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Intel Unveils Clear Linux OS Update at Open Source Summit

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For the past 16 years, Intel has held an annual open-source-focused technology summit called, appropriately enough, the Open Source Technology Summit. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of the OSTS, the answer is simple: The company has kept the event private and self-focused until now. This year, it’s opening the event to customers, industry partners, and the press more generally.

One of the major unveils that’s happening with the OSTS this week is a new installer and storefront for Intel’s own Clear Linux distribution. If you haven’t heard of Clear Linux, Intel describes the OS as “an open source, rolling release Linux distribution optimized for performance and security, from the Cloud to the Edge, designed for customization and manageability.” Forbes has covered this Linux distro and its recent improvements, while Phoronix has detailed performance breakdowns that show Clear Linux as the, well, clear winner in a range of benchmarks across Linux distros.

ClearLinux-Performance-Results

(As far as I’m aware, there are no dependencies in Clear Linux that prevent it from running on AMD hardware, though obviously, Intel’s own Linux distribution is not necessarily tuned for it.)

According to a blog post by Intel’s system software products general manager Imad Sousou, the new Linux distro contains a deep learning stack with AVX-512 integration and support, and a data analytics reference stack “[that] was developed to help enterprises analyze, classify, recognize, and process large amounts of data, built on Intel Xeon Scalable platforms using Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark.”

Other major initiatives announced or discussed at the OSTS include the ModernFW Initiative (intended to remove legacy code from firmware), rust-vmm (a more secure hypervisor project undertaken with support from Amazon, Google, and Red Hat), and products intended for industrial automation and embedded platforms.

Opening meetings like this is a move intended to signal boost some of the work Intel is doing with its partners around security, particularly in the Linux and open source ecosystem, where Intel is a major contributor. It’s a bit ironic that the event kicked off at the same time as further disclosures related to issues with speculative execution (more on that coming), but the fact that both issues dropped at the same time also highlights the intrinsic complexity of security issues. Dealing with these problems requires a multi-faceted strategy, and successes and achievements in one area neither obviate nor excuse flaws in other areas.

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