Weekly Update: 2019-08-04 to 2019-08-10

PINEBOOK Pro Pre-Orders

Specs look great. Six core (big.little), 4GB lpddr4, 1080p ips, magnesium alloy chassis, 64GB eMMC (and PCIe x4 to m.2 NVMe), HD video via USB-C, USB 2 and 3 host ports, USB-C (data, power and video), stereo speakers, 802.11ac
bluetooth 5.0, headphone/mic, camera - $200.

How can I NOT buy one of these?

Librem 5 Smartphone Specs Released

The specs obviously cannot compete with high volume android based phones, which cost half the price. But the dream of a truly linux based smartphone is just too good to pass up. I cannot wait for the reviews.


Huawei unveils HarmonyOS

After the possibility of losing access to US tech (from the Trump executive order, block communication tech built by companies deemed controleld by foreign adversaries) of course they were working on an alternative. This will be a single platform for smart devices (TV, watch, etc) that can also be used on phones, if necessary. Also a single IDE to build apps across different devices. My assumption is that the goal will be to move away from Android and their reliance on Google, regardless of what happens.

Watercolor Illustrations of Tokyo

Wonderful watercolor paintings by a polish artist, Mateusz Urbanowicz, living in Tokyo. One book was Tokyo Storefronts these beautiful, detailed watercolors of Tokyo storefronts. The other is Tokyo at Night, which perfectly depicts the wonderful, quiet, calm feeling of walking Tokyo streets at night.

I purchased Tokyo Nights (via, which is a process) and looking forward to the release of his second book.

Japan’s Ministry Approves Shipments of Industrial Chemicals to South Korea

The first sign of some easing of tensions between Japan and South Korea. The backstory really goes back hundreds of years, but the most recent tit-for-tat started with a South Korean court ruling last year that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation for forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule. The problem is, this was supposedly settled with a 1965 pact which restored their diplmatic relationship. This could open the door for billions of dollars being paid to South Koreans. It also means that South Korea might sieze money from Japanese companies operating in South Korea.

So Japan responded with this restriction on exporting these chemicals that are essential to high-tech manufacturing in South Korea. Of course Japan cannot claim its in retaliation (that would be a trade violation, which is exactly what South Korea is claiming to the WTO) but instead claimed it was because South Korea was violating trade sanctions with North Korea.

These two countries really have been uneasy partners for a long time, and it is really sad to see this breakdown in their relationship. I really hope they can find some amicable way to move back towards cooperation.

Red Had Joins the RISC-V Foundation


Linux Journal Ceases Publication

Really sorry to see this finally come to an end.


Lots of coverage and the general consensus is that in many, many workloads, EPYC is delivering significantly better performance at significantly lower cost. This isn’t a small improvement, it’s huge. The EPYC 7742 is designed to compete with Intel 8280. This is 64c/128t vs Intel’s 28c/56t. So more than twice as many cores/threads but costs just $6,950 compared to $10,000 for the 8280. The Phoronix benchmarks (below) show it crushing Intel in not only total performance but also in dollar:performance. It does lose in some Intel specific benchmarks (like running Intel’s SVT-HEVC encoder) and slightly in some single threaded tests. In some workloads the AMD CPU is literally twice as fast.

I think put it well:

So has AMD done the unthinkable? Beaten Intel by such a large margin that there is no contest? For now, based on our preliminary testing, that is the case. The launch of AMD’s second generation EPYC processors is nothing short of historic, beating the competition by a large margin in almost every metric: performance, performance per watt and performance per dollar.

North Korea Took $2 Billion in Cyberattacks To Fund Weapons Program

Looks like mostly from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges. They are surprisingly sophisticated.

Final Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Version Released

RHEL 7.7 is now available for subscribers. Coming to an end of an era, but looking forward to the next 10 years of RHEL 8 (for me, mostly CentOS 8). I started using Red Hat based distros with Red Hat 4.0 and never looked back. CentOS on servers and Fedora on the desktop, once it became avaialble (as Fedora Core 1, still have an old laptop running Fedora Core 2 that I boot up ocassionally just to play with). I have to admit that I do run Arch on my laptop and I have run and do run various other distros, especially obviously in containers.

Four Seasons of Flowers Appear to Blossom and Wither in a Responsive Installation by teamLab

Breathtaking art installation by teamLab.

The beauty of Japan’s lonely vending machines

Vending machines are a mainstay of Japanese culture. There are over 5.5 million in the country — one for every 23 people, the highest ratio in the world. They’re ubiquitous and almost always outdoors, making them immediately stand out to anyone visiting Japan. They sell nearly everything — including some rather peculiar items. Most are stocked with hot and cold drinks. Some have funny English names, like "Pocari Sweat" or "Calpis Water." At night, rather than switching off, the machines come to life with vibrant colors and bright lights. Photographer Eiji Ohashi has spent years photographing them across Japan in the dead of the night, and now he has brought the images together in a book titled "Roadside Lights."

Terminating Service for 8Chan

Good riddance. What a bizarre story.