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LanguageTool Review: Free and Open Source Grammar Checker

Monday 18th of May 2020 07:20:34 AM

This week’s open source software highlight is LanguageTool. It is a proofreading software that checks the grammar, style and spelling in more than 20 languages.

I have been using it for past several days and I feel confident enough to review it and share my experience with it. I have used the popular proofreading tool Grammarly in the past and I’ll make some comparison between these two tools.

LanguageTool: Open source proofreading software

LanguageTool grammar checker is available in multiple formats:

  • You can copy-paste your text on its website.
  • You can install browser extension that will check for errors as you type anything, anywhere in the web browser.
  • You can install a Java-based desktop application for offline usage.
  • You can install add-on for LibreOffice and MS Office.
  • Add-ons are also available for a number of other software like Sublime Text, Thunderbird, Vim, Visual Studio Code etc.
  • Android app is also available.
  • API is also available if you want to use LanguageTool in your software or service. API offering comes under premium services.

You can find source code of LanguageTool and its related assets on their GitHub repository.

LanguageTool also has a premium version that you can purchase. The premium version offers additional error checks.

I am using LanguageTool premium version as a browser extension. Almost all the writing I do is online and thus the browser extension is perfect for me.

The most convenient way to try LanguageTool is by using its browser extension. Install the browser add-on and next time you type anything in the browser, LanguageTool will start checking your text for grammatical and spelling errors. It will also check for styling errors.

Experience with LanguageTool: How good is it?

LanguageTool leaves a good first impression. It starts checking for errors as you start typing.

Different types of errors have different color codes. Spelling mistakes are highlighted in red color, grammatical mistakes are in yellow colors and styling errors have a blueish shade.

Clicking on the error suggestion replaces your text with the suggested one. You may also ignore the suggestion. You’ll also see number of issues identified by LanguageTool in the current text check.

Spelling mistake identified by LanguageTool Personal dictionary

You can also create your personal directory and add words in it. This is helpful because no proofreading tool can give a green light to technical terms like systemd, iptables and brand names like WireGuard. To avoid these words labeled as spelling mistakes, add them to your personal dictionary.

You may edit your personal dictionary from your LanguageTool account.

LanguageTool Personal Dictionary Details on the error suggestion

If it finds grammatical errors, it also gives a quick explanation of the error. You can get more details by clicking the tool tip which takes you to a reputable external source.

You can get additional details on the errors Synonym suggestion (in beta)

If you double-click on a word, it will also suggest synonyms.

Are there any privacy issues?

If you use the online services of LanguageTool, your text is sent to their servers over an encrypted connection. All their servers are hosted at Hetzner Online GmbH in Germany.

LanguageTool states that it doesn’t store any text that you check using its services. You can read their privacy policy here.

The free to use languagetool.org website shows ads (there are no third-party ads in the browser add-on). To test their claim of “sending text over an encrypted server”, I typed sample text containing words like vacuum cleaner, laptop etc.

Thankfully, the displayed ad on their website was nothing related to the text I typed. I haven’t noticed any vacuum cleaner ads on the websites I visit or on Facebook. That’s a good thing.

It doesn’t work flawlessly all the time

No software is perfect and LanguageTool is not an exception. While it is helpful in finding obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes, it struggles in some simple scenario.

For example, if a sentence contains several blank spaces together, LanguageTool failed to find an issue with that.

Too many whitespaces and yet it went undetected

This is weird because if I look at their ‘error rules’, I can see a whitespace repetition rule. I think this rule is applicable only for the Java-based LanguageTool apps, not the browser add-on I am using.

I also found some other cases where LanguageTool should have identified errors but it didn’t. For example, it didn’t alert for the missing ‘to’ in the text below:

LanguageTool fails to find the missing “to”

When I checked it against the Grammarly free version, it was able to point it out.

Grammarly was quick to identify it

I also found an infinite loop of suggestion. It first suggests using syntaxes as plural of syntax.

Suggestion for using ‘syntaxes’

And then it doesn’t accept ‘syntaxes’ as a valid word.

And then it doesn’t accept ‘syntaxes’

I have seen such “infinite error loop” with Grammarly as well in the past, so I won’t be too hard on LanguageTool for such issues.

Conclusion

Despite some hiccups, I am satisfied with LanguageTool proofreading tool. Both free and premium version are good enough for finding obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The premium version offers over 2500 additional error checks and it costs around $15-$70 per year depending on your geographical region. This is a lot cheaper than Grammarly which costs $140 per year.

I opted for the premium version because it will help this open-source project. Premium users also get email support.

You are not forced to go premium, of course. You can use the free version and if you have some questions or need support, there is a community forum that you can join for free.

LanguageTool can certainly be considered one of the essential open-source tools for writers. I am going to continue using LanguageTool. If you find grammatical or spelling mistakes in It’s FOSS articles in the future, blame LanguageTool, not me. Just kidding :)

In Free Software, the Community is the Most Important Ingredient: Jerry Bezencon of Linux Lite [Interview]

Sunday 17th of May 2020 12:54:24 PM

You are probably aware of Linux Lite. It is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. If you have an older system with 1 GB of RAM, Linux Lite becomes an excellent choice for you.

We have covered Linux Lite releases several times on It’s FOSS and if you are a regular reader, you would have come across it.

We talked to Jerry Bezencon, the creator of Linux Lite project, to know some background details on this project.

Interview with Jerry Bezencon of Linux Lite

Jerry is based in Auckland, New Zealand, and he devotes a good deal of time and effort on Linux Lite project. Jerry shares his vision of the project in this interview.

Tell us about the origins of Linux Lite. When did you create it first and what made you create it in the first place?

Linux Lite was started in 2012 for 3 important reasons. One, I wanted to dispel myths that a Linux based operating system was hard to use. Two, at that time, there was a shortage of simple, intuitive desktop experiences on Linux that offered long-term support. Three, I had used Linux for over 10 years before starting Linux Lite.

I felt I needed to give back to a community that had given so much to me. A community that taught me that by sharing code and knowledge, one could have a dramatically positive impact over peoples computing experiences.

How is Linux Lite different from so many other Ubuntu-based distributions?

Our approach to problem solving and our support. The first sits within the system itself. Lite Tweaks is a good example of this. We try to think of all the things that could possibly go wrong with a computer system, then write applications that fix those problems as easily as possible, should they occur. There is a lot of foresight in the team.

The second is our approach to support. This mainly comes in 2 forms. Our massive built-in and online Help Manual and our large forum community full of some of the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with in the free software and open source community.

How do you and your team work on developing Linux Lite?

There are 24 hours in a day. With 6 – 8 hours for sleep and another 6 – 8 hours for my other job, that’s more than enough time to put towards any project, hobby or job, or all 3.

I take a more professional approach to code writing. I’ll come up with an idea, mock-up the UI then write the base code, or the whole application myself. If I need help, I prefer to hire and pay via our generous donators, freelancers.

That way I can set a budget, the user gets a solid, well-written application by a qualified professional who is fluent in that language, and get I exactly what I ask for on time and without the usual flame wars and egos that can exist in some teams.

By using professional, paid programmers, I avoid all the negativity completely. Application writing has become an extremely peaceful and rewarding exercise.

What are you most proud of about this project?

Linux Lite Interview

I’m most proud of the community that has stayed loyal to us throughout the years. In a business, your staff are your most valuable asset, in free software, the community is the most important ingredient.

What are your future plans with Linux Lite?

To always strive to look for ways to make a person’s computing experience simpler, faster and trouble free. Our target audience shouldn’t have to dive into the terminal to try and fix things. To continue to build a feature-complete operating system that is light on resources.

What new features can we expect in Linux Lite in upcoming versions?

Due to tradition, we like to keep those as surprises. I never run out of ideas. Some nights I get no sleep because my mind is buzzing with ideas for our next application, or how to solve an ongoing, difficult bug.

Are there any features that you really want to implement but haven’t been able to do so far?

You can always do more to enhance an operating system. I’m currently working on our most ambitious application to date. One that doesn’t need a GUI and that sits within the system, anticipates problems and solves them before they are seen by the user. It will have a Reports feature so that those who like to know what is going on, can see for themselves what the code is doing. It will, of course, be free software. My first foray into A.I. that I hope other Linux systems can benefit from in the future.

Have you achieved the goal for which you started the project?

Goal setting is ongoing. There’s no such thing as the perfect operating system. But there is no harm in aiming for that.

How can the users and readers help the project?

In the usual ways. Documentation, coding, volunteering on the Forums, buying merchandise, writing blogs, donating, making videos, starting websites like yours – the list goes on.

We hope you like reading about the background of open source projects. You may read more interviews with various project leaders.

How to Install Linux Mint in VirtualBox [Screenshot Tutorial]

Friday 15th of May 2020 05:55:39 AM

Brief: One of safest and easiest ways to try Linux Mint is inside a virtual machine. Your real system doesn’t change at all. Learn how to install Linux Mint in VirtualBox in this tutorial.

Linux Mint is considered one of the best distributions for new Linux users. Its flagship Cinnamon DE is one of the most popular desktop environment giving your system a look and feel of classic Window-styled desktop.

If you want to try Linux Mint and see if it fits your need, you could try installing it in a virtual machine. This way, you run Linux Mint inside your current system without changing your system’s partition or boot order. One of the safest way out there as you get to run Linux like a regular desktop application inside your current operating system.

Oracle’s open source virtualization tool VirtualBox is available for free on all major desktop operating systems i.e. Windows, Linux and macOS.

In this beginner’s tutorial, I’ll show you the steps for installing Linux Mint in VirtualBox. I am including the screenshots for each step so that you can easily follow the tutorial.

Installing Linux Mint in VirtualBox

You can follow the steps on any operating system be it Windows, Linux or macOS. You just need to install VirtualBox on your operating system and rest of the steps remain the same.

Step 1: Download VirtualBox from its website and install it by double-clicking on the downloaded file.

Next, install the latest version of Linux Mint’s ISO file from its website.

Download Linux Mint ISO

Step 2: Once your virtual Box is up & running we are ready to get started. Click the New button, click Next on the virtual machine wizard.

Create a new Virtual Machine

Initially you need to specify the following:

  • Name: Any preferred name for your VM like Linux Mint
  • Type: Linux
  • Version: Ubuntu (64 bit) as Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution

Before configuring any hardware resource value, please make sure that are aware of the system requirements.

2 GB RAM would be okay but won’t give you a good experience. 3 GB is a comfortable amount if your system has 8 GB of RAM. I choose to set my Virtual Machine to 4096 MB (4 GB) because my system has plenty of RAM.

RAM consumption

One of the common confusion is regarding the RAM consumption. Let’s say your Windows system has 8 GB of RAM and you assign 3 GB of RAM to Linux Mint in VirtualBox.

If you are running Linux Mint inside VirtualBox, your real system (called host system) will have 5 GB of RAM available for consumption.

If you are not running Linux Mint inside VirtualBox, at that moment, the entire 8 GB will be available to the host system.

Step 3: Next, choose a Virtual Hard disk now option and click create.

Choose the virtual storage allocation method (Recommended Dynamically allocated). Set your storage location for virtual hard disk by browsing drive and then specify the size of virtual hard disk (it could be anything from 12-20 GB).

Dynamic allocation can save you space if you don’t need the maximum allowance

Step (4 (optional advanced settings): Once Virtual machine has been created, click on the settings button in menu:

Now, go to the Display section. Specify the Video memory (128 MB) and check “Enable 3D Acceleration”.

Don’t forget to enable the 3D Acceleration

Then click on System Tab → Processor and choose how many threads would you like to allocate.

My system is a 4 core/4 thread system and I choose to assign half of the CPU capability i.e. 2 threads.

Select CPU cores as per the distribution requirements

Once you have configured everything click ok.

Step 5: In the System settings, go to Storage (from the left sidebar). Click on the [Optical Drive] Empty as shown in the image below.

You’ll be asked to browse to the Linux Mint ISO file you had downloaded earlier.

Once you select your ISO, click on the start button and that’s it! Now the ISO will start running as if you are booting from a live USB.

Next, you need to press enter whilst your option is start Linux Mint as per the picture below.

Step 6: Let’s start the installation procedure.

Choose the language you want for your Linux Mint virtual machine.

Choose your native language

I’m based in the UK, so I have a UK keyboard layout. You can choose the one you want.

Choose your keyboard layout according to your hardware configuration

You may check the box to download and install any third-party software during the installation.

You may install media codecs while installing Linux Mint

You can proceed to erase the disk and install Linux Mint.

Erase disk? Really?

This step may seem scary because you may think that it will harm your real system.

Let me assure you that it won’t do any damage to your actual disk. Remember you created 10-20 GB of virtual disk in step 3? Now you are inside that disk.

When it asks for erasing the disk, it is erasing the virtual disk created for it. It doesn’t impact your real system disk and its data.

It is safe to erase your disk only at a Virtual Machine level

Next, select your time zone and click continue. You may change time zone in Linux later as well.

You will be prompted to create your user account, your host name (computer’s name) and to choose a password. Once done, click continue to finalize the installation.

Please wait a few minutes for the process to complete.

Wait a few minutes for the process to finish

The installation has now finished. Click on “Restart now”.

Well done! You have successfully installed Linux Mint

When you reach this step, Linux Mint will be installed and ready to use!

You don’t have an installation medium so just power off the virtual machine.

Now to use your virtual machine, click on the start button.

You can explore a fully functional system, and at this time if you shut down Linux Mint like it was physically installed, it will automatically power off the virtual machine.

Enjoy Linux Mint in VirtualBox. I hope you were able to install Linux Mint in VirtualBox. If you face any issues, please let me know in the comment section. I’ll try to help you out.

How to Compress PDF in Linux [GUI & Terminal]

Thursday 14th of May 2020 06:17:15 AM

Brief: Learn how to reduce the size of a PDF file in Linux. Both command line and GUI methods have been discussed.

I was filling some application form and it asked to upload the necessary documents in PDF format. Not a big issue. I gathered all the scanned images and combined them in one PDF using gscan2pdf tool.

The problem came when I tried to upload this PDF file. The upload failed because it exceeded the maximum file size limit. This only meant that I needed to somehow reduce the size of the PDF file.

Now, you may use an online PDF compressing website but I don’t trust them. A file with important documents uploading to an unknown server is not a good idea. You could never be sure that they don’t keep a copy your uploaded PDF document.

This is the reason why I prefer compressing PDF files on my system rather than uploading it to some random server.

In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to reduce the size of PDF files in Linux. I’ll show both command line and GUI methods.

Method 1: Reduce PDF file size in Linux command line

You can use Ghostscript command line tool for compressing a PDF file. Most Linux distributions include the open source version of Ghostscript already. However, you can still try to install it just to make sure.

On Debian/Ubuntu based distributions, use the following command to install Ghostscript:

sudo apt install ghostscript

Now that you have made sure that Ghostscript is installed, you can use the following command to reduce the size of your PDF file:

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=compressed_PDF_file.pdf input_PDF_file.pdf

In the above command, you should add the correct path of the input and out PDF file.

The command looks scary and confusing. I advise copying and pasting most of it. What you need to know is the dPDFSETTINGS parameter. This is what determines the compression level and thus the quality of your compressed PDF file.

dPDFSETTINGSDescription/prepress (default)Higher quality output (300 dpi) but bigger size/ebookMedium quality output (150 dpi) with moderate output file size/screenLower quality output (72 dpi) but smallest possible output file size

Do keep in mind that some PDF files may not be compressed a lot or at all. Applying compression on some PDF files may even produce a file bigger than the original. There is not much you can do in such cases.

Method 2: Compress PDF files in Linux using GUI tool

I understand that not everyone is comfortable with command line tool. The PDF editors in Linux doesn’t help much with compression. This is why we at It’s FOSS worked on creating a GUI version of the Ghostscript command that you saw above.

Panos from It’s FOSS team worked on creating a Python-Qt based GUI wrapper for the Ghostscript. The tool gives you a simple UI where you can select your input file, select a compression level and click on the compress button to compress the PDF file.

The compressed PDF file is saved in the same folder as the original PDF file. Your original PDF file remains untouched. The compressed file is renamed by appending -compressed to the original file name.

If you are not satisfied with the compression, you can choose another compression level and compress the file again.

You may find the source code of the PDF Compressor on our GitHub repository. To let you easily use the tool, we have packaged it in AppImage format. Please refer to this guide to know how to use AppImage.

Download PDF Compressor (AppImage)

Please keep in mind that the tool is in early stages of developments. You may experience some issues. If you do, please let us know in the comments or even better, file a bug here.

We’ll try to add more packages (Snap, Deb, PPAs etc) in the future releases. If you have experience with the development and packaging, please feel free to give us a hand.

Would you like It’s FOSS team to work on creating more such small desktop tools in future? Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager for Keeping a Track of Clipboard History

Wednesday 13th of May 2020 10:45:23 AM

How do you copy-paste text? Let me guess. You either use the right click menu to copy-paste or use Ctrl+C to copy a text and Ctrl+V to paste the text. The text copied this way is saved to ‘clipboard’. The clipboard is a special location in the memory of your system that stores cut or copied text (and in some cases images).

But have you ever been in a situation where you had a text copied and then you copy another text and then realize you needed the text you copied earlier? Trust me, it happens a lot.

Instead of wondering about finding the previous text to copy again, you can use a clipboard manager.

A clipboard manager is a handy little tool that keeps a history of the text you had copied. If you need to use the earlier copied text, you can use the clipboard manager to copy it again.

Clipboard

There are several clipboard managers available for Linux. In this article, I’ll cover one such tool that goes by the name CopyQ.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager

CopyQ is nifty clipboard manager that has plenty of features to manage your system’s clipboard. It is an open source software available for free for major Linux distributions.

Like any other clipboard manager, CopyQ monitors the system clipboard and saves its content. It can save both text and images from the clipboard.

CopyQ sits in the system tray and you can easily access it from there. From the system tray, just click on the text that you want. It will automatically copy this text and you would notice that the copied text moves on to the top of the saved clipboards.

In the system tray, it shows only the five recent clips. You can open the main window using the “Show/hide main window” option in the system tray. CopyQ saves up to 200 clips. You may edit the clipboard items here.

You may also set a keyboard shortcut to bring the clipboard with a few key combination. This option is available in Preferences->Shortcuts.

If you decide to use it, I advise enabling the autostart so that CopyQ runs automatically when you start your system. By default, it saves 200 items in the history and that’s a lot in my opinion. You may want to change that as well.

CopyQ is an advanced clipboard manager with plenty of additional features. You can search for text in the saved clipboard items. You can sort, create, edit or change the order of the clipboard items.

You can ignore clipboard copied from some windows or containing some text. You can also temporarily disable clipboard saving. CopyQ also supports Vim-like editor and shortcut for Vim fans.

There are many more features that you may explore on your own. For me, the most notable feature is that it gives me easy access to older copied text, and I am happy with that.

Installing CopyQ on Linux

CopyQ is available for Linux, Windows and macOS. You can get the executable file for Windows and macOS from its website.

For Linux, CopyQ is available in the repositories of all major Linux distributions. Which means that you can find it in your software center or install it using your distribution’s package manager.

Ubuntu users may find it in the software center if universe repository is enabled.

CopyQ in Ubuntu Software Center

Alternatively, you can use the apt command to install it:

sudo apt install copyq

Ubuntu users also have the option to use the official PPA and always get the latest stable CopyQ version. For example, at the time of writing this article, CopyQ version in Ubuntu 20.04 is 3.10 while PPA has newer version 3.11. It’s your choice really.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hluk/copyq sudo apt update sudo apt install copyq

You may also want to know how to remove PPA later.

Do you use a clipboard manager?

I find it surprising that many people are not even aware of an essential utility like clipboard manager. For me, it’s one of the essential productivity tools on Linux.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are several clipboard managers available for Linux. CopyQ is one of such tools. Do you use or know of some other similar clipboard tool? Why not let us know in the comments?

If you started using CopyQ after reading this article, do share your experience with it. What you liked and what you didn’t like? The comment section is all yours.

What to do When You See “Repository does not have a release file” Error in Ubuntu

Tuesday 12th of May 2020 10:57:34 AM

One of the several ways of installing software in Ubuntu is by using PPA or adding third-party repositories. A few magical lines give you easy access to a software or its newer version that is not available by default in Ubuntu.

All thing looks well and good until you get habitual of adding additional third-party repositories and one day, you see an error like this while updating Ubuntu:

E: The repository ‘http://ppa.launchpad.net/numix/ppa/ubuntu focal Release’ does not have a Release file.
N: Updating from such a repository can’t be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.
N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.

In this tutorial for Ubuntu beginners, I’ll explain what does this error mean, why do you see it and what can you do to handle this error?

Understanding “Repository does not have a release file” error

Let’s go step by step here. The error message is:

E: The repository ‘http://ppa.launchpad.net/numix/ppa/ubuntu focal release’ does not have a release file

The important part of this error message is “focal release”.

You probably already know that each Ubuntu release has a codename. For Ubuntu 20.04, the codename is Focal Fossa. The “focal” in the error message indicates Focal Fossa which is Ubuntu 20.04.

The error is basically telling you that though you have added a third-party repository to your system’s sources list, this new repository is not available for your current Ubuntu version.

Why so? Because probably you are using a new version of Ubuntu and the developer has not made the software available for this new version.

At this point, I highly recommend reading my detailed guides on PPA and Ubuntu repositories. These two articles will give you a better, in-depth knowledge of the topic. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

How to know if the PPA/third party is available for your Ubuntu version [Optional]

First you should check your Ubuntu version and its codename using ‘lsb_release -a’ command:

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ lsb_release -a No LSB modules are available. Distributor ID: Ubuntu Description: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Release: 20.04 Codename: focal

As you can see, the codename it shows is focal. Now the next thing you can do is to go to the website of the software in question.

This could be the tricky part but you can figure it out with some patience and effort.

In the example here, the error complained about http://ppa.launchpad.net/numix/ppa/ubuntu. It is a PPA repository and you may easily find its webpage. How, you may ask.

Use Google or a Google alternative search engine like Duck Duck Go and search for “ppa numix”. This should give you the first result from launchpad.net which is the website used for hosting PPA related code.

On the webpage of the PPA, you can go to the “Overview of published packages” and filter it by the codename of your Ubuntu version:

For non-PPA third-party repository, you’ll have to check of the official website of the software and see if the repository is available for your Ubuntu version or not.

What to do if the repository is not available for your Ubuntu version

In case when the repository in question is not available for your Ubuntu version, here’s what you can do:

  • Delete the troublesome repository from your list of repository so that you don’t see the error every time you run the update.
  • Get the software from another source (if it is possible).

To delete the troublesome repository, start Software & Updates tool:

Go to the Other Software tab and look for the repository in question. Highlight it and then click on Remove button to delete it from your system.

Remove Ppa

This will delete the PPA or the repository in question.

Next step is to get the software from some other source and that’s totally subjective. In some cases, you can still download the DEB file from the PPA website and use the software (I have explained the steps in the PPA guide). Alternatively, you can check the project’s website if there is a Snap/Flatpak or Python version of the software available.

Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS Review: Better Than Ever

Tuesday 12th of May 2020 04:19:00 AM

Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS is undoubtedly one of the most popular official flavors of Ubuntu.

It’s not just me, but Ubuntu 20.04 survey results also pointed out the same. Popular or not, it is indeed an impressive Linux distribution specially for older hardware. As a matter of fact, it is also one of the best lightweight Linux distros available out there.

So, I thought of trying it out for a while in a virtual machine setting to provide you an overview of what you can expect out of it. And, whether it’s worth trying out.

What’s New In Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos

The primary highlight on Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS would be the addition of MATE Desktop 1.24.

You can expect all the new features of the MATE Desktop 1.24 to come packed in with Ubuntu MATE 20.04. In addition to that, there have been many significant changes, improvements, and additions.

Here’s an overview of what has changed in Ubuntu MATE 20.04:

  • Addition of MATE Desktop 1.24
  • Numerous visual improvements
  • Dozens of bugs fixed
  • Based on Linux Kernel 5.4 series
  • Addition of experimental ZFS support
  • Addition of GameMode from Feral Interactive.
  • Several package updates

Now, to get a better idea on Ubuntu MATE 20.04, I’ll give you some more details.

User Experience Improvements

Considering that more users are leaning towards Linux on Desktop, the user experience plays a vital role in that.

If it’s something easy to use and pleasant to look at that makes all the difference as the first impression.

With Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS, I wasn’t disappointed either. Personally, I’m a fan of the latest GNOME 3.36. I like it on my Pop OS 20.04 but with the presence of MATE 1.24, it Ubuntu MATE was also a good experience.

You will see some significant changes to the window manager including the addition of invisible resize borders, icons rendering in HiDPI, rework of ALT+TAB workspace switcher pop ups, and a couple of other changes that comes as part of the latest MATE 1.24 desktop.

Also, MATE Tweak has got some sweet improvements where you get to preserve user preferences even if you change the layout of the desktop. The new MATE Welcome screen also informs the user about the ability to change the desktop layout, so they don’t have to fiddle around to know about it.

Among other things, one of my favorite additions would be the minimized app preview feature.

For instance, you have an app minimized but want to get a preview of it before launching it – now you can do that by simply hovering your mouse over the taskbar as shown in the image below.

Now, I must mention that it does not work as expected for every application. So, I’d still say this feature is buggy and needs improvements.

App Additions or Upgrades

With MATE 20.04, you will notice a new Firmware updater which is a GTK frontend for fwupd. You can manage your drivers easily using the updater.

This release also replaces Thunderbird with the Evolution email client. While Thunderbird is a quite popular desktop email client, Evolution integrates better with the MATE desktop and proves to be more useful.

Considering that we have MATE 1.24 on board, you will also find a new time and date manager app. Not just that, if you need a magnifier, Magnus comes baked in with Ubuntu MATE 20.04.

Ubuntu MATE 20.04 also includes upgrades to numerous packages/apps that come pre-installed.

While these are small additions – but help in a big way to make the distro more useful.

Linux Kernel 5.4

Ubuntu MATE 20.04 ships with the last major stable kernel release of 2019 i.e Linux Kernel 5.4.

With this, you will be getting the native exFAT support and improved hardware support as well. Not to mention, the support for WireGuard VPN is also a nice thing to have.

So, you will be noticing numerous benefits of Linux Kernel 5.4 including the kernel lock down feature. In case you’re curious, you can read our coverage on Linux Kernel 5.4 to get more details on it.

Adding GameMode by Feral Interactive

Feral Interactive – popularly known for bringing games to Linux platform came up with a useful command-line tool i.e. GameMode.

You won’t get a GUI – but using the command-line you can apply temporary system optimizations before launching a game.

While this may not make a big difference for every system but it’s best to have more resources available for gaming and the GameMode ensures that you get the necessary optimizations.

Experimental ZFS Install Option

You get the support for ZFS as your root file system. It is worth noting that it is an experimental feature and should not be used if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

To get a better idea of ZFS, I recommend you reading one of our articles on What is ZFS by John Paul.

Performance & Other Improvements

Ubuntu MATE is perfectly tailored as a lightweight distro and also something fit for modern desktops.

In this case, I didn’t run any specific benchmark tools- but for an average user, I didn’t find any performance issues in my virtual machine setting. If it helps, I tested this on a host system with an i5-7400 processor with a GTX 1050 graphics card coupled with 16 Gigs of RAM. And, 7 GB of RAM + 768 MB of graphics memory + 2 cores of my processor was allocated for the virtual machine.

When you test it out yourself, feel free to let me know how it was for you.

Overall, along with all the major improvements, there are subtle changes/fixes/improvements here and there that makes Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS a good upgrade.

Should You Upgrade?

If you are running Ubuntu MATE 19.10, you should proceed upgrading it immediately as the support for it ends in June 2020.

For Ubuntu MATE 18.04 users (supported until April 2021) – it depends on what works for you. If you need the features of the latest release, you should choose to upgrade it immediately.

But, if you don’t necessarily need the new stuff, you can look around for the list of existing bugs and join the Ubuntu MATE community to know more about the issues revolving the latest release.

Once you do the research needed, you can then proceed to upgrade your system to Ubuntu MATE 20.04 LTS which will be supported until April 2023.

Have you tried the latest Ubuntu MATE 20.04 yet? What do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Track Your Screen Time in Linux with ActivityWatch

Monday 11th of May 2020 10:39:05 AM

Brief: ActivityWatch is an open-source privacy-friendly app that tracks how you spend your time on a desktop computer or on a mobile device.

ActivityWatch: An open-source app to track how much time you spend on which application ActivityWatch lets you check the time spent on various applications

ActivityWatch is a cross-platform open-source app that helps you track time to gauge your productivity. It lets you track the time you spent on applications, browsers, and if you were AFK (away from keyboard) or the system was hibernating.

Not just limited to tracking time, but it offers a bunch of useful features with visualizations that help you easily analyze how you spent time to potentially improve your productivity.

It’s a great alternative to proprietary options like RescueTime and ManicTime.

ActivityWatch is available for Linux, Windows, macOS and Android. It also offers browser extensions for both Chrome and Firefox. As of now, there’s no app available for iOS on the App Store.

It’s fairly new to the scene and is being actively developed to address any existing issues and introduce new features like the ability to sync your activity data across multiple devices.

For privacy-focused users, I should mention that the data collected is stored locally on your device. That’s a good thing as you can track your spent time without being tracked by someone else.

Features of ActivityWatch

Basically, ActivityWatch lets you monitor your activity to analyze bad screen time or improve the time management for what you do on your device.

To break it down, it offers several useful options that I’d like to highlight here:

  • Summary of your daily activity with apps/programs sorted as per the time spent using it.
  • Track the time of your browser activity using the extension to get the exact data on time spent on every active tab.
  • Tracks AFK and not-AFK time. (AFK — abbreviation for “Away From Keyboard” i.e. you’re not in front of your computer)
  • Offers different visualizations of timelines to monitor your activity
  • Ability to track the time you spend writing code on an editor using watchers.
  • History of your activity to analyze your productivity
  • Categorize the time spent to help you analyze in detail
  • Lets you add more categories and tweak the duration of timeline.
  • Ability to export/import your data as JSON file.
  • Experimental stopwatch feature
  • Stores data locally to respect user privacy.
Installing ActivityWatch on Linux

Note: If your Linux distribution does not support system tray icons, you will have to follow the documentation for a workaround.

Unfortunately, you won’t find an AppImage, Flatpak or Snap for it.

However, you do get an AUR package to install for Manjaro or Arch Linux.

For all other Linux distributions, you get a ZIP file which includes an aw-qt application to run.

To do that, you have to extract the zip archive file and then run the binary to install it by double-clicking on the aw-qt application.

Aw Qt

You can also use the terminal as follows:

cd activitywatch-v0.9.2-linux-x86_64 sudo ./aw-qt

The location and filename of the extracted folder might differ – so make sure you navigate to the correct directory and then use the commands above. Once done, you can access ActivityWatch from the system tray icon or simply head to localhost:5600 to access it.

You can also check out their GitHub page or the official website to explore more about it.

Download ActivityWatch

Just for your information, if you plan on using ActivityWatch regularly, you should move the downloaded files to the /opt directory and create a link to aw-qt executable in /usr/share/bin directory. This way, the application will be available as a regular command for all the users on the system. A similar method has been demonstrated in the PopcornTime installation tutorial.

My Thoughts On ActivityWatch

The time tracking works perfectly fine on Pop!_OS 20.04 with the system tray icon support. You might encounter a bug that doesn’t let you access ActivityWatch from your system tray icon (which is also a known issue on GitHub). In that case, you need to access it through localhost:5600.

Personally, I’m quite satisfied with the features offered considering that I use it on my desktop and have no plans to use it on my smartphone.

I’d definitely recommend you try this nice open-source project and support them along the way. If you like the project, feel free to show your appreciation by adding a star or sponsoring their GitHub repository.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Can’t Install Deb File on Ubuntu 20.04? Here’s What You Need to do!

Sunday 10th of May 2020 07:00:30 AM

Brief: Double-clicking on the deb file doesn’t install it via the software center in Ubuntu 20.04? You are not the only one facing this issue. This tutorial shows how to fix it.

On the “things to do after installing Ubuntu 20.04” article, a few readers mentioned that they had trouble installing software from the Deb file.

I found that strange because installing a program using the deb file is one of the simplest methods. All you have to do is to double-click the downloaded file and it opens (by default) with the Software Center program. You click on install, it asks for your password and within a few seconds/minute, the software is installed.

I had upgraded to Ubuntu 20.04 from 19.10 and hadn’t faced this issue with it until today.

I downloaded the .deb file for installing Rocket Chat messenger and when I double-clicked on it to install this software, the file was opened with the archive manager. This is not what I expected.

DEB files opened with Archive Manager instead of Software Center

The “fix” is simple, and I am going to show it to you in this quick tutorial.

Installing deb files in Ubuntu 20.04

For some reasons, the default software to open the deb file has been set to Archive Manager tool in Ubuntu 20.04. The Archive Manager tool is used for extract zip and other compressed files.

The solution for this problem is pretty simple. You change the default application in Ubuntu for opening DEB files from Archive Manager to Software Install. Let me show you the steps.

Step 1: Right click on the downloaded DEB file and select Properties:

Step 2: Go to “Open With” tab, select “Software Install” app and click on “Set as default“.

This way, all the deb files in the future will be opened with Software Install i.e. the software center applications.

Confirm it by double clicking the DEB file and see if it open with the software center application or not.

Ignorant bug or stupid feature?

Why deb files are supposed to be opened with Archive Manager is beyond comprehension. I do hope that this is a bug, not a weird feature like not allowing drag and drop files on the desktop in Ubuntu 20.04.

Since we are discussing deb file installation, let me tell you about a nifty tool gdebi. It’s a lightweight application with the sole purpose of installing DEB file. Not always but some times, it can also handle the dependencies.

You can learn more about using gdebi and making it default for installing deb files here.

Good News! You Can Now Buy the De-Googled /e/OS Smartphone from Fairphone

Thursday 7th of May 2020 11:20:00 AM

Fairphone is known for its ethical (or fair) approach of making a smartphone.

Normally, the ethical approach involves that the workers get paid well, the smartphone build materials are safer for the planet, and the phone is durable/sustainable. And, they’ve already done a good job with their Fairphone 1 , Fairphone 2, and Fairphone 3 smartphones.

Now, to take things up a notch, Fairphone has teamed up with /e/OS which is a de-googled Android fork, to launch a separate edition of Fairphone 3 (its latest smartphone) that comes with /e/OS out of the box.

In case you didn’t know about the mobile operating system, you can read our interview with Gael Duval (Founder of /e/OS) to know more about it.

While we already have some privacy-focused smartphones like Librem 5, Fairphone 3 with /e/OS is something different to its core. In this article, I’ll try highlighting the key things that you need to know before ordering a Fairphone 3 with /e/OS loaded.

The First Privacy Conscious & Sustainable Phone

You may have noticed a privacy-focused smartphone manufactured in some corner of the world, like Librem 5.

But for the most part, it looks like the Fairphone 3 is the first privacy-conscious sustainable phone to get the spotlight.

The de-googled operating system /e/OS ensures that the smartphone does not rely on Google services to function among other things. Hence, /e/OS should be a great choice for Fairphone 3 for privacy-focused users.

Also, to support /e/OS out of the box wasn’t just the decision of the manufacturer – but its community.

As per their announcement, they’ve mentioned:

For many, fairer technology isn’t just about the device and its components, it is also about the software that powers the product; and when Fairphone community members were asked what their preferred alternative operating system (OS) was for the next Fairphone, the Fairphone 3, they voted for /e/OS.

So, it looks like the users do prefer to have /e/OS on their smartphones.

Fairphone 3: Overview

To tell you what I think about it, let me first share the technical specifications of the phone:

  • Dual Nano-SIM (4G LTE/3G/2G support)
  • Display: 5.65-inch LCD (IPS) with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection
  • Screen Resolution: 2160 x 1080
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
  • Internal Storage: 64 GB
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP (IMX363 sensor)
  • Front Camera: 8 MP
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • NFC Supported
  • USB-C
  • Expandable Storage supported

So, on paper, it sounds like a decent budget smartphone. But, the pricing and availability will be an important factor keeping in mind that it’s a one-of-a-kind smartphone and we don’t really have alternatives to compare to.

Not just how it’s unique for privacy-focused users, but it is potentially the easiest phone to fix (as suggested by iFixit’s teardown).

Fairphone 3 with /e/OS: Pre-Order, Price & Availability

As for its availability – the Fairphone 3 with /e/OS is available to pre-order through the online shop of /e/OS for €479.90 across Europe. 

If you are an existing Fairphone 3 user, you can also install /e/OS from the available build here.

You get 2 years of warranty along with a 14-day return policy.

Pre-Order Fairphone 3 With /e/OS My Thoughts On Fairphone 3 with /e/OS

It’s important to consider that the smartphone is targeting a particular group of consumers. So, it’s quite obvious that it isn’t meant for everyone. The specifications on paper may look good – but not necessarily the best bang for the buck.

Also, looking at the smartphone market right now – the specifications and its value for money matter more than what we privacy-focused users want.

But it’s definitely something impressive and I believe it’s going to get good attention specially among the privacy-aware people who don’t want their smartphone spying on them.

With Fairphone 3’s launch with /e/OS, the lesser tech savvy people can now get an out of the box privacy-focused smartphone experience.

What do you think about the Fairphone 3 with /e/OS? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Fixing “Unable to parse package file /var/lib/apt/lists” Error in Ubuntu and Other Linux Distributions

Thursday 7th of May 2020 05:29:07 AM

I have discussed a number of Ubuntu update errors in the past. If you use the command line to update Ubuntu, you might run into some ‘errors’.

Some of these ‘errors’ are basically built-in features to prevent unwarranted changes to your system. I am not going into those details in this quick tutorial.

In this quick tip, I’ll show you how to tackle the following error that you could encounter while updating your system or installing new software:

Reading package lists… Error!
E: Unable to parse package file /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_bionic_InRelease
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

A similar error can be encountered in Debian:

E: Unable to parse package file /var/lib/apt/extended_states (1)

There is absolutely no need to panic even thought it says ‘The package cache file is corrupted‘. This is really easy to ‘fix’.

Handling “Unable to parse package file” error in Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions

Here’s what you need to do. Take a closer look at the name and path of the file the Ubuntu is complaining about.

Reading package lists… Error!
E: Unable to parse package file /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_bionic_InRelease
E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.

For example, in the above error, it was complaining about /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_bionic_InRelease

This gives you the idea that something is not right with this file. Now all you need to do is to remove this file and regenerate the cache.

sudo rm <file_that_is_not_parsed>

So in my case, I could use this command: sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_bionic_InRelease and then rebuild the cache with sudo apt update command.

Step by step for beginners

If you are familiar with Linux commands, you may know how to do delete the file with its absolute path. For novice users, let me guide you to safely delete the file.

First, you should go to the directory where the file is stored:

cd /var/lib/apt/lists/

Now delete the file which is not being parsed:

sudo rm archive.ubuntu.com_ubuntu_dists_bionic_InRelease

Now if you run the update again, the apt cache will be regenerated.

sudo apt update Too many files cannot be parsed?

This is fine if you have one or two files that are not being parsed while updating the system. But if the system complains about ten or twenty such files, removing them one by one is too tiring.

What you can do in such a case to remove the entire cache and then generate it again:

sudo rm -r /var/lib/apt/lists/* sudo apt update Explanation of how it fixed your problem

The /var/lib/apt is the directory where files and data related to the apt package manager are stored. The /var/lib/apt/lists is the directory which is used for storing information for each package resource specified in your system’s sources.list.

In slightly non complicated terms, this /var/lib/apt/lists stores the package information cache. When you want to install or update a program, your system checks in this directory for the information on the said package. If it finds the detail on the package, then it goes to remote repository and actually download the program or its update.

When you run the “sudo apt update”, it builds the cache. This is why even when you remove everything in the /var/lib/apt/lists directory, running the update will build a fresh cache.

This is how it handles the issue of file not being parsed. Your system complained about a particular package or repository information that somehow got corrupted (either a failed download or manual change to sources.list). Removing that file (or everything) and rebuilding the cache solves the issue.

Still facing error?

This should fix the issue for you. But if the problem still persists or if you have some other related issue, let me know in the comment section and I’ll try to help you out.

Ubuntu Studio To Replace Xfce With KDE Plasma Desktop Environment

Wednesday 6th of May 2020 10:26:01 AM

Ubuntu Studio is a popular official flavour of Ubuntu tailored for creative content creators involved in audio production, video, graphics, photography, and book publishing. It offers a lot of multimedia content creation applications out of the box with the best possible experience.

After the recent 20.04 LTS release, the Ubuntu Studio team highlighted something very important in their official announcement. And, probably not everyone noticed the key information i.e Ubuntu Studio’s future.

Ubuntu Studio 20.04 will be the last version to ship with the Xfce desktop environment. All the future releases will be using KDE Plasma instead.

Why is Ubuntu Studio ditching XFCE?

As per their clarification, Ubuntu Studio isn’t focused on any particular look/feel but aims to provide the best user experience possible. And, KDE proves to be a better option.

Plasma has proven to have better tools for graphics artists and photographers, as can be seen in Gwenview, Krita, and even the file manager Dolphin. Additionally, it has Wacom tablet support better than any other desktop environment.

It has become so good that the majority of the Ubuntu Studio team is now using Kubuntu with Ubuntu Studio added-on via Ubuntu Studio Installer as their daily driver. With so many of us using Plasma, the timing just seems right to focus on a transition to Plasma with our next release.

Of course every desktop environment has been tailored for something different. And, here, they think that KDE Plasma will be the most suitable desktop environment replacing XFCE to provide a better user experience to all the users.

While I’m not sure how the users will react to this as every user has a different set of preferences. If the existing users won’t have a problem with KDE, it isn’t going to be a big deal.

It is worth noting that Ubuntu Studio also mentioned why KDE is potentially a superior choice for them:

The Plasma desktop environment has, without Akonadi, become just as light in resource usage as Xfce, perhaps even lighter. Other audio-focused Linux distributions, such as Fedora Jam and KXStudio, have historically used the KDE Plasma desktop environment and done well with the audio.

Also, they’ve highlighted an article by Jason Evangelho at Forbes where some benchmarks reveal that KDE is almost as light as Xfce. Even though that’s a good sign – we still have to wait for the users to test-drive the KDE-powered Ubuntu Studio. Only then we’ll be able to observe whether Ubuntu Studio’s decision to ditch XFCE desktop environment was the right thing to do.

What will change for Ubuntu Studio users after this change?

The overall workflow may get affected (or improve) moving forward with KDE on Ubuntu Studio 20.10 and later.

However, the upgrade process (from 20.04 to 20.10) will result in broken systems. So, a fresh install of Ubuntu Studio 20.10 or later versions will be the only way to go.

They’ve also mentioned that they will be constantly evaluating for any duplication with the pre-installed apps. So, I believe more details will follow in the coming days.

Ubuntu Studio is second distribution that has changed its main desktop environment in recent times. Earlier, Lubuntu switched to LXQt from LXDE.

What do you think about this change? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix 20.04 Review: The Perfect Blend of Ubuntu With Cinnamon

Wednesday 6th of May 2020 06:14:16 AM

GNOME 3 was introduced in 2011, and the GNOME Shell immediately generated both positive and negative responses. Many users and developers liked the original GNOME interface enough that a few groups forked it and one of those, Linux Mint team, created the Cinnamon desktop environment.

The Cinnamon desktop became the identity of Linux Mint. For years, Cinnamon has been synonymous to Linux Mint. It has changed slightly in the past few years as the popularity for Cinnamon grew. Now other distributions have also started offering Cinnamon desktop environment. Manjaro is one such example.

A few months back, we introduced you to a new Ubuntu flavor that provides an out of the box Cinnamon desktop experience. let’s take a deeper look at Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix today.

Why Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix and not Linux Mint?

It is true that Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and Many Linux Mint users will have the question: Does it make any sense to switch over to Ubuntu as Linux Mint is such a mature project and the user experience will remain more or less the same?

Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix has a number of small differences from Linux Mint, but has has one key difference that a Linux enthusiast can’t ignore.

Linux Mint is based on “LTS” (Long-Term Support) versions of Ubuntu, meaning it stays behind the Canonical’s 6-month update cadence. Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix benefits from a newer kernel to other 6-month cycle feature upgrade and more recent software.

Another key difference is that Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix will “inherit” Snap support, and Linux Mint embraces FlatPak. Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix uses Ubuntu Software Center instead of Mint Software Manager.

That said, I am a huge fan of Cinnamon. So I chose to review this mix of Ubuntu and Cinnamon and here I share my experience with it.

Experiencing Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix

By any chance given, I will always mention how fast Calamares installer is and thanks to Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix Team for choosing so.

Calamares Installer

A fresh installation of Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix consumes approximately 750 MB of RAM. This is very similar to Linux Mint Cinnamon.

An idle Cinnamon takes 750 MB of RAM

I was also impressed by the beautiful Kimmo theme and the orange toned Ubuntu wallpaper which seems to be a result of a very meticulous effort.

Ubuntu Cinammon Remix 20.04 Desktop Enough tools to get you started

As with any other Ubuntu distribution, Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix is packed with the essential productivity tools, to name a few:

  • Firefox Web Browser
  • Thunderbird – Email Client
  • LibreOffice suite
  • Celluloid – Multimedia player
  • GIMP – Image processing software
  • Synaptic Package Manager
  • Gnome Software Center
  • Gparted – Partition Manager

Using Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix as my main runner for a few days, fulfilled my high expectations. Ubuntu is rock-solid stable, very fast and I didn’t face a single issue at my day to day tasks.

Ubuntu for Linux Mint Lovers

Are you enthusiastic about Ubuntu Cinnamon but got used to Linux Mint theme? Click below to see how you can get a full Linux Mint theme pack and how to configure it to keep the Ubuntu heritage.

Give Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix the real Mint touch

Firstly you have to download and unpack the following, easily done via terminal.

Get the Linux Mint-X icon pack

wget http://packages.linuxmint.com/pool/main/m/mint-x-icons/mint-x-icons_1.5.5_all.deb

Get the Linux Mint-Y icon pack

wget http://packages.linuxmint.com/pool/main/m/mint-y-icons/mint-y-icons_1.3.9_all.deb

Get the Linux Mint Themes

wget http://packages.linuxmint.com/pool/main/m/mint-themes/mint-themes_1.8.4_all.deb

Install the downloaded content

sudo dpkg -i ./mint-x-icons_1.5.5_all.deb ./mint-y-icons_1.3.9_all.deb ./mint-themes_1.8.4_all.deb

When done, click on the Menu button at the bottom left corner and type themes. You can also find themes in system settings.

Accessing Themes

Once opened replace the kimmo icons and theme as shown below. The Linux Mint default “Green” is the plain Mint-Y but the orange colour is a perfect selection for Ubuntu.

Linux Mint Theme Settings A treat for Cinnamon fans

Let’s accept it, aesthetics are important. Cinnamon has a clean and elegant look, easy to read fonts and nice colour contrast themes. Cinnamon offers an uncluttered desktop with easily configured desktop icons simply by accessing the Desktop menu under System Settings. You can also choose the desktop icons to be shown only on the primary monitor, only on secondary monitor, or on both. This also applies to a beyond two monitor setup.

Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix Desklets

Desklets and applets are small, single-purpose applications that can be added to your desktop or your panel respectively. The most commonly used among the many you can choose are CPU or resources monitor, a weather applet, sticky notes, and calendar.

The Cinnamon Control Center provides centralized access to many of the desktop configuration options. By accessing the themes section you can choose the desktop basic scheme and icons, window borders, mouse pointers, and controls look. Fonts can have a great impact on the overall desktop look and cinnamon makes the change easier than ever.

The Cinnamon Control Center makes the configuration simple enough for a new user, compared to KDE Plasma that can lead a new user to confusion, due to the massive number of configuration options.

The Cinnamon Panel contains the menu used to launch programs, a basic system tray, and an application selector. The panel is easy to configure and adding new program launchers is simply done by locating the program you want to add in the main Menu, right click on the icon and select “Add to panel.” You can also add the launcher icon to the desktop, and to the Cinnamon “Favourites” launcher bar. If you don’t like the order of the icons at your panel, just right click at the panel bar, enter panel’s Edit mode and rearrange the icons.

Conclusions

Whether you decide to “spice” up your desktop or thinking to move from Windows to Linux, the Cinnamon Community has made plenty of spices for you.

Traditional yet elegant, customizable but simple, Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix is an interesting project with a promising future, and for existing fans of the Cinnamon Desktop who love Ubuntu, this is probably a no-brainer.

What do you think of Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix? Have you used it already?

After More Than 3 Years, Inkscape 1.0 is Finally Here With Tons of Feature Improvements

Tuesday 5th of May 2020 10:54:35 AM

Even though I’m not an expert, it is safe to say that Inkscape is one of the best vector graphics editors.

Not just limited to the reason that it is free and open-source software – but it is indeed a useful application for digital artists creating something on it.

The last release (version 0.92) was about 3 years ago. And, now, finally, Inkscape announced its 1.0 release – with a bunch of new features, additions, and improvements.

Inkscape 1.0: What’s New? Inkscape 1.0

Here, let me highlight the important key changes that you need to know about Inkscape 1.0 release:

First native macOS application

It’s always good to have a proper cross-platform support for amazing tools like Inkscape. And, with the latest release, a native macOS application has been made available as well.

Do note that the macOS app is still a preview version and has room for a lot of improvements. However, with a better system integration without needing XQuartz, it should be a promising progress for macOS users.

Performance Improvements

Any kind of application/tool benefits from a significant performance boost. And, so does Inkscape.

With its 1.0 release, they mention that you will be able to notice the smoother performance when using Inkscape for all the creative work you do.

Except on macOS (which is still a “preview” version), Inkscape should run just fine on Linux and Windows.

Improved UI and HiDPI Support

In their release notes, they’ve mentioned:

A major milestone was achieved in enabling Inkscape to use a more recent version of the software used to build the editor’s user interface (namely GTK+3). Users with HiDPI (high resolution) screens can thank teamwork that took place during the 2018 Boston Hackfest for setting the updated-GTK wheels in motion.

So, starting from GTK +3 user interface to the HiDPI support for high-resolution screens, it is a wonderful upgrade.

Not to forget, you get more customization options to tweak the look and feel as well.

New Feature Additions

On paper, the list of new features sounds good. Depending on your expertise and what you prefer, the latest additions should come in handy.

Here’s an overview of the new features:

  • New and improved Live Path Effect (LPE) features
  • A new searchable LPE selection dialog
  • Freestyle drawing users can now mirror and rotate the canvas
  • The new PowerPencil mode of the Pencil tool provides pressure-dependent width and it is finally possible to create closed paths.
  • New path effects that will appeal to the artistic user include Offset, PowerClip, and PowerMask LPEs.
  • Ability to create a duplicate guide, aligning grids to the page, the Measure tool’s path length indicator, and the inverted Y-axis.
  • Ability to export PDFs with clickable links and metadata
  • New palettes and mesh gradients that work in the web browser

While I’ve tried to compile the list of the key features added to this release, you can get all the nitty gritty details in their release notes.

Other Important Changes

Along with all the major changes, Inkscape 1.0 now supports Python 3. And, with that going forward, you might notice some extensions that don’t work with the latest version.

So, if your work depends on the workflow of your extensions, I suggest you to take a closer look at their release notes to get all the technical details.

Download & Install Inkscape 1.0 on Linux

Inkscape 1.0 is available in AppImage and Snap format for Linux. You can download it from Inkscape’s website.

Download Inkscape 1.0 for Linux

If you aren’t aware, you can check how to use AppImage file on Linux to get started. You may also refer to this Snap guide.

Ubuntu users can find the snap version of Inskcape 1.0 in the Ubuntu Software Center.

I used the AppImage file on Pop OS 20.04 and it worked just fine to get started. You can test drive all the features in detail to see how it works out for you.

Have you tried it yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Browse the Peer-to-peer Web With Beaker Browser

Monday 4th of May 2020 03:44:33 AM

The Internet as we know it has existed unchanged (more or less) for the last 50 years. People across the globe use their devices to retrieve data from huge servers dotted around the world.

A group of dedicated technologists wants to change that to make the internet a place where people can connect and share information directly instead of relying on a central server (decentralization).

There are a bunch of such decentralized services that we have already covered on It’s FOSS. LBRY as YouTube alternative, Mastodon as Twitter alternative are just a couple of such examples.

And today I am going to cover another such product called Beaker Browser which is essentially for browsing the peer to peer web.

Beaker Browser What is the ‘peer-to-peer Web’?

According to one of the devs behind the Beaker browser, “The P2P Web is an experimental set of technologies…to give users more control over the Web.”

Further, they say that the peer-to-peer Web has three main principles: anybody can be a server; multiple computers can serve the same site; there is no back end.

As you can see from those principles. the idea of the peer-to-peer Web is very similar to BitTorrent where files are seeded by multiple peers and those peers share the bandwidth load. This reduces the overall bandwidth that a person needs to provide for their site.

Beaker Browser Settings

The other major part of the peer-to-peer Web is creator control of their ideas. In this day and age, platforms being controlled by large corporations, who try to use your data for their benefit. Beaker returns control to the content creators.

Browsing the decentralized web with Beaker

The Beaker Browser first came into existence in 2016. The project (and the technology that surrounds it) is created by a team of three at Blue Link Labs. The Beaker Browser uses the Dat protocol to share data between computers. All websites that use the Dat protocol start with dat:// instead of http://.

The strengths of the Dat protocol are:

  • Fast – Archives sync from multiple sources at once.
  • Secure – All updates are signed and integrity-checked.
  • Resilient – Archives can change hosts without changing their URLs.
  • Versioned – Changes are written to an append-only version log.
  • Decentralized – Any device can host any archive.
Beaker Browser Seeding

The Beaker Browser is essentially a cut down version of Chromium with built-in support for dat://addresses. It can still visit regular http:// sites.

Each time you visit a dat site, the content for that site is downloaded to your computer as you request it. For example, a picture of Linux Torvalds on the about page of a site is not downloaded until you navigate to that page.

Also, once you visit a dat website, “you temporarily re-upload or seed whichever files you’ve downloaded from the website.” You can also choose to seed the website to help its creator.

Beaker Browser Menu

Since the whole idea of Beaker is to create a more open web, you can easily view the source of any website. Unlike most browsers where you just see the source code the current page, you are viewing, Beaker shows you the entire structure of the site in a GitHub-like view. You can even fork the site and host your version of it.

Besides visiting dat-based websites, you can also create your own site. In the Beaker Browser menu, there is an option to create a new website or an empty project. If you select the option to create a new website, Beaker will build a little demo site that you can edit with the browser’s built-in editor.

However, if you are like me and prefer to use Markdown, you can choose to create an empty project. Beaker will create the structure of a site and assign it a dat://address. Create an index.md file and you are good to go. There is a short tutorial with more info. You can also use the create empty project option to build a web app.

Beaker Browser Website Template

Since Beaker acts as a web server and site seeder, any time you close it or turn off your computer your site will become unavailable. Thankfully, you don’t have to run your computer or the browser constantly. You can also use a seeding service named Hashbase or you can set up a homebase seeding server.

Though Beaker is available for Linux, Windows, and macOS. If you do start playing around Beaker, be sure to take a quick look at their guides.

Beaker Browser is not for everyone but it has a purpose

When I first got this assignment, I had high hopes for the Beaker Browser. As it stands now, it’s still very experimental. A number of the dat sites that I tried to visit were unavailable because the user was not seeding their site. Beaker does have an option to notify you when that site is back online.

Beaker Browser No Peer

Another problem is that Beaker is a really stripped down version of Chromium. There is no option to install extensions or themes. Instead, you are stuck with a white theme and a very limited toolset. I would not use this as my main browser and having access to the world of dat websites is not enough of a reason to keep it installed on my system.

I looked to see if there is an extension for Firefox that would add support for the dat:// protocol. I did find such an extension, but it also required the installation of a couple of other pieces of software. It’s just easier to install Beaker.

As it stands now, Beaker is not for me. Maybe in the future, more people will start using Beaker or the dat protocol will gain support by other browsers. Then it might be interesting. Right now, it’s kinda empty.

As part of my time with Beaker, I created a website using the built-in tools. Don’t worry, I made sure that it’s seeded.

Beaker Bowser Site Source

What are your thoughts on the Beaker Brower? What are your thoughts on the peer-to-peer web? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media, Hacker News, or Reddit.

How to Assign Static IP Address on Ubuntu Linux

Saturday 2nd of May 2020 07:08:28 AM

Brief: In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to assign static IP address on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Both command line and GUI methods have been discussed.

IP addresses on Linux Systems in most cases are assigned by Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers. IP addresses assigned this way are dynamic which means that the IP address might change when you restart your Ubuntu system. It’s not necessary but it may happen.

Dynamic IP is not an issue for normal desktop Linux users in most cases. It could become an issue if you have employed some special kind of networking between your computers.

For example, you can share your keyboard and mouse between Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi. The configuration uses IP addresses of both system. If the IP address changes dynamically, then your setup won’t work.

Another use case is with servers or remotely administered desktops. It is easier to set static addresses on those systems for connection stability and consistency between the users and applications.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to set up static IP address on Ubuntu based Linux distributions. Let me show you the command line way first and then I’ll show the graphical way of doing it on desktop.

Method 1: Assign static IP in Ubuntu using command line

Note for desktop users: Use static IP only when you need it. Automatic IP saves you a lot of headache in handling network configuration.

Step 1: Get the name of network interface and the default gateway

The first thing you need to know is the name of the network interface for which you have to set up the static IP.

You can either use ip command or the network manager CLI like this:

nmcli d

In my case, it shows my Ethernet (wired) network is called enp0s25:

Ubuntu> nmcli d DEVICE TYPE STATE CONNECTION enp0s25 ethernet unmanaged -- lo loopback unmanaged --

Next, you should note the default gateway IP using the Linux command ip route:

ip route default via 192.168.31.1 dev enp0s25 proto dhcp metric 600 169.254.0.0/16 dev enp0s25 scope link metric 1000 192.168.31.0/24 dev enp0s25 proto kernel scope link src 192.168.31.36 metric 600

As you can guess, the default gateway is 192.168.31.1 for me.

Step 2: Locate Netplan configuration

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and later versions use Netplan for managing the network configuration. Netplan configuration are driven by .yaml files located in /etc/netplan directory.

By default, you should see a .yaml file named something like 01-network-manager-all.yaml, 50-cloud-init.yaml, 01-netcfg.yaml.

Whatever maybe the name, its content should look like this:

# Let NetworkManager manage all devices on this system network: version: 2 renderer: NetworkManager

You need to edit this file for using static IP.

Step 3: Edit Netplan configuration for assigning static IP

Just for the sake of it, make a backup of your yaml file.

Please make sure to use the correct yaml file name in the commands from here onward.

Use nano editor with sudo to open the yaml file like this:

sudo nano /etc/netplan/01-netcfg.yaml

Please note that yaml files use spaces for indentation. If you use tab or incorrect indention, your changes won’t be saved.

You should edit the file and make it look like this by providing the actual details of your IP address, gateway, interface name etc.

network: version: 2 renderer: networkd ethernets: enp0s25: dhcp4: no addresses: - 192.168.31.16/24 gateway4: 192.168.31.1 nameservers: addresses: [8.8.8.8, 1.1.1.1]

In the above file, I have set the static IP to 192.168.31.16.

Save the file and apply the changes with this command:

sudo netplan apply

You can verify it by displaying your ip address in the terminal with ‘ip a’ command.

Revert the changes and go back to dynamic IP

If you don’t want to use the static IP address anymore, you can revert easily.

If you have backed up the original yaml file, you can delete the new one and use the backup one.

Otherwise, you can change the yaml file again and make it look like this:

network: version: 2 renderer: networkd ethernets: enp0s25: dhcp4: yes Method 2: Switch to static IP address in Ubuntu graphically

If you are on desktop, using the graphical method is easier and faster.

Go to the settings and look for network settings. Click the gear symbol adjacent to your network connection.

Next, you should go to the IPv4 tab. Under the IPv4 Method section, click on Manual.

In the Addresses section, enter the IP static IP address you want, netmask is usually 24 and you already know your gateway IP with the ip route command.

You may also change the DNS server if you want. You can keep Routes section to Automatic.

Once everything is done, click on Apply button. See, how easy it is to set a static IP address graphically.

If you haven’t read my previous article on how to change MAC Address, you may want to read in conjunction with this one.

More networking related articles will be rolling out, let me know your thoughts at the comments below and stay connected to our social media.

Pop OS 20.04 Review: Best Ubuntu-based Distribution Just Got Better

Friday 1st of May 2020 06:16:23 AM

Brief: Pop OS 20.04 is an impressive Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. I review the major new features in this review and share my experience with the latest release.

Now that Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and its official flavours are here – it’s time to take a look at one of best Ubuntu-based distro i.e Pop!_OS 20.04 by System76.

To be honest, Pop!_OS is my favorite Linux distro that I primarily use for everything I do.

Now that Pop!_OS 20.04 has finally arrived. It’s time to take a look at what it offers and whether you should upgrade or not?

What’s New In Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos

Visually, Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS isn’t really very different from Pop!_OS 19.10. However, you can find several new features and improvements.

But, if you were using Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS, you have a lot of things to try.

With GNOME 3.36 onboard along with some newly added features, Pop!_OS 20.04 is an exciting release.

Overall, to give you an overview here are some key highlights:

  • Automatic Window Tiling
  • New Application Switcher and Launcher
  • Flatpack support added in Pop!_Shop
  • GNOME 3.36
  • Linux Kernel 5.4
  • Improved hybrid graphics support

While this sounds fun, let us take a look at a detailed look on what has changed and how’s the experience of Pop!_OS 20.04 so far.

User Experience Improvements in Pop OS 20.04

Undoubtedly, a lot of Linux distros offer a pleasant user experience out of the box. Likewise, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS has had top-notch improvements and features as well.

And, when it comes to Pop!_OS by System 76, they always try to go a mile further. And, the majority of new features aim to improve the user experience by providing useful functionalities.

Here, I’m going to take a look at some of the improvements that include GNOME 3.36 and Pop!_OS-specific features.

Support For System Tray Icons

Finally! This may not be a big change – but Pop!_OS did not have the support for system tray icons (or applet icons).

With 20.04 LTS release, it’s here by default. No need of any extension.

There may not be a whole lot of programs depending on system tray icons – but it is still something important to have.

In my case, I wasn’t able to use ActivityWatch on Pop!_OS 19.10 – but now I can.

Automatic Window Tiling

Automatic Window Tiling is something I always wanted to try – but never invested any time to set it up using a tiling window manager like i3, not even with Regolith Desktop.

With Pop!_OS 20.04, you don’t need to do that anyway. The automatic window tiling feature comes baked in without needing you to set it up.

It also features an option to Show Active Hint i.e it will highlight the active window to avoid confusion. And, you can also adjust the gap between the windows.

You can see it in action in their official video:

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos

And, I must say that it is one of the biggest additions on Pop!_OS 20.04 that could potentially help you multi-task more efficiently.

Even though the feature comes in handy everytime you use it. To make the most out of it, a display screen bigger than 21-inches (at least) should be the best way to go! And, for this reason – I’m really tempted to upgrade my monitor as well!

New Extensions App

Pop!_OS comes baked in with some unique GNOME extensions. But, you don’t need GNOME Tweaks the manage the extension anymore.

The newly added Extensions app lets you configure and manage the extensions on Pop!_OS 20.04.

Improved Notification Center

With the new GNOME 3.36 release, the notification center includes a revamped look. Here, I have the dark mode enabled.

New Application Switcher & Launcher

You can still ALT+TAB or Super key + TAB to go through the running applications.

But, that’s time-consuming when you have a lot of things going on. So, on Pop!_OS 20.04, you get an application switcher and launcher which you can activate using Super key + /

Once you get used to the keyboard shortcut, it will be very convenient thing to have.

In addition to this, you may find numerous other subtle improvements visually with the icons/windows on Pop!_OS 20.04.

New Login Screen

Well, with GNOME 3.36, it’s an obvious change. But, it does look good!

Flatpak Support on Pop!_Shop

Normally, Pop!_Shop is already something useful with a huge repository along with Pop!_OS’s own repositories.

Now, with Pop!_OS 20.04, you can choose to install either Flatpak (via Flathub) or the Debian package of any available software on Pop!_Shop. Of course, only if a Flatpak package exists for the particular software.

You might want to check how to use Flatpak on Linux if you don’t have Pop!_OS 20.04.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Flatpak but some applications like GIMP requires you to install the Flatpak package to get the latest version. So, it is definitely a good thing to have the support for Flatpak on Pop!_Shop baked right into it.

Keyboard Shortcut Changes

This can be annoying if you’re comfortable with the existing keyboard shortcuts on Pop!_OS 19.10 or older.

In either case, there are a few important keyboard shortcut changes to potentially improve your experience, here they are:

  • Lock Screen: Super + L changed to Super + Escape
  • Move Workspace: Super + Up/Down Arrow changed to Super + CTRL + Up/Down Arrow
  • Close Window: Super + W changed to Super + Q
  • Toggle Maximize: Super + Up Arrow changed to Super + M
Linux Kernel 5.4

Similar to most of the other latest Linux distros, Pop!_OS 20.04 comes loaded with Linux Kernel 5.4.

So, obviously, you can expect the exFAT support and an improved AMD graphics compatibility along with all the other features that come with it.

Performance Improvements

Even though Pop!_OS doesn’t pitch itself as a lightweight Linux distro, it is still a resource-efficient distro. And, with GNOME 3.36 onboard, it should be fast enough.

Considering that I’ve been using Pop!_OS as my primary distro for about a year, I’ve never had any performance issues. And, this is how the resource usage will probably look like (depending on your system configuration) after you install Pop!_OS 20.04.

To give you an idea, my desktop configuration involves an i5-7400 processor, 16 GB RAM (2400 MHz), NVIDIA GTX 1050ti graphics card, and an SSD.

I’m not really a fan of system benchmarks because it does not really give you the idea of how a specific application or a game would perform unless you try it.

You can try the Phoronix Test Suite to analyze how your system performs. But, Pop!_OS 20.04 LTSshould be a snappy experience!

Package Updates & Other Improvements

While every Ubuntu-based distro benefits from the improvements in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, there are some Pop OS specific bug fixes and improvements as well.

In addition to it, some major apps/packages like Firefox 75.0 have been updated to their latest version.

As of now, there should be no critical bugs present and at least none for me.

You can check out their development progress on GitHub to check the details of issues they’ve already fixed during the beta testing and the issues they will be fixing right after the release.

Download & Support Pop!_OS 20.04

With this release, System76 has finally added a subscription model (optional) to support Pop!_OS development.

You can download Pop!_OS 20.04 for free – but if you want to support them I’d suggest you go for the subscription with just $1/month.

Pop!_OS 20.04 My Thoughts on Pop OS 20.04

I must mention that I was rooting for a fresh new wallpaper with the latest 20.04 release. But, that’s not a big deal.

With the window tiling feature, flatpak support, and numerous other improvements, my experience with Pop!_OS 20.04 has been top-notch so far. Also, it’s great to see that they are highlighting their focus on creative professionals with out-of-the-box support for some popular software.

All the good things about Ubuntu 20.04 and some extra toppings on it by System76, I’m impressed!

Have you tried the Pop!_OS 20.04 yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Handle Automatic Updates in Ubuntu

Thursday 30th of April 2020 01:00:56 PM

Brief: This tutorial teaches you how to handle the unattended upgrade i.e. the automatic system updates in Ubuntu Linux.

Sometimes, when you try to shutdown your Ubuntu system, you may come across this screen that stops you from shutting down:

Unattended-upgrade in progress during shutdown, please don’t turn off the computer.

Unattended Upgrade In Progress In Ubuntu

You might wonder what is this “unattended upgrade” and how come it is running without your knowledge.

The reason is that Ubuntu takes your system’s security very seriously. By default, it automatically checks for system updates daily and if it finds any security updates, it downloads those updates and install them on its own. For normal system and application updates, it notifies you via the Software Updater tool.

Since all this happens in the background, you don’t even realize it until you try to shutdown your system or try to install applications on your own.

Trying to install a new software when these unattended upgrades are in progress leads to the famous could not get lock error.

As you can see, the automatic updates present a couple of minor annoyance. You may choose to disable the auto updates but that would mean that you’ll have to check and update your Ubuntu system manually all the time.

Do you really need to disable auto updates?

Please note that this is a security feature. Linux allows you to do practically everything in your system even disabling these security features.
But in my opinion, as a regular user, you should not disable the automatic updates. It keeps your system safe after all.
For the sake of your system’s security, you may tolerate the minor annoyances that come with the automatic updates.

Now that you have been warned and you think it is better to take up the additional task of manually updating your system, let’s see how to handle the auto updates.

As always, there are two ways to do it: GUI and command line. I’ll show you both methods.

I have used Ubuntu 20.04 here but the steps are valid for Ubuntu 18.04 and any other Ubuntu version.

Method 1: Disable automatic updates in Ubuntu graphically

Go to the menu and look for ‘software & updates’ tool.

Software & Updates Settings

In here, go to Updates tab. Now look for the “Automatically check for updates”. By default it is set to Daily.

You can change it to Never and your system will never check for updates on its own again. And if it won’t check for updates, it won’t find new updates to install.

Disable Auto Updates in Ubuntu Completely

If you do this, you must manually update your system from time to time. But that’s an additional chore to do and you may not remember it all the time.

Slightly better way to handle auto updates in Ubuntu

Personally, I would suggest to let it check for updates on its own. If you don’t want it installing the updates automatically, you can change that behavior to get notified about the availability of security updates.

Keep “Automatically check for updates” to Daily and change “When there are security updates” option to “Display immediately” instead of “Download and install automatically”.

Get notified for security updates instead of automatically installing them

This way, it checks for updates and if there are updates, instead of installing them automatically in the background, the Software Updater tool notifies you that updates are available for your system. Your system already does that for normal system and software updates.

Get notified about security updates

With this setup, you won’t see the “unattended upgrades in progress” when you shutdown your system However, you may still encounter the ‘could not get lock’ error because two separate processes cannot use apt package manager at the same time.

I believe this is a better solution, don’t you you think?

As I promised both GUI and command line methods, let me show you how to disable unattended upgrades in the terminal.

How to disable automatic updates in Ubuntu using command line

You’ll find the auto-upgrades settings in the /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades file. The default text editor in Ubuntu terminal is Nano so you can use this command to edit this configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades

Now, if you don’t want your system to check for updates automatically, you can change the value of APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists to 0.

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "0"; APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "0";

If you want it to check for updates but don’t install the unattended-upgrades automatically, you can choose to set it like this:

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1"; APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "0";

In the end…

The automatic security updates are enabled automatically for a reason and I recommend you keep it like this. A couple of minor annoyances are not really worth risking the security of your system. What do you think?

Fedora 32 Released! Check Out The New Features

Wednesday 29th of April 2020 05:10:00 AM

Fedora 32 has finally arrived! Just a few days after Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release, fedora fans can get their hands on the latest Fedora 32 as well!

In this article, I am going to highlight the new features available on Fedora 32.

What’s new in Fedora 32? EarlyOOM Enabled

With this release, EarlyOOM comes enabled by default. To give you a background, EarlyOOM lets users to easily recover their systems from a low-memory situation with heavy swap usage.

It is worth noting that it is applicable to the Fedora 32 Workstation edition.

GNOME 3.36 Added

The new Fedora 32 Workstation also comes included with the new GNOME 3.36.

Not just limited to Fedora 32 Workstation – but you’ll find it on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS as well.

Of course, the improvements in GNOME 3.36 translates to Fedora’s latest release as well – providing a faster and better experience, overall.

So, with that being said, you get some of the following visual highlights:

Re-designed Lock Screen

The lockscreen is completely something new with a focus on better and faster user experience.

Supports The New Extensions App

You no longer need to utilize the GNOME Tweaks tool to separately install/manage extensions. Fedora 32 features the new extension app which lets you manage GNOME extensions directly.

However, you won’t find it pre-installed. You will have to look through the software center to get it installed or simply type in the following command:

sudo dnf install gnome-extensions-app Revamped Settings Menu

As part of the new GNOME 3.36, you will find the Settings app to be re-organized and more useful than ever before. You can get more information about your system and access the options easily.

Notifications Area Redesign With Do Not Disturb Toggle

The best thing about GNOME 3.36 is the notification area or the calendar pop-over redesign. And, Fedora 32 has it nicely set up as well in addition to the Do Not Disturb mode toggle if needed.

Redesigned Clock App

Fedora 32 also includes an overhaul to the design of the clock app. The latest design also fits well with smaller windows.

Package Updates

Fedora 32 release also updates a lot of important packages that include Ruby 2.7, Perl, and Python 3.8. It also features the latest version 10 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC).

Other Changes

In addition to the key highlights, there’s a lot of things that have changed, improved, or fixed. You can take a detailed look at its changelog to know more about what has changed.

Upgrade Fedora 31 to Fedora 32

You can simply head to the software center to find the latest update available or head to the terminal to upgrade your system from Fedora 31 to Fedora 32.

If you need help with that, we have an article on how to upgrade a Fedora version to assist you.

Download Fedora 32

Now that Fedora 32 has finally landed. You can get started downloading it.

However, before you give it a try, I’d also suggest taking a look at the official list of know bugs for the current release.

In the official announcement, they mentioned the availability of both Fedora 32 workstation and the server along with other popular variants.

To get the Workstation and the Server edition, you have to visit the official download page for Fedora Workstation and Fedora Server (depending on what you want).

Fedora 32 Workstation Fedora 32 Server

For other variants, click on the links below to head to their respective download pages:

Have you noticed any other new feature in Fedora 32? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Encrypt Your Files Before Uploading it to Cloud With Cryptomator

Tuesday 28th of April 2020 12:52:10 PM

Open source software highlight of this week is Cryptomator. It is a unique free and open-source encryption software that lets you encrypt your data before uploading it to the cloud.

There are several cloud services available for Linux and almost all of them do not offer end to end encryption, at least not by default.

Usually, the connection between your device and the server is secure. But your data stored on the server is not encrypted. Employees with direct access to the infrastructure at your cloud service providers may access this data.

Of course, these companies have strict policies against such intrusion but a rogue employee can do a lot of damage. Remember the incident when a departing Twitter employee deactivated the account of US President Donald Trump.

If you are one of the privacy cautious people, you would want the ease of cloud storage but with the added security layer of encrypted storage.

Now some services like pCloud do provide end to end encryption but that comes at an additional cost. If you could afford that, well and good. If not, you can use a free and open source tool like Cryptomator.

Cryptomator helps you secure your data by encrypting it before uploading it to any cloud storage services. In this article, I’m going to highlight the key features of Cryptomator along with instructions to use it.

Cryptomator: Add an encryption layer to your cloud data

Cryptomator is a solution to encrypt your data locally before uploading it to the cloud.

With this, you can create vaults locally and sync them to the cloud storage services you use.

It’s very easy to use and you don’t need to have any specific technical knowledge to encrypt your data – that’s what Cryptomator is tailored for.

Features of Cryptomator

Cryptomator is a simple encryption tool with the essential features. Here’s what it offers:

  • AES and 256-bit Encryption for files.
  • Ability to create a vault and sync it with the cloud storage service
  • Optional recovery key for your master password of the vault
  • Cross-platform support (Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS)
  • Supports the dark theme for a one-time license fee.
  • Supports WebDAV, FUSE, and Dokany for easy integration with your operating system.

Do note that the Android and iOS apps are paid apps that you have to purchase separately while the desktop program is completely free to use. Also, you need to purchase a one-time license to unlock the dark mode. Don’t blame them please. They need to make some money in order to develop this open source software.

Installing Cryptomator on Linux

Cryptomater provides an AppImage file that you can download to get started on any Linux distribution.

You can get it from its official download page. In case you don’t know, please read how to use an AppImage file to get started.

Download Cryptomator How To Use Cryptomator?

Attention!

Encryption is a double-edged sword. It can protect you and it can hurt you as well.
If you are encrypting your data and you forgot your encryption key, you’ll lose access to that data forever.
Cryptomator provides a recovery key option so please be careful with both password and the recovery key. Don’t forget it or lose the recovery key.

Once you have installed Cryptomator, it’s really easy to use it following the user interface or the official documentation.

But, to save you some time, I’ll highlight a few important things that you should know:

Setup Your Vault

After launching Cryptomator, you need to create the vault where you want to have your encrypted data.

This can be an existing location or a new custom directory as per your requirements.

Now that you proceed creating a new vault, you will also observe that you can open an existing vault as well (if you had one already). So, always have a backup of your vault, just in case.

Here, I am assuming that you are a new user. So, obviously, proceed to create a new vault and give it a name:

Next, you need to specify a storage location. If you already use OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or something similar, it might detect it automatically.

However, if it doesn’t, like in my case (I use pCloud), you can select the cloud-synced directory or any other custom location manually.

Once you select the location, you just need to create a password for it. It’s best to create a strong password that you can remember.

Also, I’d suggest you to opt for the recovery key and store it in a separate USB drive or just print it on a paper.

And, that’s it. You’re done creating your secure vault that you can sync with the cloud.

Now, how do you add files to it? Let’s take a look:

Adding Files To A Vault

Note: You can’t just go into the folder that you created from the file manager and files there. Follow the steps below to add files properly in your encrypted vault.

Once you’ve created your vault, you just need to unlock it by typing the password as shown in the image below. If you’re on your personal computer, you can choose to save the password without needing to enter it every time you access the vault. However, I advise not to do that. Manually entering the password help in remembering it.

Next, after unlocking the vault, you just need to click on “Reveal Vault” or reveal drive to open it using File Manager where you can access/modify or add files to it.

Backup / Recover Your Vault

You should simply copy-paste the folder you create to another USB drive or somewhere else other than your cloud storage folder to ensure that you have a backup of your vault.

It’s important to have the masterkey.cryptomator file of the vault in order to open it.

Upgrades, Preferences & Settings

Note

You should enable the auto-updates feature to ensure that you will have the most stable and error-free version automatically.

Apart from the most important functions of the Cryptomator app, you will get a couple of other features to tweak, such as:

  • Change the type of your virtual drive
  • Tweak the vault to read-only mode

You can explore the Vault options and the settings on Cryptomator to know about what else you can do.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know about Cryptomator, you can easily encrypt your important data locally before uploading them to the cloud.

What do you think about Cryptomator? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

More in Tux Machines

Microsoft slips Bing search into Android through Outlook

If you use Outlook for your Android phone’s email and calendars, you might see an unexpected sales pitch for Microsoft’s search engine. Android users have discovered that Outlook slips a “Bing search” option into the long-press menu you see when you select text. Tap it and it will open your default browser with a Bing query for whatever words you had selected. It’s helpful, but likely not what you wanted if you live in a Google-centric world. The menu option doesn’t appear for everyone, and some have reported success in getting rid of it by uninstalling Outlook. It might not even be visible if you reinstall the app. It doesn’t appear to be available when you install other Microsoft apps beyond Bing. Read more Also: Microsoft caught sneaking Bing search onto phones with the Outlook app Microsoft's clever trick to get Android users search on Bing instead of Google

My Linux story: breaking language barriers with open source

My open source journey started rather late in comparison to many of my peers and colleagues. I was pursuing a post-graduate degree in medicine in 2000 when I managed to fulfill a dream I’d had since high school—to buy my own PC. Before that, my only exposure to computers was through occasional access in libraries or cyber cafés, which charged exorbitant prices for access at that time. So I saved up portions of my grad student stipend and managed to buy a Pentium III 550 Mhz with 128MB RAM, and as came standard in most computers in India at that time, a pirated version of Windows 98. Read more

5 things to look for in an open source alternative to SharePoint

We're entering a collaboration platform renaissance as remote work becomes the norm for enterprises large and small. Microsoft SharePoint—a collaboration platform available on premises or in the cloud—is the de-facto standard for corporations and government agencies. However, SharePoint implementations are infamous for the challenges that prevent their completion. Combine those common speedbumps with shrinking IT budgets and rising collaboration requirements because of remote work, and open source alternatives to SharePoint become well worth a look. Read more

German bill provides network traffic redirection to install state trojans

Preliminary note: This post primarily affects users falling under German jurisdiction, but may apply to other countries as well, where similar laws are already in place or about to be introduced. Unfortunately, some primary sources are German only. According to current status and local knowledge, the German government is about to establish a law that provides the redirection of network traffic through a intelligence agencies' infrastructure in order to exploit security vulnerabilities and, for example, to install a certain type of malware known as Staatstrojaner (state trojans). The bill lists both end-user devices and servers as potential targets, and requires "telecommunication service providers" to establish and maintain infrastructure for transparently redirecting traffic of certain users, households, or IP addresses. "Telecommunication service providers" covers any company providing telecommunication services, thus ranging from cable, DSL or fiber providers to mail, VoIP and messaging vendors. Ultimately, even backbone providers or internet exchanges are covered by this definition. [...] The state trojan was meant to be the ultima ratio when it was introduced in 2009. It could only be used by the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) in case of international terrorism and preventing terrorist attacks. Once such laws were introduced, governments usually get a taste for it. As of today, any police authority may use it even in cases of less severe crimes than terrorism such as counterfeiting money or violations against the Narcotics Act (Betäubungsmittelgesetz, e. g. drug consumption or trafficking). As you can see, compromising devices became increasingly common as a measure at law enforcement agencies. It is probably going to be extended to intelligence agencies within a short amount of time. For obvious historical reasons, the German state only gives certain rights to police and intelligence agencies to avoid too much power being concentrated in one organisation, which could turn it against their people. [...] At IPFire, we fight to protect your network. Frankly, this was complicated enough before governments legalised hacking by intelligence agencies. This German bill will not make anything more secure. Instead, it will turn defense against security vulnerabilities even more into an arms race. This is not an example of "the opposite of good is good intentions". This is beyond dangerous. Imagine, for example, cyber criminals or foreign intelligence agencies (ab)using that redirection infrastructure in order to deploy their malware. Perhaps they will be able to take advantage of some zero day exploits left on some servers in that infrastructure as well (the CIA suffered from a similar breach in 2017). With a blink of an eye, arbitrary malware could be placed on a significant amount of computers compromised that way. Ransomware attacks such as WannaCry or NonPetya come to mind... Imagine compromised machines being vulnerable to other attacks as well, as some security measures have been turned off. Image surveillance abuse. Imagine future governments abusing this feature for persecution of unwanted people or political opponents - with a view at current political events, one may be concerned about personal liberties being restricted. [...] We will start next week by providing advice on whom to trust and how to establish a security-focussed mindset. Afterwards, we focus on specific technical aspects and advise how to configure IPFire machines as secure as possible - as it already implements effective mitigations against those attacks. Read more