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Article from Issue 253/2021
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In the news: Linux Now Runs on Apple's M1 Chipset; MX Linux 21 RC Now Available; Fedora 35 Improves Desktop Performance; Extended Support for Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04; Gnome 41 Adds Desktop Improvements; and Black Lotus Labs Confirms Flaw in Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Linux Now Runs on Apple's M1 Chipset

It seems like only yesterday that a small group of developers began work on porting Linux to the new Apple M1 chipset. The journey was a struggle from day one, given how much proprietary hardware Apple uses. But the work has paid off and Asahi Linux, a community-based project centered around porting a distribution to the Apple M1 chipset, has finally succeeded in getting a usable Linux desktop on the hardware.

The engineers have merged various drivers and bindings for the 5.16 Linux kernel and even managed to work out the pinctrl driver, I2C driver, device power management, NVMe + SART, and DCP. Thanks to those new drivers, M1 Macs are now a viable option for the Linux operating system.

Before you jump on this, understand it's not perfect. Apple uses a proprietary PowerVR-based GPU, so the Linux desktop will come without GPU acceleration. It's also important to know that a proper installer has yet to materialize, which means users outside of the Asahi project are still not able to experience the Linux desktop on the M1 hardware. To that, Hector Martin, the head of the project, says, "Once we have a stable kernel foundation, we will start publishing an 'official' installer that we expect will see more wide usage among the adventurous."

For helping getting started, developers interested in trying out Asahi Linux on M1 hardware can head over to the project's IRC channel (#asahi-dev).

To find out more about Asahi Linux project's progress, check out their official Progress Report (https://asahilinux.org/2021/10/progress-report-september-2021/).

MX Linux 21 RC Now Available

MX Linux (https://mxlinux.org/) is a midweight Linux distribution that aims to be simple and stable. The distribution is available in three different flavors: Xfce, KDE Plasma, and Fluxbox. MX Linux 21 RC is based on Debian 11 (bullseye), which includes all of the latest components and security patches.

All three editions include a new mx-comfort theme, and the developers have worked diligently to clear away as many bugs as possible for the release candidate.

The MX Linux 21 Xfce edition includes the Thunar Shares Plugin for the Thunar file manager (for Samba access) and a default user password for admin tasks. The Fluxbox edition panel now offers preconfigured setups, and the KDE Plasma edition comes with an updated Dolphin file manager (which includes a fix for the "Save desktop changes" crash issue). All three versions benefit from new and updated applications, a new installer partition selection area (which includes some LVM support if an LVM volume already exists), and new UEFI Live system boot menus.

You can download the RC releases with the following links: Xfce (https://sourceforge.net/projects/mx-linux/files/Testing/RC1/Xfce/MX-21_rc1_x64.iso/download), KDE Plasma (https://sourceforge.net/projects/mx-linux/files/Testing/RC1/KDE/MX-21_KDE_RC1_x64.iso/download), and Fluxbox (https://sourceforge.net/projects/mx-linux/files/Testing/RC1/Fluxbox/MX-21_fluxbox_rc1_x64.iso/download).

Read more in the official MX Linux 21 RC release notes (https://mxlinux.org/blog/mx-21-release-candidate-1-now-available-for-testing-purposes/).

Fedora 35 Improves Desktop Performance

While Fedora 35 might not include the same level of game-changing, workflow-enhancing features found in Fedora 34 (thanks to Gnome 40), there's plenty to be excited about in this new Fedora iteration.

One of the more notable changes comes by way of improvements to the NVidia proprietary driver. Red Hat has been working diligently to help improve the NVidia/Wayland stack support, and the changes in Fedora 35 should go a long way to improve desktop performance across the board.

Fedora 35 also brings high-resolution mouse wheel support that will provide a much smoother wheel-scrolling experience. This change comes by way of the work done on libinput. The distribution also recently shifted from PulseAudio to PipeWire, and the system will see much maturation in this upcoming release.

Gnome will also add a "kiosk" mode, which can be applied to various use cases (such as info boards and POS machines). The user interface has been tweaked with the addition of the Libadwaita theme and power profiles are even more accessible.

Fedora Kinoite (https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Changes/Fedora_Kinoite) is another very interesting addition. This new Fedora variant is an immutable desktop operating system similar to Fedora Silverblue (https://silverblue.fedoraproject.org/) but based on the KDE Plasma desktop. The Silverblue project aims to be an extremely stable and reliable desktop and is an excellent platform for developers and container-focused workflows.

To get an idea of how the release is shaping up, download a daily build of Fedora 35 (https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora/linux/development/rawhide/Workstation/x86_64/iso/).

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