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eco2geek's blog

From Karmic to Lucid: Distribution Update Screenshots

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Linux

In line with its newbie-friendly tradition of providing a way to do everything via a graphical user interface, Ubuntu provides a way to do a distribution upgrade by clicking a button at the top of the Update Manager. Since version 10.04 was released on April 29, it was once again time to see how well the upgrade went. Here are screenshots of the entire process.

Freshly Squeezed Debian: Installing from Live DVD

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Reviews

Last month, the Debian Live Project released live CD and DVD images of the next version of Debian, codenamed "Squeeze." They included an installer that uses the live filesystem rather than packages, so it has the advantages of being fast and allowing you to preview on the live media, what you eventually get on your hard drive. This may not seem like a big deal, since most modern Linux distributions use this installation method, but it's still fairly new for Debian. I downloaded and installed the 64-bit GNOME version.

Secret Future Ubuntu User Interface Plans Revealed!

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Humor

Mark Shuttleworth recently said that "moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely." But what "innovative options" might he be referring to? To find out, we contacted a member of Ubuntu's design team, Drew A. Gooey-Aubergine, who gave us an exclusive look at what innovative new features Ubuntu users might see on the right-hand side of their windows in future releases.

Hitch your wagon to a lizard: dist-upgrading openSUSE

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Linux

For the first time, openSUSE now officially supports a "dist-upgrade" feature, similar to Debian's. Which is to say, if you've got openSUSE 11.1 installed, you should be able to upgrade to openSUSE 11.2 by updating your list of software repositories to point to providers of software for openSUSE 11.2, doing a distribution upgrade via the Internet, and have a reasonable chance of success.

The Ubuntu 1-click dist-upgrade (well, almost)

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Linux

I was curious to try Ubuntu's offer of a "one-click upgrade" from Ubuntu 8.10 to 9.04 on my HP Pavilion zd7000 laptop. I was impressed with how easy it was.

Vector Linux 5.9: Light, fast Slackware-based distro

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Reviews

Vector Linux 5.9, released in late December of last year, is a Slackware 12.0-based distribution that uses Xfce 4.4.2 as its default user interface. Generally speaking, Xfce requires less horsepower than other UIs, like GNOME and KDE, and so Vector Linux bills itself as an excellent operating system to install on older, lower-powered computers. I've been using it for the past two weeks, and like what I see.

KDE 4.0: Everything that has an end, has a beginning

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Reviews

By now, every Linux user's heard of KDE 4.0, and the controversy surrounding its release. Here's one partisan KDE user's take on it — with screenshots.

openSUSE 10.3 in review: A solid Linux desktop

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Reviews

openSUSE is a popular German Linux distribution that Distrowatch.com lists as one of the "top ten." Version 10.3 was released on October 4th. Underneath its new green artwork, the new version's improvements include cutting down the time it takes to reach the graphical login screen; speeding up and streamlining its package management utility; and making it easier for users to install software using a new "one-click install" process. There's a lot to like here.

Beta Review: Kanotix 2007 "Thorhammer" RC5B

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Reviews

The last Kanotix release (based on Debian Sid) came out in October, 2006. Shortly thereafter, a Kanotix co-developer (and many of Kanotix's other developers) left the project, mainly due to a disagreement over whether Kanotix should be based on Sid (Debian's unstable branch) or something less volatile, like Etch (Debian's current stable branch) or Ubuntu. Kanotix's founder now has a new, Etch-based version of Kanotix in development, code-named "Thorhammer."

Sidux 2007-03.1 "Gaia": A closer look

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Reviews

Unless you're able to deal with such esoteric problems as diagnosing a buggy post-install script, or figuring out how to deal with a major change in the directory structure of X.org, you might occasionally find running a Debian Sid-based system to be more than you can handle. And that's where Sidux comes in. Sidux's goal is to allow mere mortals the ability to run Debian Sid on the desktop, in order to take advantage of the latest Debian software available. Its development team helps guide its users through the occasional bumps in Sid, via IRC and its user forum. Another goal is to offer a consistent release cycle. Sidux comes with a variety of "convenience scripts" and utilities you won't find in Debian proper, that make it easier to do such things as administer your system and install proprietary software.

Slackware 12: The anti-'buntu

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Reviews

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution; its first version came out in 1993. Version 12 was recently released. As its Wikipedia entry notes, it's got a reputation for sacrificing ease-of-use (in terms of configuration and package management tools provided by the distribution) in favor of letting the end user configure the system and its software by herself.

Alternative GUIs: GoblinX

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Linux

GoblinX is a live Linux distribution based on Slackware 11, written by a Brazillian developer who goes by the pseudonym Grobsch. It comes with five different window managers/GUIs, and uses custom artwork for each of them that's quite unlike anything you've seen before.

Alternative GUIs: SymphonyOS

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Linux

We're all familiar with the "big two" desktops for Linux -- KDE and GNOME. Of course, there are many more to choose from. If you asked a group of Linux users, "Which one is best?", the ensuing debate would likely take on religious overtones. Some would even argue that a desktop like KDE is too hard for newbies to use. Still, it's a safe bet that most Linux users don't stray too far away from those "big two," KDE and GNOME. So it's especially interesting to look at some innovative alternatives.

Fedora 7 "Moonshine": Freedom vs. Ease-of-Use (Part 2)

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Reviews

Part 2 of the Fedora 7 "Moonshine" review.

Fedora 7 "Moonshine": Freedom vs. Ease-of-Use (Part 1)

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Reviews

Fedora 7, a.k.a. "Moonshine," released on May 31, is an odd duck. On the one hand, it's hugely popular. On the other hand, these days, there seems to be an emphasis on being user-friendly (think "Ubuntu"). But Fedora's creators have consciously limited what it can do out of the box.

Blue Belle: Running PCLinuxOS Test 4

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Reviews

PCLinuxOS is an up-and-coming distribution that recently made it into Distrowatch.com's list of Top Ten Distributions. I installed PCLinuxOS Test 4 on a 10 GB partition (with a separate 1 GB /home partition) on an AMD Athlon 2600+ with 640 MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 6200 LE graphics card. This hardware is no great shakes nowadays, but it's plenty fast enough to run PCLinuxOS with all the bells and whistles.

Linux Mint "Bianca" KDE Edition Beta 020: A Small Review

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Reviews

Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distro whose goal in life, per its website, "is to produce an elegant, up to date and comfortable GNU/Linux desktop distribution." The developers have released both GNOME-based and KDE-based versions in the past, and their latest version, v2.2 "Bianca," is already final in its GNOME incarnation.

The Lazy Guide to Installing Knoppix on a USB Key

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Howtos

Knoppix, the famous live Linux CD that practically started the live CD trend, needs no introduction to most people. One of the things that's so great about it is that you can take it with you and boot to a familiar Linux environment on almost any modern computer, without touching the OS that's already installed on it.

Installing openSUSE 10.2 on a Compaq laptop (Part 2)

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Reviews

In part 1, openSUSE got installed and configured on a Compaq Presario V2000 with an ATI Radeon Xpress 200M PCIE graphics chipset and a 32-bit CPU. Now it's time to go for the bling.

Installing openSUSE 10.2 on a Compaq laptop (Part 1)

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Reviews

My favorite distro faces an uncertain future, so I decided to install openSUSE 10.2 over it on my Compac Presario V2000. Also because... OK, I'll come clean: the real reason was for the eye candy. I wanted Beryl, with the cube, the wobbly windows, the "magic lantern" window minimizing effects, rain, snow -- you know, Eye Candy.

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Python: Security and NumPy 1.20 Release

  • Python Package Index nukes 3,653 malicious libraries uploaded soon after security shortcoming highlighted

    The Python Package Index, also known as PyPI, has removed 3,653 malicious packages uploaded days after a security weakness in the use of private and public registries was highlighted. Python developers use PyPI to add software libraries written by other developers in their own projects. Other programming languages implement similar package management systems, all of which demand some level of trust. Developers are often advised to review any code they import from an external library though that advice isn't always followed. Package management systems like npm, PyPI, and RubyGems have all had to remove subverted packages in recent years. Malware authors have found that if they can get their code included in popular libraries or applications, they get free distribution and trust they haven't earned. Last month, security researcher Alex Birsan demonstrated how easy it is to take advantage of these systems through a form of typosquatting that exploited the interplay between public and private package registries.

  • A pair of Python vulnerabilities [LWN.net]

    Two separate vulnerabilities led to the fast-tracked release of Python 3.9.2 and 3.8.8 on February 19, though source-only releases of 3.7.10 and 3.6.13 came a few days earlier. The vulnerabilities may be problematic for some Python users and workloads; one could potentially lead to remote code execution. The other is, arguably, not exactly a flaw in the Python standard library—it simply also follows an older standard—but it can lead to web cache poisoning attacks. [...] [Update: As pointed out in an email from Moritz Muehlenhoff, Python 2.7 actually is affected by this bug. He notes that python2 on Debian 10 ("Buster") is affected and has been updated. Also, Fedora has a fix in progress for its python2.7 package.]

  • NumPy 1.20 has been released

    NumPy is a Python library that adds an array data type to the language, along with providing operators appropriate to working on arrays and matrices. By wrapping fast Fortran and C numerical routines, NumPy allows Python programmers to write performant code in what is normally a relatively slow language. NumPy 1.20.0 was announced on January 30, in what its developers describe as the largest release in the history of the project. That makes for a good opportunity to show a little bit about what NumPy is, how to use it, and to describe what's new in the release. [...] NumPy adds a new data type to Python: the multidimensional ndarray. This a container, like a Python list, but with some crucial differences. A NumPy array is usually homogeneous; while the elements of a list can be of various types, an ndarray will, typically, only contain a single, simple type, such as integers, strings, or floats. However, these arrays can instead contain arbitrary Python objects (i.e. descendants of object). This means that the elements will, for simple data types, all occupy the same amount of space in memory. The elements of an ndarray are laid out contiguously in memory, whereas there is no such guarantee for a list. In this way, they are similar to Fortran arrays. These properties of NumPy arrays are essential for efficiency because the location of each element can be directly calculated. Beyond just adding efficient arrays, NumPy also overloads arithmetic operators to act element-wise on the arrays. This allows the Python programmer to express computations concisely, operating on arrays as units, in many cases avoiding the need to use loops. This does not turn Python into a full-blown array language such as APL, but adds to it a syntax similar to that incorporated into Fortran 90 for array operations.

4 Best Free and Open Source Graphical MPD Clients

MPD is a powerful server-side application for playing music. In a home environment, you can connect an MPD server to a Hi-Fi system, and control the server using a notebook or smartphone. You can, of course, play audio files on remote clients. MPD can be started system-wide or on a per-user basis. MPD runs in the background playing music from its playlist. Client programs communicate with MPD to manipulate playback, the playlist, and the database. The client–server model provides advantages over all-inclusive music players. Clients can communicate with the server remotely over an intranet or over the Internet. The server can be a headless computer located anywhere on a network. There’s graphical clients, console clients and web-based clients. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 4 best graphical MPD clients. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to listen to their music collection via MPD. Here’s our recommendations. They are all free and open source goodness. Read more

LWN on Kernel: 5.12 Merge, Lockless Algorithms, and opy_file_range()

  • 5.12 Merge window, part 1 [LWN.net]

    The beginning of the 5.12 merge window was delayed as the result of severe weather in the US Pacific Northwest. Once Linus Torvalds got going, though, he wasted little time; as of this writing, just over 8,600 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.12 release — over a period of about two days. As one might imagine, that work contains a long list of significant changes.

  • An introduction to lockless algorithms [LWN.net]

    Low-level knowledge of the memory model is universally recognized as advanced material that can scare even the most seasoned kernel hackers; our editor wrote (in the July article) that "it takes a special kind of mind to really understand the memory model". It's been said that the Linux kernel memory model (and in particular Documentation/memory-barriers.txt) can be used to frighten small children, and the same is probably true of just the words "acquire" and "release". At the same time, mechanisms like RCU and seqlocks are in such widespread use in the kernel that almost every developer will sooner or later encounter fundamentally lockless programming interfaces. For this reason, it is a good idea to equip yourself with at least a basic understanding of lockless primitives. Throughout this series I will describe what acquire and release semantics are really about, and present five relatively simple patterns that alone can cover most uses of the primitives.

  • How useful should copy_file_range() be? [LWN.net]

    Its job is to copy len bytes of data from the file represented by fd_in to fd_out, observing the requested offsets at both ends. The flags argument must be zero. This call first appeared in the 4.5 release. Over time it turned out to have a number of unpleasant bugs, leading to a long series of fixes and some significant grumbling along the way. In 2019 Amir Goldstein fixed more issues and, in the process, removed a significant limitation: until then, copy_file_range() refused to copy between files that were not located on the same filesystem. After this patch was merged (for 5.3), it could copy between any two files, falling back on splice() for the cross-filesystem case. It appeared that copy_file_range() was finally settling into a solid and useful system call. Indeed, it seemed useful enough that the Go developers decided to use it for the io.Copy() function in their standard library. Then they ran into a problem: copy_file_range() will, when given a kernel-generated file as input, copy zero bytes of data and claim success. These files, which include files in /proc, tracefs, and a large range of other virtual filesystems, generally indicate a length of zero when queried with a system call like stat(). copy_file_range(), seeing that zero length, concludes that there is no data to copy and the job is already done; it then returns success. But there is actually data to be read from this kind of file, it just doesn't show in the advertised length of the file; the real length often cannot be known before the file is actually read. Before 5.3, the prohibition on cross-filesystem copies would have caused most such attempts to return an error code; afterward, they fail but appear to work. The kernel is happy, but some users can be surprisingly stubborn about actually wanting to copy the data they asked to be copied; they were rather less happy.

Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro is a compact Amlogic S905X3 SBC

Banana Pi has already designed an Amlogic S905X3 SBC with Banana Pi BPI-M5 that closely follows Raspberry Pi 3 Model B form factor, but they’ve now unveiled a more compact model with Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro that follow the design of the company’ earlier BPI-MP2+ SBC powered by the good old Allwinner H3 processor. BPI-M2 Pro comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC storage, HDMI video output, Gigabit Ethernet, Wifi & Bluetooth connectivity, as well as two USB 3.0 ports. Read more