Happy friday everybody, it’s September 29 2023 and welcome to the first edition of the Linux and Open Source Weekly News, where we get you up to date on all the latest stuff. I’m Josh and this is the WL Tech Blog.
Raspberry Pi 5
We’ve got a lot to go over this week but the big announcement is the release of the raspberry pi 5 single board computer. We did an overview video you can check out for more details, but the summary is that this new board is 2 to 4 times faster than the Pi 4 at everything and will be available sometime in october. Pricing should be about $5 more for the same memory configurations as the Pi 4, and you’re going to want the new power supply and the cooler with the fan.
In distro news, we saw a new release of Linux Mint Debian Edition. Ths edition strives to provide the same experience as the regular Ubuntu based version, but without relying on Ubuntu and their various initiatives. Being based on a distro that’s based on another distro always seemed weird, and I’d love to see the Debian edition become the default for Mint.
Ubuntu 23.10 Beta
Speaking of Ubuntu, they’ve published what should be the final beta of the 23.10 release. We’re just a few weeks out from Mantic Minotaur, which will be based on the linux 6.5 kernel and gcc 13. Notable changes are zfs support in the installer, new support for TPM based disk encryption, and version 45 of the gnome desktop. Of course, more packages are moving to snap, and more wayland support is being added as well. For folks who like to update every 6 months, this looks to be a great upgrade release for Ubuntu fans.
Switching to desktop software, the big news this week is the release of Firefox 118, with some solid performance improvements. Firefox has been stepping up their game for the last few releases and it’s great to see. Notably this release also brings automated translation, which is done locally rather than being sent off to Google, a boon for privacy. I love seeing Mozilla putting some focus back into making a great browser, keep it up guys.
On the server side, we got new bugfix releases for PHP 8.1 and 8.2. The new versions, 8.1.24 and 8.2.11 are pretty basic bugfix releases and all users are recommended to update. The changelogs for both are not exciting but there are a few fixes that could result in segfaults and memory leaks. We’ve been seeing these bugfix releases regularly and it really pays off to use containerization for allowing multiple versions on a per-site basis.
If you’re a Rust developer, you’ll want to know that they’ve announced some changes for the upcoming 1.74 release. Specifically, they are dropping support for older Apple operating systems, so older devices not able to upgrade to newer ones won’t be able to run programs compiled with 1.74 or future releases. The affected devices are pretty old, including mac computers released before 2010, iphone 4 and 4s, and more. The minimum OS versions will be mac os 10.12 sierra, and version 10 of ios and tvos. At least for those old Mac computers, there is generally pretty good support for running a model Linux distro on them, which would solve the Rust limit as well as a bunch of other problems.
Ok this actually happened 2 weeks ago but the version 16 release of this popular database really is huge. There are a bunch of new features but the best parts to me are the performance improvements you’ll get on existing workloads without having to change your code. We’ve got improved parallelism in queries for joins, and faster aggregate functions like distinct or order by will be a boost for nearly all existing applications. If you’re running on x86 or ARM, new vector operations provide a huge speedup for text and json processing and a few others. The other piece I like in this release is some expanded metrics that help you analyze io performance. If you’re running on low end hardware with hard drives or cloud servers with mediocre storage performance, being able to tune your queries to minimize io impact can be a great way to stretch your infrastructure dollar.
I love docker. And by Docker, I mean containerization. Kind of like Xerox and Kleenex, Docker is often used to describe the containerization technology rather than the specific software used to provide it. For many folks, Podman has replaced Docker, and it has a number of advantages. Not needing a uid 0 server daemon to manage containers saves resources and allows non-root users to run containers with full privilege separation all the way down. It’s highly compatible with docker and many users will simply use an alias to point the docker command to podman, which just works for nearly everything. Of course, you get some new features Docker doesn’t have, especially when using along side Kubernetes or other orchestration engines. This release has a bunch of quality of life features and fixes but not much that stands out, it’s a recommended upgrade for all users. Check the description for their full release notes.
Game Development Turmoil
Over the last two weeks or so, there was a lot of noise about Unity changing the terms of their license, particularly around the pricing. Unity is a hugely popular game engine that could target basically any platform, including Linux, Windows and Mac desktops as well as mobile devices and gaming consoles. Their pricing model was straightforward and pretty affordable, with many developers able to use it for free. They really stirred things up when they announced a new pricing scheme that included per-install fees, which initially would make truly free games unrealistic, but also dramatically increase the costs for indie developers who made an inexpensive game that got popular. Among the controversial pieces were the fee applying to demo or trial versions, and being charged more than once for the same user if they reinstalled the game. Unity back tracked on much of this, but for many developers the damage has been done. The open source game engine Godot had a major release just a few months ago and is extremely promising for indie level games, with a license that won’t bite you in the ass later. They’re not at feature parity with Unity yet but performance and flexibility are both quite good, I’d like to dive deeper into this one in the future for a few projects. For more advanced games, Epic’s Unreal engine is still the real standard. They are continually at the leading edge of performance and features, and while the free tier doesn’t last forever you won’t be paying anything until your game has made a million dollars. Unreal and Godot kind of exist on opposite ends of the free software spectrum but I’d argue they cover all the spaces previously dominated by Unity, and if I were them I’d be pretty scared.
Well those are the highlights from this week. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments! I’ll be posting these videos every Friday, if you’ve got a great project update that should be featured, put it down below and I’ll have a look. Have a great week and we’ll see you next Friday!