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Article from Issue 208/2018

Dell kickstarts 2018 with a brand new Linux laptop, Linus Torvalds rips Intel for meltdown and Spectre flaws, LibreOffice-based CODE 3.0 released, Google announces Kubeflow to bring Kubernetes to machine learning, and a critical flaw in phpMyAdmin. 

Dell Kickstarts 2018 with a Brand New Linux Laptop

Dell is one of the only major PC vendors that sells Linux preloaded systems. The company has announced a brand new laptop from the XPS 13 family that runs Ubuntu Linux. The 7th generation XPS 13 Developer Edition (9370) is powered by Intel's 8th generation Quad Core processor and features a brand new chassis and a new display.

These machines are a result of Project Sputnik, which started back in 2012 and celebrated its 5th anniversary last year.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition features 8th Generation Intel Quad Core, i5 (US and Canada only), and i7 versions. It comes with three different configurations for memory – 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB Dual Channel SDRAM. Users can get up to 1TB of storage. The system also comes with a choice of the UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) InfinityEdge touch display or the FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display. It comes with a USB Type C port for transfer and two Thunderbolt 3 ports with PowerShare, DC-In, and DisplayPort. It also has a built in SD card reader.

Dell's engineering teams work with partners to develop drivers for supported Linux distributions. These machines comes with the LTS release of Ubuntu and offer a complete out-of-the-box experience with full support for touch screen. Although Ubuntu is the officially supported OS, users can wipe the hard drive and install any OS of their choice without worrying about the hardware warranty.

High demand for the system means that Dell is also making it available in some European countries, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland (French and German), Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Linus Torvalds Rips Intel for Meltdown and Spectre Flaws

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, is not known for mincing words when it comes to core technology. The world is still recovering from the shock waves of Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, which affect almost every platform, including Intel, AMD, and ARM64. The news just broke that SPARC is also affected.

Out of all these companies, Intel gets the most criticism. Intel is the dominant player, so their chips dominate the market, which means more affected users. The company knew about the vulnerabilities for months. More than one team of researchers found the flaw and informed Intel about it. What's the possibility that it was also known to spy agencies and state-sponsored hackers?

Intel is facing the public's wrath, and its CEO sold all of his stock in the company (which is allowed by the bylaws) before the vulnerability went public.

However, Torvalds is concerned about only one thing: technology. Torvalds wrote in on the Linux kernel mailing list:

"I think somebody inside of Intel needs to really take a long hard look at their CPUs and actually admit that they have issues instead of writing PR blurbs that say that everything works as designed.

.. and that really means that all these mitigation patches should be written with "not all CPUs are crap" in mind.

Or is Intel basically saying "we are committed to selling you shit forever and ever, and never fixing anything"?

Because if that's the case, maybe we should start looking towards the ARM64 people more.

Please talk to management. Because I really see exactly two possibilities:

– Intel never intends to fix anything


– These workarounds should have a way to disable them.

Which of the two is it?"

Many kernel developers have refrained from sharing their views on the subject because they either work for Intel or an Intel partner, so it's great to see Torvalds openly talking about it.

LibreOffice-Based CODE 3.0 Released

Collabora Productivity, a UK-based company that offers a cloud-based LibreOffice solution, has announced the release of CODE 3.0.

CODE is the community version of LibreOffice Online, which is available free to anyone who wants to run LibreOffice in their own cloud. In a press release, Collabora Productivity stated, "CODE is the LibreOffice Online solution with the latest developments, perfect for home users that want to integrate their own online Office Suite with their preferred File Share and Sync solution. It allows editing of richly formatted documents directly from a web browser, with excellent support for all popular office file formats, including text documents (docx, doc, odt, …), spreadsheets (xlsx, xls, ods, …), and presentations (pptx, ppt, odp, …)."

Michael Meeks, general manager of Collabora Productivity, told us that 3.0 is an interesting release in which they have started to bring parts of the rich LibreOffice functionality to the browser. Combined with collaboration, it's easy to deploy and powerful to use. "In the Office world, people have a choice of any two of feature-depth, collaboration, or web deployment. We're starting to provide all three," said Meeks.

CODE 3.0 comes with many new features, including full-feature editing dialog, as seen in the desktop version of LibreOffice. The main purpose of CODE is to provide users early access to the very latest feature additions and updates to LibreOffice Online, to enable them to develop, test to make it better, and contribute back to LibreOffice.

Collabora sells a CODE-based commercial version called Collabora Online.

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