Five ways to put your collection of neglected USB thumb drives to good use
Although they were once considered expensive luxuries to most users, USB thumb drives have become nearly as ubiquitous as the now defunct floppy disk. Thumb drives of all shapes and sizes are currently sold at corner drug stores, freely disseminated at trade shows, and even given out as digital business cards. Thumb drives are so commonplace now that it’s not unusual for PC users to have amassed huge collections of drives that, for the most part, do little else but sit around collecting dust. We speak from experience.
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
We have some good news if you've been wanting to experiment with Valve's SteamOS but have been reluctant to install it on a dedicated machine. Valve engineer John Vert has made available to download a new SteamOS beta build that supports dual-booting. The updated SteamOS ISO can be used to install Valve's Linux-based OS on non-UEFI systems, though keep in mind there could be issues with the build.
Everything you need to know before installing Steam OS
Valve recently released its Beta version of SteamOS, based on the Debian distro of Linux. Naturally, we were intrigued by its release and wanted to take the new OS for a test run. We’ve put together a guide on how to install the operating system, and also provide you with our hands-on impressions of Valve's software.
NOTE: Before beginning, we highly recommend that you back up everything on your system before attempting to install SteamOS, as the installer in this guide will erase your entire drive.
Valve recently made its Debian Linux-based SteamOS available to download free of charge in beta form and though it's only been available for a short time, there are already some benchmarks to digest. The benchmarks come courtesy of the folks at Phoronix who tested more than half a dozen Nvidia graphics cards ranging from the GeForce GTX 550 Ti on up the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.
Valve just followed up its SteamOS announcement from earlier this week by unveiling what it calls "Steam Machines," a new category of living room hardware designed to get you playing PC games on the big screen. There will be different hardware to choose based on your needs and budget, details of which will be unveiled at a later time. In the meantime, Valve has designed a high-performance prototype and plans to ship 300 of them to beta testers, free of charge.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has been very outspoken in his criticism of Windows 8. He viewed the OS as the beginning of the end of PC gaming, in particular because he feared Microsoft's walled garden approach could eventually be used to shut out the competition. It's not really surprising, then, that the first of Steam's big three announcements this week is the introduction of a Linux-based SteamOS.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell turned a few heads earlier in the week at the LinuxCon 2013 conference by saying the next step for his company is to release some work it's been doing on the hardware side of things. Many speculated he could be referring to an official Steambox, though even if that's the case, it won't be the only thing Steam is cooking up for next year. Valve will make three announcements next week.
Gabe Newell calls Linux the “future of gaming” while pillorying closed platforms
Be it the launch of the Steam for Linux client or Big Picture Mode, Valve has been steadily laying the groundwork for its long-announced invasion of the living room. Although it seems the next logical step would be for the company to show off some dedicated hardware, it isn’t known how far along in the development of the “Steam Box” it is at this stage. But going by some of the comments CEO Gabe Newell made during his recent keynote at LinuxCon, it appears that some sort of dedicated hardware from Valve could show up as early as next week.
Tiny PC supports a variety of open source platforms
Teeny tiny PCs like the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone are finding fans among the modding community, which in turn is leading to some interesting and unique projects. It's also fostering competition in the fun-size PC market. One of the newest entries to the of field mini computing is SolidRun and its CuBox-i line of open source systems starting at $45. That gets you the CuBox-i1 with a 1GHz single-core ARM processor.
Free antivirus software closes the door on open-source support
We somehow missed this one when it was first announced, but Avira, makers of the popular free antivirus software named after itself, is discontinuing AV solutions for Linux systems on June 30, 2016. Products to be discontinued include Avira AntiVir Professional Linux, Avira Server Security Linux, and Avira Free Antivirus Linux. Avira Endpoint Security and Avira Business Security Suite will both still be offered indefinitely, though without Linux support.