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Valve Apparently Working on Compatibility Tools Allowing Windows Games to be Played on Linux

Keen-eyed Linux and Valve uses have noticed what could seemingly be a big reveal and shake-up to games' compatibility with the Linux platform. If you're a die-hard Linux fan, or even if you're just a curious dabbler in that operating system, you know that there aren't many concerted efforts of bringing game experiences to that operating system. A good port requires many more hours than game developers are willing to put into it - let alone compiling a native implementation of their game for that OS.

However, Valve, being the most important digital games distributor through their Steam platform, know there's an untapped source of income in that part of the market. And if developers won't do it themselves, then Valve seem to be willing to take the matter into their own hands. This speculation arises from Steam's GUI files, which when looked at with SteamDB's Steam Tracker, include a hidden section with unused text related to an (as of yet) unannounced Steam Play system, which "(...) will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems."

Swedish Firm EQT Acquires SuSE from Microsoft-funded Previous Owners

Swedish company EQT, which invests heavily in tech stocks, and even owns tech IP, closed a deal with Micro Focus to acquire SuSE, lock stock and barrel. Over the past 15 years, SuSE changed many owners. In 2004, the Nuremberg-based Linux distributor was acquired by Novell. In 2010, Novell was swallowed by Attachmate, with funding from Microsoft. In 2014, ten years since its original foreign acquisition, Micro Focus acquired Attachmate and spun off SuSE as a separate division within the company. EQT purchased this division from Micro Focus in a deal valued at USD $2.5 billion.

Recognizable by its quirky chameleon mascot, SuSE's biggest product is SuSE Linux, a commercial distribution of Linux for enterprises, which integrates certain proprietary software and drivers, with a business-model similar to that of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). There's also a GNU-friendly, community-maintained free distribution of SuSE called OpenSuSE, which is made entirely of free and open-source software. The acquisition of SuSE is big, not just because of its valuation, but also because certain EU-based businesses and governments use it in their vital IT infrastructure. The EQT acquisition keeps SuSE within the EU.

Compulab MintBox mini 2 Up for Pre-order

Compulab put up the MintBox mini 2, a compact, passively cooled desktop powered by Linux Mint, up for pre-order at US $299 for the base variant with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage; and $349 for 8 GB RAM and 120 GB storage (better value). The two can be ordered from Compulab's Amazon web-store, and will start shipping from August. The two feature the latest stable version of Linux Mint 19 "Tara," and 5 percent of your monies spent buying these are donated to the Linux Mint project.

The super-compact MintBox mini 2 is powered by Intel Celeron J3455 SoCs, mated to either 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM; and either 64 GB or 120 GB of SSD storage. You get two each of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, a microSDXC slot, two 1 GbE interfaces, 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 WLAN, serial COM (through a unique connector, with an optional dongle that converts it to RS232), and display outputs that include HDMI and mini-DisplayPort.

Synology Releases Virtual Machine Manager Pro

Synology Inc. announced the official release of Virtual Machine Manager Pro to cater to professional users with services suitable to their needs. VMM Pro enables Synology NAS to run multiple virtual machines like Windows, Linux, Virtual DSM. It assists users to integrate and manage multiple Synology NAS via its virtualized cluster, flexibly distributes hardware resources, migrates virtual machines between hosts without any interruption, and conducts regular snapshots and replications to back up virtual machines, for the ultimate goal of building a efficient and safe virtualization environment.

Synology is dedicated to making powerful yet intuitive solutions for users. "Virtual Machine Manager has garnered wide acclaims with its latest version, and more than 130,000 Synology NAS have downloaded and installed it over the course of one year. This clearly shows how this product has been endorsed worldwide, which is very motivating to our development team. With the extremely flexible cluster in Virtual Machine Manager Pro, we are able to help IT personnel to easily build a professional and efficient virtualization environment on NAS servers. As this application improves your work efficiency, it protects critical virtual machines, as well." said Chen Feng Wang, Product Manager of virtualization at Synology.

Matrox G200 - Celebrating 20 Years of Graphics Excellence

Matrox Graphics Inc. is pleased to announce the 20-year anniversary of its Matrox G200 graphics chip. The milestone celebrates two decades of dedicated, active software development and support for multiple technology nodes across countless Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Developed for 2D, 3D, and video acceleration, the G200 powered a number of industry-first, graphics and multi-monitor-based product lines that delivered unprecedented image quality across one or more displays. Today, G200 is and remains the trusted and preeminent integrated graphics solution of choice for the majority of baseboard management controllers used in servers worldwide.

Google Might Be Preparing a Kaby Lake G-Powered Chromebook

Chromebooks are all the rage right now. As a matter of fact, Acer recently released the first convertible Chromebook and a couple of other premium models aimed at business users. Google isn't staying behind either. A device under the codename "Kidd" was recently discovered in a Chromium OS code commit. Kidd is allegedly supposed to be a Chromebook, and the first to come with a quad-core Kaby Lake G processor with AMD Radeon Vega graphics inside. The Kaby Lake G family is comprised of the Intel Core i5-8305G, i7-8705G, i7-8706G, i7-8709G, and i7-8809G. That's a total of five processors for Google to choose from. But, at the moment, it's unclear whether Kidd will employ a 65 watt model or opt for a more powerful 100 watt variant.

The latest Chrome OS update brought support for Linux applications. Therefore, users can now install Steam on their Chromebooks. While GPU acceleration isn't quite there yet, it's on the roadmap. Support for GPU acceleration should arrive later this year. Once that happens, users will finally be able to game on the Chrome OS. So, expect to see a lot more Chromebooks with Raven Ridge and Kaby Lake G processors very soon.

Canonical Launches Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS - the newest version of the most widely used Linux for workstations, cloud and IoT, is now available. "Multi-cloud operations are the new normal" said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical and founder of Ubuntu. "Boot-time and performance-optimized images of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on every major public cloud make it the fastest and most efficient OS for cloud computing, especially for storage and compute-intensive tasks like machine learning."

Kubeflow, the Google approach to TensorFlow on Kubernetes, and a range of CI/CD tools are integrated in Canonical Kubernetes and aligned with Google GKE for on-premise and on-cloud AI development."Having an OS that is tuned for advanced workloads such as AI and ML is critical to a high velocity team" said David Aronchick, Product Manager, Cloud AI at Google. "With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Canonical's collaborations to the Kubeflow project, Canonical has provided both a familiar and highly performant operating system that works everywhere. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, software engineers and data scientists can use tools they are already familiar with, such as Ubuntu, Kubernetes and Kubeflow, and greatly accelerate their ability to deliver value for their customers."

Feral Interactive Introduces GameMode Tool for Linux Gamers to Optimize Gaming Performance

Feral Interactive has released their free, open-source tool called GameMode to help Linux gamers squeeze every drop of gaming performance out of their systems. GameMode is basically a small daemon and library combo that instructs the processor to run in Performance Mode when a user is playing a game. GameMode along with the instructions for installation can be found at GitHub. Feral Interactive also took the opportunity to announce that Rise of the Tomb Raider, which lands on Linux later this month, will be the first Linux title to integrate GameMode. Future titles from the video game publisher will probably include GameMode as well.

Compulab Intros Mintbox Mini 2 PC based on Linux Mint

Compulab rolled out the Mintbox Mini 2, a smaller version of the Mintbox 2 the company rolled out way back in 2013. The Mintbox Mini 2 is based almost entirely on the Compulab Fitlet 2 mini-PC, but with Linux Mint with all device drivers pre-installed, and some exclusive branding. This box is based on the slightly older Intel Celeron J3455 SoC with embedded Intel HD Graphics 500 (and not the latest Celeron J4005). It's still claimed to be close to twice as fast as the AMD A4-6400T-based original. Besides the SoC, the storage specs appear to be identical - 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, but there are improvements on some fronts - dual-band 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2 WLAN (as opposed to 802.11 b/g/n on the original), and two wired GbE interfaces instead of just one. The Mintbox Mini 2 is priced at USD $299, just $4 more than the original Mintbox Mini, but a staggering $146 higher than the Fitlet 2. This is not because of the OS, but pre-installed RAM, storage, and WLAN module.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Comes to macOS & Linux This Spring

Feral Interactive announced today that Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, the definitive edition of the acclaimed action-adventure, will be coming to macOS and Linux this spring. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix for Windows and consoles, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the breathtaking follow-up to Tomb Raider, the 2013 series reboot.

Players will become the young archaeologist Lara Croft as she seeks the lost city of Kitezh to recover the Divine Source, an ancient artifact with the power to grant immortality. When Lara's quest puts her in the crosshairs of Trinity, a secret global organization, she must use all her wits and daring to reach the Divine Source first.

Skype Now Available as a Snap for Linux Users

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, announces today that Skype is now available as a snap, the universal Linux app packaging format. Available as of today, the release means that Skype can deliver its communication service to a wider range of Linux users, including millions on Ubuntu. Skype is used by millions of users globally to make free video and voice calls, send files, video and instant messages and to share both special occasions and everyday moments with the people who matter most.

Skype has turned to snaps to ensure its users on Linux, are automatically delivered to its latest version upon release. And with snaps' roll-back feature, whereby applications can revert back to the previous working version in the event of a bug, Skype's developers can ensure a seamless user experience. The Skype snap will work natively on all Linux distributions that support snaps, including Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, Arch Linux, OpenSUSE, Solus, and Ubuntu. This Skype desktop application is compatible across the wide range of Linux platforms, opening it up to an increased range of devices and to millions of users.

QNAP Introduces vQTS: Initially Available for TS-x77 Ryzen NAS

QNAP Systems, Inc. today released the new "vQTS" virtualization technology that enables users to run multiple virtual QTS operating systems on a QNAP NAS. Based on Virtualization Station, vQTS provides benefits for resource segregation, multi-tenant environments, flexible application deployment, and savings on energy, cost and physical space. vQTS is initially available for the AMD Ryzen-powered TS-x77 NAS series, which delivers high-performance to maximize vQTS utilization for greater business flexibility in management and applications.

Intel's Patch for Meltdown, Spectre "Complete and Utter Garbage:" Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, the most popular datacenter operating system, proclaimed Intel's patches for the recent Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities "complete and utter garbage." Torvalds continues to work on the innermost code of Linux, and has been closely associated with kernel patches that are supposed to work in conjunction with updated CPU microcode to mitigate the two vulnerabilities that threaten to severely compromise security of data-centers and cloud-computing service providers.

Torvalds, in a heated public chain-mail with David Woodhouse, an Amazon engineer based out of the UK, called Intel's fix "insane" and questioned its intent behind making the patch "toggle-able" (any admin can disable the patch to a seemingly cataclysmic vulnerability, which can bring down a Fortune 500 company). Torvalds also takes issue with redundant fixes to vulnerabilities already patched by Google Project Zero "retpoline" technique. Later down in the thread, Woodhouse admits that there's no good reason for Intel's patches to be an "opt-in." Intel commented on this exchange with a vanilla-flavored potato: "We take the feedback of industry partners seriously. We are actively engaging with the Linux community, including Linus, as we seek to work together on solutions."

Intel Secretly Firefighting a Major CPU Bug Affecting Datacenters?

There are ominous signs that Intel may be secretly fixing a major security vulnerability affecting its processors, which threatens to severely damage its brand equity among datacenter and cloud-computing customers. The vulnerability lets users of a virtual machine (VM) access data of another VM on the same physical machine (a memory leak). Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are among the big three cloud providers affected by this vulnerability, and Intel is reportedly in embargoed communications with engineers from the three, to release a software patch that fixes the bug. Trouble is, the patch inflicts an unavoidable performance penalty ranging between 30-35%, impacting the economics of using Intel processors versus AMD ones.

Signs of Intel secretly fixing the bug surfaced with rapid changes to the Linux kernel without proper public-visibility of the documentation. The bulk of the changes involve "kernel page table isolation," a feature that prevents VMs from reading each other's data, but at performance costs. Developers note that these changes are being introduced "very fast" by Linux kernel update standards, and even being backported to older kernel versions (something that's extremely rare). Since this is a hardware vulnerability, Linux isn't the only vulnerable software platform. Microsoft has been working on a Windows kernel patch for this issue since November 2017. AMD x86 processors (such as Opteron, Ryzen, EPYC, etc.,) are immune to this vulnerability.

Zorloo Announces Their Second-Generation Portable USB-DAC

Zorloo is pleased to introduce its second-generation portable USB-DAC product, ZuperDAC-S, today. It builds on its wildly praised ZuperDAC to enable computers or mobile phones an unprecedented HiFi music experience. Today, computers and mobile phones are powerful enough to handle different audio protocols. However, the last but most critical step in the entire digital-to-analog conversion process, i.e. turning musical data 0 and 1 into audible sound waves, always sucks. Constrained by the limitation of this internal conversion process, audio may also have to be re-sampled to fit the pipeline.

Bypassing the internal conversion with ZuperDAC-S drastically improves sound quality to a new level. It supports up to 192kHz sampling frequency and 24-bit depth, which eliminates unnecessary sample rate and bit depth conversion. The music output from ZuperDAC-S is exactly what was recorded. ZuperDAC-S uses the ESS Sabre 9018 audiodac and delivers a stunning 120dB SNR and 0.0005% THD+N performance. It delivers a balanced, clear and articulated sound in a wide soundstage. The integrated headphone amplifier output can connect directly to headphones, or go through the amplifier systems.

AMD Releases AMDVLK - Open-Source Vulkan Driver for Linux

AMD released the AMDVLK drivers for Linux. These are the first open-source AMD Radeon graphics drivers featuring 100% support for Vulkan 1.0 graphics API. The drivers include Vulkan 1.0 compliance with support for 30 Vulkan extensions, Radeon GPU Profiler support, in-built debug and profiling tools, mid-command buffer preemption, and SR-IOV virtualization support. AMDVLK implements AMD's Platform Abstraction Library (PAL), an abstraction layer that translates much of AMD's common driver code and features across platforms. The drivers support all AMD Radeon GPUs based on the Graphics CoreNext architecture, going all the way back to the Radeon HD 7000-series. The drivers are released through AMD's GPUOpen GitHub repository.

Steam Winter Sale 2017 Deals

It's that happy time of the year again when gamers break their piggy banks and sharpen their credit cards to purchase PC games for dirt-cheap prices on Steam. Just like every year, the Winter Sale is filled with thousands of discounts on new and classic games for Windows, Mac and Linux. The sale runs through until Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 10pm Pacific time. Why not spoil yourself this Christmas with a few games? Or send a gift to that special someone and make their day. Here are some of our recommendations.

NVIDIA to End Support for 32-bit Operating Systems After R390 Drivers

NVIDIA announced that it is ending driver support for 32-bit operating systems after its R390-series drivers. Following its GeForce 390.xx release, NVIDIA will not support 32-bit versions of Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Linux, or FreeBSD for any of its GPU architectures. NVIDIA will, however, offer support for critical driver security fixes for 32-bit operating systems until January 2019. This means the company will release hotfixes addressing specific critical security vulnerabilities in the drivers, as and when they're found, but such hotfixes won't include new features or optimizations that are part of the main driver trunk for 64-bit operating systems.

AMD Navi Found Secretly Hiding in Linux Drivers

We know AMD has been doing a great job keeping the lid on their Navi architecture with information being scarce at the moment. Aside from knowing that Navi is being fabricated on the 7 nm process, it is possible that the microarchitecture will quite possibly support next-generation memory like GDDR6 or HBM3. In a Navi discussion on the Beyond3D forums, a user found an entry in a Linux driver dated back to July that apparently mentions AMD's upcoming architecture - not by its real name, of course. The code is to add support for importing new asic definitions from a text file as opposed to adding support in code. Tom St Denis, a software engineer at AMD, listed the output that would be generated by using this functionality. However, the entry that caught our attention reads: new_chip.gfx10.mmSUPER_SECRET.enable [0: 0]. If our memory serves us right, the codename for Vega was GFX9. So by logic, Navi should carry the GFX10 codename. Obviously, the SUPER_SECRET part further backs up our theory or maybe AMD's just trolling us. The red team has been hiring personnel for their GFX10 projects, so we can assume they're working diligently to release Navi some time next year.

Latest Steam Client Beta Introduces Shader Pre-Caching for Games

The latest update for the Steam software brought with it an important new addition for the quality of life of gamers under the Linux or Windows suns everywhere: persistent shader caches for games. In the latest change-log, users are treated to the following message: "New feature: Shader Pre-Caching. Whenever possible, depending on hardware and driver support, Steam can download pre-compiled shaders for your specific video card. This reduces load times and in-game stuttering during the first few launches of OpenGL- and Vulkan-based games on supported hardware. This feature may use a small amount of additional bandwidth as Steam uploads and analyzes a shader usage report after each run of the game. The feature can be disabled via a new entry in the Settings dialog.

Under Steam Settings, you'll find a new Shader Pre-Caching item. The description reads as follows: "Shader Pre-Caching allows Steam to download pre-compiled GPU shaders matching your system configuration. This allows Vulkan and OpenGL games to load faster and improve framerate stability during gameplay. If enabled, Steam will collect shaders from your system when needed. Enabling this feature may slightly increase disk and bandwidth usage."

Magewell Ships the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT

Magewell - an award-winning developer of innovative video interface devices - is now shipping the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT, the latest member of the company's popular Pro Capture family of PCI Express capture hardware. The new model extends the powerful feature set of the previously-released Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus with HDMI signal loop-through connectivity to simplify wiring and workflows.

Like the earlier model, the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT captures video up to 4096x2160 at 60 frames per second over an HDMI 2.0 input interface, enabling high-quality Ultra HD acquisition for markets and applications including broadcast, medical imaging, gaming, streaming, surveillance, and virtual reality (VR) production. The new loop-through connection reduces workflow costs and complexity by enabling source signals to be sent simultaneously to additional displays or equipment without the need for an external HDMI splitter.

Shuttle's SZ270R9 Gaming and VR Cube Comes with Overclocking on Demand Function

Shuttle Computer Group, Inc., one of the world's leading designers of small form computers, announces a new and powerful cube-sized computer, its SZ270R9, designed for advanced home and portable gaming, along with virtual reality applications. Unlike other PCs, once set, users can overclock with the Turbo button for the quickest, most realistic action. In spite of its small size, it has an impressive expansion capability and storage capacity. With lots of interior space, the SZ270R9 supports large-format dual-slot graphics cards; users can install up to four 2.5" or 3.5" hard drives and two m.2 bays. It also supports Intel's new Optane Memory to improve data processing and system speed.

"This is the ultimate gaming PC, power packed with an external design that looks like you're ready for battle," said Robert Garcia, channel manager, Shuttle Computer Group. "And when you press the overclock button, watch out! You'll be the winner for sure."

ClockStone Software & Valve Come Together to Make Bridge Constructor Portal

We welcome all lucky applicants to Bridge Constructor Portal with our new vehicle-based test chambers, Quantum Tunnels and patented Aperture technology! For the last year we've been secretly working in our underground labs on the next iteration of the million-selling Bridge Constructor series. This new stand-alone title will release on PC, MacOS, Linux, mobile devices, and console, and fully embraces the Portal license, one of the most beloved video game franchises of the last decade.

Bridge Constructor Portal will blend the laws of structural engineering and technology straight from Aperture Laboratories into an exciting new game experience, all under the demanding gaze of GLaDOS. Bridge Constructor Portal will be released on December 20 2017 for Windows, MacOS and Linux as well as for mobile devices. The console versions will follow in early 2018.

MINIX Creator Andrew Tanenbaum Sends Open Letter to Intel Over MINIX Drama

We recently reported about MINIX, the hidden Unix-like OS that Intel was secretly shipping in all of their modern processors. This came as a shock to most of us and to MINIX creator Andrew Tanenbaum as well. Although Andrew wasn't completely surprised by the news, since Intel approached him couple years back asking him to make a few changes to the MINIX system. He stated in the open letter that he wasn't looking for economic remuneration, but it would have been nice if Intel had told him about their plans to distribute his operating system in their processors.

F1 2017 Makes Official Comeback to Linux on November 2

Feral Interactive today announced that F1 2017, the official game of the current 2017 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, will be released for Linux on November 2nd. Developed and published by Codemasters for Windows and consoles, F1 2017 is the most compelling F1 game yet, and the latest to be brought to Linux by Feral.

F1 2017 grants players unprecedented access to not only the on-track excitement of F1, but also the off-track dealings and vehicle development that goes along with it. The ten-year Career Mode includes practice programmes to help players hone their skills, an expansive Research and Development tree to provide greater control over the development of their car, and the ability to tune engines and gearboxes over the course of the season.
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