Intel’s highest-end graphics card lineup is approaching its retail launch, and that means we’re getting more answers to crucial market questions of prices, launch dates, performance, and availability. Today, Intel answered more of those A700-series GPU questions, and they’re paired with claims that every card in the Arc A700 series punches back at Nvidia’s 18-month-old RTX 3060. After announcing a $329 price for its A770 GPU earlier this week, Intel clarified it would launch three A700 series products on October 12: The aforementioned Arc A770 for $329, which sports 8GB of GDDR6 memory; an additional Arc A770 Limited Edition for $349, which jumps up to 16GB of GDDR6 at slightly higher memory bandwidth and otherwise sports otherwise identical specs; and the slightly weaker A750 Limited Edition for $289. These are excellent prices, and assuming Intel can deliver enough supply to meet demand, I think I may have found my next GPU. If history is anything to go by, these will have excellent Linux support, but of course, we would be wise to let the enthusiasts iron out the bugs and issues. Six to twelve months after launch, these could be amazing allrounders for a very good price.
Thom Holwerda Archive
CDE 2.5.0 is now available on SourceForge. This is a significant release compared to the previous one with, among many other things, a replacement of the build system from ancient Imake to somewhat less ancient Autotools. There’s also a ton of bug fixes, as well as new features and other changes.
A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service. We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023. Another Google product announced with much fanfare is shutting down, as many, many people expected it would be. It seems Google is at least handling the refunds properly, and I hope the Stadia controllers can still be used with other platforms so they don’t turn into e-waste. Another one for the graveyard.
Project Monterey was an attempt to unify the fragmented Unix market of the 90s in to a single cross vendor Unix that would run on Intel Itanium (and others). The main collaborators were: IBM who brought its AIX, HP was supposed to bring some bits from HP-UX, Sequent from DYNIX/ptx and SCO from UnixWare. The project shared fate of Itanium – it totally failed. In the end Linux took its spot as a single Unix. The main legacy of Project Monterey was the famous SCO vs IBM lawsuit. IBM did however produce AIX version for IA64 architecture! According to Wikipedia, 32 copies were sold in 2001. Except of course no one has kept a copy and the famous OS was lost forever. Until now! This rare release has been recovered, imaged, and uploaded for posterity. It’s going to be difficult to actually run it, though, as there’s no emulator capable of running it – you’re going to need a very specific type of Itanium machine, an Intel Engineering Sample Itanium workstation, which were available from several vendors.
Say hello to the RISC ThinkPad that’s not a ThinkPad, the IBM WorkPad z50. Let’s say you went to CompUSA, or, I dunno, Fry’s, or Circuit City, in mid-1999. Why, you might pick up an Ethernet hub and a BeOS advanced topics book, and marvel at this lithe little laptop IBM was selling for US$999 ($1780 in today’s dollars) MSRP. It had all the ThinkPad design cues and a surprisingly luxurious 95% keyboard, plus that frisson-inducing bright red mouse stick. And you might say, I want this, and I’m going to take it home. I want one of these so very bad – but like so many things classic computing, eBay prices have gone batshit insane, making it very, very hard to justify.
We have seen how PumpkinOS runs a classic 68K application. First, code.0 and data.0 resources from the PRC are loaded and decoded. Then code.1 is loaded and the 68K emulator starts running it. Native applications, that is, applications compiled from source to the target architecture of PumpkinOS (x86 or ARM), are still stored in PRC files, having access to all PalmOS resources like forms, bitmaps, alerts, etc. In fact, the same resource compiler (pilrc) used to generate the binary resources for PalmOS is used in PumpkinOS. The difference lies in how code and data are stored and processed. PumpkinOS’ developer also sent out a tweet with a video of a new shell – which looks quite cool.
After nearly six months of development, the GNOME 43 “Guadalajara” desktop is finally here and introduces a few interesting changes, the most prominent one being the Quick Settings menu that can be accessed from the system top bar, very similar to those you probably saw on Android devices or the latest Windows 11 and macOS systems. Nautilus has also been improved considerably, and Epiphany (GNOME Web) now supports WebExtensions, instantly making the browser a lot more useful. The move to GTK4 continues, too, of course, and there’s countless other improvements.
The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) can now run systemd inside of your WSL distros, empowering you to do more with your Linux workflows on your Windows machine. The most controversial piece of Linux software in recent times makes its way to WSL.
Perhaps my favourite feature of Guix is guix shell. It is one of those tools that I don’t know how to do without. Even if you are not ready to use Guix as a package manager (or distro), guix shell alone might be a reason to have Guix installed. Why? This article describes a really nifty feature of Guix.
As predicted, Microsoft is formally releasing Windows 11 version 22H2 to the general public today. Also called the “Windows 11 2022 Update,” version 22H2 is a major update that brings a plethora of fixes and refinements to the operating system, improving the Start menu, jettisoning some more Windows 8-era user interface designs, adding new touchscreen and window management features, and more. We covered many of the new features earlier this year, when the update was still undergoing beta testing. The rollout to Windows Update will be phased, but if you want to get your hands on the update now, you can use the Windows 11 Installation Assistant, because that makes sense.
The M100’s LCD is really 10 separate displays, each controlled by its own HD44102 driver chip. The driver chips are each responsible for a 50-by-32-pixel region of the screen, except for two chips at the right-hand side that control only 40 by 32 pixels. This provides a total screen resolution of 240 by 64 pixels. Within each region the pixels are divided into four rows, or banks, each eight pixels high. Each vertical column of eight pixels corresponds to one byte in a driver’s local memory. The Tandy Model 100’s odd display arrangement was done to make it considerably faster, but it does mean that modernising the hardware inside the M100 today can be a but of a challenge.
The first 8-bit microprocessor, the TMX 1795 had the same architecture as the 8008 but was built months before the 8008. Never sold commercially, this Texas Instruments processor is now almost forgotten even though it had a huge impact on the computer industry. In this article, I present the surprising history of the TMX 1795 in detail, look at other early processors, and explain how the TMX 1795 almost became the first microprocessor. (Originally I thought the TMX 1795 was the first microprocessor, but it appears that the 4004 slightly beat it.) Very detailed article about early micrprocessors, including lots of pretty pictures.
Do you have some old 386 or 486 machines lying around, collecting dust, but want them to become productive members of your computer household? Fret no more – there’s gray386linux and gray486linux, distributions specifically tailored for these two older architectures. I’m not entirely sure what you’d actually do with them, but fascinating projects nonetheless.
The character “ꙮ” (U+A66E) is being updated in version 15.0.0. Because it doesn’t have enough eyes. It needs to have three more eyes. This character is rare. Very, very rare. Rare enough to occur in a single phrase, in a single text written in an extinct language, Old Church Slavonic. The text is a copy of the Book of Psalms, written around 1429 and kept in Russia. Basically, in some old Slavic languages, authors would stylise the “O” in their word for eye (“ꙩкꙩ”) by adding a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye. If there were two eyes, two of these characters would be joined together (“ꙭчи”). The final evolution of this character was “ꙮ”, used only once in human history, in the phrase “серафими многоꙮчитїи”, which translates to “many-eyed seraphim”. Here’s how this relates to Unicode: the person who originally added this character to Unicode made a mistake, and didn’t count the number of eyes correctly. There should be ten eyes, not seven. This error was discovered in 2020, and now it has been corrected. Awesome.
A traditional PalmOS emulator requires a ROM: a binary object that contains the original PalmOS compiled and linked for the 68K architecture. When you run an application PRC in those emulators, everything is emulated down to the hardware layer, so the ROM thinks it is talking to an actual device. Therefore, as an emulator developer, your job is to provide an implementation of the CPU, memory, display, serial port, and so on, taking into accounting the low level differences between the myriad of devices that ran PalmOS back then. As long as your implementation of the physical layer is accurate, applications will generally run fine. PumpkinOS also allows you to run binary 68K applications, but do not require a copyrighted PalmOS ROM. The short story is this: the developers of PalmOS devised a clever way to implement system calls (also used in other 68K systems, I think). They used a feature of the 68K CPU called trap. A trap is like a subroutine call, but instead of jumping to a different memory addresses depending on the system call, it jumps to a fixed address, passing an argument identifying the system call. PumpkinOS takes advantage of this fact and, whenever a trap is issued, it intercepts the execution flow, identifies the system call, extract the parameters and calls a native implementation inside PumpkinOS, bypassing a ROM altogether. It is very similar to the way PACE (Palm Application Compatibility Environment) was implemented when PalmOS 5 was introduced. If the 68K application plays by the rules and only calls the OS through system traps, never accessing hardware directly, it will also run fine on PumpkinOS. Now, if you want to know the long version of this story, keep reading. Even more details about the inner-workings of PumpkinOS.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the work the wayland community has done since I last did a serious look at the state of things. I’m still waiting for a stacking window manager that scratches the same itch for me that icewm does, but I’m following labwc with great interest. At this point though, I’ve established that I can live my life on wayland, and for the time being I am. Not everyone can yet though, and there’s still work to be done. Part of why I’m feeling the urge to transition to wayland is performance benefits, but the other part is so that I’ll be able to help solve the unsolved problems to make it viable for more people. I don’t think X is ever going to die. Even if it fades away on Linux, there’s a lot of old video hardware that will probably only ever be well supported with real Xorg, on Linux and other OSes such as NetBSD. That stuff is already seeing support dropped in more recent versions of Xorg, and preservationists will need to do digging to find versions that still take advantage of everything the hardware has to offer. But, I understand now why the wayland folks have been talking so highly of it, and how drastically it simplifies the userland stack, and I’m no longer concerned that I’ll wake up to find my netbook has become unusable for modern software. I’ve been on Wayland on both my laptop and workstation for a long time now, and there’s no way I’m ever going back with just how much better it performs than X.org. Only my main PC (used mostly for gaming) is still on X.org (Linux Mint), but that’s out of a combination of NVIDIA hardware and my satisfaction with Mint. I agree with the author that X.org won’t die, but the arrow of time is pointing in a very clear direction.
For the past decade there were two more or less universally acknowledged truths about digital advertising. First, the rapidly growing industry was largely impervious to the business cycle. Second, it was dominated by the duopoly of Google (in search ads) and Meta (in social media), which one jealous rival has compared to John Rockefeller’s hold on oil in the 19th century. Both of these verities are now being challenged simultaneously. Having giants like Google and Facebook checked and balanced by competition is always a plus, but one has to wonder if this is just going to accelerate the race to the bottom in the online ad business.
Today, Intel introduces a new processor for the essential product space: Intel Processor. The new offering will replace the Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron branding in the 2023 notebook product stack. Those are some old, long-standing brands Intel just put out to pasture. “Intel Processor” will exist next to the Core i product lines as budget processors, just like Pentium and Celeron do today.
Linux command line for you and me is a book for newcomers to command line environment. Exactly as it says on the tin. This is a great, easy to use resource for command line use. Even though I’ve used Linux for more than two decades, and have been Linux-only for a few years now, I rarely use the command line, and having a resource like this in my back pocket for the few times I do dive into the command line is very nice – especially when you need to use some of the less obvious commands.
When BART first carried passengers, the country was sending astronauts to the moon. The Apollo-era trains were symbols of a generation barreling toward a space-age future complete with carpeted floors and a seat promised to every passenger. That was 1972, when BART was state of the art. But half a century later, as the agency celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, many of those same silver-and-blue trains are still chugging through the Bay Area. And keeping them running — even in the country’s technology capital — requires a special breed of ingenuity. BART mechanics rely on Frankensteined laptops operating with Windows 98, train yard scraps and vintage microchips to keep Bay Area commuters on the rails. These stories are a dime a dozen, and serve to illustrate there’s a lot more outdated tech out there in our daily lives than we think. On the flipside, that’s some decent job security for the engineers and maintenance crew involved.