SolydXK Linux Review | LAS s31e04

SolydXK Linux Review | LAS s31e04

Based on Debian SolydXK offers all the advantages of a rolling release, with a safe and sensible approach. But where does this new distro stack up compared to the big dogs? And what challenges do we think they might face in the near future? Tune in to find out!

Plus why Chromium is dropping GTK, Valve drops some code, Intel drops a Linux bomb…


All this week on, The Linux Action Show!

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SolydXK Linux Review:


Brought to you by: System76

SolydXK is a Dutch semi-rolling release Linux distribution based on Debian.2 It aims to be simple to use, providing an environment that is stable, secure, and ideal for small businesses, non-profit organizations and home users

SolydXK includes proprietary software such as Adobe Flash, Steam and optional closed-source drivers to provide initial multimedia usage and gaming on Linux

SolydXK originated in 2012 as an unofficial version of “Linux Mint Debian edition” (LMDE) using the KDE desktop environment.

In November 2012, Linux Mint ceased maintaining both the KDE and XFCE versions of LMDE. SolydXK was started to support these two desktop environments. “SolydX” refers to the XFCE version, while “SolydK” refers to the KDE version. The web site url is an amalgam of the two names.

SolydX is a Debian based distribution with the Xfce desktop. It intends to be as light-weight as possible without giving up any of the expected functionality.

SolydX does not need to be reinstalled each time an update is released. You don’t have to reinstall, ever!

Updates are delivered in quarterly packs through the update manager. The update manager sits in your system tray and signals you whenever there is an update available. You can find a detailed description of the update pack process here.

SolydXK increases stability and security by testing the incoming packages before they are released. To guarantee up-to-date security, the SolydXK Security repository is updated on a daily basis, and therefore the SolydXK security repository is not included in the UP process.

The Update Pack is a quarterly process. The testing period is initiated on the first of the month, and will take two weeks of testing before making the Update Pack available for the public. The following dates are planned testing periods:

To further increase security both Firefox and Thunderbird are being built from source if there are new versions available. These packages do not necessarily follow the UP frequency, but will be released whenever they are available.

  • Users can point the update manager directly to Debian Testing, which is the upstream source of all Solyd updates, the default configuration points to the update manager.

  • Solyd Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager.

  • Upgdate package manager screen grab in review at ZDNet.

A useable rolling release, with a safety net. Good bye reloads between releases for Mint, or leaps of faith upgrades with Ubuntu.
  • For years, I’ve been a pave and rebuild kinda guy. But my current Arch install is going strong from the Arch challenge. And the longer I have ran this install, the more I have come to appreciate how nice it is to just have things like GPG, mail, etc configured and ready all the time.

  • Even the minefield of upgrades, even when done with a nice GUI can be a major hassle on any kind of production system, be it a workstation, a studio Skype box, or a server.

  • Rolling solves the problem of the pave and rebuild (Mint) and the major upgrade jumps every six months (Ubuntu).

  • tech lore by igor: My Review of SolydX 201401

Of the two flavors offered by Solyd, I opted for SolydX, which uses the light-as-a-mouse–hence the mascot–XFCE desktop environment.

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Weekly Spotlight

Mozilla and Epic Games have showed the power of the Web as a platform for gaming by porting Unreal Engine 3 to the Web and showcasing Epic Citadel, using asm.js, a supercharged subset of JavaScript pioneered by Mozilla. In less than 12 months, optimizations have increased the performance of Web applications using asm.js from 40% to within 67% of native, and we expect it to get even faster. This performance opens up new opportunities for giving users an astonishing and delightful experience, from within their choice of Web browser. Any modern browser can run asm.js content, but specific optimizations currently present only in Firefox, ensure the most consistent and smooth experience.

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Please opt-in to the dev channel on Linux to test Aura – Google Groups

We aim to launch the Aura graphics stack on Linux in M35. Aura is a cross-platform graphics system, and the Aura frontend will replace the current GTK+ frontend.

I think people are making a much bigger deal about this than it really is.

I’m also the original author of Audacity, which uses wxWidgets.

Is it NIH syndrome? I don’t really think so. We’re not choosing not to use GTK+ or Qt because we don’t want to learn how to use them and we think we could do better, we understand them really well and we specifically want to build something different. It’s harder, but the payoff is worth it.

Note that Chrome still uses GTK+ for theme support, for things like file dialogs, and other desktop integration. It’s just that the main browser window is now rendered using Aura rather than being made up of GTK+ widgets.

For everyone who is saying that GTK+ and Qt support GPU acceleration, of course they do – but they don’t support all of the features Aura does, and it wouldn’t be trivial to add them. Aura composites the whole window – the browser UI, and the webpage, in one pass. That’s a big memory and performance win, but it can’t be done with many graphics toolkits.

Replicant Developers Find Backdoor In Android Samsung Galaxy

The Replicant developers’ research finds "Samsung Galaxy devices running proprietary Android versions come with a back-door that provides remote access to the data stored on the device.

In particular, the proprietary software that is in charge of handling the communications with the modem, using the Samsung IPC protocol, implements a class of requests known as RFS commands, that allows the modem to perform remote I/O operations on the phone’s storage.

As the modem is running proprietary software, it is likely that it offers over-the-air remote control, that could then be used to issue the incriminated RFS messages and access the phone’s file system."

Among the known affected devices are the Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy S 3, and Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy S seems to be in the worse shape with the back-doored program running as root.

In terms of the legitimacy of the backdoor, the developers believe, “the incriminated RFS messages of the Samsung IPC protocol were not found to have any particular legitimacy nor relevant use-case. However, it is possible that these were added for legitimate purposes, without the intent of doing harm by providing a back-door. Nevertheless, the result is the same and it allows the modem to access the phone’s storage.”

Valve Opens Code

With little fanfare, Valve has published the source to ToGL, a translation layer to support a subset of the Direct3D 9 API on OpenGL systems. ToGL is a component of the company’s Source 3D engine. Valve has broken it out and slapped a permissive MIT license on it in the hope that it might be useful to other developers.

This project is alpha^2 right now. If you are up for suffering through a bit of pain with early releases, please continue on – we’d love to have your help…

Crytek Showing Off CryEngine On Linux At GDC

Crytek sent out a press release today announcing they will be showing off CryEngine Linux support. Found in a press release today, “During presentations and hands-on demos at Crytek’s GDC booth, attendees can see for the first time ever full native Linux support in the new CRYENGINE. The CRYENGINE all-in-one game engine is also updated with the innovative features used to recreate the stunning Roman Empire seen in Ryse – including the brand new Physically Based Shading render pipeline, which uses real-world physics simulation to create amazingly realistic lighting and materials in CRYENGINE games.”

This upcoming Game Developers’ Conference is happening from 17 to 21 of March in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. Details on the conference can be found via the web-site along with the exhibitors.

Intel processors now get OS locked In an GOLEM

At CEBIT 2014 fair, Frank Kuypers, technical account manager at INTEL corp., proudly presented a new feature in INTEL processors, called “hooks”, beginning with the new 2014 “Merrifield” 64 bit SoC chip generation.

The manager gave an example: In the Intel network only mobiles with certain Android versions are allowed to use certain functionalities. If you then replace your Android version, e.g. by a free Cyanogenmod Android kernel, not only some chips would stop working, e.g. LTE/UMTS, but also mails from your employer would be blinded out, because now the processor itself would ‘classify’ the new software as ‘risk’.

Now, beginning with the new 2014 power efficient mobile “Merrifield” processor generation, this functionality can and will (so are WINTEL alliance plans) be used to lock the processor for certain OS’es or OS versions.

First implementation will be the INTEL owned McAffee virus scanner, which now operates in the background on microcode level, completely unnoticeable by the OS or system operator, Frank Kuypers proudly added.

If you read the comments, this article is essentially taking software hooks in Android and projecting this with wild-eyed imagination to ideas of locked OSes and code that runs without OS knowledge, things which have no foundation in the interview which is the ultimate source for the article.

The author also writes things like:

Microcode is very similar to ASIC or FPGA technology (ASIC is much faster, up
to 15 GHz possible). By updating ‘microcode’ you burn new circuits into the
processor, which then has same functionality as software code.

Which suggests he doesn’t really understand what he’s talking about.

Take this article with a Red Sea-level of salt.

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