Episode 420 Show Notes
Welcome to mintCast
This is Episode 420!
This is Episode 420.5!
Recorded on Sunday, September 3, 2023
Enjoying the cooler weather I’m Joe; back from the swamps, I’m Moss;… Eric
— Play Standard Intro —
- First up in the news: Mint Monthly News – August, New Asahi Linux Mac GPU beats Apple, Gnome improves Epiphany, Budgie 10.8 is out, Bodhi 7.0.0 is released, QEMU 8.1 released, LibreOffice gets a new number, Linux Turns 32, Mageia 9 released, Linux Kernel 6.5 is out, and Firefox loses users;
- In security and privacy: Nothing. We have nothing.
- Then in our Wanderings: Joe and Moss return to the fold, and welcome Eric Adams to join us;
- In our Innards section, we talk about Linux on mobile devices;
- And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions.
— Play News Transition Bumper —
- Mint Monthly News – August
- Clem posted the following on Sept 1.
- You might be wondering what’s coming next and in which order. As you know we’re planning two releases (LMDE 6 and Mint 21.2 EDGE) but we also have long-term plans. One of these is to update our ISO production framework. Among other things this fixes secureboot. This is a big task but it’s really important for us.
- We’ve been hesitating on how to prioritize these. What ended up happening was that we worked both on LMDE and the new ISO framework.
- We’ve been reducing the differences between old and new ISOs, we even made a tool to compare them. We’re now at a stage where we’re pretty confident we’ll move to the new framework and we’ll have secureboot support for upcoming images.LMDE 6 is almost ready to enter QA. It looks stable, it has all the changes featured in Mint 21.2 and it uses a Debian 12 base and a 6.1 kernel. It should use pipewire by default also.. though we haven’t tested that yet so I shouldn’t really be talking about it.
- Both LMDE 6 and Mint 21.2 EDGE will be released this month (Sept).
- New Asahi Linux Mac GPU drivers just did something even Apple couldn’t manage
- From a blog post by Alyssa Rosenzweig, a developer working on the Asahi graphics driver (August 22, 2023)
- Conformant OpenGL® ES 3.1 drivers are now available for M1- and M2-family GPUs. That means the drivers are compatible with any OpenGL ES 3.1 application. Interested? Just install Linux!
- For existing Asahi Linux users, upgrade your system with
dnf upgrade(Fedora) or
pacman -Syu(Arch) for the latest drivers.
- Our reverse-engineered, free and open source graphics drivers are the world’s only conformant OpenGL ES 3.1 implementation for M1- and M2-family graphics hardware. That means our drivers passed tens of thousands of tests to demonstrate correctness and is now recognized by the industry.
- To become conformant, an “implementation” must pass the official conformance test suite, designed to verify every feature in the specification. The test results are submitted to Khronos, the standards body. After a 30-day review period, if no issues are found, the implementation becomes conformant. The Khronos website lists all conformant implementations, including our drivers for the M1, M1 Pro/Max/Ultra, M2, and M2 Pro/Max.
- Today’s milestone isn’t just about OpenGL ES. We’re releasing the first conformant implementation of any graphics standard for the M1. And we don’t plan to stop here 😉
- Unlike ours, the manufacturer’s M1 drivers are unfortunately not conformant for any standard graphics API, whether Vulkan or OpenGL or OpenGL ES. That means that there is no guarantee that applications using the standards will work on your M1/M2 (if you’re not running Linux). This isn’t just a theoretical issue. Consider Vulkan. The third-party MoltenVK layers a subset of Vulkan on top of the proprietary drivers. However, those drivers lack key functionality, breaking valid Vulkan applications. That hinders developers and users alike, if they haven’t yet switched their M1/M2 computers to Linux.
- Why did we pursue standards conformance when the manufacturer did not? Above all, our commitment to quality. We want our users to know that they can depend on our Linux drivers. We want standard software to run without M1-specific hacks or porting. We want to set the right example for the ecosystem: the way forward is implementing open standards, conformant to the specifications, without compromises for “portability”. We are not satisfied with proprietary drivers, proprietary APIs, and refusal to implement standards. The rest of the industry knows that progress comes from cross-vendor collaboration. We know it, too. Achieving conformance is a win for our community, for open source, and for open graphics.
- Of course, Asahi Lina and I are two individuals with minimal funding. It’s a little awkward that we beat the big corporation…
- It’s not too late though. They should follow our lead!
- Gnome 44.4 Is Out To Improve Epiphany and more Moss
- from 9to5 Linux
- The GNOME Project announced today the general availability of GNOME 44.4 as the fourth maintenance update to the latest GNOME 44 “Kuala Lumpur” desktop environment series.
- While GNOME 44.3 was skipped for some reason, GNOME 44.4 only brings a few changes to the Epiphany (GNOME Web) web browser, such as hiding of the “Search the Web for” context menu item by default in the Web App mode.
- Several bugs were also addressed in Epiphany, which was updated to version 44.6. These include the broken “Save Password?” permission requests, unencoded % characters in URLs which prevented the session from being saved, web views not being destroyed when the window is closed, and a crash.
- GNOME 44.4 also improves the GNOME Software app by disabling animations in the UI according to the user’s accessibility settings, fixing the ability to apply updates that require some packages to be removed to satisfy dependencies, and improving error notifications from failed GPG checks.
- Since GNOME 44.3 was missing in action, this release apparently includes GNOME Shell 44.3 with a fix for cursor offset when using a magnifier, a fix for missing workspace borders after wallpaper changes, and a revert of previous screencast optimizations due to bogus windows.
- The same goes for Mutter 44.3, which fixes the dynamic max render time blocking with direct scanout, adds the ability to avoid rapidly toggling the dynamic max render time, and ensures the preferred monitor mode is always included.
- xdg-desktop-portal-gnome 44.2 is included as well in GNOME 44.4 with a single change, namely the ability to expose the settings backend when running outside of the GNOME desktop environment, which means better compatibility with other desktops like Cinnamon or Xfce.
- For more details about the changes included in this update, check out the release announcement. Meanwhile, if you’re using the GNOME 44 desktop environment series, keep an eye on your distro’s stable repositories for the GNOME 44.4 packages and update as soon as possible.
- Budgie 10.8 Desktop Released, New Trash Applet, Menu Improvements
- Joshua Strobl announced today the release of Budgie 10.8 as a new maintenance update bringing various improvements, bug fixes, and other changes.
- Budgie 10.8 comes with a new applet called Budgie Trash Applet that was previously available as a third-party applet, but not it comes pre-installed by default with the new Budgie release. Apart from the usual functionality of such an applet, the Budgie Trash Applet also features support for restoring trashed files.
- Another interesting change in Budgie 10.8 is support for the StatusNotifier specification in the System Tray Applet, which enables applications to show their icons and menus in the system tray area in a modern way that is expected from a desktop environment in 2023.
- The Budgie Menu applet has been updated as well in this release to re-organize some of the default apps and categories based on user feedback. For example, the Utilities category has been removed entirely and the items were moved to the System Tools category.
- Budgie 10.8 also updates the battery indicator in the Status applet to give users the ability to control the Balanced, Performance, and Power Saver profile modes, on supported systems, improves the Privilege Escalation dialog with a description of the requested action, and adds support for Magpie v0.x.
- “This version of Magpie is < 1.0 (e.g. 0.9.x) and is designed to be a temporary fork catered to Budgie and its current X11-only support,” said Joshua Strobl. “Magpie v0.9.x is strictly for X11 support and is a fork of Mutter from GNOME 43.x.”
- With that in mind, Josh also stated that the Budgie team is working on Wayland support for future Budgie releases, which will be implemented with the Magpie 1.0 as their in-house built Wayland compositor created on top of wlroots.
- Check out the blog announcement for details about the bug fixes and minor refinements that landed in Budgie 10.8, a release that will soon be available for users of various popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Arch Linux, Fedora Linux, Ubuntu Budgie, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and others.
- Bodhi Linux 7.0.0 Released Moss
- from bodhilinux.com blog
- The Bodhi team is thrilled to announce the long-awaited release of Bodhi Linux 7.0. Built on the Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Jammy Jellyfish) base, Bodhi 7.0 is a momentous step forward. With a strong commitment to improving user experience, performance, and adhering to its core values of minimalism and customization, this release marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Bodhi Linux.
- Standard Release (5.15 kernel)
- HWE Release (6.2 Ubuntu HWE kernel)
- s76 Release (6.4.4 System76 kernel)
- We will be releasing an AppPack ISO in a few weeks as well as starting work on a Debian-based 32-bit legacy version of Bodhi 7.0.
- Enhancements and Changes:
- Bodhi Linux 7.0 comes with an array of improvements and updates. Most notable are:
- Introduction of a new “s76” release, which features a more advanced Kernel for those seeking cutting-edge performance.
- Kernel updates are now enabled by default.
- EFL and Terminology are updated to the version in e-git.
- Moksha no longer relies on deprecated libraries.
- The BL7 login screen boasts an upgraded slick greeter with a password reveal feature (Version 1.8.1), complemented by a new Plymouth theme.
- The default theme has been changed to the Moksha Green theme, showcasing an animated background, refreshed splash screen, and numerous fine-tuning.
- Bodhi’s Quick Start Guide is now available in multiple languages, inviting collaboration for unsupported languages.
- Thunar’s archive plugin now comes pre-installed, utilizing the engrampa backend.
- A Web-browser-manager, inspired by the Classic Zorin OS Browser Manager, simplifies the installation of popular web browsers.
- Moksha introduces a Keybindings viewer for fundamental shortcuts, conveniently accessible from the Menu.
- The iBar Module now supports application instances, enhancing user organization.
- The Notification module has been entirely restructured, offering support for Notification actions.
- For a comprehensive list of changes, please refer to our detailed release notes.
- Bodhi Linux has always thrived due to its vibrant and supportive community. With the unveiling of version 7.0, this spirit of camaraderie has reached new heights. A dedicated support network, vibrant forums, and comprehensive documentation ensure users of all skill levels receive the guidance and assistance they require.
- Bodhi Linux 7.0 enters the scene with a fresh perspective on what a Linux distribution can achieve. The amalgamation of visual appeal, heightened performance, and commitment to user personalization positions Bodhi 7.0 as an enticing option for both newcomers and seasoned Linux enthusiasts. Whether you seek a refined desktop environment or a lightweight and efficient operating system, Bodhi 7.0 is a release that warrants exploration.
- Our heartfelt appreciation goes to Stefan Uram for his exceptional contributions to code, themes, and icons, which are integral to Bodhi’s identity. Many thanks to Ryan Byrne for doing the preliminary work on porting the Web Browser manager to GTK. We also extend our gratitude to our dedicated translation team, who went above and beyond to localize the Quick Start Guide. Special recognition goes to Ihar Areshchankau for his dual role in translation and for providing the concept and code to support localized Quick Start Guides.
- As Bodhi Linux 7.0 steps into the limelight, it carries with it a reimagining of the Linux distribution landscape. Join us in embracing this new chapter in open-source computing as we celebrate a release that underscores the essence of Bodhi Linux’s innovation and community spirit.
- QEMU 8.1 Released With New PipeWire Audio Backend, Many CPU Improvements
- from Phoronix
- QEMU 8.1 is now available as the latest feature update to this important piece of the open-source Linux virtualization stack.
- QEMU 8.1 brings a number of new features including:
- New x86 CPU model of Intel Granite Rapids.
- The Tiny Code Generator (TCG) now supports RDPID instruction, AES instructions can use AES acceleration on the host processor, and other new features exposed.
- A wide variety of RISC-V architecture improvements from supporting BF16 extensions to the Zfa extension, Zcm* extensions, and many others. The Ventana Veyron V1 CPU has also been added plus many RISC-V fixes.
- Support for LoongArch LSX extensions and various fixes for this CPU architecture.
- KVM VMs on a host with support for the Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) can now use MTE within the guests.
- Adding the new CPU type of Cortex Neoverse V1 (neoverse-v1). Separately on the ARM side there is also a new Banana Pi BPI-M2 Ultra (bpim2u) board model.
- A new “virtio-multiotuch-pci” input device was added as a multi-touch capable input device.
- Improved e1000e and IGB Intel network device emulation.
- Shadow virtqueue offload support for the vhost-vDPA interface.
- A new PipeWire based audio back-end for QEMU.
- Support for multi-touch events with the GTK interface.
- More details on the dozens of QEMU 8.1 feature changes via the QEMU Wiki. QEMU 8.1 can be downloaded from QEMU.org.
- LibreOffice Changes Its Stripes, er, Numbers
- from Phoronix
- One nugget of information in the LibreOffice 7.6 release announcement for those who missed it and deserves calling out specifically… Succeeding LibreOffice 7.6 will not be v7.7 or v8.0 but rather v24.2.
- LibreOffice developers are moving to a year.month based versioning system. Thus the next release with their six-month based release cadence will be LibreOffice 24.2 and in turn LibreOffice 24.8, 25.2, 25.8, 26.2, etc. Due to the maturity of the LibreOffice codebase, the current versioning system isn’t really reflective of major changes and in turn can be hard to genuinely justify bumping the significant version number. By switching to a calendar-based numbering system it’s now decoupled from features or not of that release.
- There were some internal discussions whether it should move to say LibreOffice 2024.2 but in the end they decided for a YY.M-based scheme. There were also discussions whether to just always increase the major version number with each new release as Firefox and Google Chrome do now, but that too was decided against.
- So next February, look forward to LibreOffice 24.2.
- Linux Turns 32 – Moss
- Mageia 9 Officially Released with Linux 6.4, Smaller Disk Footprint, and More Moss
- from 9to5 Linux
- The Mageia 9 GNU/Linux distribution has been officially released today as a major update to this Mandriva Linux-derived distro for the masses that introduces newer technologies, new features, and many improvements.
- Powered by the Linux 6.4 kernel series, Mageia 9 is here with a smaller disk footprint for minimal installations when disabling the recommended packages, adoption of SQLite for the RPM database for faster package management, and Zstd compression for the stage1 images.
- This release also drops the 15-years-old forked NFS code for NFS support, which is now done using system tools, lets you specify a port different than “80” when using an HTTP server, switches cURL instead of GNU Wget for downloading packages during the installation, and enables the NetworkManager system service by default in the KDE Plasma live ISO.
- “This allows network connections to be managed via the Plasma system settings tool as well as by the traditional Mageia network management tools,” said the devs.
- Hardware support has been enhanced in Mageia 9 as it uses the Mesa 23.1 graphics stack, a kernel-linus flavor with vanilla stock kernel and without any extra patchset, support for the latest NVIDIA proprietary drivers in the non-free repositories, out-of-the-box support for Prime GPU offloading in the Nouveau drivers, and a new tool called Mageia-prime to configure NVIDIA Prime on supported systems.
- Mageia 9 also supports both PulseAudio and PipeWire as sound servers, but it still defaults to PulseAudio. Those who want to use PipeWire can switch from PulseAudio through the Mageia Control Center.
- Mageia’s default desktop environment was always KDE Plasma, which has been updated to Plasma 5.27.5 and accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.105 and KDE Gear 23.04.1 software suites. Other supported desktops include GNOME 44.2, Xfce 4.18, LXQt 1.3.0, MATE 1.26.0, and Cinnamon 5.6.
- For more details about all the updated packages in Mageia 9 and other information, check out the release notes. Meanwhile, you can download the live and installation images from the official website.
- Linux 6.5 Kernel Released
- from Phoronix
- While at the start of Linux 6.5 cycle Linus Torvalds was concerned this release “may be one of those releases that may drag out”, in the end it is releasing today and right on schedule. Linux 6.5 was just published rather than going into overtime without any extra release candidate.
- Linux 6.5 has many great features from the AMD P-State EPP driver default rather than ACPI CPUFreq for Zen 2 and newer supported AMD Ryzen systems, initial USB4 v2 enablement, initial MIDI 2.0 kernel driver work, more Intel hybrid CPU tuning, and a whole lot more. See the Linux 6.5 feature list to learn more about all of the great changes in this end of summer 2023 kernel debut.
- In this final week of Linux 6.5 development since 6.5-rc7 there was a performance regression fix and a variety of mostly small bug fixes. With nothing overly scaring coming up, Linus decided to go ahead and release Linux 6.5 stable.
- Now it’s onward to the Linux 6.6 cycle with many features to look out for with what will be an autumn 2023 kernel release. The timing now of the Linux 6.6 merge window for the next two weeks will mean that it runs through the US Labor Day holiday when a number of the kernel developers may be taking time off for holiday.
- Firefox Has Lost around 70M Users in Last 5 Years
- From FossPost (via londoner)
- As of August 2023, the number of active Firefox users around the world has dropped to 176 million users. A far cry from the end of 2018 when it had 244 million active users.
- This means that the Firefox browser has roughly lost 70 million active users in the last five years.All of these statistics are taken from the Firefox Public Data Report, which is the official source provided by Mozilla for reporting various userbase data.
- Why it matters: Firefox is the only open source browser in the market that uses its own rendering engine, called Gecko, and does not build upon Google’s Chromium browser and its engine.
- This is important, because it means that Firefox is the only player outside Google’s reach and its monopoly.
- Other browsers like Brave, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi… etc. are all based on Chromium, effectively making them vulnerable to whatever decisions are taken by Google to enhance its product’s position on the web.
- But since Firefox is independent of Google, a free and an open source alternative remains the only uncaged voice on the web.
- However, if users are switching from Firefox to other web browsers, then this could cause web developers to ignore the web browser in favor of the +85% userbase browser engine that is controlled by Google, and not optimize their websites to render properly in Firefox, which could cause an even further acceleration in user migration. Effectively strengthening Google’s grasp on the web.
- Further context: As of August 2023, Firefox controls only around 6% of the browser marketshare according to StatCounter; but in August 2022, the browser had a marketshare of 7.39%, meaning that indeed it has lost 20% of its userbase just in one year. This is a huge drop in the number of users in a very short period. It probably means that users are ditching Firefox for other web browsers en masse; for reasons like compatibility and speed.
— Play Security Transition Bumper —
— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —
30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)
- I missed the last show so I have a couple of interesting things to talk about,
- My son got his first actual phone for attending his new school. We have him open enrolled to a school for which we have to take him back and forth due to the problems that we have with our school district. I was able to add him to my plan for a good price and get him a free phone, the Motorola Edge. It is a decent phone but the problem got to be that it was not going to show up for a few days until after school started so I loaned him my N200.
- He fell in love with the phone and does not want to give it back. This is the phone that I used for running oct4a. So I attempted to use the Edge to run oct4a but it turns out that there is a known issue and it will not run on Motorola devices.
- So I pulled out an old S7 which will run oct4a and got a OTG cable for it but it turns out that there is an issue with the older Samsungs in that they will not charge through the charging port while hooked up to OTG. I fixed this using a wireless charger. I also found out that I cannot use the camera on the s7 for streaming because it causes it to overheat while also running the server so the wireless charger on the desktop is just fine. I may build a mount with the wireless charger in it anyway
- As for my 3D printer, last time I was on the show I was discussing how it was not printing and I was thinking that it was an issue with the fan. Turns out that is not the case. It was suffering from heat creep and clogging the PTFE tubing but the cause is the extreme weather in Texas.
- We had a couple of days where it stayed in the 80’s instead of being over 100 so I tried printing again and things came out well. Printed a couple of small things like another murder bunny for Joejoe and some large things like new D handles for weightlifting. Just add some 550 cord or nylon and its good to go. But then on the third day I knew the temperature was going to be going back up to crazy heights again so I continued printing.
- Also with some of the cooler days I have tested out some long prints with the s7 and it seems to work well. I am printing a hanging lamp which has about 24 hours worth of parts to print and I am also going to print a skull candy bowl which will take up most of the volume of my printer. I hope to have enough filament.
- Trying to design and print a better handle for one of my large water bottles. Several designs in and sure enough when the ambient temperature got to be about 105 the thing clogged and started printing in mid air. Will have to wait until it cools down again before trying some more.
- It has been hot in Texas so I had a couple of builds and fixes that are not in my normal range. I built a swamp cooler. This sounds odd but it is actually not a difficult build and I have done it before. I have a squirrel cage fan and a 5 gallon bucket. When I did it in the past I used a bucket that cat litter comes in and I think the shape of that one is a little bit better for it.
- Cut a hole in the top for the the blower portion of the fan to go into and then cut a hole of equal or slightly lesser size. High up on the side. Also fasten a cloth over the hole and let it drape down to the bottom. You can also get a submerged water pump and run a line up to the top of the cloth so that it stays wet but I have not done that yet. It works better in dry climates but it is still good. Also it is a very similar design to an air filter so can cut down on particulates.
- Also you need to fill the bucket with water and possibly ice, preferably as close to the hole in the side of the bucket as possible. Ice will greatly help with the cooling but it will melt quickly. I am going to get some Gatorade bottles and fill them with water and freeze them so that I don’t have to buy bags of ice. Or get an ice maker, one of the two.
- Work has been interesting the past couple of weeks and has taken up a considerable amount of my time. I don’t want to get into all the details but I have spent a lot of time on the command line everyday trying to get one thing accomplished and it seems like there is always more left to do. I have loved that part of it but not the crazy time frame and zero access.
- Both of the tires on my wife’s van were showing steel bands so needed to be replaced. Turns out most manufacturers no longer make the r16s that it uses and the cost was nearly double what we were expecting.
- This means that it is time to replace the van probably. But we are going to wait until car prices come back down
- I also took a look just to see and my local Microcenter has Pi Zero Ws back in stock for $10 a piece. Which does not mean much for me right now but does give me some hope for future projects. Still no 4’s in stock.
- I also worked on my pile of broken LG HBS’s. I was able to get a couple fixed and I had to take a couple more out of the backup pile because a couple of the ones that I worked on the plastic just crumbled when I took them apart. Makes me wonder if I could use the boards off of them and 3D print a new casing for it. That would be some very precise design work though. I may give it a try but I don’t think that it will come to fruition.
- I, too, missed the last show. I was off in the wilds of South Carolina sharing my music with a room full of other singers and listeners. I had a wonderful time, but it exhausted me so much – the long drive each way and the effort of performing – that I wound up having to take the next week off work. There were only a few calls anyhow.
- We needed to get our Cruze repaired, as it started showing a code that the turbocharger was acting up on our way back from South Carolina. It took more than a week to get it fixed, and over $500, but the cause and repair were both illuminating. It seems someone (before we bought the car) glued the valve cover on with lots and lots of silicone sealant, accidentally(?) covering the PCV valve. This caused oil to leak into the turbocharger. Big mess, but the only part needed was a new valve cover.
- I am back to work at last. I subbed for the band and choir teacher last Monday, and the Health Sciences instructor this past Friday.
- We had a fine episode of Distrohoppers’ Digest with myself, Dale, and Eric. I finally got a full review of blend OS in. I’m getting ready for the next episode, reviewing Linux Lite 4.4. The show is going so well that we dragged our newest co-host in for mintCast today.
- This is my first, although something tells me likely not my last, report.
- Being a part of DHD has led me here to MintCast although, truth be told, I was already a fan of the show and it was only a matter of time before I joined in.
- As Moss mentioned, I participated in the latest edition of Distrohoppers’ Digest in which I reviewed Pop!_OS 22.04. They have some very interesting ideas and have made a lot of changes to GNOME to suit their needs. I can see how this is perilous since GNOME tends to make breaking changes in new releases that causes problems for extensions developers. Any distro relying on extensions is at risk of needing to regularly fix them as new versions of GNOME are released. Maybe that was one of the driving forces for System76 to create their COSMIC desktop as an alternative to using GNOME. COSMIC appears to contain all of the features provided by their GNOME extensions and then some. I hope that they are successful in creating a compelling Linux desktop environment.
- I have been testing some Linux distros because it’s what I do as a hobby. I looked at Rhino Linux, Bodhi 7, the latest release of Debian, BunsenLabs, blendOS, Mageia 9, and siduction. Most of these were cursory reviews. I tend to take a quick look in a virtual machine, usually spending an hour or so checking the most common aspects that I would normally use on a regular basis. This usually takes an hour or two, although sometimes something will be compelling and I’ll find myself spending a lot longer than that. If I get to that point and am still testing then I will consider install it on hardware. I have found some great distros using this method.
- Outside of my Linux pursuits, I have been recovering from hip replacement surgery almost three weeks ago. Things have progressed very well, much better than I had expected. I am back on my feet and feeling nearly normal, actually, even better since the pain I had been feeling before surgery is gone.
— Play Innards Transition Bumper —
30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)
Linux on mobile devices
- Eric – I have always wanted to use Linux on my mobile devices, particularly my tablets.
- My needs are for a dual purpose device. The first is using it as a tablet to perform simple web browsing and media consumption while being touch friendly and not requiring external input devices to be usable. The second is to be able to perform lightweight productivity tasks such as managing websites, servers via SSH, word processing, and file management. Most of the work I do is managing websites and related technologies, the vast majority of which rely on a desktop class web browser. Having access to Linux-based applications would be a major plus.
- I have used Android and iPad tablets as well as a Lenovo Duet Chromebook OS tablet. None of them were particularly great at productivity.
- IPadOS has some ability to multitask via split windows and can use peripherals however the limited window management as well as a fuzzy dot as a cursor made the experience less than ideal.
- Stock Android also includes some lightweight multitasking features such as split windows and support for peripherals but again, doesn’t really provide a great experience.
- In both cases, neither offers a desktop class browser so regardless of whether they can provide a decent experience, they both fall down in that area.
- Samsung’s DeX addresses a number of issues on Android, especially window and memory management, but it can’t make up for the lack of desktop class apps, especially a full web browser.
- ChromeOS does provide a full web browser however Lenovo’s hardware completely undermined the experience because it was so weak. There aren’t a lot of ChromeOS tablets so, while I could use a Chromebook to do this kind of work, it wouldn’t satisfy the ability to use the device as a tablet for light web browsing and consuming media.
- My search continues and, in bringing up this topic on the prep call last week, Joe had several ideas for me, mainly regarding devices that provide a tablet form factor while being powerful enough to run a full Linux distribution.
- Linux phones:
- Librem 5
- The Librem 5 is a smartphone manufactured by Purism that is part of their Librem line of products. The phone is designed with the goal of using free software whenever possible, includes PureOS, a Linux operating system, by default, and as of 2021 is the only smartphone recommended by the Free Software Foundation. Like other Librem products, the Librem 5 focuses on privacy and freedom, and includes features like hardware kill switches, and easily-replaceable components. Its name, with a numerical “5”, refers to its screen size, and not a release version. After an announcement on 24 August 2017, the distribution of developer kits and limited pre-release models occurred throughout 2019 and most of 2020. The first mass-production version of the Librem 5 was shipped on 18 November 2020.
- On November 18, 2020, Purism announced via press release that they had begun shipping the finished version of the Librem 5, known as “Evergreen”. Following its release, in December 2019, Purism announced that it will offer a “Librem 5 USA” version of the phone for the price of $1999, which is assembled in the United States for extra supply chain security. According to Purism CEO Todd Weaver, “having a secure auditable US based supply chain including parts procurement, fabrication, testing, assembly, and fulfillment all from within the same facility is the best possible security story.”
- In place of an integrated mobile SoC found in most smartphones, the Librem 5 uses six separate chips: i.MX 8M Quad, Silicon Labs RS9116, Broadmobi BM818 / Gemalto PLS8, STMicroelectronics Teseo-LIV3F, Wolfson Microelectronics WM8962, and Texas Instruments bq25895.
- The downside to having dedicated chips instead of an integrated system-on-chip is, that it takes more energy to operate separate chips, and the phone’s circuit boards are much larger. On the other hand, using separate components means longer support from the manufacturers than with mobile SoCs, which have short support timelines. According to Purism, the Librem 5 is designed to avoid planned obsolescence, and will receive lifetime software updates.
- The Librem 5 is the first phone to contain a smartcard reader, where an OpenPGP card can be inserted for secure cryptographic operations. Purism plans to use OpenPGP cards to implement storage of GPG keys, disk unlocking, secure authentication, a local password vault, protection of sensitive files, user persons, and travel persons.
- To promote better security, all the source code in the root file system is free/open source software and can be reviewed by the user. Purism publishes the schematics of the Librem 5’s printed circuit boards (PCBs) under the GPL 3.0+ license, and publishes x-rays of the phone, so that the user can verify that there haven’t been any changes to the hardware, such as inserted spy chips.
- The Librem 5 ships with Purism’s PureOS, a Debian GNU/Linux derivative. The operating system uses a new mobile user interface developed by Purism called Phosh, a portmanteau from “phone shell”. It is based on Wayland, wlroots, GTK 3, and GNOME. Unlike other mobile Linux interfaces, such as Ubuntu Touch and KDE Plasma Mobile, Phosh is based on tight integration with the desktop Linux software stack, which Purism developers believe will make it easier to maintain in the long-term and incorporate into existing desktop Linux distributions. Phosh has been packaged in a number of desktop distros (Debian, Arch, Manjaro, Fedora and openSUSE) and is used by eight of the sixteen Linux ports for the PinePhone.
- The phone is a convergence device: if connected to a keyboard, monitor, and mouse, it can run Linux applications as a desktop computer would. Many desktop Linux applications can run on the phone as well, albeit possibly without a touch-friendly UI.
- Pinephone, Pinephone Pro
- The PinePhone Pro is powered by a Rockchip hexa-core SoC operating at 1.5GHz, and ships paired with 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM as well as 128GB of internal eMMC flash storage. It features a high-fidelity 13MP main camera sensor and a 5MP front-facing camera.
- Pine64 worked closely with Rockchip’s engineering team to fine-tune the SoC’s performance so that it meets the necessary thermal and battery-consumption envelopes. The result of this cooperation is the RK3399S – a RK3399 variant made specifically for the PinePhone Pro. Rockchip’s team was also instrumental in enabling the PinePhone Pro’s suspend state, which allows the smartphone to receive calls and SMS messages while preserving battery.
- Hardware privacy dip switches for the cameras, the microphone, WiFi & BT, headphone jack (enabling UART) and the LTE modem (including GPS) are accessible under the back cover, just as on the original PinePhone.
- The PinePhone Pro features a vibrant in-cell IPS display covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 4™ with an oleophobic coating, offering superior scratch resistance and image clarity. The camera is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 4™ and protected by an elevated bezel, similar to the one found on the original PinePhone.
- The chassis is slightly thicker (~2mm) than the original PinePhone’s. Proportions of the original design were altered to accommodate the new display and to allow for improved heat dissipation. The coating on the back of the PinePhone Pro has been given a premium feel and engineered to minimize oily fingerprints. We think you’ll be pleased with the end-result.
- Openness means privacy and security as well as software choice. Just as the original PinePhone, the PinePhone Pro runs mainline Linux (with patches, which are being upstreamed) with open source drivers.
- The default operating system for the PinePhone Pro is Manjaro Linux with KDE Plasma Mobile, but we expect to see it supported by most of the operating systems already available for the original PinePhone. It is also likely that PinePhone Pro will give rise to new software options. We cannot wait to see what the community comes up with.
- If you depend on proprietary mainstream mobile messenger applications, banking applications, use loyalty or travel apps, consume DRM media, or play mobile video games on your fruit or Android smartphone, then the PinePhone Pro is likely not for you.
- Tasks such as opening applications, browsing the internet, interacting with the user interface or watching videos are on par with recent mid-range Android smartphones. Many of you will also be happy to hear that native Linux games as well as popular retro game emulators work great on the PinePhone Pro – be it SuperTuxKart, PSP, or Dreamcast emulation, you’ll be in for a treat.
- When docked and connected to an external monitor and keyboard and mouse, the PinePhone Pro performs well when surfing the web, using the terminal or an office suite, watching 1080p videos, and even in light photo editing. The perfect pocketable Linux computer on the go.
- Librem 5
- Just some notes of things that i want remember to mention
- I had previously mentioned chrome remote desktop and using it at work once in a while in conjunction with my phone.
- It worked pretty well and did most of the things that i wanted.
- For todays show i wanted to load it onto some lower end tablets or older phones and see how well it works.
- Turns out it doesnt work any more. I go through the process of turning on the extension and setting the pin and then it goes back to offline. It will not work not even on my phone.
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