Linux in The News 10-17-22

Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by KC7NYR

Pine64 Ox64 is a Raspberry Pi Pico-sized single-board PC with a RISC-V processor (coming in November for $6 and up)

The Pine64 Ox64 is a tiny single-board computer that looks a lot like a Raspberry Pi Pico. But while Raspberry Pi’s tiny board is powered by an RP2040 microcontroller, the Ox64 has a dual-core RISC-V processor, 64MB of embedded RAM, and support for up to 128Mb of flash storage  plus a microSD card for additional storage.

It’s expected to support RTOS and Linux and blurs the lines between a microcontroller and a (very low power) single-board PC. It’s expected to go on sale in November with prices starting at $6 for an RTOS-ready version of the board and $8 for a Linux-compatible model.

As spotted by CNX Software earlier this month, the board is designed to be a small, inexpensive single-board computer with a RISC-V processor that’s aimed at developers.

At the heart of the little computer board is a Bouffalo Lab BL808 processor, which features:

  • 1 x Alibaba T-Head C906 64-bit CPU core @ 480 MHz
  • 1 x Alibaba T-Head E907 32-bit CPU core @ 320 MHz
  • BLAI-100 NPU (AI accelerator)

The little board also supports WiFi 4, Bluetooth 5.0, and 802.15.4 (Zigbee) wireless protocols. The board is designed for use in smart home products, among other things.

The board has two USB Type-C ports: one is for power only and works with a 5V/0.5A power supply, and the other is a USB Type-C OTG port.

There’s also a 26-pin GPIO header with GPOIO, SPI, I2C, I2S, and UART, as well as support for a MIPI CSI camera. Pine64 plans to offer 10/100 Ethernet, audio, and camera adapter boards in the future and notes that the system features H.264 and MJPEG encoders, a JPEG decoder, and an audio subsystem.

Pine64 says an RTOS SDK should be available in October, but getting Linux to run on the board will be a community project – which means that the board might not support Linux-based software at launch, but Pine64 has already begun shipping Ox64 boards to Linux developers and is hopeful that they’ll be able to port the free and open source operating system to run on the board.

The $6 version of the board has 16Mb of flash storage and no microSD card socket, and it’s designed specifically for RTOS. The $8 model has 128Mb of storage and a microSD card socket, and is designed for Linux development.

Both versions are expected to be available in November, 2022.

KDE Plasma 5.26 Is Here with New UI for Smart TVs, Improved Wayland Support, and More

KDE Plasma 5.26

The KDE Project released today KDE Plasma 5.26 as the newest stable series of this acclaimed, modern, and widely-used desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions, mobile devices, and smart TVs.

About four months in the works, KDE Plasma 5.26 is packed with many exciting new features, starting with a new user interface for smart TVs called Plasma Bigscreen. KDE’s new Plasma Bigscreen interface runs on top of either postmarketOS or Manjaro Linux and promises to turn your TV or set-top box (STB) into a fully hackable device.

Plasma Bigscreen features Aura Browser as a new web browser for a fully immersed “Big Screen” experience, as well as Plank Player, a multimedia player for playing local files, both of them being fully controllable with the remote control of your TV or set-top box. Under the hood, Plasma Bigscreen runs on top of Wayland.

Plasma Bigscreen – Image courtesy of KDE Project

Talking about Wayland, the KDE Plasma 5.26 release adds many great changes, including the ability to force the Maliit virtual keyboard to appear when in Touch mode, the ability to adjust the input area maps of a graphics tablet to your screen coordinates, and the ability to disable middle-click paste.

The Plasma Wayland session should now also work better on HiDPI displays by implementing two methods of scaling apps, which now look much better than before. The first one uses a compositor for uniform scaling with blurriness, while the second one is done by the apps themselves using pre-existing X11 HiDPI capabilities to avoid blurriness.

Other big changes in the KDE Plasma 5.26 desktop environment include support for re-bindable mouse buttons for multi-button mice so you can assign buttons to keystrokes or keyboard shortcuts, full-screen reader support for all Plasma widgets, keyboard navigation support in more applets, and a new Compact mode for the Kickoff applications menu that lets you see more items.

Improvements were also brought to the Plasma Discover graphical package manager, which now features support for displaying content ratings of apps, support for changing the frequency of update notifications, a new option to change the name used for submitting an app review, a new ‘Share’ button on an app’s details page to more easily share apps, and the ability to check for free space before updating the system.

The Kickoff applications menu has been updated as well to display text and remove its icon when using a horizontal panel, the Night Color page in System Settings received a new option to let you change the day color too and the ability to use a map to choose a manual location, and the Task Switcher got the ability to sort minimized tasks to be listed after all unminimized tasks.

The Plasma System Monitor app and Plasma widgets of the same name now support querying CPU sensors for minimum, maximum, and average temperature and frequency. Also, it’s now possible to add a keyboard shortcut for activating the Present Windows effect when showing only the windows from the current app on the current workspace.

On top of all that, KDE Plasma 5.26 also adds support for configuring what happens when you activate a window on another workspace, support for setting a default paper size when printing, support for changing the way the system formats addresses, names, and phone numbers, support for Light and Dark wallpapers, and support for using animated images as wallpapers.

But wait, that’s not all, as KDE Plasma 5.26 also brings support for the “Array,” “F5,” and “Fortinet” protocols in the OpenConnect VPN plugin of the Plasma Network manager, the ability for Global Themes to change the order and arrangements of titlebar buttons, support for a wider range of hardware and firmware in the “About This System” page in System Settings, as well as the ability to set an alternate calendar inside the main calendar.

Among other noteworthy changes, KDE Plasma 5.26 adds resize support for the pop-ups of Plasma widgets in the panel from their edges and corners, implements KPipewire as components related to Flatpak ‘pipewire’ use in the Plasma desktop, adds support for filtering windows when typing in the Overview effect, and makes it easier to preview wallpapers just by clicking on them on the desktop.

Of course, there are also numerous bug fixes and performance improvements for a more stable and reliable Plasma desktop experience. Check out the full changelog for more details and keep an eye on the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution for the KDE Plasma 5.26 desktop environment.