Tag Archives: Linux benchmarking

Linux 5.6-rc3 Released As A “Fairly Normal” Kernel


LINUX KERNEL --

Linus Torvalds is out today with the Linux 5.6-rc3 kernel as the latest weekly release candidate for Linux 5.6 that will be releasing as stable approximately in one month’s time.

Torvalds characterized Linux 5.6-rc3 as a “fairly normal” release for this third release candidate stage. In the past there’s been both bigger and smaller RC3 releases but overall at this stage is looking like a good release. Around 55% of the changes merged over the past week were driver related.

While post-RC1 is usually just about bug/regression fixing, Linux 5.6-rc3 does bring late feature additions for China’s C-SKY CPU architecture that missed the merge window at the start of the month.

Torvalds’ brief 5.6-rc3 message can be read on lore.kernel.org.

See our Linux 5.6 feature overview to learn about all of the changes in store for this next kernel installment that easily makes it one of the most exciting kernel updates in a long while.


Linux’s FSCRYPT Working On Encryption + Case-Insensitive Support


LINUX STORAGE --

FSCRYPT as the file-system encryption framework for the Linux kernel and is currently wired up for EXT4, F2FS, and UBIFS to offer native encryption capabilities is currently seeing improvements so the separate casefolding (case-insensitive) file/folder support can work on encrypted directories.

FSCRYPT is already quite versatile since being introduced to the mainline Linux kernel a few years ago and wired up most notably for EXT4 and F2FS. With Linux 5.2 though EXT4 saw optional, per-directory case-insensitive support and following that was also extended to F2FS.

One of the limitations though of the FSCRYPT file encryption support up to this point, however, is that it hasn’t worked with the casefolding code for file/folder case insensitivity. That though is changing and possibly for Linux 5.7 will be squared away so both features can work concurrently.

The FSCRYPT code currently has a wip-fscrypt-casefold branch where work is being queued on supporting case-folding in tandem with FSCRYPT-based encryption.

This introduces a new file-system agnostic generic UTF8 case-folding functions in the common Linux file-system area and subsequently wires up EXT4 and F2FS to make use of that new code. As for handling both case-folding and encryption, “This expands f2fs’s casefolding support to include encrypted directories. For encrypted directories, we use the siphash of the casefolded name. This ensures there is no direct way to go from an unencrypted name to the stored hash on disk without knowledge of the encryption policy keys.

These work-in-progress patches are being led by Google’s Daniel Rosenberg.


PipeWire 0.3 Released With Redesigned Scheduling Code To Offer JACK2-Like Performance


DESKTOP --

PipeWire is the Red Hat engineered project aiming to offer better audio/video stream handling on Linux that integrates well with Flatpak and can optimally handle use-cases currently covered by the likes of PulseAudio and JACK. This week marked the release of PipeWire 0.3 as another big step forward for the effort.

PipeWire 0.3 comes with redesigned scheduling mechanisms that should now offer its JACK compatibility layer performance that is comparable to JACK2.

Further making PipeWire 0.3 a big release is that its API is now deemed stable, there is a session manager to control the PipeWire graph, and the PulseAudio / JACK / ALSA compatibility layers are all in good shape. The ALSA compatibility layer is in best standing while future PipeWire releases will continue optimizing the JACK and PulseAudio layers.

Those building PipeWire from source can fetch the new PipeWire 0.3 via GitHub.


Steam Play’s Proton 5.0-3 Released With Support For Metro Exodus Direct3D 12 Mode


VALVE --

CodeWeavers working under contract for Valve on their Wine downstream Proton is out with a new update to their Proton 5.0 series.

Proton 5.0-3 is out as the newest release on their heavily patched Wine 5.0 based software for allowing countless Windows games to run smoothly under Linux. With Proton 5.0-3, Metro Exodus should be running nicely with its Direct3D 12 mode. Metro Exodus was released last February but made an Epic Games Store exclusive until recently. With the game now on Steam, it should be playing nicely on Linux thanks to Proton while 4A Games is said to be working on a native Linux port as well. For now though, Proton / Steam Play allows Metro Exodus to run on Linux.

Other work in Proton 5.0-3 includes addressing crashes on launch for various games, fixing Automobilista unable to load some game assets, and a fix for a regression around high polling rates for mice.

Those building Proton 5.0 from source can grab the new 5.0-3 release via GitHub otherwise should be rolling out to Steam Play shortly.


Broadcom Bringing Up Linux Support For VK Accelerators


HARDWARE --

Broadcom developers have been recently volleying open-source Linux driver patches for enabling their “VK Accelerators” on the platform.

Broadcom VK Accelerators are PCI Express offload engines for supporting video transcoding on multiple streams in parallel. These VK Accelerators offer various video offload processing features and are exposed to user-space via specialized /dev/bcm-vk.X devices. We haven’t yet seen user-space patches to see if Broadcom intends to support any of the common APIs or will be developing their own customized solution.

This Broadcom VK offload engine relies upon seemingly closed-source firmware files to be loaded for running the logic on these accelerators.

The kernel patches so far for the Broadcom VK Accelerators can be found here. Broadcom engineers have been working through these VK accelerator patches the past few months while on Thursday the “v2” patches were posted. It’s a lengthier patch series as first Broadcom engineers had to add support to the Linux kernel for being able to partially load firmware files rather than complete firmware files at once. This partial/offset reading of firmware files is being done for memory constrained systems.

VK in this context appears to stand for Broadcom’s Valkyrie branding. One such Broadcom SoC so far designed for these offload capabilities is the BCM958401M2 but public details remain light overall. This video offload effort by Broadcom does remind us the days of their Crystal HD video decoding core from many years back.