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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 19 declined, 6 accepted (25 total, 24.00% accepted)

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Submission + - Open-source GPU could push computing power to the next level

Theovon writes: For quite some time now, "open hardware" enthusiasts have had access to a number open source CPUs, including OpenRISC. However, it wasn’t until recently that there has been any kind of open source GPU. In 2014, the Vertical Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced MIAOW. MIAOW is in many ways a clone of the AMD Southern Islands architecture and can even run some of the same binary code. Unfortunately, MIAOW is missing some key components such as video and memory systems, making it not currently possible to implement fully in hardware. For this, Nyuzi comes to the rescue. Nyuzi (formerly Nyami) has been in development since 2010 and is a fully functional open source GPU inspired by Larrabee. Although architecturally different from the SIMT architectures from AMD and Nvidia, researchers at Binghamton University and several other places have already used it to conduct research on GPUs. A paper was published in March 2015 about this processor (one of the authors was the original founder of the Open Graphics Project), and Nyuzi (homepage) can be downloaded from github.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Any really good texts on evolutionary details? 3

Theovon writes: To me, that we evolved from earlier life forms is a straightforward conclusion. We have mountains of evidence, and current theories are sound given that data. But I'm not a biologist, so I find it a challenge to get access to much of that data. I'm looking for a single coherent tome (or maybe multivolume set) of biological data used to develop specific theories of evolution of many ancient and modern family trees. I don't want mere drawings of fossils in sequence like in a high school textbook. I want to see photographs of the original fossils, along with data about geologic strata, measurements of numerous morphological features, and explanations of the lines of reasoning that lead to particular conclusions. Sections on DNA analysis would be great too, along with any other interesting lines of evidence. The conclusions that scientists draw are fascinating, and I'd like to dig deeper into the data they started from. Would the slashdot crowd be able to help me find a top example of such a resource?

Submission + - 'Something is deeply broken in OS X memory management' (osnews.com)

Theovon writes: Ever since Apple released Lion, countless users have been complaining about performance problems, even on top-of-the-line hardware. OSX point releases have been coming out, but this issue has remained completely unaddressed by Apple, as per their usual "it's not our fault" approach to their mistakes. Well, some researchers have been investigating this. Perhaps Apple will finally take notice. The original article is here, and the OSNews article is here.

Submission + - Pampers Dry Max diapers, chemical burns

Theovon writes: Despite the self-deprecating jokes, many of us slashdotters do indeed have the social skills to find mates and have children. This is why articles like the recent one on delayed umbilical cord cutting are of interest to us. Well, here's another one for us parents, something my week-old daughter is experiencing first-hand. Procter and Gamble is putting their heads in the sand and denying all responsibility in response to a spate of reports that the most recent version of their "Dry Max" diapers are causing severe rashes that appear to be chemical burns. There are articles all over the place, with questions and blogs and even P&G's lame response trying to suggest that it's a mere coincidence that rashes are increasing at the same time that their new diapers came out. The feds are investigating, and hopefully, there will be a recall soon. My little girl's rash isn't quite as severe as what I've been reading about, since we caught it early and are using liberal amounts of Desitin. We're accustomed to seeing corporate greed stand in the way of product quality, every one of us who is forced to use Microsoft products. But it's one thing to lose some work. It's entirely another when helpless babies are physically injured by a product that we're supposed to trust, and even worse when the manufacturer tries to tell us that we're the ones at fault.

Submission + - Linux Not Quite Ready for New 4K-sector Drives (osnews.com)

Theovon writes: We've seen a few stories recently about the new Western Digital Green drives, including this one on slashdot. According to WD, their new 4096-byte sector drives are problematic for Windows XP users but not Linux or most other OS's. There's an article on OS News that suggests that Linux users should not be complacent about this, because not all the Linux tools like fdisk have caught up. The result is a reduction in write throughput by a factor of 3.3 across the board (a 230% overhead) when 4096-byte clusters are misaligned to 4096-byte physical sectors by one or more 512-byte logical sectors. The author does some benchmarks to demonstrate this. Also, from the comments on the article, it appears that even parted is not ready since by default, it aligns to "cylinder" boundaries, which are not physical cylinder boundaries and are multiples of 63.

Submission + - OGP releases video of VGA emulator booting (osnews.com) 1

Theovon writes: "Slashdot hasn't seen much news about the Open Graphics Project for some time now, but the OGP has been quite busy, especially recently. As you may recall, the OGP's goal is to develop a fully open-source graphics card. All specs, designs, and source code are released under Free licenses. Right now, they're using FPGAs (large-scale reprogrammable chips) to build a development platform that they call OGD1. And they've just completed an alpha version of legacy VGA emulation, apparently not an easy feat. They have posted a Youtube video of OGD1 driving a monitor, showing Gentoo booting up in a PC. This completes a major step, allowing OGD1 to act as the primary display in an x86 PC. The announcement can be seen on the OGP home page, and there's an OSNews.com article. Finally, the Free Software Foundation has taken notice of this and is asking for volunteers to help with the OGP wiki."

Submission + - Dedicated compute box: Persistent terminals?

Theovon writes: I just built an expensive high-end quad-core Linux PC, dedicated for number-crunching. Its job is to sit in the corner with no keyboard, mouse, or monitor and do nothing but compute (genetic algorithms, neural nets, and other research). My issue is that I would like to have something like persistent terminal sessions.

I've considered using Xvnc in a completely headless configuration (some useful documentation here, here, here, and here). However, for most of my uses, this is overkill. Total waste of memory and compute time. However, if I decided to run FPGA synthesis software under WINE, this will become necessary. Unfortunately, I can't quite figure out how to get persistent X11 session where I'm automatically logged in (or can stay logged in), while maintaining enough security that I don't mind opening the VNC port on my firewall (with a changed port number, of course). I'm also going to check out Xpra, but I've only just heard about it and have no idea how to use it.

For the short term, the main need is just terminals. I'd like to be able to connect and see how something is going. One option is to just run things with nohup and then login and "tail -f" to watch the log file. I've also heard of screen, but I'm also unfamiliar with that.

Have other slashdot users encountered this situation? What did you use? What's hard, what's easy, and what works well?

Submission + - Upgrading to Ubuntu Edgy Eft: "Nightmare"

Theovon writes: It's only been two days since the announcement of the official release of Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft), and the fallout has been very interesting to watch. By and large, fresh installs of Edgy tend to go well. A few problems here and there, especially with installation of closed-source ATI and nVidia drivers, but for the most part things have been smooth. Many people report improved performance over Dapper, improved stability, better device support, etc. A good showing. But what I find really interesting is the debacle that it has been for people who wanted to do an "upgrade" from Dapper (6.06). Installing OS upgrades has historically been fraught with problems, but previous Ubuntu releases, many other Linux distros, and MacOS X have done surprisingly well in the recent past. But not Edgy. Reports are flooding into Ubuntu's Installation & Upgrades forum from people having myriad problems with their upgrades. One user described it as a nightmare. Users are producing detailed descriptions of problems but getting little help. This thread has mixed reports and is possibly the most interesting read. Many people report that straight-forward upgrades of relatively mundane systems go well, but anything the least bit interesting seems not to have been accounted for, like software RAID, custom kernels, and Opera. Even the official upgrade method doesn't work for everyone, including crashes of the upgrade tool in the middle of installing, leaving systems unbootable, no longer recognizing devices (like the console keyboard!), reduced performance, X server crashes, wireless networking problems, the user password no longer working, numerous broken applications, and many even stranger things. Some of this is fairly subjective, with Kubuntu being a bit more problematic than Ubuntu, with reports that Xubuntu seems to have the worst problems, and remote upgrades are something you don't even want to try. Failed upgrades invariably require a complete reinstall. The conclusion from the street, about upgrading to Edgy, is a warning: If you're going to try to take the plunge, be sure to make a backup image of your boot partition before starting the upgrade. Your chances of having the upgrade be a total failure are high. If you're really dead-set on upgrading, you'll save yourself a lot of time and headache by backing up all of your personal files manually and doing a fresh install (don't forget to save your bookmarks!).

Submission + - Decimated in the 1920's, chestnut trees return

Theovon writes: "Back in the 1920's a blight all but completely wiped out Chestnut trees in the United States. As such, my uncle's 1100-tree chestnut farm is a rare sight indeed. From the article, "... someone found a single tree in Ohio that the blight did not kill ..., crossed it with the Chinese chestnut, resulting in a nut with the characteristics of the Chinese variety but with the larger nut of the American tree." The article goes on to describe some interesting things about chestnuts themselves, such as the spiny burr that they grow in on the tree."

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.