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The Rise of Activism in Tech Companies | Best of ECT News


This story was originally published on TechNewsWorld on Oct. 22, 2018, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.

Things have been changing at an almost unprecedented rate with regard to power structures. The last time I saw this happen was in the 1970s, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took off. Suddenly a lot of the off-color, sexist and racist jokes that many executives regularly told could get them fired. A surprisingly large number of people got reassigned, fired, demoted, or otherwise punished for the same behavior that previously had made them “one of the guys.”

With the current #MeToo movement, any hint of wrongdoing — not only recent but going back to your youth — can have dire consequences on job prospects, image, and (depending on what you did) freedom.

This isn’t the only change. Employees who often were taken for granted — who might have faced firing or layoffs if they suggested going public with their anti-management views — have been popping up as a force in places like Google and Amazon.

What triggered this column was coverage of an employee event at Amazon, where employees spoke out against the firm’s efforts
to sell facial recognition to law enforcement.

To a large degree, it mirrored Google employees rising up and
stopping Google’s work with the Department of Defense, and Facebook employees
taking issue with an executive who stood behind the confirmation of the latest Supreme Court justice. (There is currently a huge effort
to remove Zuckerberg as chairman, which may be partially related to this.)

The power structure is changing, and if executives don’t get a clue, we likely will see the rise of a new and far more powerful set of unions — not based on old structures, but with the power of social media behind them. I think Cisco (and a few others) have a defense for this. I’ll explain and then close with my product of the week: the BlackBerry Key2, which has become my new favorite smartphone.

Rise of the Employee

The trigger for this apparent power shift from executive management to line employees has been the increasingly severe shortage of qualified employees across a variety of industries. In many of them — nursing, truck driving, etc. — legacy unions exist, which seem to be forming a barrier preventing the use of new tools (read social networks) as a weapon of change.

However, in the technology market, unions are almost nonexistent. That appears to have forced a dynamic rise of semi-organized employee actions against perceived bad corporate behavior.

This is particularly noticeable with millennial employees who have yet to be indoctrinated into the corporate way of doing things and appear to be resisting that indoctrination. Certainly, we’ve all seen new employees coming in with little or no job experience behaving badly because they don’t yet know the rules — but never at what appears to be a loosely organized effort to make change.

Typically, these indoctrinated employees either conform or they are forced to find employment elsewhere. With the shortages, though, firms have been less willing to fire or even strongly reprimand employees who are acting out, for fear of losing them and falling behind performance metrics.

There are concerns that either a reprimand or termination could result in a broad, coordinated, public social media backlash, which could be severely career limiting for the executive or manager who triggered the event (managers don’t appear to be as well protected right now).

New Class of Unions

Existing unions are largely ineffective today. I observed a strike action at a hotel the other day where the folks picketing (likely hired specifically for that task) were doing as much as they could to be annoying. However, the people they were pissing off were primarily folks who lived in the area, folks who were still working at the hotel, and folks who were checking into the hotel (guests who already had reservations).

There was very little impact, if any, on the decision-making executives, on people who had not yet booked, or on investors in the property. In short, because the striking union was using legacy methods that were overcome easily, the action was ineffective.

However, it is clear that tech workers have begun going down a very different path. Millennials came up with social media. They know how to use it both to coordinate their actions and to have a far broader impact.

So far, there isn’t a broad effort to organize, but ad hoc efforts have been making an impressive impact on the policies of the firms they have targeted, giving the impression that if these groups were to organize fully and seek government protection, they’d likely have more power than any traditional union has had in years.

Social media is a huge force multiplier, and it can undermine targeted executives, result in broad boycotts, and even trigger government intervention.

Cisco’s Defense

One of the companies I watch closely is Cisco, and it has been at the forefront of
creating programs that improve the world. Most of the activist efforts I’ve noted have been aimed at forcing firms to be more socially responsible.

Cisco’s programs have attacked homelessness, addressed severe problems in South Africa, and implemented aggressive plans to mitigate natural disasters around the world. Currently Cisco ranks No. 8 on a list of
best places to work in the world. (It is interesting to note that Facebook, Google, Twitter and other newer firms that once seemed to be the most desirable didn’t even make the cut).

If a firm is aggressively socially responsible, the need for its own employees to force the company to change should fall below critical mass, making the formation of a union — formally or informally — less likely. Why go through the risk of pissing off your company if the firm already seems to be acting more responsibly than most?

This behavior has the dual benefit of attracting millennials who want to participate in this socially responsible behavior. Cisco isn’t alone in this. There’s also Dell, with its aggressive programs to advance women, and HP, with its programs to improve the lot of children in emerging and war-torn regions.

It isn’t just tech firms that are getting a clue. For instance, SodaStream has funded a huge effort to collect plastics contaminating the ocean.

I’m sure most firms eventually will find it far easier to ensure good behavior and prevent the rise of social media-powered unions than to face them in real time. Once started and in place, these unions wouldn’t be mitigated by financial restrictions or even common sense, and the result could be devastating for some firms. Activist employees could force an overcorrection, or do damage to revenue streams that could require decades to recover.

In other words, the best defense may be a social responsibility offense.

Summing Up

Thanks largely to a massive shortage of qualified workers across several industries, coupled with the impact of an incoming social media-aware workforce, a new power has been rising. That power currently appears loosely coordinated, but it is strong enough to impact unusually influential CEOs like Zuckerberg and Bezos.

If these groups formally organize and seek government protection as unions, it could flip the power balance in the impacted companies from executives to employees, with their impact broadening from social responsibility to more traditional wage and benefit efforts. (The massive compensation imbalance between line workers and, particularly, CEOs would be a natural target for employee activism.)

As Cisco has demonstrated, a strong defense — with aggressive social responsibility and making the company a great place to work — may be the best path to ensure the firm isn’t crippled by this power change. I expect most firms won’t see this coming, and that the end result will be dire — but it is totally avoidable.

Rob Enderle's Product of the Week

One of the best examples I have that the human race isn’t particularly sharp is the industry’s shift from BlackBerry (a secure platform based on productivity) to Apple, (a relatively unsecure platform based on entertainment). Not to mention that we traded the ability to blind type on a BlackBerry (so your eyes could remain on where you were walking or driving) for a screen phone design that requires the user’s full attention — which has contributed to an impressive number of deaths and accidents.

A lot of us have poor impulse control, and a lot of us may die because our screen phone pinged us at the wrong time and we couldn’t resist shifting our attention to it.

The
BlackBerry Key2 is the latest BlackBerry phone, and while those of us who still use BlackBerry phones are an ever more exclusive group, I also think the implication is that we are smarter than our screen phone-focused counterparts.


BlackBerry Key2

BlackBerry Key2


This is because the security capability and productivity features in this phone exceed all others, making it an asset that’s likely to increase your earning potential, instead of a tool that might one day kill you.

Sadly, the device no longer has the near week of battery life old BlackBerry phones boasted, having given way to a far sleeker and more contemporary design. Both the keyboard and its performance are up sharply from the KeyONE phone that preceded it. The screen quality and design of the phone has improved as well, along with the dual lens camera.

If you want a phone that is tool than a toy, that is less likely to get you into an accident and is far more secure, the BlackBerry Key2 stands out as my favorite smartphone, and it is my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester.
Email Rob.





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Should You Run Linux Apps on Your Chromebook? | Best of ECT News


By Jack M. Germain

Jan 19, 2019 5:00 AM PT

This story was originally published on Oct. 25, 2018, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.

Linux apps now can run in a Chromebook’s Chrome OS environment. However, the process can be tricky, and it depends on your hardware’s design and Google’s whims.

It is somewhat similar to running Android apps on your Chromebook, but the Linux connection is far less forgiving. If it works in your Chromebook’s flavor, though, the computer becomes much more useful with more flexible options.

Still, running Linux apps on a Chromebook will not replace the Chrome OS. The apps run in an isolated virtual machine without a Linux desktop.

If you are not familiar with any Linux distribution, your only learning curve involves getting familiar with a new set of computing tools. That experience can pique interest in a full Linux setup on a non-Chromebook device.

Why tool around with adding Linux apps to the Chromebook world? One reason is that now you can. That response may only suit Linux geeks and software devs looking to consolidate their work platform, though.

Want a better reason? For typical Chromebook users, Linux apps bring a warehouse of software not otherwise available to Chromebooks. Similarly, the Google Play Store brought a collection of apps to the Chromebook that had been beyond the limitations of the Chrome Web Store for Android phone and tablet users. The Debian Linux repository expands the software library even more on the Chromebook.

All Chromebooks Are Not Alike

I have used a series of Chromebooks to supplement my Linux computers over the years. When Android apps moved to the Chromebook, I bought a current model that supported the Play Store. Unfortunately, that Asus C302CA wimped out as a Linux apps machine. See more below on why that Chromebook and others fail the Linux apps migration.

I replaced that Asus Chromebook with a newer model rated to run Linux apps, the Asus C213SA. It came preconfigured to run both Android and Linux apps. The Play Store was already enabled and installed. The Linux Beta feature was installed but not activated. Completing that setup took a few steps and about 15 minutes.

As I will run down shortly, these two relatively recent Chromebooks have a world of differences under the hood. They both run the same qualifying Chrome OS version. They have different classes of Intel processors. Google engineers blessed one but not the other with the ability to run the new Linux apps technology.

The process of running Linux apps on a Chromebook requires loading the essential Linux packages to run a terminal window in a sandbox environment within the browser User Interface. You then use APT commands to get and install desired Linux applications.

The original concept for the Chromebook was to tap into the Google Chrome browser to handle everyday computing chores that most users did in a browser on a full-size computer anyway. You know — tasks that involve Web surfing, emails, basic banking, reading and writing online.

The software tools were built in, so massive onboard storage was not needed. The always-connected Chromebook was tethered to your Google Drive account.
Chromebooks ran the Chrome browser as a desktop interface. Google’s software infrastructure was built around Google Docks and Chrome apps from the Web Store.

Then came integration of Android Apps running within the Chromebook environment. That let you run Android apps in a Chrome browser tab or in a separate window. The latter option gives the illusion of being a separate app window, as on an Android phone or tablet.

Not all Chromebooks can run Android apps, though. The older the model, the less likely it has Android support. Now that same concept is integrating Linux applications within the Chromebook environment. Linux apps run as a standalone program in a special Linux container on top of the Chrome OS.

Expanding Functionality

You have two options in managing Linux software on a Chromebook. One is to use the APT command line statements within a terminal window to get and install/uninstall each Linux application. The other strategy is to use APT to install access to the Debian software repository and use a graphical package manager tool to install and remove Linux applications.

This process forces the Chromebook to do something it was not designed to handle. It must store the Linux infrastructure and each installed application locally. That added storage impact will do one of two things: It will force devs to cram more storage capacity into the lightly resourced Chromebooks; or it will force users to limit the extent of software downloading.

Either way, the ability to run Linux apps on a qualified Chromebook expands the computer’s functionality. In my case, it lets me use Linux productivity tools on a Chromebook. It lets me use one computer instead of traveling with two.

Running Linux apps on qualified Chromebooks is not Google’s first attempt to piggyback the Linux OS onto Chromebook hardware. Earlier attempts were clunkier and taking advantage of them required some advanced Linux skills.

Chrome OS is a Linux variant. Earlier attempts involved using
Crouton to install the Linux OS on top of the Chrome OS environment. Google employee Dave Schneider developed the Crouton OS. Crouton overlays a Linux desktop on top of the Chrome OS. Crouton runs in a chroot container.

Another method is to replace the Chrome OS with the
GalliumOS, a Chromebook-specific Linux variant. To do this, you must first switch the Chromebook to Developer Mode and enable legacy boot mode.

Like other Linux distros, you download the ISO variant specific to your Chromebook and create a bootable image on a USB drive. You can run a live session from the USB drive and then install the Gallium OS on the Chromebook. GalliumOS is based on Xubuntu, which uses the lightweight Xfce desktop environment.

The Crostini Project

The Crostini Project is the current phase of Google’s plan to meld Linux apps onto the Chrome OS platform. The Crostini technology installs a base level of Linux to run KVM, Linux’s built-in virtual machine (VM).

Then Crostini starts and runs LXC containers. It runs enough of Debian Linux to support a running Linux app in each container.

The Crostini technology lets compatible Chromebooks run a completely integrated Linux session in a VM that lets a Linux app run. This latest solution does not require Crouton and Developer Mode. However, the particular Chromebook getting the Linux Apps installation might need to change modes to either Beta or Developer channels.

With the help of Crostini, the Chrome OS creates an icon launcher in the menu. You launch the Linux apps just like any Chromebook or Android app by clicking on the launch icon. Or you enter the run command in the Linux terminal.

In an ideal computing world, Google would push the necessary Chrome OS updates so all compatible units would set up Linux apps installation the same way. Google is not a perfect computing world, but the Chromebook’s growing flexibility makes up for that imperfection.

Not all Chromebooks are compatible with running Linux apps using Crostini. Instead, there is a minimal setup for newer Chromebooks that come with Linux Beta preinstalled. Other Chromebook models that have the required innards and the Google blessing have a slightly more involved installation and setup process to apply.


ASUS Chromebook Flip C213SA Chrome OS settings panel

The ultimate installation goal is to get the Linux (Beta) entry listed on the Chrome OS settings panel.


Basic Requirements

Installing Linux apps requires your Chromebook to be running Chrome OS 69 or later. To check, do this:

  • Click your profile picture in the lower-right corner.
  • Click the Settings icon.
  • Click the Hamburger icon in the upper-left corner.
  • Click “About Chrome OS.”
  • Click “Check for updates.”

Even with Chrome OS 69 or newer installed, other factors determine your Chromebook’s suitability to run Linux apps. For example, Linux runs on Chromebooks with an operating system based on the Linux 4.4 kernel. Some older Chromebooks running Linux 3.14 will be retrofitted with Crostini support. Others will not.

According to Google’s
documentation notes, any Chromebook outfitted with the Intel Bay Trail Atom processors will not support Linux apps. That seems to be the reason for my Asus C302CA failing the Linux suitability test.

Other bugaboos include 32-bit ARM CPUs. Also a negative factor are firmware issues, limited storage and RAM capacities.

Overall, few current Chromebooks have the basic hardware needed: Crostini, kernel 3.18 based on the Glados baseboard with the Skylake SoC, and an adequate processor. Those basic system requirements could change as Google engineers fine-tune the Crostini technology. Of course, newer Chromebook models no doubt will become available as the Crostini Project moves beyond it current beta phase.

Here is a
list of Chromebooks that are expected to receive upgrades OTA to support Linux Apps eventually.

Even if your Chromebook seems to have all of the required hardware and lets you activate Crostini support, Google specifically must enable one critical piece of technology to let you run Linux. This is the major rub with the process of putting Linux apps on earlier model Chromebooks.

Google also must have enabled the Linux VM for your hardware. Find out if your Chromebook has been blessed by the Google gods after completing the channel change and flag activation: Open Chrome OS’ built-in shell, crosh; then run this shell command —

vmc start termina

If you get a message saying that vmc is not available, your quest to put Linux apps on that particular Chromebook is over.

You can skip the crosh test if you do not see “Linux (Beta)” listed on the Chrome OS Settings panel (chrome://settings). Linux will not run on your Chromebook, at least not until Google pushes an update to it. If you do see “Linux Beta” listed below the Google Play Store in the settings panel, click on the label to enable the rest of the process.

First Steps

Some models that can run Crostini include newer Intel-powered Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Check this source for a crowdsourced
list of supported Chromebooks.

If your Chromebook supports Crostini and is new enough, Crostini support already may be installed in the stable channel by default. In that case, change the flag in the Chrome OS [chrome://flags] on the Chrome browser’s address line to enable Crostini.

Otherwise, you will have to apply several steps to get all of the working pieces on the Chromebook. This can include switching your Chromebook from the stable update channel to the developer channel or the Beta channel, depending on the hardware and the make/model. You also will have to download special software using commands entered into a terminal window.

If you have a recent Chromebook model with built-in Linux apps support, you will see “Linux Beta” listed in the left column of the Settings Panel [chrome://settings]. All you have to do is click on the label and follow the prompts to enable the Linux apps functionality.


ASUS Chromebook Flip C213SA  Linux terminal and Geany Linux app

The Linux terminal and Geany Linux app display in the Chrome OS menu along with Chrome and Android apps.


If your Chromebook is not already set with Linux enabled, first, switch it to the developer channel and then enable the Crostini flag. Here is how to do each step.

Do this to change Chromebook modes:

  • Sign in to your Chromebook with the owner account.
  • Click your account photo.
  • Click Settings.
  • At the top left, click Menu.
  • Scroll down and click “About Chrome OS.”
  • Click “Detailed build information.”

Next to “Channel” click the Change channel button and select either Beta or Developer. Then click the Change Channel button. Depending on your Chromebook model, either one could be what your hardware needs. I suggest starting with Developer channel. If that does not install the Linux Beta software, redo the process in the Beta channel.

When the channel change operation is completed, click the “Restart your Chromebook” button.

Caution: You can reverse this process by changing back to the stable channel at any time. Google servers automatically will force a power wash when you restart your Chromebook to return to the stable channel. When you sign into your Chromebook, you will have to do an initial setup just as you did when unboxing it, but Google will restore most if not all of your previous software and settings. Make sure you backed up any documents stored locally, however.

Do this to set the Crostini flag to enabled:

  • Click on the address bar.
  • Type chrome://flags and press Enter.
  • Press Ctrl + F on your keyboard.
  • Scroll down the list to find “Crostini.” Type Crostini in the search bar. Select Enable.
  • Click Restart at the bottom of the screen.

Final Pieces

At this current phase of Beta Linux on Chromebooks, once you get to seeing “Linux Beta” on the Chrome Settings Panel, you must download the final pieces manually to get and run Linux apps. Open the Chrome settings panel, click the Hamburger icon in the upper-left corner, click Linux (Beta) in the menu. Then click “Turn on.”

The Chromebook will download the files it needs. When that process is finished, click the white circle in the lower-left corner to open the app drawer. You will see the Linux Terminal icon. Click it.

Type in the command window and then press the Enter key to get a list of Linux components that need updating:

sudo apt update

Then type in the command window and press the Enter key to upgrade all the components:

sudo apt upgrade

When that’s finished, type y to remove excess files. Press Enter.

Now you are ready to download the Linux apps to make using your Chromebook more productive and more flexible. At least for now, you must open the Linux terminal window and enter APT commands to install or remove your selected Linux apps.

This is a simple process. If you have any uncertainty about the commands, check out this helpful
user guide.

User Experience

This article serves as a guide for the current state of running Linux apps on compatible Chromebooks. It is not my intent to review specific Chromebooks. That said, I have been very pleased with my latest Asus Chromebook.

The only thing lacking in the 11.6-inch Asus C213SA is a backlit keyboard. The Asus C302CA has both a backlit keyboard and a one-inch larger screen. They both have touchscreens that swivel into tablet format and run Android apps. Losing a tiny bit of screen size and a backlit keyboard in exchange for running Linux apps is a satisfying trade-off.

My original plan was to install a few essential tools so I could work with the same productivity apps on the Chromebook that I use on my desktop and laptop gear. I was using Android text editor Caret for much of my note-taking and review article drafts. It lacks a spellchecker and split-screen feature. However, it easily accesses my cloud storage service and has a tabbed structure, making it a close replacement for my Linux IDE and text editor app, Geany.

I installed Geany as the first Linux app test on the Asus C213SA Chromebook. It worked like a charm. Its on-screen appearance and performance on the Chromebook was nearly identical to what I experienced for years on my Linux computers.


ASUS Chromebook Flip C213SA Linux IDE text editor Geany

Proof positive! The Linux IDE text editor Geany shares screen space with the Chrome OS on a compatible Chromebook.


The Linux Beta feature on Chromebooks currently has a Linux files folder that appears in the Chrome OS Files Manager directory. Any document file that you want to access with a Linux app must be located in this Linux files folder. That means downloading or copying files from cloud storage or local Chromebook folders into the Linux files folder.

It is a hassle to do that and then copy the newer files back to their regular location in order to sync them with other Chromebook and Android apps or cloud storage. If you do not have to access documents from Linux apps on the Chromebook, your usage routine will be less complicated than mine.

Bottom Line

The Linux apps’ performance on Chromebook in its current Beta phase seems to be much more reliable and stable than the Android apps integration initially was. Linux apps on Chromebook will get even better as Crostini gets more developed.

Chrome OS 71 brings considerably more improvements, according to various reports. One of those changes will let the Linux virtual machine be visible in Chrome OS’ Task Manager.

Another expected improvement is the ability to shut down the Linux virtual machine easily.

An even better expected improvement is folder-sharing between the Linux VM and Chrome OS. That should resolve the inconvenience of the isolated Linux files folder.

Is it justifiable to get a new “qualified” Chromebook in order to run Linux apps on it? If you are primarily a Linux distro user and have settled for using a Linux-less Chromebook as a companion portable computer, I can only say, “Go for it!”

I do not think you will regret the splurge.

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 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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That’s A Wrap For 2018 With 3,693 News Articles, 314 Linux Hardware Reviews/Benchmarks


PHORONIX --

That’s a wrap for 2018 with Phoronix this year having published 3,693 original Linux/open-source related news articles and 314 featured articles comprising of our Linux hardware reviews and multi-page benchmark specials. 2019 will bring us into the 15th calendar year since I started Phoronix and now around 4,000 featured articles in its time and more than 27,300 original news articles.

Thanks to those that have supported Phoronix over the course of 2018. As one last reminder, we are presently running our Phoronix Premium holiday special where you can support the site moving into the new year while enjoying the site ad-free and multi-page articles on a single page, among other benefits like priority feedback. It’s only though (pay-per-impression) advertisements and premium members along with PayPal tips. Due to the current ad climate and ad-blockers, I remain the one running the site and Phoronix Media operations single-handedly and responsible for 99% of the content. Thanks for your support as we move into 2019. The holiday special officially expires at the end of the year, but should any of you be reading this article late, I am still happy to honor the deal… See the details on that special in the aforelinked article.

Below is a look at the most popular Phoronix articles this year as well as our news. And with that, the last hours of 2018 will be spent enjoying some Bavarian beverages and catching up on some much needed sleep before being back to the Linux benchmarking grind bright and early in the morning.

First up, the most-viewed news overall on Phoronix for 2018:

Dell Rolls Out New XPS 13 Laptop For 2018
Just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Dell has unveiled a new XPS 13 high-end laptop.

The Linux Kernel Is Now VLA-Free: A Win For Security, Less Overhead & Better For Clang
With the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel, it is now effectively VLA-free… The variable-length arrays (VLAs) that can be convenient and part of the C99 standard but can have unintended consequences.

Intel Rolls Out Their New CPUs With Radeon Vega M Graphics
Kicking off CES 2018, Intel launched their new CPUs featuring integrated Radeon Vega M Graphics.

AMD Cuts Ryzen Prices, Confirms New Hardware, New Ryzen CPUs With Vega
While Intel announced their new CPUs with Radeon Vega M graphics, AMD had a host of announcements on their own for getting CES 2018 started with some excitement.

Linux Gaming Performance Doesn’t Appear Affected By The x86 PTI Work
With the recently published Initial Benchmarks Of The Performance Impact Resulting From Linux’s x86 Security Changes, one of the common questions that came up is whether gaming performance is adversely affected by the x86 Page Table Isolation changes recently merged to the Linux kernel.

NVIDIA RTX, AMD On Linux & Distro Performance Dominated Linux Discussions In October
During the month of October on Phoronix there were 330 original news stories and 26 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews penned by your’s truly.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ Released For $25 USD
The Raspberry Pi Foundation today unveiled the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ ARM SBC that costs just $25 and offers Bluetooth, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and a 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 processor.

Linus Torvalds Shows His New Polite Side While Pointing Out Bad Kernel Code
When Linus Torvalds announced last month that he would be taking a temporary leave of absence to work on his empathy and interpersonal skills as well as the adoption of a Linux kernel Code of Conduct, some Internet commenters thought this would lead Linus to being less strict about code quality and his standards for accepting new code to the mainline tree. Fortunately, he’s shown already for the new Linux 4.20~5.0 cycle he isn’t relaxing his standards but is communicating better when it comes to bringing up coding issues.

Valve Rolls Out Wine-based “Proton” For Running Windows Games On Linux
Valve has today announced a new version of Steam Play that allows Linux gamers to enjoy Windows games on Linux via their new Wine-based Proton project.

Apple’s New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting
Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops have become increasingly unfriendly with Linux in recent years while their Mac Mini computers have generally continued working out okay with most Linux distributions due to not having to worry about multiple GPUs, keyboards/touchpads, and other Apple hardware that often proves problematic with the Linux kernel. But now with the latest Mac Mini systems employing Apple’s T2 security chip, they took are likely to crush any Linux dreams.

For Now At Least AMD CPUs Are Also Reported As “Insecure”
Right now with the big mysterious security vulnerability causing the rush of the x86 Page Table Isolation work that landed in the Linux kernel days ago, it’s believed to be a problem only affecting Intel CPUs. But at least for now the mainline kernel is still treating AMD CPUs as “insecure” and is too taking a performance hit.

Debian’s Anti-Harassment Team Is Removing A Package Over Its Name
The latest notes from the Debian anti-harassment team on Wednesday caught my attention when reading, “We were requested to advice on the appropriateness of a certain package in the Debian archive. Our decision resulted in the package pending removal from the archive.” Curiosity got the best of me… What package was deemed too inappropriate for the Debian archive?

Linux Will End Up Disabling x86 PTI For AMD Processors – Update: Now Disabled
While at the moment with the mainline Linux kernel Git tree AMD CPUs enable x86 PTI and are treated as “insecure” CPUs, the AMD patch for not setting X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE will end up being honored.

One Of LLVM’s Top Contributors Quits Development Over CoC, Outreach Program
Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project.

The Controversial Speck Encryption Code Will Indeed Be Dropped From The Linux Kernel
While Google got the NSA-developed Speck into the Linux kernel on the basis of wanting to use Speck for file-system encryption on very low-end Android (Go) devices, last month they decided to abandon those plans and instead work out a new “HPolyC” algorithm for use on these bottom-tier devices due to all the concerns over Speck potentially being back-doored by the US National Security Agency.

PostgreSQL Begins Landing LLVM JIT Support For Faster Performance
The widely-used PostgreSQL database software may soon become much faster thanks to a work-in-progress LLVM JIT back-end that has begun to land.

Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping x32 Support
It was just several years ago that the open-source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI, but already kernel developers are talking of potentially deprecating the support and for it to be ultimately removed.

Patches Revived For A Zstd-Compressed Linux Kernel While Dropping LZMA & BZIP2
For more than a year it’s been talked about adding an option to support Zstd-compressed Linux kernel images while it looks like that Facebook-backed high performance compression algorithm for kernel images could soon finally be mainlined.

Sony Is Working On AMD Ryzen LLVM Compiler Improvements – Possibly For The PlayStation 5
One of Sony’s compiler experts has taken to working on some tuning for the AMD Ryzen “znver1” microarchitecture support within the LLVM compiler stack. This begs the question why Sony is working on Ryzen improvements if not for a future product.

EA SEED’s Halcyon R&D Engine Experimenting With Vulkan & Linux Support
Halcyon is a research and development engine being built by Electronic Arts’ SEED group (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division). While previously they talked up Microsoft DirectX ray-tracing and have been experimenting with it, they have also begun work on a Vulkan back-end for Halcyon that also includes Linux support.

And the most-viewed featured articles of 2018:

Initial Benchmarks Of The Performance Impact Resulting From Linux’s x86 Security Changes
Over the past day you’ve likely heard lots of hysteria about a yet-to-be-fully-disclosed vulnerability that appears to affect at least several generations of Intel CPUs and affects not only Linux but also Windows and macOS. The Intel CPU issue comes down to leaking information about the kernel memory to user-space, but the full scope isn’t public yet until the bug’s embargo, but it’s expected to be a doozy in the data center / cloud deployments. Due to the amount of interest in this issue, here are benchmarks of a patched kernel showing the performance impact of the page table isolation patches.

Further Analyzing The Intel CPU “x86 PTI Issue” On More Systems
2018 has been off to a busy start with all the testing around the Linux x86 PTI (Page Table Isolation) patches for this “Intel CPU bug” that potentially dates back to the Pentium days but has yet to be fully disclosed. Here is the latest.

AMD Threadripper 2990WX Linux Benchmarks: The 32-Core / 64-Thread Beast
Whether you are compiling a lot of code, rendering models with Blender, or running various scientific workloads with OpenMP or MPI, the AMD Threadripper 2990WX is capable of delivering immersive Linux performance with its 32-cores and 64 total threads. While coming in at $1800 USD, the AMD Threadripper 2990WX can deliver better performance than the more expensive Intel Core i9 7980XE. Beyond being mesmerized about the performance today with this high-end desktop/workstation processor with the many thread-happy Linux workloads we encounter daily, this 32-core Zen+ processor has us even more eager to see AMD’s next-generation Zen2-based EPYC CPUs next year.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Benchmarks
Last week on Pi Day marked the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with a slightly higher clocked Cortex-A53 processors, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, faster Ethernet, and other minor enhancements over its predecessor. I’ve been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance.

A Look At The Windows 10 vs. Linux Performance On AMD Threadripper 2990WX
Complementing the extensive Linux benchmarks done earlier today of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX in our review (as well as on the Threadripper 2950X), in this article are our first Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks of this 32-core / 64-thread $1799 USD processor. Tests were done from Microsoft Windows 10 against Clear Linux, Ubuntu 18.04, the Arch-based Antergos 18.7-Rolling, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

Bisected: The Unfortunate Reason Linux 4.20 Is Running Slower
After running a lot of tests and then bisecting the Linux 4.20 kernel merge window, the reason for the significant slowdowns in the Linux 4.20 kernel for many real-world workloads is now known…

The Fastest Linux Distribution For Ryzen: A 10-Way Linux OS Comparison On Ryzen 7 & Threadripper
While we frequently do Linux OS/distribution performance comparisons on the latest Intel desktop and server hardware, some requests came in recently about looking closer at the fastest Linux distribution(s) when running on AMD’s Ryzen desktop processors. Here are benchmarks of ten popular Linux distributions tested out-of-the-box on Ryzen 7 1800X and Threadripper 1950X systems.

The Performance Cost Of Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow Mitigations On Linux 4.19
One of the most frequent test requests recently has been to look at the overall performance cost of Meltdown/Spectre mitigations on the latest Linux kernel and now with L1TF/Foreshadow work tossed into the mix. With the Linux 4.19 kernel that just kicked off development this month has been continued churn in the Spectre/Meltdown space, just not for x86_64 but also for POWER/s390/ARM where applicable. For getting an overall look at the performance impact of these mitigation techniques I tested three Intel Xeon systems and two AMD EPYC systems as well as a virtual machine on each side for seeing how the default Linux 4.19 kernel performance — with relevant mitigations applied — to that of an unmitigated kernel.

Linux KPTI Tests Using Linux 4.14 vs. 4.9 vs. 4.4
Yet another one of the avenues we have been exploring with our Linux Page Table Isolation (KPTI) testing has been looking at any impact of this security feature in the wake of the Meltdown vulnerability when testing with an older Linux Long Term Support (LTS) release. In particular, when using a kernel prior to the PCID (Process Context Identifier) support in the Linux kernel that is used to lessen the impact of KPTI.

POWER9 Benchmarks vs. Intel Xeon vs. AMD EPYC Performance On Debian Linux
For several days we’ve had remote access to one of the brand new Raptor Talos II Workstations that is powered by POWER9 processors and open-source down through the firmware. For those curious how these latest POWER processors compare to AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon processors, here are some benchmarks comparing against of the few other systems in house while all testing was done from Debian GNU/Linux.

Ubuntu 16.04 vs. 18.04 Performance On Six Systems
Continuing on with our benchmarking of the recently released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, here are some reference benchmarks on a total of six systems with AMD and Intel hardware while looking to see how the out-of-the-box performance compares to the previous Long Term Support release, Ubuntu 16.04.

Windows 10 WSL vs. Linux Performance For Early 2018
Back in December was our most recent round of Windows Subsystem for Linux benchmarking with Windows 10 while since then both Linux and Windows have received new stable updates, most notably for mitigating the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities. For your viewing pleasure today are some fresh benchmarks looking at the Windows 10 WSL performance against Linux using the latest updates as of this week while also running some comparison tests too against Docker on Windows and Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Ryzen 5 2400G Radeon Vega Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Gaming Benchmarks
Here are our initial performance figures for the Vega graphics found on the newly-released Ryzen 5 2400G “Raven Ridge” APU under Linux and testing both OpenGL and Vulkan graphics benchmarks. CPU tests as well as benchmarks of the Ryzen 3 2200G under Linux are forthcoming on Phoronix.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X + Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Benchmarks
The embargo on the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X processors has expired now that these Ryzen+ CPUs are beginning to ship today. We can now talk about the Linux support and the initial performance figures for these upgraded Zen desktop CPUs.

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS vs. Fedora 28 vs. Clear Linux Benchmarks
Given last week’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and then Fedora 28 having debuted earlier this week, I decided to see how these popular tier-one Linux distributions now compare to Intel’s own Clear Linux platform. This three-way Linux distribution comparison was carried out on six systems comprising both of Intel and AMD CPUs.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti To GTX 980 Ti TensorFlow Benchmarks With ResNet-50, AlexNet, GoogLeNet, Inception, VGG-16
For those curious about the TensorFlow performance on the newly-released GeForce RTX 2080 series, for your viewing pleasure to kick off this week of Linux benchmarking is a look at Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing graphics cards in my possession when testing the NGC TensorFlow instance on CUDA 10.0 with the 410.57 Linux driver atop Ubuntu and exploring the performance of various models. Besides the raw performance, the performance-per-Watt and performance-per-dollar is also provided.

Vulkan vs. OpenGL Performance For Linux Games
It has been a while since last publishing some Linux GPU driver benchmarks focused explicitly on the OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance, but that changed today with a fresh look at the performance between these two Khronos graphics APIs when tested with AMD and NVIDIA hardware on the latest RadeonSI/RADV and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers.

Benchmarking Linux With The Retpoline Patches For Spectre
While the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) patches were quick to land in the mainline Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability, the “Retpoline” patches are still being worked on as the leading approach on the Linux side for dealing with the Spectre CPU vulnerability. The Retpoline patches are said to have little impact on performance, but here are our benchmarks of these kernel patches for seeing how they affect a variety of AMD and Intel systems.

The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server
In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I’ve retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests… I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

The Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact On Linux 4.20, Decimating Benchmarks With New STIBP Overhead
As outlined yesterday, significant slowdowns with the Linux 4.20 kernel turned out to be due to the addition of the kernel-side bits for STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) for cross-HyperThread Spectre Variant Two mitigation. This has incurred significant performance penalties with the STIBP support in its current state with Linux 4.20 Git and is enabled by default at least for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode. Here are some follow-up benchmarks looking at the performance hit with the Linux 4.20 development kernel as well as the overall Spectre and Meltdown mitigation impact on this latest version of the Linux kernel.


Breaking Up the Crypto-Criminal Bar Brawl | Best of ECT News


This story was originally published on the E-Commerce Times on Sept. 25, 2018, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.

As if e-commerce companies didn’t have enough problems with transacting securely and defending against things like fraud, another avalanche of security problems — like cryptojacking, the act of illegally mining cryptocurrency on your end servers — has begun.

We’ve also seen a rise in digital credit card skimming attacks against popular e-commerce software such as Magento. Some of the attacks are relatively naive and un-targeted, taking advantage of lax security on websites found to be vulnerable, while others are highly targeted for maximum volume.

Indeed, it’s so ridiculous that there are websites such as
MageReport.com
and
Mage Scan
that will provide scans of your website for any client-facing malware.

As for server-side problems, you might be out of luck. A lot of e-commerce software lives in a typical LAMP stack, and while there is a plethora of security software for Windows-based environments, the situation is fairly bleak for Linux.

For a long time, Linux enjoyed a kind of smug arrogance with regard to security, and its advocates pooh-poohed the notoriously hackable Windows operating system. However, it’s becoming ultra clear that it’s just as susceptible, if not more so, for specific software such as e-commerce solutions.

Crumbling Roads and Bridges

Why have things seemingly gotten so much worse lately? It is not that security controls and processes have changed dramatically. It’s more that the attacks have become more lucrative, more tempting, and easier to get away with, thanks to the rise of cryptocurrency. It allows attackers to generate money quickly, easily and, more important, anonymously.

Folks — this is the loudspeaker — our digital roads and bridges are falling down. They are old and decrepit. Our security controls and processes have not kept pace with the rapid advancement of malware, it’s ease of use, and its coupling with a new range of software that allows attackers to hide their trails more effectively.

Things like cryptocurrency, however, are just the symptom of a greater issue. That issue is the fact that the underlying software foundations we’ve been using ever since the first browsers appeared are built on a fundamentally flawed architecture.

Whole New World

The general purpose operating system that allowed every company to have a whole slew of easy-to-use desktop software in the 90s, and that built up amazingly large Internet companies in the early 2000s, has an Achilles heel. It is explicitly designed to run multiple programs on the same system — such as cryptominers on the server that runs your WooCommerce or Magento application.

It is an old concept that dates back to the late 1960s, when the first general purpose operating systems, such as Unix, were introduced. Back then, the computers had a business need to run multiple programs and applications on them. The systems back then were just too big and too expensive not to. They literally filled entire walls.

That’s not the case in 2018. Today our computers are “virtual,” and they can be taken down and brought up with the push of a button — usually by other programs. It’s a completely different world.

Now for end user computing devices such as personal laptops and phones, we want this design characteristic, as we have the need to use the browser, check our email, use the calendar and such. However, on the server side where our databases and websites live, it’s a flaw.

Wild Party

This seemingly innocuous design characteristic is what allows attackers to run their programs, such as cryptominers, on your servers. It is what allows attackers to insert card skimmers into your websites. It is what allows the attackers to run malware on your servers that try and shut down other pieces of malware in order to remain the dominant attacker.

Yes, you read that right — many of these variants now have so much free rein on so many thousands of websites that they literally fight against each other for your computing resources. This is how bad it’s gotten. It’s as if the cryptocriminals threw a party at your house while you were gone and then got into a big brawl and tore up all your furniture and ransacked your house. Then they woke up the next day and laughed all the way to the bank.

This isn’t the only way to deploy software, though. Consider famous software companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Twitter and Facebook. If you talk to their engineers, they’ll tell you that they already have to isolate a given program per server — in this case, a virtual machine. Why? It’s because they simply have too much software to begin with.

Instead of dealing with a single database, they might have to deal with hundreds or thousands. Likewise, the old concept of allowing multiple users on a given system doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. It has evolved to the point where identity access management lives outside of the single server model.

Locking Out the Hackers

Unikernels embrace this new model of software provisioning yet enforce it at the same time. They run only one single application per virtual machine (the server). They can not, by design, run other programs on the same server.

This completely prevents attackers from running their programs on your server. It prevents them from downloading new software onto the server and massively limits their ability to inject malicious content, such as credit card skimming scripts and cryptomining programs.

Instead of scanning for hacked systems or unpatched systems waiting to be attacked, you could even run outdated software that has known bugs in it, and these same styles of attacks would fall flat, as there would be no capability to execute them. This is all enforced at the operating system level and backed by hardware baked-in isolation.

Are we going to continue to let the cryptocriminals run free on our servers? How are you going to call the cops on people you can’t even see who might live halfway around the world? Don’t fall prey to the notion that hackers are natural disasters and it’s only inevitable that they’ll get you one day. It doesn’t need to be like that. We don’t have to deploy our software like we are using computers from the 1970s. It’s time that we rebuilt our digital infrastructure.


Ian Eyberg is CEO of
NanoVMs, based in San Francisco. A self-taught expert in computer science, specifically operating systems and mainstream security, Eyberg is dedicated to initiating a revolution and mass-upgrading of global software infrastructure, which for the most part is based on 40-year-old tired technology. Prior to cracking the code of unikernels and developing a commercial viable solution, Eyberg was an early engineer at Appthority, an enterprise mobile security company.





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The Most Popular Intel Linux News & Reviews Of 2018


INTEL --

With less than one week until the new year, here is a look back at the most popular Intel Linux/open-source news of 2018, among all of our other end-of-year articles.

It was certainly an eventful year for Intel with their OpenCL NEO driver coming about, the Iris Gallium3D driver taking shape for next-gen OpenGL, their ANV Vulkan driver continuing to keep up to the latest Vulkan specs, Clear Linux continuing to deliver leading Linux performance, the initial hits taken in dealing with Spectre/Meltdown mitigations although now at the end of the year many optimizations are fortunately in place, hearing just recently that Raja Koduri and others at Intel are working on open-sourcing the FSP, more excitement building around Intel discrete graphics, and much more.

Of 255 Linux/open-source-oriented news articles written this year about Intel, below is a look at the twenty most popular:

Intel Rolls Out Their New CPUs With Radeon Vega M Graphics
Kicking off CES 2018, Intel launched their new CPUs featuring integrated Radeon Vega M Graphics.

ODROID Rolling Out New Intel-Powered Single Board Computer After Trying With Ryzen
While ODROID is most known for their various ARM single board computers (SBCs), some of which offer impressive specs, they have dabbled in x86 SBCs and on Friday announced the Intel-powered ODROID-H2.

AMD Contributes 8.5x More Code To The Linux Kernel Than NVIDIA, But Intel Still Leads
Given all the new hardware enablement work going into the Linux kernel recently, I was curious how the code contributions were stacking up by some of the leading hardware vendors… Here are those interesting numbers.

Fedora 29 Succeeds At Flicker-Free Boot Experience On Intel Hardware
After optimizing the Linux laptop battery life last cycle, Hans de Goede of Red Hat has been working on Fedora 29 to provide a “flicker-free” boot experience. A Linux desktop flicker-free boot has been talked about for a decade or longer but with Fedora 29 and using Intel graphics that is finally becoming a reality.

Google Makes Disclosure About The CPU Vulnerability Affecting Intel / AMD / ARM
We’re finally getting actual technical details on the CPU vulnerability leading to the recent race around (K)PTI that when corrected may lead to slower performance in certain situations. Google has revealed they uncovered the issue last year and have now provided some technical bits.

Intel Releases New BSD-Licensed Open-Source Firmware Implementation
At the European Open-Source Firmware Conference happening this week in Erlangen, Intel announced the open-source “Slimbootloader” (also referred to as Slim Bootloader) project that is quite exciting.

Clear Linux Shedding More Light On Their “Magic” Performance Work
If you have been a Phoronix reader for any decent amount of time, you have likely seen how well Intel’s Clear Linux distribution continues to run in our performance comparisons against other distributions. The developers behind this Linux distribution have begun a new blog series on “behind the magic” for some of the areas they are making use of for maximizing the out-of-the-box Linux performance.

To No Surprise, Intel’s Discrete GPU Efforts Will Support Linux Gaming
It should come as virtually no surprise to any regular Phoronix reader given the significant investment Intel makes to Linux via their Open-Source Technology Center with working on Mesa for their Vulkan/OpenGL drivers and related components, but their discrete GPU undertaking will support Linux gaming alongside Windows.

The First Benchmarks Of The Intel-Powered ODROID-H2 $111 Board
Last month ODROID announced an Intel-powered single board computer after their experimenting with a Ryzen SBC hadn’t panned out for this company known for their high-performance ARM SBCs. The ODROID-H2 has begun shipping as this $111 USD Intel x86_64 quad-core board while for your viewing pleasure today are some initial performance benchmarks of this board.

Intel Working On Open-Sourcing The FSP – Would Be Huge Win For Coreboot & Security
Intel’s Architecture Day on Tuesday was delightfully filled with an overwhelming amount of valuable hardware information, but Intel’s software efforts were also briefly touched on too. In fact, Raja Koduri reinforced how software is a big part of Intel technology and goes in-hand with their security, interconnect, memory, architecture, and process pillars and that’s where their new oneAPI initiative will fit in. But what learning afterwards was most exciting on the software front.

Intel Open-Sources LLVM Graphics Compiler, Compute Runtime With OpenCL 2.1+
Now it’s clear why Intel hasn’t been working on the Beignet code-base in months as they have been quietly working on a new and better OpenCL stack and run-time! On open-source Intel OpenCL you can now have OpenCL 2.1 while OpenCL 2.2 support is on the way.

Intel MPX Support Will Be Removed From Linux – Memory Protection Extensions Appear Dead
Back in April was a discussion about dropping MPX support from the Linux kernel but no action taken. Now though an Intel developer is preparing to see this Memory Protection Extensions functionality removed from the mainline Linux kernel.

Intel Has Quietly Been Working On A New Gallium3D Driver Being Called “Iris”
After resisting Gallium3D for the past decade with a preference on continuing to maintain their “i965” Mesa classic driver and all they’ve invested into its compiler stack and more, it seems times are changing as the open-source Intel team has been starting up development of a modern Gallium3D driver.

Intel Prepares “Enhanced IBRS” As Better Spectre V2 Protection For Future CPUs
An Intel engineer has today published a patch providing support for enhanced IBRS within the Linux kernel, which aims to provide better Spectre Variant Two protection by default with future generations of Intel CPUs.

Intel Begins Teasing Their Discrete Graphics Card
Don’t expect the Intel discrete gamer graphics card to come until 2020, but with the SIGGRAPH graphics conference happening this week in Vancouver, they have begun teasing their first PCI Express graphics card.

Intel Clears Up Microcode Licensing Controversy – Simpler License, Allows Benchmarking
Over the past day online there has been lots of controversy following some high-profile sites reporting about Intel’s “un-friendly microcode license update” and its “ban on benchmarking”, among other catch phrases. It’s now been officially cleared up by Intel with a simpler license that doesn’t forbid benchmarking, allows distribution vendors to re-distributed these binary files to their users, and doesn’t have any other nastiness integrated into the legal text.

GCC 9 Looks Set To Remove Intel MPX Support
Last year we reported on GCC deprecating Intel Memory Protection Extensions (MPX) and now it looks like with GCC 9 they will be dropping the support entirely.

Intel Open-Sources Sound Firmware, Pushing For More Open Firmware
Imad Sousou, Intel’s GM of the Open-Source Technology Center, had some interesting remarks to make during his keynote today as part of this week’s Embedded Linux Conference in Portland.

Intel Posts Updated Microcode Files For Linux
In the wake of Meltdown and Spectre, Intel yesterday released new microcode binaries for Linux systems.

What Makes GLIBC 2.27 Exciting To The Clear Linux Folks
Released at the beginning of February was Glibc 2.27 and it’s comprised of a lot of new features and performance improvements. But what’s the best of Glibc 2.27?

And the ten most popular Intel Linux reviews/benchmarks this year on Phoronix:

Further Analyzing The Intel CPU “x86 PTI Issue” On More Systems
2018 has been off to a busy start with all the testing around the Linux x86 PTI (Page Table Isolation) patches for this “Intel CPU bug” that potentially dates back to the Pentium days but has yet to be fully disclosed. Here is the latest.

POWER9 Benchmarks vs. Intel Xeon vs. AMD EPYC Performance On Debian Linux
For several days we’ve had remote access to one of the brand new Raptor Talos II Workstations that is powered by POWER9 processors and open-source down through the firmware. For those curious how these latest POWER processors compare to AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon processors, here are some benchmarks comparing against of the few other systems in house while all testing was done from Debian GNU/Linux.

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS vs. Fedora 28 vs. Clear Linux Benchmarks
Given last week’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and then Fedora 28 having debuted earlier this week, I decided to see how these popular tier-one Linux distributions now compare to Intel’s own Clear Linux platform. This three-way Linux distribution comparison was carried out on six systems comprising both of Intel and AMD CPUs.

The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server
In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I’ve retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests… I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

Intel Graphics On Ubuntu: GNOME vs. KDE vs. Xfce vs. Unity vs. LXDE
For those wondering how the Intel (U)HD Graphics compare for games and other graphical benchmarks between desktop environments in 2018, here are some fresh benchmarks using GNOME Shell on X.Org/Wayland, KDE Plasma 5, Xfce, Unity 7, and LXDE.

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G + Ryzen 5 2400G Linux CPU Performance, 21-Way Intel/AMD Comparison
Yesterday I posted some initial Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 2400G Raven Ridge APU when looking at the Vega 11 graphics, but for those curious about the CPU performance potential of the Ryzen 5 2400G and its ~$100 Ryzen 3 2200G sibling, here are our first CPU benchmarks of these long-awaited AMD APUs. These two current Raven Ridge desktop APUs are compared to a total of 21 different Intel and AMD processors dating back to older Kaveri APUs and FX CPUs and Ivy Bridge on the Intel side.

Raptor Talos II POWER9 Benchmarks Against AMD Threadripper & Intel Core i9
For those curious about the performance of IBM’s POWER9 processors against the likes of today’s AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 HEDT processors, here are some interesting benchmarks as we begin looking closer at the POWER9 performance on the fully open-source Raptor Talos II Secure Workstation. This open-source, secure system arrived for Linux testing with dual 22-core POWER9 CPUs to yield 176 total threads of power.

Arch Linux vs. Antergos vs. Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu Benchmarks
Last week when sharing the results of tweaking Ubuntu 17.10 to try to make it run as fast as Clear Linux, it didn’t take long for Phoronix readers to share their opinions on Arch Linux and the request for some optimized Arch Linux benchmarks against Clear Linux. Here are some results of that testing so far in carrying out a clean Arch Linux build with some basic optimizations compared to using Antergos Minimal out-of-the-box, Ubuntu Server, and Clear Linux.

macOS 10.14 Mojave vs. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS vs. Clear Linux Benchmarks
With macOS Mojave having been released earlier this week, I’ve been benchmarking this latest Apple operating system release on a MacBook Pro compared to Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS with the latest updates as well as Intel’s high-performance Clear Linux rolling-release operating systems to see how the performance compares.

8-Way Linux Distribution Benchmarks On The Intel Core i9 9900K – One Distro Wins 67% Of The Time
Following last week’s release of the Intel Core i9 9900K, I spent several days testing various Linux distributions on this latest Core i9 CPU paired with the new ASUS Z390-A PRIME motherboard. I was testing not only to see that all of the Linux distributions were playing fine with this latest and greatest desktop hardware but also how the performance was looking. Benchmarked this round on the i9-9900K was Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu 18.10, Clear Linux 25720, Debian Buster Testing, Manjaro 18.0-RC3, Fedora Workstation 29, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and CentOS 7.