Open-source News

Weston 11.0 Alpha Released With Many Improvements For This Wayland Compositor

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 21:10
Weston 11.0 Alpha is out as the newest feature milestone for this reference Wayland compositor that has seen quite an uptick in development activity this year...

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 5965WX Benchmarks Show Some Speedups With Linux 6.0 Git

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 18:50
With AMD EPYC showing some nice gains on Linux 6.0, I've been eager to begin testing Linux 6.0 on more systems especially now that the v6.0 merge window is winding down... With now having the shiny new AMD Ryzen Threadripper 5965WX, I decided to take this high-end 24-core chip for a run with Linux 6.0 Git to see how it performs over Linux 5.19 stable...

Linux 6.0 Adds EFI Mirrored Memory & ACPI PRM For 64-bit Arm

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 18:06
The EFI changes were merged last week for the Linux 6.0 cycle and contain two notable improvements on the ARM64 side...

IPFS Supported In FFmpeg 5.1, IPFS Devs Envision Support In More Open-Source Projects

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 17:45
IPFS as the "InterPlanetary File-System" protocol for peer-to-peer network support in decentralized file sharing as a distributed file-system is now supported with FFmpeg 5.1. IPFS developers at Protocol Labs are also looking at expanding support for this protocol to other open-source projects...

Linux 6.0 Continues Plumbing For Compute Express Link (CXL)

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 17:29
The Linux kernel continues making preparations around the very exciting Compute Express Link (CXL) thanks to the work of Intel engineers...

Linux 6.0 Brings NFSD Improvements For Courteous Server, Greater Cache Scalability

Phoronix - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 17:15
The NFS server improvements have been merged for the ongoing Linux 6.0 merge window...

Our favorite Linux replacements for antiquated open source tools - Wed, 08/10/2022 - 15:00
Our favorite Linux replacements for antiquated open source tools Wed, 08/10/2022 - 03:00 1 reader likes this 1 reader likes this

Here at, we thought it would be interesting to survey some of our authors to get a feel for what tools they feel are antiquated (but perhaps still useful!) and what they think of the replacement utilities. What follows is a series of responses and a bit of fun, too.

We sent out the following prompt:

  • Have you discovered some of your favorite tools have become outdated or deprecated? Or maybe you just switched it up for something new?
  • What do you use now? Tell us a little about how you feel it is helpful to have made the switch.

A biggie for me is iptables. I sweated blood learning how to use iptables, and ebtables, and arptables, and how to manipulate MAC addresses, and more. I built dozens of firewalls around scripts to set up rulesets, and I eventually got pretty good at it. Now nftables makes all that obsolete. The fun never stops. I still think somebody with marketing clout could make software-defined boundaries work. —Greg Scott

+1 on iptables

I have been using iptables since I first learned Linux 25+ years ago. The newest tool is firewalld, but that and all other firewall tools I have seen for Red Hat-based distros are still based on and wrap around the kernel-level netfilter modules. I find the firewalld tool creates huge sets of rules that don't do anything more for me than the older iptables. I am sure some large environments need those complex rulesets, but they could also be implemented using iptables or scripts like Greg's.

I do like nmcli, but it is taking me some time to learn it. In fact, I prefer it to the old ifcfg and ip commands. It feels more integrated into the system than the older ones. But I do like the older ifcfg- interface configuration files. Those are easy to create and understand. They don't require the INI-style format that requires section headers. In fact, the old-style files are not even sequence sensitive. —David Both


To further underscore this example, are you sure you weren't using ipchains back then? (The ipfirewall and ipfwadm successor, ipchains wasn't supplanted by iptables until around 2001.) —Jeremy Stanley

In response to Jeremy. ^^

My very first firewall was ipchains, circa late 1999. Everything after that was iptables. Back then, I had to build my own kernel to get all the netfilter modules I needed. Modern conveniences like flat-panel monitors and DSL were science fiction in those days. And don't even think about fiber. I had to ride a horse uphill through blizzards every day to visit customers. And then it was uphill back home, too. —Greg Scott

More Linux resources Linux commands cheat sheet Advanced Linux commands cheat sheet Free online course: RHEL technical overview Linux networking cheat sheet SELinux cheat sheet Linux common commands cheat sheet What are Linux containers? Our latest Linux articles Text editing

I just have to ask—who's still using troff (groff) and who has moved on to... hmm, shall we say, LibreOffice or AsciiDoctor or...?

I have a dear friend who continues with a troff-based product on his Sun SPARCStation V. —Chris Hermansen

[ Related read Old-school technical writing with groff ]

Editing man pages

^^ In response to Chris

Anyone maintaining man pages! Though lots of people are probably generating those from other markup these days. Some folks (like me) do still compose or edit the troff files directly instead. —Jeremy Stanley

Markup stacks

There are always people who use older things, but there are superior tools nowadays. I wouldn't use LibreOffice for the kind of stuff you'd use troff/groff for—if you are writing at that level, you probably depend on a text editor you know well, source-control for managing your inputs, and you are comfortable with markup languages.

That means you want to use a markup stack. There are many, including:

  • Sphinx + ReST + GitHub Actions + GitHub Pages
  • MkDocs + Markdown + GitLab CI + GitLab Pages
  • Nikola + Jupyter Notebooks + Jenkins + (AWS S3 + CloudFront)

What is common to all the stacks is:

  • A thing that pulls different input files into one coherent whole (Sphinx/MkDocs/Nikola)
  • A reasonably high-level text markup language (ReST/Markdown/MD embedded in Jupyter Notebooks)
  • A CI pipeline to transform those into the output format (usually a tree of HTML files, but sometimes a PDF or something)
  • A place where people can download the published version (GitHub Pages, GitLab Pages, AWS S3 + CloudFront)

I'll note that these are pretty much orthogonal choices. Any reasonable generator can take any input (even MkDocs, for which it is least true, has the mkdocs-gen-files plugin so you can use Pandoc to convert stuff to Markdown). Any reasonable CI can run any generator and push to any target.

So even with the list above, there are 81 stacks available.

(Sphinx/MkDocs/Nikola) x (ReST/Markdown/Jupyter Notebooks) x (GHA/GitLab CI/Jenkins) x (GHP/GLP/S3+CF)

Because Pandoc understands troff (ms/man), you can plug troff+ms or troff+man into the "markup" slot if you really want to. You can probably install Jenkins on the Sun SPARCStation V and keep using the same machine and format. But why? :)

There's probably an article for OSDC there: "How I converted troff docs to a modern stack using mkdocs+mkdocs-gen-files and GitLab CI." —Moshe Zadka

Other groff examples

Actually, I'm writing an article right now about "Old school technical writing with groff" (part of a larger series I'm writing about tech writing tools). I don't use groff for serious tech writing, but it's in my toolkit of things I learned and will probably never forget. And I review groff when I teach "Writing with Digital Technologies."

While writing the article, I recalled that when I installed Linux in 1993, there weren't any writing apps on Linux. No word processors, just groff and LaTeX. I used LaTeX to write my physics lab reports (because it could do math easily) and groff to write papers for other classes (because I could opt to print to a line printer instead, which I thought was a clever way to make my paper look longer). If I wanted to write with a word processor, I had to dual-boot back to DOS to run WordPerfect or Galaxy Write. StarOffice came out for Linux in 1996. I bought StarOffice.

Interestingly, Brian Kernighan still writes all his books in groff. "Unix: A History and a Memoir" (2020) and "Understanding the Digital World" (2021) were both completely processed in groff. —Jim Hall

Revisiting the fmt command

I use the fmt command a lot these days. It's really handy for a ton of stuff. If you write Readme documentation (or other docs) in plain text, you know the pain when you insert some new text in the middle of a line, and then the lines don't end at the same column. You can run fmt to clean that up.

More commonly, I'm on an email list where list members prefer to receive emails in plain text, so my email client is set for plain text most of the time. If I need to reply to someone's list email (and they didn't send it in plain text), a paragraph is usually just one long line, and my email client doesn't correctly line-wrap when I reply. It's just > at the start of a long sentence.

So I do this:

$ fmt -p '>' > /tmp/f
{copy & paste ">" quoted text}

And then:

$ cat /tmp/f

And then copy and paste the result into my email. —Jim Hall

Changes to bootloaders

Just when your foo is sufficiently sharp, there are reasonable odds the tools will be replaced.

LILO to GRUB was painful until my GRUB-foo reached a sufficient level. GRUB2 is awesome, but a new learning curve.

Muscle memory is also an issue — ipconfig, nslookup, and netstat are on auto-pilot. Plus, if you're using other Linux environments, like Tiny Core Linux, you might not always have the latest and greatest tools.

Switching from if-cfg-style scripts to nmcli is the new learning curve, so this never really ends. —Steven Ellis

[ Related read 6 deprecated Linux commands and the tools you should be using instead ]

Quick FIPS set up

Often things change for the better; my two cents. The question was asked, Have you discovered some of your favorite tools have become outdated or deprecated? Or maybe you just switched it up for something new?

A colleague recently asked me how to enable FIPS on Linux, and it's something I had not done in a while. I remember how arcane this process was, which involved enabling a repo, installing a package (dracut-fips), running commands (dracut) to regenerate initramfs, modifying the GRUB bootloader config file (fips=1), etc.

Also, What do you use now? Tell us a little about how you feel it is helpful to have made the switch.

Luckily on RHEL9, the above has been replaced by the fips-mode-setup command with two handy flags, --check and --setup. That's it! Run those commands, reboot the system, and your machine boots up with FIPS enabled. Super easy! —Gaurav Kamathe

Old and comfortable

Clearly, both the fun of open source and the strong opinions are still present, as is the variety of tools and the freedom to choose what works best for you. Perhaps these tools and others like them are old—even antiquated—but they may still serve a purpose. Some of these older utilities inspired more modern solutions without losing their own inherent value. Finally, there's something to be said for user comfort and familiarity. With open source, all those hours spent developing your foo need not be lost just because some vendor decided it was time for a new release.

We asked our community of contributors what open source tools they are using in place of those that feel outdated or antiquated.

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