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Intel Releases ModernFW as Open Source, minimal Firmware Replacement

Today Intel announced ModernFW - an experimental approach to building a minimum viable platform firmware for machines such as cloud server platforms. The reason for this software is that, while traditional PC Firmware has evolved over time and retained its backward compatibility, it has become very big and often inefficient.

So to meet the requirements of new platforms that need to be built quickly and adapted easily, Intel decided to offer a new software package that will help with that. The new firmware package targets x86_64 from ISA standpoint and Linux kernel based OSes.

ZSA Technology Labs Brings out the Planck EZ 47-key Open Source Keyboard

ZSA Technology Labs, Inc. is the company behind the Ergodox EZ keyboard that we had taken a look at in great detail, and appreciated a lot. It was a retail take on the open source Ergodox keyboard concept which, until then, was available as a kit or pre-assembled by artisans in low numbers, and was not a mass-market product. One could argue the Ergodox EZ is still not a mainstream keyboard, but it certainly made things much more accessible via options to choose from for a pre-assembled keyboard, as well as a powerful, GUI-based configurator for those wanting easier firmware access and control.

In that same vein, the parent company has now introduced the Planck EZ which, as the name suggests, is based on the 47-key Planck keyboard design. Designed in conjunction with Jack Humbert, the creator of the Planck, the Planck EZ aims to be a simple, complete, portable, mechanical keyboard built with layers and ergonomics in mind. The Planck EZ goes a bit further with adding in not only multiple switch options, but also backlighting and a buzzer that can also be controlled to play 8-bit tunes from the keyboard- definitely a first in my books! The Planck EZ is up for pre-order now beginning at $180, with an estimated shipping date in June 2019.

Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network, Adds 60,000 Patents To Protect Linux and Open Source

Steve Ballmer once said 'Linux is a cancer'. Times have changed a lot, and since Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft, Linux and Open Source have become really important for Redmond's company. Azure is based on Linux, for example, and this OS dominates the cloud platform with about half of Azure VMs being Linux ones). Running Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, SuSE or Fedora is also possible natively under Windows 10 through Windows Subsystem for Linux.

The company has made big strategic acquisitions, and Microsoft recently acquired Github, but that approach to Linux and Open Source goes further with the new announcement. Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a consortium that defines itself as a "shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux". With that move, Microsoft is bringing 60,000 patents to OIN that will be available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.

Microsoft Publishes MS-DOS Source Code on GitHub

Considering Microsoft only recently acquired GitHub, it took them no time at all to put the software development platform to good use. Accordingly, the Redmond-based IT giant has set up an online repository from which they could re-release versions 1.25 and 2.0 of MS-DOS. According to Rich Turner, a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, it is "much easier to find, read, and refer to MS-DOS source files if they're in a GitHub repo than in the original downloadable compressed archive file." The compressed archive Turner mentions is the original release of the source code from 2014 when both versions of MS-DOS were first made available via the Computer History Museum after their discovery by Tim Paterson. This is fitting considering Paterson is the original author of 86-DOS, which forms the basis for MS-DOS.

Microsoft has stated that they will ignore any pull requests or changes to the original source code, with the repository instead being kept static more as a historical reference to be used in literature. That said, users are more than welcome to create separate development forks for exploration and experimentation. When it comes to yours truly, while I don't plan to do much experimenting, this has created an itch to relive the past. Maybe I should dust off that old MS-DOS system in the garage and see if it still works.

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.

AMD Open Sources Professional GPU-Optimized Photorealistic Renderer

AMD today announced that its powerful physically-based rendering engine is becoming open source, giving developers access to the source code. As part of GPUOpen, Radeon ProRender (formerly previewed as AMD FireRender) enables creators to bring ideas to life through high-performance applications and workflows enhanced by photorealistic rendering. Alongside Radeon ProRender, developers also have access to Radeon Rays on, a high-efficiency, high-performance, heterogeneous ray tracing intersection library for GPU, CPU or APU on virtually any platform. GPUOpen is an AMD initiative designed to assist developers in creating ground-breaking games, professional graphics applications and GPU computing applications with superior performance and lifelike experiences, using no-cost open development tools and software.

Radeon ProRender plugins are available today for many popular 3D content creation applications, including Autodesk 3ds Max, SOLIDWORKS by Dassault Systèmes and Rhino, with Autodesk Maya coming soon. Radeon ProRender works across Windows, OS X and Linux, and supports AMD GPUs, CPUs and APUs as well as those of other vendors.

AMD Releases CodeXL 2.0 as Open Source Through GPUOpen

CodeXL is now part of the GPUOpen initiative. You can find all of CodeXL's source code (barring a few parts that are IP-confidential) on the CodeXL GitHub project. Version 2.0 is also available in pre-built binary form, like previous versions. We believe that by adopting the open-source model and sharing the CodeXL source base with the world we can help developers make better use of CodeXL and make CodeXL a better tool.

To encourage 3rd party contribution and adoption, CodeXL is no longer branded as an AMD product. AMD will still continue development of this tool and upload new CodeXL versions and features to GPUOpen.

OSVR Opens Development Roadmap and Releases HDK Production Files

Organizers of Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR), a software platform designed to set an open standard for virtual reality devices, today released the OSVR Hacker Developer Kit (HDK) production file and the OSVR development roadmap.

The OSVR HDK is a hackable head-mounted display offering high-quality optics that work to reduce distortion in virtual environments. Any user can view production files of the OSVR HDK and the developer roadmap, streamlining the efforts of those that want to make their own hardware based on its design.

"With the release of the OSVR development roadmap, the process for creating new VR hardware and software on the platform can be accelerated significantly," says Michael Lee, VP of software at Razer. "We welcome the support of VR enthusiasts everywhere."

AMD Announces Heterogeneous C++ AMP Language for Developers

AMD in collaboration with Microsoft today announced the release of C++ AMP version 1.2 -- an open source C++ compiler which implements version 1.2 of the open specification for C++ AMP, available on both Linux and Windows for the first time. The release represents another step forward toward AMD's goal of supporting cross-platform solutions, multiple programming languages and continued contributions to the open source community. The tool, which leverages Clang and LLVM, accelerates productivity and ease of use for developers wishing to harness the full power of modern heterogeneous platforms spanning servers, PCs and handheld devices.

"AMD has a consistent track record of enriching the developer experience, and we're proud to make the first open source implementation of C++ AMP available to enable greater performance and more power-efficient applications," said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Applications and Solutions, AMD. "The cross-platform release is another step in strengthening AMD's developer solutions, allowing for increased productivity and accelerated applications through shared physical memory across the CPU and GPU on both Linux and Windows."

IBM Commits $1 Billion to Fuel Linux and Open Source Innovation on Power Systems

At LinuxCon 2013, IBM announced plans to invest $1 billion (USD) in new Linux and open source technologies for IBM's Power Systems servers. The investment aims to help clients capitalize on big data and cloud computing with modern systems built to handle the new wave of applications coming to the data center in the post-PC era.

A new IBM Power Systems Linux Center for developers, clients and partners opened in Montpellier, France today. Joining similar centers in Asia and North America, the Montpellier center is an immediate result of a larger initiative by IBM to commit $1 billion towards Linux ecosystem growth on IBM's Power Systems line of servers. (Credit: IBM)

Intel Media SDK Helps Accelerate Atom-Based Devices and Open Source Software

Intel Media SDK 2013 now supports fixed-function hardware acceleration for video on Intel Atom processor-based tablets with Microsoft* Windows operating systems including video playback, editing and conversion.

The SDK, newly optimized for upcoming 4th generation Intel Core processors, codenamed "Haswell," includes enhanced support for Windows 8 including Microsoft DirectX 11, fully accelerated MPEG2 encode and MPEG/JPEG decode, and a Windows Store development sample. Use of Intel Media SDK 2013 also includes free licensing and source for integration with Open Source projects. The SDK is available as a free download.

NVIDIA Posts Open Source 2D Driver Code

After launching its high-performance display driver for Linux that boosts GeForce graphics performance by 100%, NVIDIA released an open-source 2D driver code for its Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 SoCs, which is based on the experimental Direct Rendering Manager driver (DRM, not as in digital rights management). DRM was started as an independent project by Thierry Reding, but is now being worked on by NVIDIA, among others.

The open-source DRM driver code published by Terje Bergstrom today provide host1x and 2D on Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 SoCs, and was published by Terje Bergstrom. He writes "nvhost is the driver that controls host1x hardware. It supports host1x command channels, synchronization, run-time power management and memory management. It is sectioned into logical driver under drivers/video/tegra/host and physical driver under drivers/video/tegra/host/host1x. The physical driver is compiled with the hardware headers of the particular host1x version."

Dell Extends ARM-based Server Ecosystem Enablement with Open Source Development

As an extension to its ARM-based server ecosystem enablement and to further application development and testing to this technology, Dell today announced a donation of an ARM-based server concept to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the volunteer community that develops, stewards and incubates nearly 150 open source software projects and initiatives.

Dell believes ARM infrastructures demonstrate promise for web front-end and Hadoop environments, where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per watt are critical. Dell customers use many of Apache's open source software products, including Hadoop, Cassandra, and the Apache HTTP Web Server as part of their big data and cloud computing solutions, so Dell is providing this community with an ARM-based server concept running Calxeda EnergyCore. This server is accessible to all Apache projects for software development and native porting of applications.

NVIDIA Responds to Questions About Consistency of Features Across Platforms

NVIDIA posted a statement following last week's interactive session lead by Linus Torvalds, at a Finnish University, which didn't end too well for NVIDIA. The audience complained to Torvalds about lack of consistency between features available to Windows and Linux, and NVIDIA's stubbornness to help the community come up with alternative solutions to get the advertised features (such as Optimus) to work. NVIDIA's statement focuses on exactly that, consistency of features across platforms, and states that it is one of NVIDIA's priorities.

The statement by NVIDIA doesn't refute any of what a member of the audience complained about. There is still no proper Optimus feature made available by NVIDIA to Linux users, but a reminder that NVIDIA recently made changes to its drivers that makes interface with an alternative system software made by various open-source communities, the Bumblebee Project, easier. Said the statement "While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging NVIDIA common code, rather than the Linux common infrastructure. While this may not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system."

The statement follows:

NVIDIA Contributes CUDA Compiler to Open Source Community

NVIDIA today announced that LLVM, one of the industry's most popular open source compilers, now supports NVIDIA GPUs, dramatically expanding the range of researchers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and programming languages that can take advantage of the benefits of GPU acceleration.

LLVM is a widely used open source compiler infrastructure, with a modular design that makes it easy to add support for programming languages and processor architectures. The CUDA compiler provides C, C++ and Fortran support for accelerating application using the massively parallel NVIDIA GPUs. NVIDIA has worked with LLVM developers to provide the CUDA compiler source code changes to the LLVM core and parallel thread execution backend. As a result, programmers can develop applications for GPU accelerators using a broader selection of programming languages, making GPU computing more accessible and pervasive than ever before.

HP to Contribute webOS to Open Source

HP today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community. HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience.

AMD Supports Open Source by Joining Eclipse Foundation

As part of its commitment to supporting and contributing to open standards, AMD today announced its participation in the Eclipse Foundation. AMD will add its rich expertise and history of collaborative innovation to the Eclipse community, helping to drive the standardization of an extensible development platform and application frameworks that can harness the power of x86 architectures and multi-core processing. AMD made the announcement in conjunction with Eclipse Summit Europe 2007, taking place Oct. 9 - 11 in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

BBC Listens to Open Source community; Makes software compatible with Linux

The BBC is releasing a digital content player, called "iPlayer". However, the Open Source community got very upset when they found out iPlayer was only compatible with Windows XP. And so, after asking the BBC to remedy this (and threatening to go to the European Commission), the BBC has made the iPlayer compatible with multiple operating systems. All the owner of the operating system has to do is pay the BBC for a license, and the player will be made compatible with the operating system.

'Show us the code' project supposedly silenced by Microsoft

Back in February, a blogger who went by the alias "DigDuality" got fed up with Microsoft's accusations of the open source community. And so, from work, he started a website that challenged Microsoft to find any IP violations *nix was making. May came, May went, and the website became about as active as an exhausted gold mine. Now, a few days into July, "DigDuality" has returned to his blog. He claims that Microsoft traced the website to DD's company, and that Microsoft threatened his company. The company, according to DD, then proceeded to give DD a choice: he could either keep the website running, or keep his job. DD preferred the latter, and so, the website has remained inactive for quite some time. DD refused to name the company that told DD to hold his tongue.

Free Open-Source disk encryption now supports Vista

If you are one of those guys who either want to keep the data on your harddrives secured from foreigners or you are just keen on the latest software technology you should check out TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt lets you encrypt files later to be mounted as a virtual drive. Imagine you want to share an important pile of data with your friends, with TrueCrypt done right you don't need to worry about its security anymore.
But there's more, you can of course encrypt an entire partition on your internal and external hard drive or USB flash drive. The encryption however is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent too.
The new version 4.3 is now completely digitally signed by Microsoft and therefore compatible to Windows Vista and it's User Account Control System (UAC). So there is no hassle anymore if you want to fiddle around with it using Bill's latest creation.

IBM Labs: Tool for Blind to "See" Internet Multimedia - Might come as Open Source

IBM Previews New Accessibility Tool for People With Low or No Vision to Access Multimedia Web Content

TOKYO & ARMONK, NY - 13 Mar 2007: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new emerging technology that helps blind and visually impaired people experience streaming video and animation on the Internet. Designed at IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory, the new multimedia browsing accessibility tool potentially opens a world of rich content to visually impaired people around the world, who number more than 161 million.

AMD to offer $250,000 Open Architecture Prize

In 2004 AMD launched the 50x15 Initiative that will hopefully help to enable affordable Internet access and computing capability for 50 percent of the whole world's population by the year 2015. Now AMD together with SUN Microsystems presented the Open Architecture Prize to further develop this achievement and bring creative ideas to life. The 250.000 US$ prize will be donated every year for the design that fulfils the given task at best. This year's project is to create an "e-community center" - "a centralized building equipped with internet connectivity solutions designed to enable an entire community to access the transformative power of the Internet".

SourceForge forced to remove BackupHDDVD from their website

A lot of *nix users know SourceForge as a great place to find (source code for) programs. A SourceForge member decided it would be a good idea to post a program called "BackupHDDVD". BackupHDDVD literally "backed up" HDDVD's, allowing for multiple copies to be stored and produced. SourceForge recently got a letter saying that any program that cracks copy protection like that is breaking a federal law, and so they decided to remove the program.

Dell working on more computers without an operating system pre-installed

Thanks to recent letters to Dell, we may soon be seeing Dell computers (mainly laptops) without an operating system installed. This has several benefits. The cost of the machine is lowered, because a Microsoft operating system costs a considerable sum of money. The customer also has an option to configure their operating system however they want, be it from Microsoft or a *nix distribution. They also do not have to deal with the large amount of generally unwanted pre-installed software.

Google Planning Web-Based PowerPoint Alternative

Google already has Docs and Spreadsheets - free web based software which lets you create word processed documents and spreadsheets - but now it is planning to add presentation software to this mini office-suite. The information, which was discovered by accident, suggests Google is set to add Presently to it's web-based line up sometime in the future, which should be able to create online slide shows. This will essentially complete the basic applications in Google's office equivalent, and should be free to anyone who has an account with Google.
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