of it.

Microsoft’s Edge Goes With the Chromium Flow | Developers

By Jack M. Germain

Apr 10, 2019 5:00 AM PT

Microsoft on Monday released the first Dev and Canary channel builds of the next version of Microsoft Edge, which is based on the Chromium open source project.

The company last year revealed that it was reworking its Edge browser to be based on Chromium. Now the latest developments are ready for early testers and adopters on several versions of Windows and macOS. So far, however, no support is available for Linux.

The new Microsoft Edge builds are available through preview channels called “Microsoft Edge Insider Channels.” The first two Microsoft Edge Insider Channels,
Canary and
Dev, are available for all supported versions of Windows 10, with more platforms coming soon.

Microsoft will update the Canary channel daily and the Dev channel weekly. You can install the new Edge builds from multiple channels side-by-side for testing. Each has its own separate icon and name.

Microsoft uses the Canary channel to validate bug fixes and test brand new features. The Canary channel offers the bleeding-edge, newest builds. The Dev channel build has undergone slightly more testing but is still relatively fresh.

The Dev channel offers the best build of the week from the Canary channel based on user feedback, automated test results, performance metrics and telemetry. It provides the latest development version of Microsoft Edge as a daily driver.

The company later will introduce Beta and Stable channels to provide significantly more stable releases. Those more developed releases will give Enterprises and IT Pros lead time to start piloting the next version of Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft will not change the existing installed version of Microsoft Edge yet. It will continue to work side by side with the builds from any of the Microsoft Edge Insider Channels.

The browser upgrade is not likely to draw more users to the retooled Edge browser than dedicated Microsoft customers, suggested Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“That is especially true since Microsoft is disabling many of the functions integrated with Google apps and tools,” he told LinuxInsider.

Logical Next Step

Microsoft’s decision to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of its new Edge browser on the desktop is a logical step in the company’s efforts to become more embedded with open source technology. The Edge browser has been struggling.

The new development road map is based on a microservices/componentized approach, according to the company. Microsoft’s goal is to create better Web compatibility for its customers. It also aims to reduce fragmentation of the Web for all Web developers.

Rebuilding the Edge browser around Chromium reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to open source. Its software engineers have started making contributions back to Chromium in areas involving accessibility, touch and ARM64.

The company plans to continue working within the existing Chromium project rather than creating a parallel project. The Microsoft team is working directly with the teams at Google.

It’s not likely that Microsoft’s increased involvement with open source will give the company any competitive edge, King observed.

“I expect them to function much as any contributor. It’s less of an issue today than it would be if Steve Ballmer were still Microsoft’s CEO,” he said.

Other Good Options Lacking

Microsoft was faced with one of those “if you can’t beat them, join them” situations, according to King. That might have figured into the Chromium decision.

“As a technology comes to dominate online functions and interactions, developers focus on optimizing sites and apps for it. To ensure that customers have optimum online experiences, vendors adopt those dominant technologies,” he pointed out.

That is the current situation with Chromium. Ironically enough, Microsoft once was in a similar situation with its Internet Explorer technology, King recalled.

Rebuilding the Edge browser on Chromium is a great move on Microsoft’s part, said Cody Swann, CEO of
Gunner Technology.

“This is going to be a huge cost saver for Microsoft,” he told LinuxInsider. The company “can basically reassign or release a ton of engineers who were given to a losing effort to begin with.”

Revised Technology

The Edge browser will differ in several key areas from the existing open source Chromium project that Google initially developed. Most of the heavy-duty differences will be hidden under the hood.

On the technical underbelly, Microsoft is working on replacing its EdgeHTML rendering engine with Chromium’s Blink. Microsoft also is replacing its Chakra JavaScript engine with Chromium’s V8.

Microsoft is replacing or turning off more than 50 Chromium services in Edge. Some of these include Google-specific services like Google Now, Google Pay, Google Cloud Messaging, Chrome OS device management and Chrome Cleanup. Others involve existing Chromium functions such as ad blocking, spellcheck, speech input and Android app password sync.

In shifting from Google-based services to its own ecosystem, Microsoft is building into its new Edge browser support for MSA (Microsoft Accounts) and Azure Active Directory identities for authentication/single sign-in.

Microsoft also is integrating other Microsoft-based services, such as Bing Search; Windows Defender SmartScreen for phishing and malware protection; Microsoft Activity Feed Service for synchronizing data across Edge preview builds and across Edge on iOS and Android; and Microsoft News.

Bringing More to the Edge

Microsoft plans to build support for PlayReady DRM into its new Edge browser platform. Edge supports both PlayReady and Widevine.

Also in the works are additional services integration and single sign-on capabilities that presumably will support a widening deployment of Microsoft-based offerings.

Microsoft is planning to build in more than just cosmetic design changes to the Chromium browser, however. The intent is to avoid giving the new Edge a distinctively Chromium look and feel.

However, company officials have said the user interface will not be a priority until further along in the process.

Pros and Cons

On the plus side, users typically have better experiences with optimized tools and applications. On the negative, the situation entrusts a lot of power to individual companies, noted King.

“Sites that are not optimized for dominant tech also tend to perform relatively poorly compared to those that are. That results in a two-tier Web of sorts, which is one of the reasons Mozilla developed Firefox,” he said.

There is no downside to Microsoft switching to the Chromium platform in Swann’s view.

“Microsoft has been dying a slow death in the browser wars since Firefox was released,” he said, “and they’re basically just throwing in the towel.”

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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The Current Windows 10 vs. Linux Browser Performance For Google Chrome + Mozilla Firefox

Last week were tests looking at the Firefox/Chrome web browser performance on eight Linux distributions but how does the situation look if adding Microsoft Windows 10 to the equation? Well, this article addresses that question as we looking at how well Chrome and Firefox compare Windows 10 vs. Linux on the same system and using the latest releases of these web browsers.

Normally in our Windows vs. Linux benchmarks we are used to seeing the open-source operating systems smack the Microsoft operating systems heavily, but when it comes to web browser performance, the tables have turned. Mozilla and Google are obviously much more focused on Windows given the larger market-share while time and time again we’ve seen both browser vendors stave off Linux features around GPU/video accleeration on the basis of driver woes and other issues that have hindered better Linux browsing support. But today’s article is the first time in a while looking closely at the Chrome and Firefox performance between Windows 10 Pro x64 and various Linux x86_64 distributions in a variety of popular browser benchmarks.

The same system was used for testing throughout (obviously) and included the Intel Core i9 9900K, ASUS PRIME Z390-A, 2 x 8GB DDR4-3000 memory, Samsung 970 EVO 250GB NVMe SSD, and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics… As always, the same hardware was used though in the system table any reported differences just come down to how the information is exposed by the operating system. The Linux tests done were the same as last week’s article with Clear Linux, Debian Buster, Fedora Workstation 29 (both under Wayland and X.Org), Manjaro Linux, Ubuntu 18.04.2, Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 19.04 daily, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and then the latest Windows 10 Pro state with all available updates. Each browser was tested out-of-the-box / default settings without any extra browser plug-ins.

Firefox 66 was in use on all tested operating systems except for Debian Buster still trailing with Debian 60.5.1 and openSUSE Tumbleweed still having been on Firefox 65. On the Chrome front, every operating system testes was with Chrome 73.0. Browser benchmarks ran via the Phoronix Test Suite included ARES-6, Octane, WebXPRT, Basemark, Jetstream, CanvasMark, MotionMark, and Speedometer.

Google Developer Contributes Universal Bandwidth Compression To Freedreno Driver


A new feature addition to the Freedreno Gallium3D driver for open-source Qualcomm Adreno 3D graphics capabilities is UBWC, or Universal Bandwidth Compression.

Fritz Koenig of Google has contributed UBWC support to the Freedreno driver with it being for the latest-generation Adreno 600 series graphics. UBWC reduces memory bandwidth via buffer compression. This may end up helping to increase performance or help with DDR memory power usage though no numbers were shared as part of the commit.

Qualcomm’s official documentation has cited “significant” power-savings potential with UBWC. It also appears UBWC works for Adreno 500 series hardware too albeit not implemented by the current Freedreno patches.

Wiring up this UBWC support to the Freedreno driver for the A6xx hardware and also enabling support for UBWC buffers to go directly to the scan-out amounted to just about 200 lines of new code.

The work is now in Mesa Git for next quarter’s Mesa 19.1 release.

Google has been helping out with the MSM/Freedreno open-source driver stack as its partially used by the new Pixel devices. Qualcomm’s Code Aurora has been mostly helping on the kernel side with the MSM DRM driver code. And, of course, Freedreno development continues to be spearheaded by its founder Rob Clark, working for Red Hat.