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KDE Plasma 5.13 Now Available, OpenGear's New NetOps Automation Platform, New Zynthian Raspberry Pi Synthesizer and More
News briefs for June 12, 2018.
KDE released Plasma 5.13.0 today. The team has "spent the last four months optimising startup and minimising memory usage, yielding faster time-to-desktop, better runtime performance and less memory consumption. Basic features like panel popups were optimised to make sure they run smoothly even on the lowest-end hardware. Our design teams have not rested either, producing beautiful new integrated lock and login screen graphics." New features in Plasma 5.13 include Plasma Browser Integration, redesigned system settings, new look for lock and login screens, improved KWin graphics compositor and more. See the release announcement for links to download pages for live images, distro packages and source.
OpenGear announced its new NetOps Automation platform, which "provides a solution for automation of NetOps workflows, enabling the management of the network from a central location, and eliminating the need for human intervention on the data center floor or at the edge of the network". NetOps is currently available as a beta product for select customers, and will be generally available in Q4 2018.
There's a new open-source Raspberry Pi synthesizer called Zynthian, which is a "swiss army knife of synthesis, equipped with multiple engines, filters and effects", Geeky Gadgets reports. The synthesizer is completely hackable and "offers an open platform for Sound Synthesis based on the awesome Raspberry Pi mini PC and Linux". See the main website for a video demo and to order.
Wine development release 3.10 is now available. New features include Swapchain support in direct 3D, updated Vulkan support, debugger support for Wow64 processes and more. See the announcement for more details and to download.
Devuan 2.0 ASCII has been released. Devuan is based on Debian Stretch, doesn't use systemd and it lets you choose between SysVinit and OpenRC init systems. With this release, Devuan provides various desktop environments, including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon and LXQt. See the Devuan release notes and the It's FOSS post for more information on the distro.News KDE Plasma Networking Raspberry Pi Wine Distributions
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Andiry Xu (working with Lu Zhang, Steven Swanson and others) posted patches for a new filesystem called NOVA (NOn-Volatile memory Accelerated). Normal RAM chips are wiped every time you turn off your computer. Non-volatile RAM retains its data across reboots. Their project targeted byte-addressable non-volatile memory chips, such as Intel's 3DXpoint DIMMs. Andiry said that the current incarnation of their code was able to do a lot already, but they still had a big to-do list, and they wanted feedback from the kernel people.
Theodore Y. Ts'o gave the patches a try, but he found that they wouldn't even compile without some fixes, which he posted in reply. Andiry said they'd adapt those fixes into their patches.
The last time NOVA made an appearance on the kernel mailing list was August 2017, when Steven made a similar announcement. This time around, they posted a lot more patches, including support for SysFS controls, Kconfig compilation options and a significant amount of documentation.
One of NOVA's main claims to fame, aside from supporting non-volatile RAM, is that it is a log-based filesystem. Other filesystems generally map out their data structures on disk and update those structures in place. This is good for saving seek-time on optical and magnetic disks. Log-based filesystems write everything sequentially, trailing old data behind them. The old data then can be treated as a snapshot of earlier states of the filesystem, or it can be reclaimed when space gets tight.
Log-based filesystems are not necessarily preferred for optical and magnetic drives, because sequential writes will tend to fragment data and slow things down. Non-volatile RAM is based on different technology that has faster seek-times, making a log-based approach a natural choice.
NOVA goes further than most log-based filesystems, which tend to have a single log for the whole filesystem, and instead maintains a separate log for each inode. Using the log data, NOVA can perform writes either in place like traditional filesystems or as copy-on-write (COW) operations, which keep the old version of a file until the new version has been written. This has the benefit of being able to survive catastrophic events like sudden power failures in the middle of doing a write, without corrupting the filesystem.
There were lots of responses to the patches from Andiry and the rest of his team. Most were bug reports and criticism, but no controversy. Everyone seemed to be interested in helping them get their code right so the patches could get into the main tree quickly.
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