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Austrumi Linux Has Great Potential if You Speak Its Language | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Oct 10, 2019 11:55 AM PT

Austrumi Linux is an unusual distribution. With a little more polish, it could be a good tool for running the Linux operating system on any computer you touch without changing anything on the hard drive.

Last updated on Oct. 3 to version 4.08, Austrumi Linux is a bootable live Linux distribution based on Slackware Linux. It was created and is maintained by a group of programmers from the Latgale region of Latvia.

One of the things that makes Austrumi so interesting is its desktop —
FVWM, or Feeble Virtual Window Manager. FVWM does not dictate how the user’s desktop should work or what it should look like. Instead, it provides the mechanisms to configure the desktop to work, look and behave the way the user wants it to.

Austrumi Linux desktop display

The FVWM environment provides a basic desktop display that does not get in the way.

– click image to enlarge –

Another thing that kept me tinkering with this distro all week is Austrumi’s ability to run fast and reliably with very limited system resources. Add to that its unique performance: The entire operating system and all of the applications run from RAM, making Austrumi a fast portable OS that lets you remove the boot medium — either DVD or USB — after the operating system starts.

Running an OS in RAM is a rarity for most Linux distributions. A few well-known Linux distros have that feature, but Austrumi has the added advantage of allowing users to choose options at each bootup with absolutely no special setup required for use.

Its out-of-the-box performance somewhat makes up for the lack of design polish. The biggest flaw is the incompleteness of its English language displays.

Otherwise, Austrumi Linux is a handy, all-purpose Linux OS. It can be an instant fix for data rescue and is credited as being among the fastest Linux distributions with 3D support for ATI, Nvidia and Intel video cards.

This distro contains all the necessary basic programs for work and entertainment. It boots from CD, flash drive or a hard drive installation and can be used on servers and workstations.

Pleasing Discovery

I am an endless distro-hopper thanks to nearly two decades spent reviewing the progress of literally hundreds of Linux operating systems and related software. I learned through thousands of hours evaluating new and old Linux products that the great variety in desktop environments and usability are two essential elements that make or break user responsiveness to any distribution.

Veteran users with a technical background love to get into the Linux weeds. They love to use the terminal window to dig deeply into the inner workings of the operating system. Typical Linux users tend to gravitate to Linux options that give you an efficient computing platform without a steep learning curve.

Austrumi Linux is not well known, but it checks most of the usability boxes. The only technical requirement is the ability to burn the ISO to a DVD or USB. That is a given for any Linux operating system installation. Beyond that process, just turn on the computer and use Austrumi. No installation is needed. Nor is there any need for system configurations.

The FVWM environment is a joy to use. I have not seen this window manager-based desktop environment prior to my hands-on introduction to Austumi Linux. It is one of the easiest and most intuitive I have used.

FVWM is clean and simple. It has four virtual workspaces built into the OS. It offers basic displays and menus.

Glaring Flaw

Despite the ease-of-use built into Austrumi Linux, the interface is marred by a mixed language display. The fault lies with how the developers treated the localization component.

Language, not technology, is the weak link in this distro. If your native language is Latvian (mine is not), this distro is no doubt a five-star prize. The interface also offers English, Russian and Greek languages at the click of a flag icon in the panel bar.

However, Austrumi does an incomplete job of fully displaying all text in English. Most of the applications show this flaw slightly. The desktop displays and menus, however, are major offenders.

I have to assume that this weakness pervades the Russian and Greek language integration as well. This localization issue is more prominent with English and non-European locales.

This extended weakness turned up when I tried to set the time on the clock display in the panel bar. The time zone entries are mostly in Europe. A few were in Brazil. Not a single North America time zone was available.

This limits the convenience factor, but it does not prevent using the distro.

Interface at a Glance

The FVWM environment provides a basic desktop display that does not get in the way. It is similar to using other really lightweight environments like Openbox and Xfce. However, FVWM is much less configurable.

A transparent vertical white panel bar sits along the left edge of the screen. It holds a few basic icons to indicate the status of the language connection and speaker volume and time display.

Open windows show a docking presence in the middle section of the panel bar. The top portion of the bar holds the launcher icons for the file manager, Firefox Web browser, terminal and main menu.

Hovering the mouse pointer on the main menu icon opens another panel bar across the top of the screen. Click on each of the nine category icons to drop down the contents list to launch the desired application.

Right-click anywhere on the screen to open a row of menus to access system tools and special applications. Some of these choices duplicate the contents of the main menu.

Click the transparent gray button in the right corner to launch the virtual workspace switcher app — but you can not move open windows from one workspace to other workspaces, either from the switcher app or from the open window itself.

Included Software

I was pleased with the ample collection of applications bundled in Austrumi Linux. Included is the LibreOffice suite version Also included is an inventory of packages typically found in Slackware-based distros.

I found a list of 14 games, ranging from Solitaire varieties to IceBreaker and Sudoku, very tempting. I am not usually a fan of computer games, but this collection drew me in and consumed a few hours.

The more I ventured through the various software categories, however, the more annoyed I became over the consistent absence of English titles. Depending on the application, that remained a problem within the menus as well.

Bottom Line

This distro needs only limited system resources. Requirements include an Intel-compatible Pentium 2 processor or later and at least 512 MB of RAM. You can stretch this minimal memory level by running the “boot:nocache” option if the computer has less than 512 MB RAM.

No hard drive is needed, but you can find in the system menu an installation tool to place Austrumi Linux on the hard drive or a bootable USB drive.
You also can run a live session directly from a bootable DVD if your system has an optical drive.

Other than the lack of adequate English language support within this distro, the only other significant design weakness is the lack of persistent memory if you run the OS without a hard drive installation. This means you can not save personal data and system configurations for your applications.

You can use a USB drive or cloud storage to save personal data. If you use Austrumi Linux as a portable OS, those two storage solutions will be in play anyway.

Austrumi is clearly not targeting non-European users. If developers fixed the language support for non-Latvian speakers, it could be much more convenient to use. Expanding support for other global regions is a critical need for this otherwise very handy performer.

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?

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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Zephyr RTOS 2.0 Release Highlights

Written by Ioannis Glaropoulos, Software System Architect at Nordic Semiconductor and active member of the Zephyr Technical Steering Committee

Last month, the Zephyr Project announced the release of Zephyr RTOS 2.0 and we are excited to share the details with you! Zephyr 2.0 is the first release of Zephyr RTOS after the 1.14 release with Long-Term support in April 2019. It is also a huge step up from the 1.14 release, bringing a wide list of new features, significant enhancements in existing features, as well as a large list of new HW platforms and development boards.

On the Kernel side, we enhanced the compatibility with 64-bit architectures, and significantly improved the precision of timeouts, by boosting the default tick rate for tickless kernels.

Additionally, we are excited to welcome ARM Cortex-R into the list of architectures supported in Zephyr RTOS.

A major achievement in this release is the stabilization of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) split controller, which is now the default BLE controller in the Zephyr RTOS. The new BLE controller enables support for multi-vendor Bluetooth v5.0 radio hardware with a single controller code-base, thanks to a layered modular architecture, where most of the controller code is hardware agnostic. The new controller also features improved scheduling of continuous scanning and directed advertising, and increased radio time utilization. The latter significantly improves the achievable communication bandwidth – among other use-cases – in BLE Mesh networking.

In the networking area, we introduced support for SOCKS5 proxy, an Internet protocol that exchanges network packets between a client and server through a proxy server. In addition, we added support for 6LoCAN, a 6Lo adaption layer for Controller Area Networks, and for Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), which is used to establish a direct connection between two nodes. We, finally, added support for UpdateHub, an end-to-end solution for large scale over-the-air device updates.

A most sincere thank you to the more than 215 developers who contributed to this release. Not only did you add a wealth of new features during the merge window, you also rallied together as a community during the stabilization period across time zones, companies, architectures, and even weekends, to find and fix bugs, to make Zephyr 2.0 yet another great release! This release would not have been possible without your hard work!

To learn more about Zephyr Project please see our Getting Started Guide, join the mailing list or follow #zephyrproject on IRC.

GNU Project developers object to Richard M Stallman’s continued leadership

Richard M Stallman (RMS) recently put his foot in his mouth by defending a sexual abuser and was pressured into resigning from the Free Software Foundation (FSF). So, was that his end as a free software leader and public figure? Nope. He’s still head of the GNU Project and appears to have no intention of leaving. But some GNU developers would like to see him stand down. While they haven’t explicitly asked Stallman to resign, 18 GNU programmers have said: “We believe that Richard Stallman cannot represent all of GNU. We think it is now time for GNU maintainers to collectively decide about the organization of the project.” (ZDNet)

Previous articleMaking the IoT More Open: A Common Framework for IoT Edge Computing with EdgeX Foundry

Swapnil Bhartiya has decades of experience covering emerging technologies and enterprise open source. His stories have appeared in a multitude of leading publications including CIO, InfoWorld, Network World, The New Stack, Linux Pro Magazine, ADMIN Magazine, HPE Insights, Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine, SweetCode, Linux For You, Electronics For You and more. He is also a science fiction writer and founder of TFiR.io.

Making the IoT More Open: A Common Framework for IoT Edge Computing with EdgeX Foundry

Jason Shepherd, the Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO

The internet of things (IoT) is a diverse space, but it’s also fragmented by design, whether it’s consumer IoT or industrial IoT. In 2015, Dell started working on a project called Project Fuse to weave together the diverse and fragmented world of IoT. The idea was to build the right architecture for IoT and edge computing.

The team working on the project quickly realized that they needed to extend the cloud-native principles — things like microservice-based architectures and platform independence — as close as possible to the device edge so that there would be more flexibility in how solutions are devised. In order to succeed, the project needed to be vendor-neutral, interoperable and open.

That’s when they decided to contribute it to the Linux Foundation, and a new project — EdgeX Foundry — came to life.

EdgeX Foundry was designed with the notion of platform independence, polyglot and loosely coupled microservices that allow developers and operators to write different codebases, all bound together through an API set.

When EdgeX Foundry came to the Linux Foundation, it was a well-architected Java code. Over time, the code got a total revamp: Golang replaced Java, reducing the footprint from 2.5 GB of memory to 50 MB. It also made components swappable, so developers could use their preferred database, plugins, analytics and more.

EdgeX Foundry became all about how a developer can take any device and any number of protocols from the operations world — which could be IP-based, wireless mesh, serial-based technologies or proprietary technologies — and be able to write device inputs in a common format, using whatever protocol and format they want on top of it, and in whatever fashion. It’s like a universal translator in the middle, working with whatever other technologies users want to use with it.

“The principal premise is that if we can get enough folks on a common middle bus, we don’t need to have one standard to rule the world for protocol because that will never happen,” said Jason Shepherd, the Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO. “A framework like EdgeX Foundry works like a bridge to weave it all together.”

Evolving with the Technology
EdgeX Foundry becomes even more significant as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain are maturating and being embraced.

“That’s why you need these loosely coupled frameworks so that even if the technologies we use change, the right framework will allow you to bring it together in any combination. It allows you to evolve as the technologies around you evolve,” Shepherd said.

Cloud-native technologies are more about the principles of delivering software and less about where it’s run. Traditionally, professionals from the operational technology (OT) world don’t want to update anything. If processes have been running for the last 20 years, they don’t want to touch those processes — ever.

On the contrary, the modern world is all about the continuous delivery of software.

“Your pace of innovation is your competitive advantage,” Shepherd said.

As the continuous delivery principles move closer to the physical world of edge computing devices, they start to show business value. There is no business incentive in having to manage a hundred platforms; the value is in building and leveraging domain knowledge applied in specialty applications.

The bottom line is that even folks from the OT world need to embrace cloud-native principles.

“Even if you’re not planning to do continuous delivery right now, even if the idea of continuous delivery freaks you out, you need to prepare now, because in the future you’re going to have to do it, either way, to keep up with your competitors,” Shepherd said. “It’s better to architect it now, even if you are working on your traditional models.”

Developers should start using open APIs, instead of reinventing everything.

“You can be part of a broader ecosystem so you can just focus on the pace of innovation that differentiates you from others and focus on the value that you bring to your customers,” Shepherd said.

Embracing New Business Models

The traditional IoT has been about monetizing from the hardware sale. In the modern world, it’s moving toward being service-oriented. Everything is a service, and the new mindset is about the value as service offers throughout its lifetime, not just the day it was shipped.

At the same time, the IoT is going across verticals, from home automation to enterprise, retail, energy, insurance, health care, and the automotive industry. Everything has to be interconnected. As new markets are emerging, IoT players should embrace not just new technologies, but also this new mindset of openness.

That’s where EdgeX Foundry becomes the foundational platform to application interoperability at the application layer. Under the Linux Foundation’s LF Edge umbrella, EdgeX Foundry is working with other projects like Acrn, Auto Edge and Home Edge, Eve and Fledge, which each solves a particular problem in the edge computing and IoT space.

Today, everyone wants to lock their users into their own ecosystem so they can keep you hooked and sell your data. Shepherd said he thinks that’s not the right way.

“The reality is you have to set the data free the moment it’s created and use technology to bring checks back from strangers,” he said. “This is how it’ll work.”

Facebook open-sources data set for code search AI benchmark

Facebook AI researchers created code search data sets that utilize information from GitHub and Stack Overflow. The release contains an evaluation data set of 287 Stack Overflow question-and-answer pairs including code snippets, as well as a search corpus of code snippets from nearly 25,000 Android repositories on GitHub. (VentureBeat)

Previous articleLinus Torvalds isn’t worried about Microsoft taking over Linux

Swapnil Bhartiya has decades of experience covering emerging technologies and enterprise open source. His stories have appeared in a multitude of leading publications including CIO, InfoWorld, Network World, The New Stack, Linux Pro Magazine, ADMIN Magazine, HPE Insights, Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine, SweetCode, Linux For You, Electronics For You and more. He is also a science fiction writer and founder of TFiR.io.