NEWS

PinePhone Now Offers a Convergence Package

Although the Linux PinePhone is still not ready for primetime, the company behind the product have upped the ante with a hardware add-on that makes it possible to turn that Linux-powered mobile platform into a full-blown desktop.

The new Convergence Package is a limited edition option that makes use of the PostmarketOS, which is based on the Alpine Linux distribution that includes both mobile and desktop modes. In order to make this work, the PinePhone uses a docking station with two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and a 10/100Mbps ethernet port.

Because PostmarketOS is still in alpha development, it cannot be considered ready for consumer usage, however the core functionality (phone, SMS, LTE, GPS, GPU acceleration) are all operational.

The Convergence Package phone specs aren't going to wow anyone (especially if you're looking for a flagship device). You'll find an Allwin A64 chipset, a 64-bit Quad-core 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A-53 CPU, a MALI-400MP2 GPU, 32GB of internal storage, 3GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, a micro SD Card slot (which supports up to 2TB of storage), a single 5MP main camera and a 2MP selfie camera.

The Convergence Package sells for $199 and is up for pre-order now (https://store.pine64.org/product/pinephone-community-edition-postmarketos-with-convergence-package-limited-edition-linux-smartphone/). According to Pine64 (https://www.pine64.org/2020/07/15/july-updatepmos-ce-pre-orders-and-new-pinephone-version/), they are not yet certain if this package will become a regular offering, or if it will remain a limited edition.

Flutter Is Coming to Linux

Google's open source UI framework for building Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps has added another platform … Linux. And with over 500,000 developers working with Flutter (and over 80,000 apps built with the framework), this could mean a boon for apps on Linux.

But that's not all. Canonical (the creators and maintainers of Ubuntu) have dedicated developers to the task. In fact, Ken VanDine, Canonical engineering manager, said this of the move:

Canonical is making a significant investment in Flutter by dedicating a team of developers to work alongside Google's developers to bring the best Flutter experience to the majority of Linux distributions. Canonical will continue to collaborate with Google to further improve Linux support and maintain feature parity with the other supported platforms.

From Google's end, they've done extensive work to the Flutter engine, to better provide a native desktop experience, no matter the operating system.

One aspect of Flutter that makes it especially important for developers is that apps won't need to be built for specific desktops. Using Google's Dart language, developers can code an application once and it should (thanks to Flutter) work on mobile devices and desktops. And with companies like Google, Capital One, Square, eBay, BMW, and SONOS already working with Flutter … the future certainly looks bright for the Linux desktop.

For more information, check out Canonical's official announcement (https://ubuntu.com/blog/canonical-enables-linux-desktop-app-support-with-flutter).

SUSE Rolls Out Service Pack 2 for SLE

The latest iteration of the flagship operating system from SUSE has been unleashed. SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 2 is now available, along with SUSE Manager  4.1. This release brings along with it a number of important features and improvements for the enterprise-ready platform.

On the Cloud front, SLE 15 SP2 makes it easier to benefit from hyperscalers using updated cloud images for Alibaba, Azure, AWS, Google, IBM, and Oracle. With SP2 you can also deploy large-scale HPC systems in AWS and support is now provided for the Elastic Fabric Adapter and Graviton2 CPUs.

With SLE 15 SP2, users are able to migrate from openSUSE Leap to the enterprise-grade platform (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server). This new option is a "try before you buy" rollout, so users can test SLES and then, if they deem it worthy, can purchase a license.

Other features include: Extended Zypper package search; SLE Software Development Kit is now integrated, such that development packages are automatically installed; Python 3 is installed by default; LDAP and OpenLDAP have been replaced by the 389 Directory Server; the Subscription Management Tool has been replaced by the Repository Mirroring Tool; and SLE Live Patching is now available for the IBM  Z and LinuxONE platforms.

The latest release of SLE is based on the Linux 5.3 kernel and is available on X86  64, Arm, IBM Power, IBM Z, and LinuxONE hardware architectures.

For more information, see the SUSE general availability listing for SLE 15 SP 2 (https://www.suse.com/c/suse-linux-enterprise-15-service-pack-2-is-generally-available/).

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