October 21st, 2020
A new Pi Compute Module lands, and ODROID unveils a toaster-style NAS. Updates for Trisquel and Firefox, and a new storage and compute platform from iXsystems. IBM racks up another weak quarter, a surprise or two from Microsoft, and more.
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Eben Upton has unveiled a new Pi Compute Module, based on the core of the Raspberry Pi 4. The project's Compute Modules package the CPU and supporting hardware into a smaller form factor than normal Raspberry Pi boards, and have proved so popular with industrial customers that they now account for half of all of the Pi hardware sold annually. While previous versions of the Compute Module were designed to mount into industry standard SODIMM sockets, the new Module adopts a more compact footprint — which will allow for its use in physically smaller applications, but demand some reengineering from existing adopters. The new board is available in thirty-two different variants, allowing the customer to specify exactly how much on-board storage, RAM, and so on that they'd like to purchase — and a separate external antenna kit can be bought to boost signal strength for projects that house Modules in metal cases, or in areas of weak reception. Developers and prototypers can also buy a new IO board that was launched alongside the updated Compute Module, which exposes all of the interfaces on the board through standard-size connectors — and which for the first time brings a dedicated PCI Express socket to the platform. And while the new Compute Module will no doubt prove a hit with its intended audience, the week also brought some good news for hobbyist Pi 4 users. The Vulkan driver for the platform that's been under development now implements the full Vulkan 1.0 API, and has been merged into the upstream Mesa project — so it'll now be easier to access by regular users, and also by developers looking to help add some final polish to the driver.
• Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 on sale now from $25
• Vulkan update: merged to Mesa
Version 9 of Trisquel has been released. The distribution is one of only a handful that receives the blessing of the FSF as respecting your software freedom, and is available with the MATE, LXDE, and KDE desktop environments. Based on Ubuntu LTS releases, the project aims to push out a new version around six months after its parent — but has consistently failed to do so. The previous version of Trisquel didn't appear until almost two years after Ubuntu 16.04 landed, and the latest release has stretched that timeframe even further — with its rebasing to Ubuntu 18.04 having taken fully 30 months. And while the applications included with the distro benefit from the LTS lifetime of its parent, out of the box Trisquel 9 ships with version 4.15 of the Linux kernel — which is already woefully out of date, and not even one of the kernel project's longterm maintenance releases. With that all said, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Trisquel on older hardware, as it provides a sane and traditional desktop experience, a sensible selection of out-of-the-box software, and a more privacy-focused version of Firefox than Mozilla currently provides.
• Trisquel 9.0 "Etiona" release announcement, and 10.0 plans
• [Old] Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas released
• Active kernel releases
And speaking of Firefox, version 82 of Mozilla's browser has been released. The update is a fairly minor one, but improves control over picture-in-picture video playback for desktop users, and Mozilla claims that code changes will see the new version gaining speedups in several areas.
• Firefox 82 release notes
In other browser news, Microsoft has officially launched its development preview program for Edge on Linux. The company is initially providing deb packages to support Debian and Ubuntu, and RPMs for Fedora and openSUSE, with new builds planned to be available on a weekly basis. While early preview versions won't support anything other than local user accounts, Microsoft is promising to implement additional sign-on options, and support for features like account syncing, in future preview releases.
• Introducing Microsoft Edge preview builds for Linux
Let's round off today's corporate news with an update from iXsystems. While the company was announcing a new range of storage appliances that could be appealing in a variety of settings from remote office through to datacenter use, it also unveiled the alpha release of a new Debian-based software platform named TrueNAS SCALE. As well as offering the usual scale-out ZFS storage support that iXsystems is well known for, the platform, which is slated to launch next year, will also provide converged compute capability — with support for KVM virtual machines, Kubernetes, and Docker containers, along with a fully-integrated suite of management tools.
• iXsystems Expands TrueNAS Product Line with R-Series Systems and Scale-out HCI Software
But if your data storage needs are slightly more modest, then a new toaster-style network-attached storage product from ODROID might be more appealing. The case of the new device features a power jack, micro-SD slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB and HDMI ports on its rear, and allows you to drop two SATA hard drives or SSDs into vertical slots on its top — just like you would with a regular bread toaster. The unusual design helps with cooling and lets you easily swap drives in and out of the case, and the new ODROID NAS will be available to buy from next week, starting at $65.
• New Home-Cloud platform : ODROID-HC4