Linux in The News – Nov 8, 2021
Linux in The News – Nov 8, 2021

Linux in The News – Nov 8, 2021

GNU Linux-Libre 5.15 Kernel Is Here for Those Who Seek 100% Freedom for Their PCs

Nov 1, 2021

Alexandre Oliva announced today the release and general availability of the GNU Linux-libre 5.15 kernel for those who seek 100% freedom for their GNU/Linux computers.

Based on the Linux 5.15 kernel series, the GNU Linux-libre 5.15 kernel is here to clean up a lot of drivers in an attempt to offer you a pure kernel free of proprietary code. Drivers that needed cleaning up include adreno, btusb, btintel, brcmfmac, and gehc-achc.

In addition, this release cleans up a new AArch64 qcom variant’s devicetree file, removes cleaning up scripts for the prism54 and rtl8188eu drivers, which were removed upstream in favor of new drivers that need cleaning up too, and it cleans up the mechanism behind the new option to enable -Werror during compilation.

” Very often, we clean up format strings used to construct firmware names, which renders the printf arguments unused. These are all expected for a tree cleaned up with the current machinery, so I’ve arranged for warnings about these issues to not be bumped to errors even if CONFIG_WERROR is enabled,” said Alexandre Oliva.

Other than the deblobbed drivers and files, the GNU Linux-libre 5.15 kernel includes the same new features and improvements as the upstream Linux 5.15 kernel, such as a new, fully functional NTFS file system implementation, realtime preemption locking, an in-kernel SMB3 server called ksmbd, new Btrfs and XFS features, and DAMON (Data Access MONitor).

Linux kernel 5.15 also brings features direct I/O support on uncompressed files in the EROFS file system, the ability to migrate memory pages to persistent memory, support for the pre-allocated trace mechanism in the IOAM subsystem, support for the Management Component Transport Protocol (MCTP) protocol, and out-of-band data support for the Unix-domain sockets.

Without further ado, if you want to build a 100% free GNU/Linux computer that doesn’t include proprietary code, you can download and install the GNU Linux-libre 5.15 kernel right now from the official website. You can install it on virtually any free GNU/Linux distribution, but the devs provide ready-to-use binary packages for Debian-based and Red Hat-based distros too.

This Linux Laptop is an Ideal Couch Companion – Oct 30. 2021

It feels like every new Linux laptop that comes out these days is bigger, beefier, and (usually) more expensive than the one preceding it — but not with the new StarLabs StarLite (mark IV).

This dinky 11.6-inch Linux notebook, the latest from UK-based company StarLab, is modestly priced and moderately spec’d.

See, not everyone needs to crunch code, battle orcs, or render 4K video. “More power” is nice, but when all you really do with a laptop is browse the web, e-email, Zoom, and binge-watch Netflix shows… A mid-range laptop can suffice.

Problem is there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to mid-range (and well-made) Linux laptops in the lower price brackets.

This is perhaps why many searching for a “couch companion” settle on a cheap Chromebook instead. They’re not a bad choice per se, but ChromeOS is so-so, you get next-to-no storage, and limited choice when it comes to software.

Which his why the StarLabs StarLite is an alluring alternative.

Star Labs Lite Mk IV

While the StarLite’s 11.6-inch IPS display sounds small it …Well, it is small. But it does boast a 1920×1080 resolution at 190 pixels per inch for a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Housed in a (premium feeling, I’m told) matte black anodised aluminium chassis, the StarLite (mark IV) packs a quad-core Intel Pentium N5030 CPU running at a base clock of 1.1GHz with 4MB cache.

Oh, I know: this 14nm quad-core chip isn’t exactly a powerhouse. But it provides enough performance to handle modern desktop Linux operating systems well, and is aided by integrated Intel UHD 605 graphics.

The device ships with 8GB of 2400MHz LPDDR4 onboard memory (which is not user-upgradeable) and an over-provisioned 240GB SSD (which is user-upgradeable). Larger SSD options are available if you’re willing to pay more.

Did I mention this is fanless? Has a backlit keyboard? A glass touchpad? An estimated 8 hour battery life?

The array of ports included will meet most needs, though there’s neither a full-size HDMI port nor a full-size SD card slot, but the included micro versions of these will suffice for most.

But the features don’t end there.

StarLabs include an open warranty that allows you to “…take your laptop apart, replace parts, install an upgrade, use any operating system and even your own firmware, all without voiding the warranty.” This is pretty unique to me, and certainly something StarLabs should be praised for.

Another bonus? They use the LVFS to distribute firmware updates for the BIOS, EC, and SSD. On Ubuntu firmware updates are accessed from the Software app.

You also get to choose between AMI Aptio V or Coreboot (you can change this at any time). If you opt for Coreboot you also get a handy GUI ‘Coreboot Configurator’ tool to tweak and fine-tune settings.

Finally, you can pick from a range of pre-loaded Linux distros including Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, elementary OS 6, Zorin OS 16, Linux Mint 20.2, Manjaro 21, or MX Linux 19.4.

It’s easy to look at a lower-end laptop like this and scoff. But it hits a price point and a screen-size demand that is poorly served outside of Chromebooks and pricey ultrabooks. If the PineBook Pro appeals to you but don’t fancy retooling your workflow to suit its weak ARM processor, the StarLite is exactly the sort of device you might be looking for.

And the price starts at an acceptable £400. – 542.52 United States Dollar

The StarLabs StarLite (mark IV) is available to pre-order at the link below.

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