LWDW 270: Eye In Your Pi

System76 takes a crack at the Linux Desktop, support for the Apple M1 is headed to kernel 5.13, ARCH gets a fancy new installer, and a Pie powered webcam made of nightmares.



00:00 Intro
08:13 System76 Cosmic
13:23 M1 support in Kernel 5.13
15:43 MXLinux is popular?
20:08 Arch guilded installer
23:48 Open-source Pinephone modem
26:53 Xscreensaver 6.0
30:58 Self hosted watch party
34:53 Vulkan video
40:33 Eye in your Pi


  • Can I still open a terminal? 
  • The CEO of System76 Carl Richell tweeted this yesterday when asked about which version of GNOME will be used:
    • “3.38 for the 21.04 release then 40 for 21.10. The COSMIC UX is the same for both underlying GNOME versions.”
  • They have a dock and that’s beating the new Gnome right there. 
  • They are…gasp…listening to people. The Gnome devs could learn a lot from that approach. 
  • It feels like a step back for GNOME, then again it’s that step back that has made Cinnamon, Pantheon, and Deepin get as popular as they have.
  • Nothing like putting back features the GNOME project has dropped over the years.
  • Heck, Ubuntu uses GNOME but it comes with 3 or 4 extensions pre-loaded out of the box.
  • System76 says that over 56% of Pop!_OS users surveyed say they use Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel, so that functionality will be included in the settings menu desktop tab.


M1 merged into 5.13

  • Basic boot is best boot. 
  • It’s in next-gen if you’re looking for it. 
  • The framework has been set.
  • Way to go Hector Martin!  This is exciting news :-D


MXLinux <3

  • In this post Jack Wallen examines why MXLinux is the most downloaded Linux distribution on Distrowatch.
  • He describes MXLinux as having a clean desktop with the perfect balance of simplicity and ease of use for the new user, combined with a very configurable desktop for us veterans.
  • And that desktop is XFCE, which is one of the most stable, user friendly and configurable desktops that we at LWDW use and love.
  • MXLinux is one of my favorite distros to install on my older 32 bit machines.
  • It is based on one of my all time favs, the Debian based antiX.
  • It’s not the most downloaded, it’s the #1 on Distrowatch.
  • That’s like saying I’m the best Robocraft player because I got a lot of “Best Player” and “Best Looking” votes at the end of a match.
  • That poor XFCE, what have you done to my boy!?
  • Yeah, nothing against the author but Distrowatch does not equal most downloaded desktop distro. 
  • It measures the popularity of that distro’s page on distrowatch.com.


Gilded ARCH

  • For the two people not running Manjaro. 
  • My favorite Arch based distro is EndeavourOS, which uses the easy to use and beautiful Calamares installer GUI.
  • This is a step above from the classic Slackware and Debian command line installers.


Pine modems

  • That is huge!
  • Completely open firmware for a 3G/4G modem and it almost works as intended.
  • There’s still some issues with waking it from sleep.
  • And the ADSP frequency divider still needs proprietary firmware.


New Xscreensaver 

  • Does the unlock prompt still look straight out of the 90s?
  • Because whenever I install something XFCE and that starts before I can purge it, I always think that could use a refresh.
  • GL Matrix is still my favorite Linux screensaver, though
  • XScreenSaver 6.00 has been released with lots of major updates.
  • There has been a major refactoring of the XScreenSaver daemon, the component of the XScreenSaver suite that provides screen locking on X11 systems.
  • For improved security the daemon has been divided into three programs: xscreensaver, xscreensaver-gfx and xscreensaver-auth.
  • The unlock dialog now has user-selectable color schemes, so you can make it look prettier.
  • XScreenSaver uses XFreeType for fonts now.
  • And it uses EGL instead of GLX when available.


Self-hosted watch party

  • Setting up video viewing parties has been all the rage since the pandemic.
  • I have noticed people on Twitter using Local Party and I have been invited to several Star Trek viewing parties with this app.
    • Impressive since it’s only a month old. 
  • I don’t want to npm just to find out if this is Windows only.
    • Eh?
  • I cloned the git and pulled it up in a browser, seems to work. 
  • The catch for this is all parties need to have the same video file. 


Vulkan video 

  • It will be so nice to have an open standard for bare metal video acceleration, that isn’t proprietary, and isn’t locked down to specific hardware.
  • H.265-encode extension is currently in development now, and VP9 decode and AV1 decode/encode extensions to follow in a future release.
  • That’s a long post but it does describe what the new extensions all do.
  • No VP9 encoding?

Slice of Pi

Eye Pi 

  • Ok, this is for real and is very creepy!
  • But despite that I can see a practical application for it in human interaction.
  • This is Eyecam, an anthropomorphic webcam shaped like a human eye, that can see, blink, look around and observe you.
  • Eyecam is a design prototype exploring the potential futures of sensing devices.
  • The control of the eye movements is made with an Arduino Nano, and it is connected to a computer via a Raspberry Pi Zero.
  • This eye webcam looks like a security nightmare, as well as a visual nightmare!

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