torsdag 5 januari 2017

Steam Family sharing working on Linux again

For a long time, at least a year, Steam Family sharing has been broken on Linux PCs. Fortunately something has changed and it is suddenly working again (as of January 2017).

I'm a bit disappointed at Valve's support, though. The problem hasn't been commented on at all by Valve, even though it has been reported both in the Steam support forum and on github:

At least the problem could have been acknowledged.

NBASE-T or IEEE 802.3bz - faster speeds for your network

There have been efforts a few years ago in bringing 10 Gbit/s network speeds to PC motherboards. It has also been used in servers, but mostly using fiber cable. It is only recently when the standard has evolved to be usable with regular twisted pair copper cable. With CAT6a cable you could in theory reach 100 m using 10GBASE-T.

Due to the high requirements of 10 Gbit ethernet, it is often not possible to communicate over longer links due to not spec compliant cable, or when using much more common CAT5e cable. What happens then is that the network link speed is lowered from 10 Gbit/s to 1 GBit/s.

Recently a new standard has been evolving to lower the implications of this problem. New speeds of 5 Gbit/s and 2.5 Gbit/s have been introduced in a new standard IEEE 802.3bz and then later in practice as the NBASE-T alliance.

With IEEE 802.3bz, a speed of 5 GBit/s can be used with up to 100 m CAT5e copper cable.

What this means is that when your 10 Gbit/s link doesn't manage to keep the speed up, instead of dropping to 1 Gbit/s, it drops to 5 Gbit/s or 2.5 Gbit/s. Much better!

Most new motherboards and network cards in 2016 and 2017 that support 10 Gbit ethernet also seem to support NBASE-T, but be sure to check the specifications. Don't buy a 10GBASE-T device without NBASE-T support! An example controller is the Intel Ethernet Controller X550-AT that supports NBASE-T speeds.

Note that only Linux so far supports the new standard. There is no support in Windows drivers for NBASE-T.

Unfortunately there are no affordable (consumer) network switches yet on the market supporting the new NBASE-T standard, but I expect them to arrive shortly. In the professional segment there are already switches supporting this new standard.


Razer Deathadder on Linux

I've got a Razer Deathadder mouse connected to one of my PCs. This is a quite popular gaming mouse.

It doesn't work fine in a standard Linux distro (at least on Fedora). The resolution is too high and it isn't possible to turn down.

In the past I used a script and xinput to lower the mouse sensitivity.

But there is a driver for Linux created by the free software community, in this case by Michael Büsch.

The driver automatically sets the resolution to something usable and you can set different profiles and tune it from the command line or using a GUI application (the latter which doesn't currently work on Fedora due to missing python libraries, but no big deal).

I've been using this driver for a long time, first by compiling it from source, and later through the rpmsphere-release repostory at

At one point it stopped working and I found out that it hadn't been updated in a few months in the repository, so it lagged behind the upstream release. I set out to fix this.

Installing from source is OK for me, but I prefer that also other people can use it, so I undertook to update the rpm package for Fedora.

The razer driver is now available in a Fedora Copr repository:

Due to missing python3-pyside and shiboken in Fedora, the razer GUI application doesn't work right now, but it is being worked upon. It is possible to compile the components yourself, but it is not trivial and it took a couple of hours.