Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

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MtnDewManiac
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Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by MtnDewManiac » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:52 pm

Just ran mintUpdate. I accepted the updates. Noticed that one of them was "amd64-microcode."

Which would make some small amount of sense if my laptop's CPU wasn't an Intel i5.

I would not have installed this file (package?) because I do not have an AMD CPU. Therefore, it would have been automatically installed when I installed Mint (Xfce 17.x).

Would someone explain why this is, please? Feel free to dumb it down all you like. Not "Mint installs files on the assumption that AMD will one day manufacture a CPU that is compatible with my motherboard and that I will then trip over the money to purchase it" of course - but I'm no rocket surgeon, so you will not hurt my feelings if you pretend you are trying to explain this stuff to an oyster.

BtW, have the powers that be (Mint developers) also decided to helpfully install an Nvidia graphics driver in case that I ever decide to take up micro-soldering and trying to stick an Nvidia graphics device into this thing in place of its built-in Intel graphics as hobbies, too? :roll:

Thanks,
MDM
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by JerryF » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:00 pm

Edited: I misunderstood the post and gave out wrong information. :oops:
Last edited by JerryF on Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
IF your problem has been solved, please edit your original post and add [SOLVED] to the beginning of the Subject Line. It helps other members.

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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by karlchen » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:19 pm

Hi, MDM.

About packages intel-microcode & amd64-microcode:

Please, check the logfile /var/log/syslog for the word "microcode". Alternatively run journalctl -b and check for the word "microcode". In both cases, you should easily find out that Linux Mint only loads the microcode module, which matches your CPU, Intel or AMD. No exceptions.

Ubuntu has added both microcode packages, intel-microcode and amd64-microcode, to the dependency list of the kernel meta package linux-image-generic. As a consequence, both microcode packages, the one for Intel and the one for AMD, will be downloaded onto any machine. But only a microcode module which matches the installed CPU will be loaded during early system startup.

Note:
In the case of amd64-microcode, AMD really means for AMD CPUs only.
In the case of intel-microcode, Intel really means for Intel CPUs only.
The packages will always be named amd64-microcode.deb and intel-microcode.deb, no matter whether you are running Mint 32-bit or 64-bit.
You can check with this command line e.g.: dpkg --list *microcode

Code: Select all

dpkg --list *microcode
+++-===========================-==================-==================-===========================================================
ii  amd64-microcode             3.20180524.1~ubunt i386               Processor microcode firmware for AMD CPUs
ii  intel-microcode             3.20180425.1~ubunt i386               Processor microcode firmware for Intel CPUs
Best regards,
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by MtnDewManiac » Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:01 pm

Thank you for that explanation. I assume, then - since the other microcode does not actually get loaded upon startup - that there is no harm, other than the tiny amount of space that it takes up on my hard drive.

I also assume that, if I really wanted to, I could uninstall this with no problem, other than that I'd be removing that meta-package (but not the associated files that I actually need). And that there is no real reason to do so. I would free up a (relative) few bytes of hard drive storage, but I would not suddenly find more free RAM available, because my computer is making no use of the file.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply. Especially since I am not always the politest person on the planet, such as when I observe something that, well, startles me. At first I had assumed that the file might have something to do with (generic) "64-bit architecture" (as opposed to 32-bit), but then I read that it was actually specifically for AMD CPUs. It just threw me off, I suppose.

Regards,
MDM
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by catweazel » Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:09 pm

MtnDewManiac wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:01 pm
At first I had assumed that the file might have something to do with (generic) "64-bit architecture" (as opposed to 32-bit), but then I read that it was actually specifically for AMD CPUs. It just threw me off, I suppose.
Just as an addendum, the AMD64 designation came about because AMD introduced 64-bit processors. This caught Intel with its pants well and truly down, essentially forcing Intel to either license AMD's 64-bit instruction set from AMD or create its own 64-bit instruction set. It was better for Intel's bottom line to licence the instruction set from AMD.
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by HaveaMint » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:55 pm

I can see both installed is a good thing if you happen to have an external drive and use it on multi PC's.
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by Pangolin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:43 am

karlchen wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:19 pm
Please, check the logfile /var/log/syslog for the word "microcode". Alternatively run journalctl -b and check for the word "microcode". In both cases, you should easily find out that Linux Mint only loads the microcode module, which matches your CPU, Intel or AMD. No exceptions.

Ubuntu has added both microcode packages, intel-microcode and amd64-microcode, to the dependency list of the kernel meta package linux-image-generic. As a consequence, both microcode packages, the one for Intel and the one for AMD, will be downloaded onto any machine. But only a microcode module which matches the installed CPU will be loaded during early system startup.
Hi karlchen.
I made a clean install of LM19 a couple of days ago (I was previously running LM18) and immediatly noticed that the Driver Manager didn't show the CPU section, that was instead present in LM18.
I then realized that my system was missing the package "intel-microcode" (my CPU is an Intel i7) so I installed it manually.
The Driver Manager still doesn't show a CPU section.
I've looked for the term "microcode" in both syslog and journalctl but I could not find any indication that my system is in fact loading the proper intel-microcode for my CPU (v. 3.20180425.1~ubuntu0.16.04.1).
How can I make sure of that?
My system is running on the 4.15.0-20-generic "stock" kernel instead of the latest 4.15.0.23.25: could this be affecting the handling of the CPU driver?
Thank you.
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by karlchen » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:40 am

Hello, Pangolin.

Kernel 4.15.0-20 did not have the dependency on intel-microcode and amd64-microcode, yet.
This dependency has been added to the meta-package linux-image-generic, when K4.15.0-23 was released.
I assume that Canonical added the dependencies in order to make sure that the CPU patches are available on all systems, which permit the kernel patches against Spectre and Meltdown to function fully. - No official statement, just my assumption.

I cannot tell why Mint 19 Driver Manager no longer offers intel-microcode or amd64-microcode packages, depending on the installed CPU. Maybe the reason is that Ubuntu made intel-microcode and amd64-microcode obligatory for all systems. - Yet another assumption of mine.

If you had not installed intel-microcode manually on your system, the next kernel update, to K4.15.0-23 at the moment, would have pulled in the intel-microcode and amd64-microcode packages.

Regards,
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by smurphos » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:14 am

Pangolin wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:43 am
I've looked for the term "microcode" in both syslog and journalctl but I could not find any indication that my system is in fact loading the proper intel-microcode for my CPU (v. 3.20180425.1~ubuntu0.16.04.1).
How can I make sure of that?
dmesg | grep microcode

Should return output along the lines of

Code: Select all

[    3.035616] microcode: sig=0x206a7, pf=0x10, revision=0x2d
[    3.035784] microcode: Microcode Update Driver: v2.2.
https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/u ... idance.pdf

Search for the last 5 digits of the sig in the above linked document to confirm the status of that microcode for your CPU.

Alternatively for Mint 19 - this package will provide a detailed overview of spectre/meltdown security status including that of any active microcode.

apt install spectre-meltdown-checker
sudo spectre-meltdown-checker
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by MtnDewManiac » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:31 am

catweazel wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:09 pm
Just as an addendum, the AMD64 designation came about because AMD introduced 64-bit processors. This caught Intel with its pants well and truly down, essentially forcing Intel to either license AMD's 64-bit instruction set from AMD or create its own 64-bit instruction set. It was better for Intel's bottom line to licence the instruction set from AMD.
Might be easier on developers, too, if both instruction sets are the same; no need to optimize for one or the other (or both).
HaveaMint wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:55 pm
I can see both installed is a good thing if you happen to have an external drive and use it on multi PC's.
I never thought of that. I guess I had assumed that linux installations were pretty specific to the computer that they were installed on. I must be getting old - the only thing that youngsters seem to assume is that anything is possible.
karlchen wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:40 am
I cannot tell why Mint 19 Driver Manager no longer offers intel-microcode or amd64-microcode packages, depending on the installed CPU. Maybe the reason is that Ubuntu made intel-microcode and amd64-microcode obligatory for all systems. - Yet another assumption of mine.
As assumptions go, that one makes a lot of sense; if a thing is mandatory, it's pointless to offer one the option of installing it.

Regards,
MDM
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by Pangolin » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:43 pm

smurphos wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:14 am
Search for the last 5 digits of the sig in the above linked document to confirm the status of that microcode for your CPU.

Alternatively for Mint 19 - this package will provide a detailed overview of spectre/meltdown security status including that of any active microcode.

apt install spectre-meltdown-checker
sudo spectre-meltdown-checker
Thank you so much smurphos!
Useful and interesting tip.
Looks like my cpu (hopefully) is protected against spectre and meltdown attacks :D
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Re: Why Doesn't Mint Know What CPU I Have?

Post by gm10 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:32 am

Pangolin wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:43 pm
smurphos wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:14 am
Search for the last 5 digits of the sig in the above linked document to confirm the status of that microcode for your CPU.

Alternatively for Mint 19 - this package will provide a detailed overview of spectre/meltdown security status including that of any active microcode.

apt install spectre-meltdown-checker
sudo spectre-meltdown-checker
Thank you so much smurphos!
Useful and interesting tip.
Looks like my cpu (hopefully) is protected against spectre and meltdown attacks :D
Run the latest version of the script and you'll see that you probably aren't (the version in the repositories is a bit outdated and does not test against all vulnerabilities).
Tune up your LM 19.x: ppa:gm10/linuxmint-tools

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