Tag Archives: ubuntu

SteamOS, Ubuntu, or Windows 10: Which is fastest for gaming?

For years, game support on Linux has seriously lagged behind Windows, to the point that the OS was basically a non-option for anyone who wanted to game on a PC. In recent years, that’s begun to change, thanks to increased support for the OS via Valve and SteamOS. From the beginning, Valve claimed that it was possible to boost OpenGL performance over D3D in Windows, and it’s recently put a hefty push behind Vulkan, the Mantle-based API that’s a successor to OpenGL.

Two new stories took OpenGL out for a spin compared with Windows 10, on a mixture of Intel and Nvidia hardware. Ars Technica dusted off their Steam machine for a comparison in the most recent version of SteamOS, while Phoronix compared the performance of Intel’s Skylake Core i5-6600K with HD Graphics 530. The results, unfortunately, point in the same direction: SteamOS and Ubuntu simply can’t keep up with Windows 10 in most modern titles.


Ars tested multiple titles, but we’ve included the Source-based results here, because these are the games that the industry titan has direct control over. In theory, Valve’s own games should show the clearest signs of any OGL advantage, if one existed. Obviously, it doesn’t — L4D2 shows similar performance on both platforms, but TF2, Portal, and DOTA 2 are all clear advantages for Windows 10.

That doesn’t mean Linux gaming hasn’t come a long way in a relatively short period of time. All of these titles return playable frame rates, even at 2560×1600. There’s a huge difference between “Windows 10 is faster than Linux,” and “We can’t compare Linux and Windows 10 because Linux and gaming are a contradiction in terms.” It’s also possible that Valve is throwing most of its weight behind Vulkan and that future games that use that API will be on a much stronger footing against Windows in DX12 titles.

The penguinistas at Phoronix also took Windows and Ubuntu out for a spin with Intel’s HD Graphics 530 and a Skylake processor. Again, the results are anything but pretty for Team Penguin — while some titles, like OpenArena, ran nearly identically, most 3D applications showed a significant gain for Windows 10. Again, driver support is a major issue; Intel’s Linux drivers remain limited to OpenGL 3.3, though OpenGL 4.2 support is theoretically forthcoming by the end of the year. Under Windows, OGL 4.4 is supported, which gives that OS a decided advantage in these types of comparisons.

A complex situation

There are two, equally valid ways of looking at this situation. First, there’s the fact that if you want to game, first-and-foremost, Windows remains a superior OS to Mac or Linux, period, full-stop. There is no Linux distribution or version of Mac OS X that can match the capabilities of Windows for PC gaming across the entire spectrum of titles, devices, and hardware — especially if you care about compatibility with older games, which can be persnickety in the best of times.

That conclusion, however, ignores the tremendous progress that we’ve seen in Linux gaming over a relatively short period of time. There are now more than a thousand titles available for Linux via Steam. If you’re primarily a Linux user, you’ve got options that never existed before — and as someone who hates dual-booting between operating systems and refuses to do so save when necessary for articles, I feel the pain of anyone who prefers to game in their own native OS rather than switching back and forth.

Furthermore, it’s probably not realistic to expect Valve to close the gap between Windows and Linux gaming. Not only does that assume that Valve can magically control the entire driver stack (and it obviously can’t), it also assumes that Valve does anything within a 1-2 year time frame (it doesn’t). The launch of Vulkan means that Linux users will get feature-parity and very similar capabilities to DX12 gamers on Windows, but Nvidia, AMD, and Intel will need to provide appropriate driver support to enable it. Hopefully, since Vulkan is based on Mantle, AMD will be able to offer support in short order.

In short, it’s not surprising to see that Windows still has a strategic and structural advantage over Linux, and we shouldn’t let that fact obscure the tremendous progress we’ve seen in just a handful of years.

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BQ’s Ubuntu Bows on World Stage

BQ last week opened an Ubuntu global store accessible to anyone who wants to buy an Aquaris Ubuntu Edition handset.

BQ recently launched the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 HD Ubuntu Edition smartphones in Europe.

Both BQ and Canonical, which provides commercial support for Ubuntu Linux, have acknowledged network frequency and mobile operator compatibility issues in some countries, including the U.S.

“The purpose is not to go to market now,” said John Kourentis, manager of EMEA sales for Ubuntu Mobile at Canonical. Instead, the goal is to reach interested Ubuntu community members who would like to get a taste of the Ubuntu mobile experience.

Slow to Market

The Ubuntu mobile OS was introduced in 2013, but it wasn’t until February of this year that the first consumer model appeared.

All prior models have been limited in both availability and functionality. Though the BQ store addresses the distribution problem, the Ubuntu phones are plagued by the absence of carrier support for 4G LTE and 3G in the U.S.

That’s in part due to incompatibility with carrier networks.

For example, T-Mobile and AT&T support different GSM and UMTS bands than are popular in Europe. That means U.S.-based users of the two available BQ Ubuntu phones are stuck using the 2G Enhanced Data GSM Evolution network, also known as “EDGE.”

BQ integrates the Ubuntu OS into its Aquaris devices — but based on their radio modems, they are primarily European products, Kourentis told LinuxInsider.

Approach Matters

The major differences between the Ubuntu phone platform and mobile platforms delivered by Microsoft, Apple and Google have to do with the financial model rather than technical features.

Ubuntu’s model will prevent the OS fragmentation that has detracted from the Android experience, according to Kourentis.

Most of the other platforms have a central purpose of delivering services of the platform owner.

“Android is a mechanism to deliver Google services by which Google can abstract user data to enable a business model that is based on advertising revenue. Apple is monetized through hardware sales. Microsoft’s ultimate goal is a platform for its services,” said Kourentis.

On the phone side, Ubuntu is a true open source platform. Ubuntu’s approach enables its partners to decide which services are entrusted to them. They decide which services to integrate into their phones.

One OS Fits All

The key attraction of the Ubuntu phone is convergence, said Joe Odukoya, product manager for Ubuntu Phone. That’s the idea of having a single code base that runs across phone, tablet and desktop.

“Other platforms have different versions of their code base, depending on the device. With a single code base on every device, you make it simpler for users and developers,” Okukoya told LinuxInsider.

Canonical has not yet delivered all of that converged platform code, he said, but “the rest will be delivered in the next two releases.”

Supply vs. Demand

Who might want a partly functional Ubuntu OS phone?

The possibility of having a new choice in the marketplace is the draw for David Sachs, an independent contractor systems administrator for Windows and Linux — one that’s priced reasonably, that works and is secure.

“As a systems administrator, I keep an eye on security vulnerabilities, and Android has a lot,” Sachs told LinuxInsider. “I am not comfortable running Android for this reason. Android has too many holes in it to be comfortable using it for personal transactions.”

The Ubuntu phone is interesting because it’s something else, he observed — it is not Android.

Although Sachs’ Windows phone is simple and reliable, some of its apps are half-baked, he said, and the iPhone is a more expensive product with a lot of hidden costs.

“Android is not Linux — it just runs on the Linux kernel,” Sachs pointed out. “But then most of its apps are written in Java. I have not used the Ubuntu phone, but I know that its native apps are supposed to be written in QT.”

What’s exciting about the Ubuntu phone is that it has a lot of backing and support and could become a fourth player in the mobile marketplace, he added “It is a platform that will pique the interest of folks who do not have an allegiance to Apple, Google or Windows.”

At a Glance

Both the BQ Aquaris E4.5 (US$185) and the E5 HD (US$218) Ubuntu Editions run on quad-core, 1.3-GHz ARM Cortex A7 processors from MediaTek. The E5 HD stores more data than the E4.5 and has a slightly larger screen with higher resolution.

The E5 runs Ubuntu Touch and has a 5-inch, 720p HD display. The specs include 1 GB of RAM with 16 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, and two unlocked SIM card slots.

The rear-facing camera is impressive with 13-megapixels, dual flash and 1080p HD video capability. There’s also a front-facing 5-megapixel camera.

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Ubuntu Phone is shipping, but it appears the software isn’t ready

Over the last few years, Google and Android have increasingly dominated the mobile scene, with Microsoft relegated to bit-player status. Once-massive players like BlackBerry scarcely stir a ripple in the market. Nonetheless, Ubuntu has chosen to stick its neck out and create a mobile operating system based on its own software to hopefully compete against the massive entrenched players. A new review of the Ubuntu Phone OS puts the operating system through its paces — and finds a great deal wanting.

Engadget has published a sizable review of Ubuntu Phone, and it’s worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in an alternative operating system. The good news is that Ubuntu has nailed some interesting features on the device — the settings menu is well-crafted, the browser is nimble, and certain multitasking panels and multi-app display modes are well done. The company has created a set of content and service capabilities it calls “Scopes.” Scopes allow you to pick custom information feeds to scroll through and attempt to guess what content you want to see based on how you tell the phone you’re feeling. Tell it “I’m stressed,” and the phone will attempt to show results that might be pertinent.

Ubuntu Phone

Unfortunately, when it comes to many basic tasks and fundamental functions, Ubuntu Phone still falls short. According to the reviewer, the phone often freezes for significant periods of time, which Engadget believes is caused by the background updates to Scopes. The quad-core Cortex-A7 should be up to the task of handling the job, but it doesn’t seem to be. There are also significant issues regarding Ubuntu Phone’s touch sensitivity, its total lack of applications and reliance on web apps to make up the difference, and the operating system’s limited features and capabilities.

As Nick Summers, the reviewer, puts it: “Aside from the app void and the questionable value of Scopes, Ubuntu Phone is a bit of a nightmare to use the majority of the time… The gesture-based navigation is unrefined; there are bugs and glitches all over the place; and in general, many core experiences are severely lacking in polish. Despite years of development, Ubuntu Phone still feels like an early beta.”

I have deliberately skimmed the high points of the review, because it’s worth a read in full, but based on Summer’s reporting, I’d have to agree. In fact, I’d go one further and say I’m not certain there’s an actual market for Ubuntu Phone at all. Originally the OS was supposed to ship on ultra-low-cost devices, but with Android smartphones now dipping entry prices well below $100 in developing markets, I’m not sure there’s any need.

Obviously that won’t stop Ubuntu from investing in its project, but I can’t help wondering if Ubuntu Phone is Ubuntu’s Tizen — an underdeveloped platform with essentially no native applications and very limited prospects going forward. Samsung, at least, can guarantee that Tizen ships on devices by opting to use it on its own hardware. Ubuntu doesn’t have that option.

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Here’s a video about the all new, Ubuntu Phone & specs

Specs: (link: http://www.bq.com/gb/products/aquaris…)
Display: 4.5″ qHD 540×960 – 240 ppi (HDPI)
CPU: Quad Core Cortex A7 up to 1.3 GHz MediaTek
GPU: Mali 400 up to 500 MHz
Storage: 8 GB
Memory available for end use: 5,5 GB*
Battery: LiPo 2150 mAh
dual micro-SIM
MicroSD slot, up to 32 GB

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth® 4.0
2G GSM (850/900/1800/1900)
3G HSPA+ (900/2100)
8Mpx – 13Mpx interpolated (Dual-flash and autofocus) Camera
5Mpx – 8Mpx interpolated Front Camera

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[Ubuntu Phone – Update]First Ubuntu phone will be sold in a limited-run flash sale

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is an alternative to iPhone and Android and will be available in Europe.

The first Ubuntu phone is finally going on sale, and it isn’t just the software that’s doing things a bit differently: the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be available in a grab-it-while-you-can limited-numbers flash sale.

The new version of BQ’s Aquaris E4.5 smartphone is the first chance for the public to buy a phone running the Ubuntu operating system. It will be sold in a series of flash sales, each lasting for a limited time period. The details of the first sale will be announced on Tuesday 10 February on Ubuntu’s Twitter,Google+ and Facebook pages and BQ’s Twitter account bqreaders.

Best known as an alternative operating system for PCs that aren’t Windows or Apple Mac computers, Ubuntu is open source and beloved of developers and tinkerers. It is developed by British company Canonical, which plans to expand the operating system’s reach to other devices such as phones,tablets, smart devices and even drones.

We first got a hint of those plans at trade show Mobile World Congress in February 2013, when we saw a version of Ubuntu for phones and tablets demonstrated on Google Nexus devices. At MWC 2014 the first proper Ubuntu phones appeared, made by Spanish manufacturer BQ and Chinese company Meizu. And now, a year later and just a couple of weeks shy of MWC 2015, one of those phones will finally go on sale. There’s no sign of the Meizu MX3 yet.

At this point, the E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will only be on sale in Europe. It’s sold unlocked, but customers will be offered SIM bundles when buying the phone thanks to Ubuntu’s deals with Portugal Telecom, GiffGaff in the UK, Three in Sweden and Amena in Spain.

There are no plans for a US launch of the phone.

Flash sales are an interesting way of building buzz around a product by shifting a large number in a short time. In a recent flash sale, up-and-coming Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi claims to have sold out all 40,000 units of its new Redmi 1S Android phone in just 4.2 seconds.

Ubuntu is an “upstart OS” — one of a number of potential alternatives to Android or iPhone that have been building towards a consumer release in the past couple of years. At MWC 2013 we felt Ubuntu was more polished than rivals Firefox OS and Tizen, but in the intervening time Tizen in particular has surged forward. Backed by the might of Samsung, the troubled and long-gestating Tizen has finally limped its way into a phone, the Samsung Z1. But more importantly, Samsung wants Tizen to form an ecosystem across all kinds of devices, powering Samsung TVs, cameras and other devices.

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be at industry trade show MWC 2015, where manufacturers, app builders and other mobile companies gather to show off their latest phones, tablets, smart devices and other wares. We’ll be there in force to bring you our first impressions with glossy hands-on photos and videos of all the coolest kit you need to know about.

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Ubuntu smartphone offers alternative to apps

An Ubuntu-powered smartphone is coming to the market a year and a half after a previous attempt to launch a model via crowdfunding failed.

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu edition relies on a card-like user interface that is not focused on apps.

Unlike the original proposal, the handset does not become a desktop PC when plugged into a monitor.

It is initially being targeted at “early adopters”, who developers hope will become advocates for the platform.

The British company Canonical, which developed the Linux-based operating system, said it hoped to emulate the success of Chinese companies including Xiaomi with its launch strategy.

Ubuntu phone on IndiegogoThis crowdfunding campaign raised nearly $13m but still fell short of its target

This will include holding a number of “flash sales” in Europe beginning next week, in which the device will be sold for short periods of time – giving the developers an opportunity to gauge demand and respond to feedback before committing to a bigger production run.

“It’s a proven model – we’re making sure that the product lands in the right hands,” Cristian Parrino, vice-president of mobile at Canonical, told the BBC.

“We are way away from sticking this in a retail shop in the High Street. [But] it’s where we want to get to.”

Millions of PCs used by schools, governments and businesses already run the desktop version of Ubuntu.

“The Ubuntu fan base will clamour to buy the phone just because they will be curious to see what it is, how it works and how they can develop for it – they’ll want to be one of the few that have it,” said Chris Green, from Davies Murphy Group Europe.

“But for the broader, more mainstream, early adopter market, I think demand will be constricted because people are more app-focused.”

Scope cards

The Ubuntu handset can run apps written in either the HTML5 web programming language or its own native QML code.

However, its operating system effectively hides them away. Instead of the traditional smartphone user interface – featuring grids of apps – it uses themed cards that group together different facilities.

Canonical calls these Scopes, and they are reminiscent of the swipe-based card system used by the Google Now personal assistant.

ScopesDevice owners can configure the Scopes to add the services they prefer

The phone’s home screen is the Today Scope. It presents a selection of widgets based on the user’s most frequent interactions on the phone.

These can include the local weather forecast, the headlines of the day from third-party news services, Twitter trends and a list of the owner’s most commonly contacted friends.

By swiping to the right, the owner can make a call or access some of the other default Scopes, including:

  • A Music Scope, with favourite tracks sourced from Soundcloud and other streaming music providers, as well as offering details of forthcoming concerts via Songkick
  • A Video Scope, which presents clips from YouTube and other services
  • A Photos Scope, which collects together images stored on the phone as well as pictures stored on Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and elsewhere
  • A Nearby Scope providing location-specific details, including traffic conditions, public transport options and restaurant recommendations
  • An Apps Scope, which provides access to the camera, calendar software and programs from other companies

Users can create and configure their own Scopes, and individual services can also be set to have Scope cards of their own.

Ubuntu phoneThird-party services can be set to have separate cards to themselves in the user interface

Mr Parrino suggested that the benefit to the user was an “unfragmented” experience, while developers would gain by being able to make their products available via Scopes at a fraction of the cost of creating full apps.

“If you come out with a new [OS] that’s based on apps and icons then you’re just a ‘me too’ platform,” he said.

“You’ll only be as relevant to developers as the number of users you can bring to them, because you’re adding the burden of supporting a new platform. And for users you’ll only be as good as the apps that you have.

“We’ve had to switch that model around and deliver an experience that is valuable in its own right – clearly the more services that plug into it the better it becomes, but it’s not fully dependent on them from day one, and for an early adopter audience it’s a great product.”

Certain services will, however, be missing at launch, including Whatsapp, Skype and several of Instagram’s core features.

‘Stopgap’ features

Canonical makes money by charging organisations for support services.

The phones themselves are being made and sold by a Spanish company, BQ, which already has an Android variant of the hardware.

They include an eight-megapixel rear camera, a 5MP front one and one gigabyte of RAM memory. They will cost about 170 euros ($195; £127).

“It’s a good-looking device and a very slick interface at a realistic price,” commented Mr Green.

“Scopes are an interesting stopgap between a full third-party app environment and a fixed feature phone.

“However, they are just that – a stopgap. They will interest very early adopters and the Ubuntu faithful in the short term. However, it won’t take long before people start wanting a full add-on app experience akin to the other existing platforms on the market today.”

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Ubuntu Aims to Make the IoT Snappy

Snappy Ubuntu Core has a minimal server image with the same libraries as regular Ubuntu, but it offers a simpler mechanism for obtaining applications. It’s faster, more reliable and more secure, according to Canonical. Snappy Ubuntu Core will ensure Snappy Apps “cannot harm the operating system and other Snappy Apps,” said Canonical’s Maarten Ectors.

Canonical on Tuesday unveiled Snappy Ubuntu Core, a new rendition of Ubuntu targeting the Internet of Things.

Snappy Ubuntu Core offers a minimal server image with the same libraries as “traditional” Ubuntu, if we can call it that, but Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core can be upgraded automatically and rolled back if necessary.

This so-called transactional or image-based systems management approach is ideal for deployments that require predictability and reliability, according to Canonical.

Snappy runs on any device with an ARMv7 or Intel x86 processor and at least 256 MB of RAM.

This “can be anything from home appliances to networking equipment to controlling solutions for heating, air conditioning and security,” said Maarten Ectors, VP of IoT, proximity cloud and next-gen networking at Canonical.

Oh, and it can run on robots too, but “don’t think Star Wars,” he cautioned.

“Think useful robots,” Ectors told LinuxInsider, “like the Siralab Trasibot that soon will perform environmental studies in which industries and academic institutions can conduct pollution research by deploying Snappy Apps. Many other robots and drones are possible.”

Adding Snap to Software

Snappy Apps are a lightweight mechanism to package any software, Ectors said. Snappy Ubuntu images also can run inside virtual machines and in private clouds. Plus, Snappy Frameworks let Docker run inside Snappy Apps.

Snappy “is simply a package distribution/management for Ubuntu … with a transactional upgrade mechanism,” said Dan Kara, practice director of robotics at ABI Research.

That’s “‘transactional’ — as in succeed or be completely rolled back,” he told LinuxInsider. It simplifies the upgrade process and reduces the chances of rollback errors.

Docker and Security Issues

A number of security vulnerabilities have been discovered in Docker over the past few months.

However, Microsoft has found Docker robust enough to support the next release of Windows Server, in June, Kara disclosed, and it “is being employed in large, conservative businesses, and sectors such as finance and government.”

Snappy Ubuntu Core will ensure Snappy Apps “cannot harm the operating system and other Snappy Apps,” Canonical’s Ectors said. “Should there be bugs inside Docker, then Snappy Ubuntu Core is the easiest way to push bug fixes to devices running Docker images.”

Snappy Ubuntu Core “will not avoid a Shellshock or Heartbleed from happening,” he added. It “cannot magically avoid developers making any mistakes.” It will, however, enable the patching of “millions of devices in a secure way as soon as a fix is available.”

Developers are responsible for providing bug fixes for their Snappy Apps, including those containing Docker, Ectors noted.

What About the Competition?

Red Hat incorporated Docker in its Project Atomic well before Docker was incorporated into Ubuntu.

Then there’s CoreOS, an open source lightweight operating system based on the Linux kernel that provides only the minimal functionality required for deploying apps inside software containers. Sound familiar?

“Red Hat and CoreOS focus on the cloud,” Ectors pointed out. “Snappy Ubuntu Core is the only operating system that can run from a very small development board to the (US)$35 Odroid to network devices, robots, home appliances, to the biggest cloud — and have apps and an app store for any type of smart devices.”

Red Hat is “heavily focused on customers who value a standards-based approach to their architecture,” said Mark Coggin, senior director of marketing for Red Hat platforms business unit.

The Internet of Things is “more akin to enterprise IT, whose core tenets include system reliability, application integration, data integrity and security,” although it seems at a distance to be focused on devices and consumer technologies, he told LinuxInsider.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux “is well optimized to power the entire IoT architecture, from device to data center, and it is widely used across a variety of industries embracing this new architecture,” Coggin said. “Hence, there is no need to create an offering specifically for the device market.”

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