The new CPU configuration gives the new SoC a good uplift in performance, although it’s admittedly less of a jump than I had hoped for this generation of Cortex-X1 designs, and I do think Qualcomm won’t be able to retain the performance crown for this generation of Android-SoCs, with the performance gap against Apple’s SoCs also narrowing less than we had hoped for. On the GPU side, the new 35% performance uplift is extremely impressive. If Qualcomm is really able to maintain similar power figures this generation, it should allow the Snapdragon 888 to retake the performance crown in mobile, and actually retain it for the majority of 2021. At this point it feels like we’re far beyond the point of diminishing returns for smartphones, but with ARM moving to general purpose computers, there’s still a lot of performance gains to be made. I want a Linux-based competitor to Apple’s M1-based Macs, as Linux is perfectly suited for architecture transitions like this.
Ars Technica summarises and looks at the various claims made by Micro Magic about their RISC-V core. Micro Magic Inc.—a small electronic design firm in Sunnyvale, California—has produced a prototype CPU that is several times more efficient than world-leading competitors, while retaining reasonable raw performance. We first noticed Micro Magic’s claims earlier this week, when EE Times reported on the company’s new prototype CPU, which appears to be the fastest RISC-V CPU in the world. Micro Magic adviser Andy Huang claimed the CPU could produce 13,000 CoreMarks (more on that later) at 5GHz and 1.1V while also putting out 11,000 CoreMarks at 4.25GHz—the latter all while consuming only 200mW. Huang demonstrated the CPU—running on an Odroid board—to EE Times at 4.327GHz/0.8V and 5.19GHz/1.1V. Later the same week, Micro Magic announced the same CPU could produce over 8,000 CoreMarks at 3GHz while consuming only 69mW of power. I have some major reservations about all of these claims, mostly because of the lack of benchmarks that more accurately track real-world usage. Extraordinary claims requite extraordinary evidence, and I feel like some vague photos just doesn’t to the trick of convincing me. Then again, last time I said anything about an upcoming processor, I was off by a million miles, so what do I know?
This Monday, ZFS on Linux lead developer Brian Behlendorf published the OpenZFS 2.0.0 release to GitHub. Along with quite a lot of new features, the announcement brings an end to the former distinction between “ZFS on Linux” and ZFS elsewhere (for example, on FreeBSD). This move has been a long time coming—the FreeBSD community laid out its side of the roadmap two years ago—but this is the release that makes it official. A massive release.
oasis is a small linux system. It is probably quite a bit different from other Linux-based operating systems you might be familiar with, and is probably better compared to a BSD. There are many features that distinguish it from other operating systems. It’s entirely statically linked, uses various smaller, more compact alternatives to components you’d normally find in a Linux system, and it’s entirely focused on simplicity. I find it quite attractive on paper.
Since OSNews’ inception in 1997 – yes, this site is that old – a lot has changed on the internet when it comes to earning income. While for a very long time a site like OSNews could sustain itself through revenue from basic ads alone, we’re now far beyond the point where that is feasible – unless we were to introduce ever more intrusive ads, which we’re obviously not going to do. Our readers are, of course, keenly aware of how expensive it can be to run a website like OSNews, and as such, many of you have asked us over the years for methods of supporting the website financially. We’ve always had a subscriber program for an ad-free version of the site, but we never really advertised it very heavily. Today, that’s going to change. You can now support OSNews by becoming an OSNews Patreon. With your support, we can keep posting stories every single day, pay the hosting bills, write more interesting articles, access interesting hardware to review for your amusement, and possibly expand into new territories like video reviews to accompany the regular written reviews. Your support will enable us to write reviews of older, vintage devices and software like Palm PDAs, Psion devices, old operating system versions, and much more. We’ve created three tiers – Silver, Gold, and Platinum – and at each of these tiers you’ll get the ad-free version of OSNews, as well as a silver, gold, or custom comment flair to show off your status as an OSNews Patreon. All of our readers are equal, of course, but OSNews Patreons are just a little more equal. If you want to support the continued work we do, head on over to the OSNews Patreon page and become an OSNews Patreon. Thank you – all of you, not just OSNews Patreons – for supporting the site! Important note: since Patreon has ended support for their API, we are not investing engineering hours into full integration of Patreon into OSNews. This means we have to add the rewards to your OSNews account manually. As such, it may take a few hours before your rewards are added to your account, depending on time zones, availability of OSNews staff, and so on. We will obviously do our best to make this process as quick as possible, but please bear with us. Frequently (?) Asked Questions Does this mean OSNews will start putting content behind Patreon-only paywalls? No. All of the stories and articles we post will remain freely available as they always have been, and even future articles made possible through Patreon supporters will always be available to everyone. The goal of the OSNews Patreon is to support OSNews as a whole, not just a small part of it. Can you give some examples of the kinds of articles you want to write that are impossible to do without more financial support? Sure! A great example of an article – or, more likely, series of articles – that I’ve been dying to write is one about one of the last Sun UltraSPARC multiprocessor workstations, fitted with one of the later SunPCI cards. I’m a huge fan of Sun’s workstation hardware, but getting access to relatively old and outdated hardware like this is surprisingly expensive. A successful Patreon could make this a reality. I also have a massive collection of PDAs, from the late 80s all the way up to the 2000s, that I would love to write more about. That takes a lot of time, and with the support of the OSNews Patreon I might be able to set aside time from my regular job to focus more on writing articles for OSNews. There are tons of other interesting topics that require expenses too, such as SGI’s IRIX, or Psion devices, or even modern computers like the new M1-based Macs. Will you introduce more tiers and benefits in the future? Possibly. We have a few other ideas that we need to flesh out further and reconsider before making any commitments. Why is the pricing in euros, and not in dollars or Canadian rubles? The pricing is set in euros, but Patreon shows the amounts converted to your local currency. Some users may still see the euro pricing, however, for instance when using a VPN. Can I cancel my Patreon or upgrade/downgrade to a different tier? Yes. Patreon as a platform offers all of these options at any time, so you’ll never have to feel tied down or locked into or out of a certain tier.
This release comes with a new live system that leverages ZFS, compression, and replication first introduced in FuryBSD by Joe Maloney. The 20.11.28 release contains numerous improvements, including OS fixes for linuxulator to improve Linux Steam performance, an updated kernel, and GhostBSD userland updates. Userland updates include a MATE desktop upgrade to version 1.24.1, Software Station performance improvements, and numerous application updates. Does anybody have any experiences with Linuxulator? I’m quite curious about its performance compared to running the same binaries on Linux, and just how easy it is to use.
On Youtube I watched a Mac user who had bought an iMac last year. It was maxed out with 40 GB of RAM costing him about $4000. He watched in disbelief how his hyper expensive iMac was being demolished by his new M1 Mac Mini, which he had paid a measly $700 for. In real world test after test, the M1 Macs are not merely inching past top of the line Intel Macs, they are destroying them. In disbelief people have started asking how on earth this is possible? If you are one of those people, you have come to the right place. Here I plan to break it down into digestible pieces exactly what it is that Apple has done with the M1. It’s exciting to see x86 receive such a major kick in the butt, but it’s sad that the M1 is locked away and only a very, very small number of people will get to see its benefits.
In my previous post, I described running Arch on an OpenWRT router. Today, I’ll be taking it a step further and running Arch and a full LXDE installation natively on an Amazon Kindle, which can be interacted with directly using the touch screen. This is possible thanks to the Kindle’s operating system being Linux! Neat.
In a time when home PC’s were single tasking DOS boxes with 8 character file names and Ataris and Macs were single tasking GUI boxes, hampering any hacker with their glaring lack of a CLI, the Amiga was a champion of both worlds: It combined the CLI and GUI, leveraging both their strengths. But there was more to it than that, something that’s hard to convey in so many words. A long list of little things that the author believes made the Amiga great. There’s some interesting touches in there, but personally, the Amiga OS and its derivatives just do not click with me – and I’ve extensively used all of them. Not that it matters, though – there’s more than enough love for the Amiga to go around.
With Genode 20.11, we focused on the scalability of real-world application workloads, and nurtured Genode’s support for 64-bit ARM hardware. We thereby follow the overarching goal to run highly sophisticated Genode-based systems on devices of various form factors. The release notes are detailed and informative as always – a huge benefit of being a project born at and run in a university environment.
The new M1 MacBooks are fast, beautiful and silent and the hype is absolutely justified. There’s still a lot to do on the software-front to catch up, and the bugs around older iOS Simulators are especially problematic. All of that can be fixed in software and the whole industry is currently working on making the experience better, so by next year, when Apple updates the 16-inch MacBook Pro and releases the next generation of their M chip line, it should be absolutely possible to use a M1 Mac as main dev machine. For the vast majority of people, it’s going to be very hard to resist these new Macs. They’re just so far ahead of the competition in performance, power draw, battery life, and noise (or lack thereof) that any x86-based laptop just can’t compete, unless they go hardcore in on price. I’d love to have one to test and review here for OSNews, but financially that’s not in the cards for now.
This is a project providing a Linux-like OS for systems based on the Intel IA16 architecture (16-bit processors: 8086, 8088, 80188, 80186, 80286, NEC V20, V30, and compatibles). Such systems are ancient computers (IBM-PC XT/AT and clones), or more recent SBC/SoC/FPGA that reuse the huge hardware & software legacy from that popular platform. Definitely an interesting and impressive project.
A developer has successfully been able to virtualize the ARM version of Windows on Apple Silicon using the QEMU virtualizer. Apple’s M1 MacBooks have proved their worth when it comes to performance and battery efficiency. But, since these run on a custom ARM chip, it’s not yet possible to install, dual boot, or emulate Windows; which is in popular demand. Developer Alexander Graf, however, took to Twitter today to share his achievement: successfully being able to virtualize ARM Windows on Apple Silicon. Nothing too surprising, of course, but the real barrier to Windows on ARM running on M1-equipped Macs is not running Windows on M1 Macs, but Microsoft actually making the ARM version of Windows available for this very purpose.
A few weeks ago, we linked to an article that went in-depth into UEFI, and today, we have a follow-up. But the recent activity reminded me that there was one thing I couldn’t figure out how to do at the time: Enumerate all the available UEFI variables from within Windows. If you remember, Windows has API calls to get and set UEFI variable values, but not to enumerate them. So I started doing some more research to see if there was any way to do that – it’s obviously possible as the UEFI specs describe it, a UEFI shell can easily do it, and Linux does it (via a file system). My research took me to a place I wouldn’t have expected. We can always go deeper.
V7/x86 is a port of the Seventh Edition of the UNIX operating system to the x86 (i386) based PC. UNIX V7 was the last general distribution (around 1979) to come from the Research group at Bell Labs, the original home of UNIX. The port was done mostly around 1999 when “Ancient UNIX” source code licenses first became available, and was revised for release, with some enhancements, during 2006-7. The distribution includes the full UNIX Version 7 operating system, with source code, pre-built binaries, man pages, and original Version 7 documentation. Also included are a custom UNIX-style x86 assembler, an ACK-based C compiler, and several key early UCB software components such as the C shell, the editors ex and vi, and the pager more. I’m inclined to try and run this virtually, to see just how bastardised and messy UNIX has become in our current UNIX derivatives.
The FreeBSD Desktop series are about creating efficient desktop environment on the FreeBSD system. Why such series? Because telling someone who wants FreeBSD desktop to buy Mac instead is like telling someone who wants Linux desktop to buy Windows because it has WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) inside. This is one hell of a detailed and long series of articles – 21 of them. I’m not very well-versed in the world of BSD, and this series is making me want to give the world thing a go – just to learn and expand my horizons.
In a landmark move, the European Parliament voted today to support consumers’ Right to Repair. The resolution was adopted with 395 in favour and just 94 against, with 207 abstentions. The vote calls for the EU Commission to “develop and introduce mandatory labelling, to provide clear, immediately visible and easy-to-understand information to consumers on the estimated lifetime and reparability of a product at the time of purchase.” Good.
In this article, I will walk through the early kernel initialization process, defining the meaning of this term. System initialization is a broad topic that ranges from the platform’s hardware design all the way up to typical functions of an operating system such as handling I/O operations. It is not possible to cover the entire topic adequately within the scope of an article. In this first part I will describe the well-known AMD64: 64-bit platform. I am going to highlight a very interesting part of the initialization process the early initialization of the kernel. Later, I will compare it with ARM64. In both cases I will discuss the topic in the context of NetBSD, the operating system known for its portability. Some light reading.
Most PCs tend to boot from a primary media storage, be it a hard disk drive, or a solid-state drive, perhaps from a network, or – if all else fails – the USB stick or the boot DVD comes to the rescue… Fun, eh? Boring! Why don’t we try to boot from a record player for a change? I hope he’s using gold-plated triple-insulated Monster cables with diamond tips and uranium signal repeaters, because otherwise the superior quality of the vinyl will get lost. Would be a shame.
Earlier this year, we reviewed System76’s Lemur Pro, a laptop designed for portability and long battery life. This time around, we’re going entirely the opposite direction with the System76 Bonobo WS – a mobile workstation that looks like a laptop (if you squint), but packs some of the fastest desktop-grade hardware available on the market. Specifications System76 sent us the latest version of the Bonobo WS, with some truly bonkers specifications for what is, technically, a laptop (sort of), at a total price of $4315.22. This mobile workstation comes with an Intel Core i9-10900K, which has 10 cores and 20 threads and runs at 5.3 Ghz – and this is not a constrained mobile chip, but the full desktop processor. It’s paired with an 8GB RTX 2080 Super graphics card – which, again, is the desktop part, not the mobile version. It has 32 GB of RAM configured in dual-channel at 3200 Mhz. To top it off, I configured it with a 250 GB NVMe drive for the operating system, and an additional 1 TB NVME drive for storage and other stuff. Both of these drives have a theoretical sequential read and write speeds of 3500 MB/s and 2300 MB/s respectively. The Bonobo WS comes with a 17.3″ display, and I opted for the 1080p 144Hz version, since the 4K option was not yet available at the time of setting up the review unit. The 4K option, which I would normally recommend on a display of this size, might not make a lot of sense here since most people interested in a niche mobile workstation like this will most likely be using external displays anyway, making the splurge for the 4K option a bit moot, especially since it’s a mere 60 Hz panel. There’s a few other specifications we need to mention – specifically the weight and battery life of a massive computer like this one. The base weight is roughly 3.8 kg, and its dimensions are 43.43 × 399.03 × 319.02 mm (height × width × depth). While this machine can technically be classified as a laptop, the mobile workstation moniker is a far more apt description. This is not a machine for carrying from classroom to classroom – this is a machine that most users will use in just two, possible three places, and don’t move very often. Another reason for that is battery life. A machine with this much power requires a lot of juice, and the 97 Wh battery isn’t going to give you a lot of unplugged time to work. You’ll spend all of your time plugged into not one, but two power sockets, as this machine requires two huge power bricks. It even comes with an adorable rubber thing that ties the two power bricks together in a way that maintains some space between them for cooling and safety purposes. So not only do you have to lug around the massive machine itself, but also the two giant power bricks. As this is a mobile workstation, the ports situation is excellent. It has a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (ugh)/Thunderbolt 3 port (type C), 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (type A) ports, and a MicroSD card slot. For your external display needs, we’ve got a full-size HDMI port, 2 mini DisplayPorts (1.4) and a DisplayPort (1.4) over USB type C. Furthermore, there’s an Ethernet port, the usual audio jacks (microphone and headphones, and one also has an optical connection), and the obligatory Kensington lock. Of course, there’s wireless networking support through an Intel dual-band WiFi 6 chip, as well as Bluetooth support. Hardware The hardware of this machine is entirely dictated by its internals, since cramming this much desktop power in a computer that weighs less than 4 kg doesn’t leave you with much room to mess around. The entire design is dictated by the required cooling, and there are vents all over the place. This is not a pretty or attractive machine – but it doesn’t need to be. People who need this much mobile power to lug around don’t care about what it looks like, how thin it is, or how aluminium the aluminium is – they need this power to be properly cooled, and if that means more thickness or more vents, then please don’t skimp. If you care about form over function – which is an entirely legitimate criterion, by the way, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise – there are other devices to choose from. While the laptop does have some RGB flourishes here and there, they’re not overly present or distracting, and the ability to switch between several colours for the keyboard lighting is very nice to have, since I find the generic white light most laptops use to not always be ideal. You can cycle through the various lighting options with a key combination. The keyboard has a little bit more key travel than I’m used to from most laptops, probably owed to its chunky size leaving more room for the keys to travel. The keys have a bit of wobble, but not enough to cause me to miss keystrokes. I am not a fan of the font used on the keyboard, but that’s a mere matter of taste. The trackpad is decent, feels fine enough, and works great with Linux (obviously). In what I first thought was a blast from the past, the laptop has physical buttons for right and left click underneath the trackpad. However, after a little bit of use, I realised just how nice it was to have actual, physical buttons, and not a diving board or – god forbid – a trackpad that only supports tapping. Of course, it’s not nearly as good as Apple’s force touch trackpad that simulates an eerily realistic click wherever you press, but it does the job just fine. That being said, though, much like with the display, I doubt many people who need a machine like this will really care. They’ll most likely not only have