Linux in The News – Oct 18, 2021
Linux in The News – Oct 18, 2021

Linux in The News – Oct 18, 2021

October Update: Introducing the PinePhone Pro

Welcome to what will likely be remembered as the most important community update of 2021. Today we’re introducing the PinePhone Pro and announcing that both PinePhone Pro and PineNote pre-orders are now open to developers. I am well aware that this announcement will overshadow everything else that I may wish to report on, so I intentionally chose not to include other exciting news in this post. I will write a follow-up piece covering other topics later this month – stay tuned. 

But that’s not all. All PineTime owners ought to read this month’s update concerning InfiniTime. The firmware recently received updates which significantly improve the user experience and BLE connection stability. JF also writes about the project’s growth and ongoing project management restructuring.     

You can watch the synopsis of this month’s community update on YouTube (embedded below) as well as on Odysee and PeerTube. To stay up-to-date with PINE64 news make sure to subscribe to this blog (subscription widget at the bottom of the webpage), follow PINE64 Telegram News channel, the announcements channel in Discord as well as our Twitter and Mastodon.

I’d like to thank JF, Alex (clover), Brian (33YN2) and PizzaLovingNerd for their contributions to this community update.

N.B. Comments on the blog post need to be in English and follow our Community Rules and Code of Conduct.

Community Update video synopsis


  • Housekeeping
    • Wiki getting started and orphaned Wiki pages help needed
    • KDE turns 25! Happy birthday! 
    • Good job on the PinePhone Pro launch team!
  • PinePhone Pro
    • PinePhone Pro announced – start by reading the PinePhone Pro website
    • Features RK3399S SoC by Rockchip made for to the PinePhone Pro
    • Ships with 4GB LPDDR4, 128GB eMMC, Gorilla Glass 4™ IPS panel, 13MP main camera, USB 3.0 speeds via USB-C, native video out via USB-C + countless improvements  
    • Pogo pins & privacy switches are present: the PinePhone Pro is compatible with the keyboard and back cases
    • Developer pre-orders and Explorer Edition coming later this year for $399
    • Developer units are in production due to be delivered soon 
    • The blog post focuses on the decision-making process and explaining why now is the right time to introduce the PinePhone Pro
    • The PinePhone / PinePhone Pro keyboard enters production; keep an eye out for a follow-up post late this month
  • PineNote
    • PineNote developer pre-orders are now open
    • Dev units ship with EMR pen, magnetic cover and a UART USB-C breakout board for debugging
    • CE /FCC certification is now complete 
    • Production is underway and units are being delivered from factory now
    • Biggest software problem relates to initialising the panel under Linux; developers have ideas how to accomplish this, but it remains untested
    • Availability of early adopter units depending on software progress – likely later this year 
  • PineTime [by JF]
    • InfiniTime 1.5 brings a highly requested feature – alarm clock! 
    • InfiniTime 1.6 releases just 2 days after 1.5 with a single line commit, which makes all the difference – InfiniTime has now stable BLE connection! 
    • Restructuring of the InfiniTime project, creating a Github organization and taking on contributors to help with issue triage, PR reviews and merging
    • A word on donations to the InfiniTime project (and to other PineTime efforts)  

Devuan debuts version 4.0 – as usual without a hint of the hated systemd Oct 15, 2021

The team of self-described “veteran Unix admins” who opposed Debian’s adoption of systemd instead of sysvinit init, have released a fourth version of their alternative Linux distro, “Devuan”.

Devuan Chimaera 4.0 is based on Debian 11.1, and version 5.10 of the Linux Kernel. That version of the kernel enjoys long-term support until 2026, and Debian 11.1 will also be tended to until that year. Devuan’s devs are clearly thinking long-term!

The new release delivers on Devuan’s vision of init freedom by offering users a choice between sysvinit, runit, and OpenRC. The default desktop is Xfce, but Cinnamon, KDE, LXQt, and MATE are available as alternatives. It’s possible to add others once the OS is installed.

Virtually all desktop environments available in Debian are now part of Devuan, systemd-free”, states Devuan’s release announcement. A glance at Debian’s list of supported desktops might lead to a difference of opinion.

One big new inclusion is the chance to install a desktop environment without also installing pulseaudio.

“This enables speech synthesis in both a graphical and console session at the same time,” reads the Devuan 4.0 release notes. “This configuration is created by the task-speech-accessibility and devuan-speech-dispatcher-config-override packages which are installed by default when the ‘Install with SpeechSynthesis’ option (‘s <enter>‘ on BIOS systems, ‘s’ on UEFI systems at the boot prompt) is selected.”

The release notes also include a warning that the version of exim used in Devuan 4.0 “introduces the concept of tainted data read from untrusted sources, like e.g. message sender or recipient”.

Tainted data – such as $local_part or $domain – cannot be used as names for files, directories or commands.

“This will break configurations which are not updated accordingly,” the release notes warn. “Old Debian exim configuration files also will not work unmodified; the new configuration needs to be installed with local modifications merged in.”

Multiboot USB Creator Ventoy Adds a GUI Mode to Its Live ISO Image

Oct 12, 2021

If you haven’t heard of Ventoy before, let me tell that it’s a recently new bootable USB creation solution that works just by copying the image files of the operating systems you want to have a flash drive without formatting it over and over.

There are many great tools out there to create multiboot USB drivers, but Ventoy makes it easier than ever and supports almost all known GNU/Linux distributions, as well as Windows OSes up to Windows 11, Chrome OS, BSD, and other UNIX systems.

With Ventoy, you don’t even need to use and extract ISO files as the tool also supports IMG, EFI, VHD(x), and WIM files, which it boots directly. In addition, Ventoy supports x86 Legacy BIOS, IA32 UEFI, x86_64 UEFI, ARM64 UEFI, and MIPS64EL UEFI firmware, as well as IA32 and x86_64 UEFI Secure Boot.

The latest release, Ventoy 1.0.54, is out now with a GUI mode for its live ISO image, which is based on the lightweight Tiny Core Linux distribution. Until now, Ventoy’s live ISO only offered a command-line interface for creating multiboot USB drives, but now everything is easier with the Ventoy GUI.

The Ventoy GUI was first released last month for Linux systems, supporting both GTK and Qt UI technologies. The GUI is actually called Ventoy2Disk and it was available only when using the tool from the tarball downloaded from the project’s GitHub page.

But now, with the Ventoy 1.0.54 release, you can use the Ventoy GUI straight from the live ISO image on virtually any operating system. Of course, you can always switch to the command-line mode using Ctrl+Alt+F2, but personally I find it faster to work with the GUI.

The Ventoy 1.0.54 release also adds support for WinPE with PESET.EXE, improves support for Trisquel GNU/Linux 10 and Untangle’s NG Firewall, adds support for Porteus 5.0 RC3, and fixes a couple of bugs.

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