TrackingPoint offers amazing AR15 rifles powered by Linux

In today's open source roundup: TrackingPoint's Linux-based AR15 rifles start at $10,000. Plus: The best Chromebooks for students, and how to watch Netflix in Ubuntu

Linux is everywhere these days, including in TrackingPoint's new AR15 rifles. If you've got $10,000 or more to spend then you can own one of these high-tech firearms that include a tracking system that uses Linux as its operating system. Ars Technica looks at what TrackingPoint has to offer with its new AR15 rifles.

According to Ars Technica:

The ARs are priced much lower, too—the 5.56mm NATO entry-level weapon is right at $10,000. It’s still around 10 times the cost of an unaugmented non-PGF AR-15, but it’s also not out of the range of a middle-class luxury purchase like the motorcycles and WaveRunners Schauble mentioned.

TrackingPoint has four AR-15 models in development, all of which will begin delivery to customers in October. The entry-level product, the AR 556, is built around a Daniel Defense DDM4V7 carbine and is chambered in 5.56mm NATO, the most common round for AR-15s. The other weapon on the range that day—the one that was being zeroed when I arrived—was the AR 762, based on an LMT modular carbine and chambered in the much larger 7.62mm NATO caliber.

More at Ars Technica

If you have a couple of minutes, be sure to watch the video I've included above. These rifles are truly amazing. The target tracking, guided firing and advanced mode really impressed me, as did the other technology enhancements. I own a Colt 6920 AR15 and it's a fine rifle, but it doesn't have any of the cool doodads in TrackingPoint's AR15 rifles. It's mind-blowing to see how much technology is incorporated into these new rifles, it makes mine seem like something out of the stone age.

I remember when I first heard that they were using Linux in these guns. I thought that was impressive at the time, but it's clear that they've built on that and made a truly high-tech firearm that any gun owner would be delighted to own and use for target shooting, hunting or self-defense. Of course having such great technology might also spoil a gun owner a bit, but that's the price we pay for progress.

The real onion in the ointment is the cost of these rifles. My rifle cost a bit over $1000 but a $10000 rifle is just way out of my price range. I have no doubt that there are plenty of folks out there who could afford a TrackingPoint AR15 rifle though, and I'm sure they'll be very happy with it if they buy one. It would be great to see the price come down significantly though from where it is right now. Perhaps over time it will so that these guns become much more affordable for the average Jane or Joe.

My only other concern about these rifles is how much they weigh with all the doodads on them. One of the things I like about my AR15 is that it's a relatively lightweight gun to hold and shoot. But I wonder what it would end up weighing with all of TrackingPoint's customizations. I may be nitpicking here since I'm the type that prefers lighter devices, including firearms. Most TrackingPoint buyers probably wouldn't give a hoot so take my reticence with a grain of salt or two.

You can get more information about these Linux-based rifles on TrackingPoint's site. There is also a store where you can see different models of TrackingPoint's firearms, and you can check out posts on the TrackingPoint blog for the company's latest updates.

Also, see the thread on Reddit and the Ars Technica discussion for reader reaction to TrackingPoint's new AR15 rifles.

Best Chromebooks for students

ZDNet has a useful roundup that identifies the best Chromebooks for students going back to school.

According to ZDNet:

So which Chromebook is the best for you? As always, it depends on you and your needs. While all these Chrome OS powered laptops resemble each other, there's enough differences in price, quality, and features that only you can decide on which one is the best for your school.

At these prices, however, it's hard to go too far wrong. Pick the one you like best, and best of luck with school this year!

Dell Chromebook 11

Acer Chromebook C720P

HP Chromebook 11

Lenovo N20p

Toshiba Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook 2

More at ZDNet
Best Chromebooks for students
Image credit: ZDNet

I can see the advantages of Chromebooks for some students, they offer quite a bit at a very reasonable cost. ZDNet has some good choices in its roundup, but if you still aren't sure what Chromebook to buy then you may want to check out Amazon's Chromebook Buying Guide to learn more about them. It covers screen size, battery life, internet connectivity, unique features, bundles and brand allegiance, among other things. So do check it out if you need a good overview of what Chromebooks are all about.

How to watch Netflix in Ubuntu

OMG Ubuntu has a guide on how to watch Netflix in Ubuntu via Chrome.

According to OMG Ubuntu:

For Google Chrome users on Ubuntu this means you can, albeit with a little bit of extra tweaking, get Netflix video to play on Linux. No plugins, PPAs, no glasses of Wine needed. It’s not quite as easy as opening Netflix and hitting play, but it is easier than adding PPAs to download and configure boatloads of Windows dependencies, muddying up your install.

The steps that follow are not as complex or as numerous as they appear at first glance. I’m simply walking you through each part by hand.


Ubuntu 14.04 LTS* or 14.10 Alpha

Google Chrome Beta or Dev (v37+)

An active Netflix subscription or trial

Have ‘Prefer HTML5‘ selected in ‘Netflix Account > Playback’

More at OMG Ubuntu
Watch Netflix in Ubuntu Linux
Image credit: OMG Ubuntu

Kudos to the OMG Ubuntu folks for sharing this helpful tip. There's also an interesting Reddit thread about using Netflix in Linux.

I'd like to see Netflix itself become more supportive of Linux in the future though, I think they are making a big mistake by ignoring Linux as a platform for their service. It reminds me of the years when game developers also ignored Linux. That is changing rapidly and Netflix would do well to follow in the footsteps of game developers by considering Linux as a primary platform.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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