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Ubuntu 20.10 review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

We really enjoyed the last Ubuntu release, and indeed the slew of Ubuntu-derivatives (such as Mint and Pop!_OS) that have been rebased on 20.04. We’re still waiting patiently for elementary OS 6 though...

For those unfamiliar with Ubuntu’s release cycle, this is the first of three interim, short-term release (STR) versions that Canonical and the community will use to shape the next LTS (long-term support) release in 2022. If you’re looking for stability and would rather nothing broke, we’d strongly advise you to stick with the LTS.

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FossaPup64 9.5 review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Puppy’s Ubuntu-based release has had a major update and is now based on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. This means that FossaPup64 9.5 (which also goes by the much easier nomenclature, Puppy Linux 9.5) is binary compatible with the latest Ubuntu LTS release and can pull applications from its repositories without any issues.

This release is the fourth official release of an Ubuntu-based 64-bit Puppy. Like all Puppy distros, FossaPup64 is built using the Woof-CE build system that’s designed to assemble Puppy variants from the binary packages of any other distro.

A key feature of the official Puppy releases is that they’re modular. You can easily swap out components including the kernel and various programs to create a streamlined Puppy.

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GhostBSD Review: Simple and Lightweight

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Reviews
BSD

Because there are so many different options out there for your free and open-source operating system, it can be hard to figure out what the best option is for you. Sifting between Linux distros is difficult – Debian and its derivatives, Ubuntu and its derivatives, Fedora, Arch, openSUSE, the list goes on. However, what if the best choice for you isn’t actually technically Linux? Here we review GhostBSD, a FreeBSD-based Unix OS designed for a simple desktop experience, to see if it’s the right fit for you.

[...]

The applications that are installed are all necessary. It’s exactly what you might expect to find in your typical lean open-source desktop OS configuration, with no frills and just the essential applications.

There is not much to remark on with the user experience – it is a very simple and friendly version of the MATE desktop that’s designed to be light on system resources and simple to use. Overall, I think there is no way you could go wrong.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Linux Edition)

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Hardware
Reviews

FOR MOST OF eternity, if you wanted to run Linux on your laptop you bought a Windows laptop, wiped Windows, and installed Linux. This was known as the "Windows tax," the extra money you paid for an operating system you didn't need.

About 15 years ago, pioneering companies like System76 began selling white-label hardware with Linux preinstalled, along with all the necessary drivers to ensure hardware compatibility. Linux worked out of the box. They were seldom what you'd call svelte laptops, but they were solid machines, and hey, no Windows tax. Today, System76 builds its own Linux-based desktop hardware at a factory in Colorado, and even big brands like Dell sell laptops with Linux.

Lenovo is the latest manufacturer to want in on the fun, releasing its first Linux laptop in the form of an eighth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon. There are some quirks, but it's one of the best laptops around for Linux.

[...]

It's worth asking then, what does the X1 Carbon bring to the table? The answer is support. The main advantage of preinstalled Linux is both hardware support and customer support from Lenovo. If you run into an issue, you can take to the forums or even call Lenovo support.

That hardware support shows immediately when you boot up the X1 Carbon—the fingerprint reader works out of the box. This is one thing I've never managed to get working when I installed Linux myself, so it's really nice to have it working immediately. Except, well, we'll get to the except.

I opted to test the Fedora-based version of the X1 Carbon. There's also an Ubuntu-based option. If you're unfamiliar, Fedora and Ubuntu are the names of two Linux "distributions." A Linux distribution, usually shortened to "distro," is a collection of software that contains everything you need to run Linux on your PC.

If this is confusing, think of it in terms of Windows or macOS. Apple and Microsoft combine all the little pieces of software that make up macOS and Windows and distribute the result as a single package. Fedora, Ubuntu, and hundreds of others do the same for Linux.

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Review: Septor 2021

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Septor is a Linux distribution which provides users with a pre-configured computing environment for surfing the Internet anonymously. It is based on Debian's Testing branch and it uses Privoxy, a privacy-enhancing proxy, together with the Tor anonymity network to modify web page data and HTTP headers before the page is rendered by the browser. The distribution uses KDE Plasma as the preferred desktop environment and it also includes the Tor Browser for anonymous web browsing and OnionShare for file sharing.

Septor is in the same family of distributions as Tails, which we talked about last year. Tails is also Debian-based and is intended to be used for anonymous web browsing and file sharing. One of the big differences between the two projects is Tails uses the GNOME desktop while Septor uses KDE Plasma. Another difference is Tails is typically run as a live distribution from a USB thumb drive, often with persistent storage. Septor, on the other hand, can either be used as a standard live disc or installed to a hard drive via Debian's system installer.

Septor is available in one edition for 64-bit (x86_64) computers. The ISO file we download is 1.8GB in size. Booting from this media brings up a menu asking if we would like to run the live desktop or launch the installer. When running in UEFI mode just one install option was visible, but in Legacy BIOS mode I could select either a graphical installer or a text installer.

Taking the live option brings up a graphical login screen. We are shown a mostly empty screen that tells us we can sign in to the live desktop using the password "live". There are drop-down menus for choosing our session type (only KDE Plasma is available) and our keyboard layout (only US is available). Signing into the default user account brings up the Plasma desktop with a blue background. A panel sits at the bottom of the display. The desktop is fairly quiet and empty, though browsing through the application menu presents us with several useful tools I will talk about later. We are automatically connected to the Tor network when we open a web browser or other tool, allowing us to browse the web with a degree of anonymity.

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An early look at VLC 4.0 - Hello darkness, my old friend

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Movies
Reviews

I first tried VLC around 2003 or so. It wasn't a good experience. The player's interface showed me a garbled view of the video file I was trying to play. Then, in 2006 or so, I tried it again. Since, it's become my staple media player on every single platform and operating system, including the mobile. The reasons are many: the king of codecs, tons of features, a simple no-frills interface.

Recently, the VLC team has started working on a visual revamp of the UI, which should come live in version 4.0. This marks a significant departure from the established look & feel of the player, which really hasn't seen any big visual updates throughout its history. So I thought, let's have a look at the early work and see what the future has in store for us. Early impressions, don't get too excited, things may rapidly evolve and change and whatnot. Follow me.

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Hands-On with Ubuntu Unity 20.10 on the Raspberry Pi 4

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If you are one of those die-hard Unity desktop users and own a Raspberry Pi 4 computer, the Ubuntu Unity distribution comes with a Raspberry Pi flavor optimized for the Raspberry Pi 4 model (and probably the newer Raspberry Pi 400 too), but also reported to “work” on older models like the Raspberry Pi 3 and 3+.

Being based on Ubuntu’s Raspberry Pi flavor, Ubuntu Unity features the same first-time installation/configuration wizard, which asks the user to choose a language for the system, a keyboard layout, connect to a Wi-Fi network, choose a location, and set up a default user.

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ExTiX 21.1 Deepin Edition is a beautiful Linux desktop in need of some polish

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I love a beautiful Linux desktop. There's just something about logging in to find a developer's work of art greeting you. It's refreshing and reminds you that anything is possible with enough time and effort.

With Linux, there have been so many desktops over the years that have absolutely "wowed" me. I believe the first to have ever done that was AfterStep, followed shortly by Enlightenment E16. After that, it was a rather drawn out dry spell of desktops to really evoke an "Huzzah!" from me. If I'm being totally honest, that honor most likely falls on Deepin Desktop. Since Deepin's arrival, I've fancied it the most beautiful desktop on the market.

Imagine my excitement when I found out that ExTiX Linux was to release a new version, based on Deepin Desktop; it was almost (but not quite) palpable. Without hesitation, I downloaded an ISO and spun up a virtual machine. The end result was a mixed bag of feels and disappointment. Let me explain.

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Review: Laxer OS 1.2 and new Linux Mint features

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My search for new and interesting features in the Linux community took me to the DistroWatch waiting list this week where the Laxer OS project caught my attention. The project's website describes itself as follows: "A beautifully crafted GNU/Linux operating system based on Arch Linux."

Judging from the project's download archive, the distribution is updated every month or two. There is just one edition available which runs the GNOME desktop environment. Laxer OS runs on 64-bit (x86_64) machines exclusively and its ISO is 2GB in size. The project's website suggests the operating system will not only look good, but offer performance improvements: "You will notice the significant performance boost on the first boot of your system."

The website's description was a little vague on how performance and visual improvements were delivered so I decided to find out for myself. I downloaded the media for the project's 1.2 release and booted from it. This brings up a menu where we are given the chance to boot to a live desktop normally or with "speech". I believe the "speech" option runs a screen reader for people who are visually impaired. The live media boots to a graphical login screen where we are invited to sign in using an account called "liveuser" with no password.

Signing into the live session loads the GNOME desktop and automatically launches the Calamares installer. At the top of the screen we find a panel with an application menu and the GNOME Activities menu in the upper-left corner. To the right of the panel is the system tray. I noticed early on there was a lot of network activity happening when I first logged in. This appears to be an automated check for software updates as a minute later a notification appeared letting me know 132 packages were available to be upgraded.

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Hands-On with Manjaro Linux ARM on Raspberry Pi 4: A Gem!

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Manjaro Linux ARM on the Raspberry Pi 4, where do I start? An amazing operating system for the Raspberry Pi computer, whether you want to use it just for fun or as a daily driver for your home office. Whoever did the Raspberry Pi port of Manjaro Linux ARM is a genius and knows what he’s doing.

Don’t be scared away by the first-time text-mode configuration, because this Arch Linux and needs to be properly installed on the microSD card of your Raspberry Pi before you can actually use the system.

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More in Tux Machines

Free Software Leftovers

  • From Clean & Green Mockup to OpenBSD cwm(1) desktop

    If the words CGA or Hercules raise sweet memories from your far away youth, the Mockup Clean & Green from u/awareofdistractions may hit you right in the heart. And if you like it so much, it may be used for real-life desktop environment using OpenBSD stock and ports material.

  • Learning more about our users

    At the Tor Project we practice user-centered design. This means we put our users at the heart of our development process, making a conscious effort to understand the contexts in which people use our tools and paying particular attention to the bumps they encounter along the way.

    Many digital product companies rely heavily on data gathered from invasive tracking scripts to better understand their users’ behavior, further fueling the surveillance economy. However that’s not how we do things at Tor – instead, we aim to conduct research that respects the basic principles of privacy and consent.

  • New Release: Tor Browser 10.5a11

    Tor Browser 10.5a11 is now available from the Tor Browser Alpha download page and also from our distribution directory.

    Note: This is an alpha release, an experimental version for users who want to help us test new features. For everyone else, we recommend downloading the latest stable release instead.

  • FSFE20 +++ IloveFS +++ Job vacancy

    In our February Newsletter, we interview our founding president Georg Greve as part of our publication series to celebrate 20 Years FSFE, we reflect on I love Free Software Day and our FOSDEM participation, we advertise our new job vacancy and as usual we report on our diverse community activities.

  • Keeping platforms open

    My previous article, Whatsapp and the domestication of users, got more attention than I was expecting. Some responses gave me a lot to think about,1 especially regarding actions we can take. I suggest reading that article first; it explained what “user domestication” is and why it’s a problem. It enumerated three countermeasures: FOSS, simplicity, and open platforms.

    Hard problems, by definition, lack easy solutions. Simply choosing (or creating) a platform that avoids user domestication isn’t enough if that platform can change. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; in addition to settling on the right platform, we must ensure that it honors its users in both the present and the future. Keeping a platform FOSS and simple is more straightforward2 than keeping a platform “open”.

    How do we keep an open platform from becoming a closed platform in the future?

Programming Leftovers

  • 6 Top Data Analysis Tools for Big Data

    Big Data is an all-inclusive term that refers to data sets so large and complex that they need to be processed by specially designed hardware and software tools. The data sets are typically of the order of tera or exabytes in size. These data sets are created from a diverse range of sources: sensors that gather climate information, publicly available information such as magazines, newspapers, articles. Other examples where big data is generated include purchase transaction records, web logs, medical records, military surveillance, video and image archives, and large-scale e-commerce. There is a heightened interest in Big Data and Big Data analysis and the implications they have for businesses. Big Data analysis is the process of examining huge quantities of data to find patterns, correlations, and other useful information that can help firms become more responsive to change, and to make better informed decisions. Big Data analysis can be performed with data mining software. However, the unstructured data sources used for big data analysis are not necessarily suitable for investigation by traditional data mining software.

  • 50 Years of Pascal

    Pascal was easy to teach, and it covered a wide spectrum of applications, which was a significant advantage over Algol, Fortran, and Cobol. The Pascal System was efficient, compact, and easy to use. The language was strongly influenced by the new discipline of structured programming, advocated primarily by E.W. Dijkstra to avert the threatening software crisis (1968).

  • How to use Django Serializers – Linux Hint

    Serializer is used in Django to convert the model instances or querysets into python supported data types that can be easily rendered into JSON, XML, or other formats. The deserialization can also be done by serializers to get back the original data from the serialized data. This feature is available in Django REST Framework. So, the users have to install this framework to use the serializers. Any webpage of the website may contain HTML, CSS, and data from the database tables. But the API does not understand these types of content, and it can understand the raw data only, that is, JSON data. How the serializers can be used to convert the model instance into JSON format has shown in this tutorial.

  • How to use queryset in django – Linux Hint

    Most of the web applications are implemented with the database now. queryset is used in the Django application to retrieve records by filtering or slicing or ordering the database table without changing the original data. The model used Django to create the table in the database. So, the knowledge of using the model in Django is necessary to understand the use of queryset. The main function of the queryset is to iterate the records of database tables by converting them into SQL queries. It can be used from the python command line or by writing the python script to display the browser’s output. The uses of queryset for retrieving data from a database table in different ways have been explained in this tutorial.

  • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 379 [Ed: The usual paradox of developing "openly" while requiring people to get an account with Microsoft and then use proprietary software of Microsoft, which attacks Free software.]

    This Week in Rust is openly developed on GitHub.

  • What Is BC in a Bash Script? – Linux Hint

    BC, which stands for Basic Calculator, is a command in Bash that is used to provide the functionality of a scientific calculator within a Bash script. This can be useful for scripting with various arithmentic use cases and scenarios. This article shows you how to use BC in a Bash script.

Security Leftovers

  • How often should I rotate my ssh keys?

    My story for today is about ssh and how even public keys, while much better than simple passwords, are still not a perfect solution.

    The danger is credential theft, which is a fancy way of saying “someone stole your private keys.” Back in the 1990s, that problem was pretty far from our minds; Windows 98 didn’t even have the concept of a separate administrator account, never mind the idea of app sandboxing or the inkling that someone might intentionally want to load malware onto your computer and encrypt all your files for ransomware. Those were the days when some people thought ActiveX controls (essentially loading .exe files from web sites) might be a good idea. Actually, maybe even a great idea as long as there was an “are you sure?” dialog box first.

  • 4 of the Best LastPass Alternatives

    LastPass has recently changed its free account usage policy to be only available on one device, and a lot of its users are not happy about it. If you are a LastPass Free user and are looking to switch, here are four great LastPass alternatives you should check out. These services reserve their pricing tiers for more advanced, business-oriented users while still leaving free users with a powerful set of features to safeguard their online accounts data.

  • Security updates for Thursday

    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (ansible-base, keycloak, mumble, and postgresql), Debian (firefox-esr and nodejs), Fedora (dotnet3.1, dotnet5.0, keylime, php-horde-Horde-Text-Filter, radare2, scap-security-guide, and wireshark), openSUSE (postgresql, postgresql13 and python-djangorestframework), Red Hat (Ansible, firefox, and thunderbird), Scientific Linux (firefox and thunderbird), SUSE (php7, postgresql-jdbc, python-cryptography, rpmlint, and webkit2gtk3), and Ubuntu (dnsmasq, linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-5.4, linux-azure, linux-azure-5.4, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-5.4, linux-gke-5.4, linux-gkeop, linux-gkeop-5.4, linux-hwe-5.4, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-5.4, linux-raspi, linux-raspi-5.4, linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-hwe, linux-azure, linux-azure-4.15, linux-dell300x, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-4.15, linux-gke-4.15, linux-hwe, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-raspi2, linux-snapdragon, linux, linux-aws, linux-azure, linux-gcp, linux-hwe-5.8, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-raspi, linux, linux-aws, linux-kvm, linux-lts-xenial, linux-raspi2, linux-snapdragon, linux-oem-5.10, linux-oem-5.6, screen, and xterm).

  • Biden signs executive order calling for semiconductor supply chain review

    President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday addressing growing concern over a global semiconductor shortage hampering the production of goods like automobiles and smartphones.

    The White House’s executive order directs the federal government to conduct 100-day reviews of supply chains in four sets of products, including computer chips and large capacity batteries, like those used in electric vehicles, according to administration officials.

  • Biden Orders Review to Shore Up Supply Chain Resiliency

    On top of the 100-day review of the four key industries, Biden’s order will also direct yearlong reviews for six sectors: defense, public health, information technology, transportation, energy and food production.

    Biden said his administration will implement the recommendations as soon as they are available. “We're not going to wait for the review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps,” he said.

  • Technology Executives Say All Evidence Points To Russia In Major Hack Of Computer Networks

    Smith told the committee that the true scope of the intrusions is still unknown because most victims are not legally required to disclose attacks unless they involve sensitive information about individuals.

  • Finnish IT Giant Hit with Ransomware Cyberattack [iophk: Windows TO]

    Norwegian business journal E24 reported the attack on Espoo, Finland-based TietoEVRY on Tuesday, claiming to have spoken with Geir Remman, a communications director at the company. Remman acknowledged technical problems with several services that TietoEVRY provides to 25 customers, which are “due to a ransom attack,” according to the report.

    Remman told E24 that the company considers the attack “a serious criminal act.” TietoEVRY turned off the unspecified services and infrastructure affected “as a preventative measure” until it can recover relevant data, and restart systems “in a controlled manner,” he said.

Ubuntu Leftovers

  • Ubuntu Aims For Higher Quality LTS Point Releases - Phoronix

    New restrictions will be in place beginning with Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS this summer to try to enforce better quality releases with less regressions by enforcing better quality control. The change beginning with Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS will require that stable release update (SRU) procedures are followed even for release blockers. This will require that every fix follows the same verification, regression analysis, and aging period process. The tighter quality controls will likely lead to slips in release targets if bugs are found in the release candidates for new point releases, as it will first need to go through the verification and aging process.

  • DFI Partners With Ubuntu For IoT Hardware, OTA Updates - Phoronix

    Most of you probably haven't heard of DFI much in nearly two decades since the days of their colorful "LanParty" motherboards that were well known at the time, but these days they are focused on the industrial computer industry and have now teamed up with Canonical to partake in the Ubuntu IoT Hardware Certification Partner Program. DFI is the first industrial computer vendor joining the Ubuntu IoT Hardware Certification Partner Program for Ubuntu-certified hardware focused on the Internet of Things and embracing over-the-air software updates.

  • What is MEC ? The telco edge.

    MEC, as ETSI defines it, stands for Multi-access Edge Computing and is sometimes referred to as Mobile edge computing. MEC is a solution that gives content providers and software developers cloud-computing capabilities which are close to the end users. This micro cloud deployed in the edge of mobile operators’ networks has ultra low latency and high bandwidth which enables new types of applications and business use cases. On top of that an application running on MEC can have real-time access to a subset of radio network information that can improve the overall experience.