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Reviews

Blue Collar Linux: Something Borrowed, Something New

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Linux
Reviews

Sometimes it takes more than a few tweaks to turn an old-style desktop design into a fresh new Linux distribution. That is the case with the public release of Blue Collar Linux.

"The guidance and design were shaped by real people -- blue collar people," Blue Collar developer Steven A. Auringer told LinuxInsider. "Think useful and guided by Joe and Jane Whitebread in Suburbia."

Blue Collar Linux has been under development for the last four years. Until its public release this week, it has circulated only through an invitation for private use by the developer's family, friends and associates looking for an alternative to the Windows nightmare.

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MX Linux MX-18 Continuum - Time x Space x Fun

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Reviews

MX Linux MX-18 Continuum is a pretty good distro. It has a lot of really cool points, and some superbly nice and unique ones, too. It looks good, it gives you everything out of the box, it comes with a fast installation that will preserve your data, and you get the excellent MX Tools and Package Installer as a bonus. It's also rock stable, very frugal, the performance is dog's bollocks, and consequently, you get a really neat battery life. Overall, it's better than its predecessor in most areas.

But then, there were also some problems. Mostly cosmetic, just like in the past. But I am not happy about things not working - media playback from the phone, topmenu plugin, those kind of things. By now, I'm expecting perfection. I know it's hard making always better and smarter products, but it's the only way. All in all, Continuum is a great distro, don't get me wrong, but it must not let complacency and randomness spoil its game. 8.5/10 this time, and if you're looking for a nice distro to test and try, this is by far one of the more refreshing and fun systems I've used in a long time. Just be on the lookout for an odd bug. Lastly, we shall soon commence testing on the old Nvidia-powered machine. And that would be all.

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Another review from today: MX Linux 18 "Continuum" Review

Review: Reborn OS 2018.11.28 and TinyPaw-Linux 1.3

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Reviews

Reborn OS is a distribution from the Antergos and Arch Linux family of distributions. Like Antergos, Reborn uses the Cnchi system installer and provides a wide range of desktop environments and extra features we can enable at install time. Reborn's website mentions the project offers support for running Android applications through the Anbox compatibility software, works with Flatpaks, and can run the Mycroft personal desktop assistant.

I had previously tried Reborn OS back in October of 2018 and gave up trying to install the distribution because Cnchi kept running into problems downloading packages, telling me it had run into "error: 0". Since failure to download packages during the installation rendered it impossible to set up Reborn, I had to abandon the project.

Shortly after my truncated review appeared, one of the Reborn developers got in touch and reported that the problem with Cnchi had been fixed and invited me to try the distribution again. I gave the project a few months (and updated releases) to mature and then decided to give Reborn another test drive.

The Reborn ISO file is a 1.6GB download. Booting from the media brings up the Budgie desktop environment and shows us a welcome window. The welcome window appears to be borrowed from Antergos and displays buttons which will provide us with information. Some buttons link to the project's on-line source code repository, others offer to show us available software, another gives us a quick overview of the operating system.

Using the welcome window I ran into my first problem with Reborn. Clicking some of the buttons caused the operating system to lock up. For example, browsing the software list caused the system to freeze, necessitating a reboot. When I clicked on the source repository link, the Firefox browser opened, displayed the page and then the system locked up, again forcing a hard reset of the computer.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 4

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KDE
Reviews

I've said this a hundred times before. Plasma has the basics right. But the second and third and ninth order of coolness and integration is where things go wrong. Everything has to click, and it's the convoluted paths of need and necessity that bring out the worst in software. Like keyboard shortcuts or online accounts. Imagine if you could really have a seamless, transparent desktop-cloud Plasma experience? You may never want it, but the technical possibility should be there. Or a consistent stack of programs that really look and behave the same?

If I compare this experience with a typical Windows 7 box, Plasma is far less transparent. I do have to invest more time fiddling and tweaking. But then, it's also easy to forget the initial setup time and configs that I invested in every Windows machine I have ever set up. And it wasn't trivial, at all.

I am pretty sure that the intrusive interactiveness of the configuration will slowly ebb, not that I do not enjoy these reports - and hopefully they will ultimate make the Linux desktop experience better for everyone, should anyone happen to read them and take heed. So our work isn't done here. All in all, Plasma is about 93% there, but summa cum laude happens at the 100% mark. To be continued.

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Also: KDE Privacy Sprint

Deepin Linux 15.8: A functional and elegant desktop

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Reviews

Thanks to a finely balanced ratio of aesthetics and ease of use, the developers of Deepin created the closest thing to a perfect desktop I have ever experienced. If you're looking for a desktop operating system that will make all others seem like they've wound up behind the curve, it's time you give Deepin Linux 15.8 a try. I have faith there's no way you'll be disappointed.

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Also: Ubuntu 19.04 Daily Builds with updated Yaru Theme

Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa - Adrift

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Reviews

Fonts aside, Linux Mint 19.1 is an average plus distro, with some good points but not as many awesome advantages over the competition as Mint used to have. I've highlighted this in my best distro of 2018 article, whereby Mint seems to have lost its edge. It does what most other distros do and little else besides. There's no supreme quality factor as once upon time, where Mint did things no other system could. So you get media, phone connectivity, reasonable networking, a good collection of apps, but you also get glitches, only okay performance with high-resource usage, plus niggles and errors here and there.

But the one thing that totally ruins the deal - the fonts. So pale my eyes hurt. And I have perfect vision. Plus you can't change them, not easily, not anyway. So this makes Mint Tessa simply unusable for me. I spend hours working in front of a computer, writing, gaming, whatnot, and I am extremely aware and sensitive to how one gets the highest level of comfort and productivity. I can do that with Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Kubuntu for example. With Mint Tessa, even 15 minutes feels like a strain. Worst thing, Tara did let you change the fonts, and everything worked fine only six months ago!

Anyway, Mint used to be Ubuntu on steroids and the friendliest distro around. Not anymore. I can't name even a single distinct killer feature that it has, plus the sweet momentum of innovation and fun is gone. Or going away. And the whole 12% Xorg CPU eater, that sure ain't helping the matters. This is a change, and not a good one, with a steady, gradually increasing loss of quality and coolness. Overall grade, 6/10. On a sad note, here goes the first review of 2019. Oh well.

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Raspberry Pi 3: Testing out Manjaro ARM 18.12

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Linux
Hardware
Reviews

It now exists as a project with its own web page, a small group of dedicated developers, and a focus on the Raspberry Pi 3 and Odroid C2 SBCs, and the Pinebook laptop. When I saw the announcement of Manjaro-ARM 18.12.1 on the Manjaro News page, I decided it was time to get back to this, so here we go!

First, a few words about supported devices. I'm not sure that I really understand everything about this; the release announcement specifically mentions the Pi 3, Odroid C2 and Pinebook laptop, with LXQt and KDE desktops, and a "minimal" version which I assume is CLI-only for the Pi and Odroid. However, it doesn't specifically mention the Raspberry Pi 2, and although there is not a new image for the Pi 2, it does say that "Old images should just keep on rolling". I will just give that a try before I finish this post.

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Review: FreeBSD 12.0

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Reviews
BSD

Playing with FreeBSD with past week I don't feel as though there were any big surprises or changes in this release compared to FreeBSD 11. In typical FreeBSD fashion, progress tends to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and this release feels like a polished and improved incremental step forward. I like that the installer handles both UFS and ZFS guided partitioning now and in a friendly manner. In the past I had trouble getting FreeBSD's boot menu to work with boot environments, but that has been fixed for this release.

I like the security options in the installer too. These are not new, but I think worth mentioning. FreeBSD, unlike most Linux distributions, offers several low-level security options (like hiding other users' processes and randomizing PIDs) and I like having these presented at install time. It's harder for people to attack what they cannot see, or predict, and FreeBSD optionally makes these little adjustment for us.

Something which stands out about FreeBSD, compared to most Linux distributions I run, is that FreeBSD rarely holds the user's hand, but also rarely surprises the user. This means there is more reading to do up front and new users may struggle to get used to editing configuration files in a text editor. But FreeBSD rarely does anything unless told to do it. Updates rarely change the system's behaviour, working technology rarely gets swapped out for something new, the system and its applications never crashed during my trial. Everything was rock solid. The operating system may seem like a minimal, blank slate to new users, but it's wonderfully dependable and predictable in my experience.

I probably wouldn't recommend FreeBSD for desktop use. It's close relative, GhostBSD, ships with a friendly desktop and does special work to make end user applications run smoothly. But for people who want to run servers, possible for years without change or issues, FreeBSD is a great option. It's also an attractive choice, in my opinion, for people who like to build their system from the ground up, like you would with Debian's server install or Arch Linux. Apart from the base tools and documentation, there is nothing on a FreeBSD system apart from what we put on it.

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Archman 2019.01 Screenshot Tour and a New (Hours-Old) Look at MX Linux 18

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Reviews

Kodachi Builds Privacy Tunnel for Linux

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Reviews
Security

Online and Internet security are not topics that typical computer users easily comprehend. All too often, Linux users put their blind trust in a particular distribution and assume that all Linux OSes are equally secure.

However, not all Linux distros are created with the same degree of attention to security and privacy control. A misconfiguration of a firewall, or misapplied Web browser privacy and modem settings, can trash the best-designed Linux safety strategies.

Kodachi Linux offers an alternative to leaving your computer privacy and security to chance. It is developed by Oman-based Eagle Eye Digital Solutions, an IT firm with a focus on preserving computer privacy and anonymity.

The developers announced the release of Linux Kodachi 5.6 last month. Based on Debian 9.5 Xbuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support, it runs from a DVD or USB thumb drive as a live session OS for a completely isolated and secure Linux session on any computer for portable Linux convenience.

You also can install Kodachi to a hard drive. That method blunts one of the primary features of the distro, though. Running in a live session removes all traces of your Internet activity and your documents from the host computer when you remove the DVD or USB.

Otherwise, either option provides an anti-forensic, anonymous operating system with all the features a person concerned about privacy needs. In this sense, Kodachi gives you built-in techniques, gadgets and software designed to hamper a computer investigation seeking to intercept your email or breach your digital data.

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Server: OpenShift, Containers, SUSE, IBM and Kubernetes/Heptio

Linux Foundation: Upcoming Events and Hyperledger

  • Check Out the 2019 Linux Foundation Events and Expand Your Open Source Experience
    The Linux Foundation just recently announced its 2019 events schedule, featuring all your favorite events as well as some brand-new ones to cover the latest technologies. Make plans now to speak or attend and expand your experience with open source.
  • The Role of Hyperledger in the Development of Smart Contracts
    Businesses constantly look to improve. A great part of that improvement is optimizing the costs-to-revenue ratio, which obviously favors revenue. Developing decentralized applications (dApps) with smart contracts has opened exciting avenues for businesses. Blockchain developers are exploring this practical aspect of smart contracts to create dApps that solve several issues current businesses struggle with: too many intermediaries, too much time, and too many conditions attached to executing a business transaction. The sum of these issues comes down to spending too much money on completing business contracts. Expectedly, the solution would be to reduce most of the complicated aspects to do business in a more affordable way than ever before. [...] The Hyperledger is different from other blockchain endeavors. It not only offers a dApp platform for creating practical solutions but it also provides collaborative partnership and unique smart contract technology as well as rich resources such as plug-in tools and frameworks that businesses can use in the process of dApp development. In the spirit of Linux, it also features a very active online community. Despite the permissioned blockchain model, it’s important to keep in mind Hyperledger’s open-source software orientation, which means the platform offers its newly developed code to partners for free. Apart from the membership fee, there are no additional fees for licenses and royalties. In a way, seeing blockchains as completely open or partially open networks is similar to the conundrum associated with the different benefits of open-source and proprietary software.

Programming: GCN, Python, Rust, RcppArmadillo

Games: Lost in Sky: Violent Seed, Steam and PlayOnLinux 5.0 Alpha 2

  • Lost in Sky: Violent Seed Bringing Co-Op Puzzle Platforming to Linux & Windows
    While action-platformers aren't in short supply in today's gaming market, there is a definite lack of co-op games in the genre despite that being a natural fit. Thankfully, the team behind List in Sky: Violent Seed saw that and is setting out to bring a new IP into the industry alongside a merging of numerous gaming concepts. In a sci-fi setting, you and a partner will team up and not only battle a ton of nasty-looking mutants, but also team up to solve puzzles. Puzzle-platformers have seen an upswing in popularity, but co-op ones haven't really been done before. That sub-genre is an even more natural fit than a co-op action-platformer since it's much easier to solve puzzles when you put your minds together.
  • Steam Beta Update Now Allows Per-Game Enabling Of Steam Play, Other Improvements
    It was just yesterday that Valve dropped a big Steam client update including several long sought improvements for Linux gamers. Today that's been succeeded by another rather nice beta upgrade. It was just yesterday that Valve dropped a big Steam client update including several long sought improvements for Linux gamers. Today that's been succeeded by another rather nice beta upgrade. [...] This update also fixes the incorrect scroll offset for the in-game overlay with Steam on Linux. Outside of the Linux-specific work are some Big Picture fixes and on Steam Input is support for the HORI Battle Pad and HORI Wireless Switch Pad.
  • Phoenicis PlayOnLinux 5.0 - Alpha 2 has been released
    We have rewritten from scratch our winebuild platform. To make it short, it is more reliable, more transparent, easier to setup and cross-platform compatible. Any project that needs to use wine could now potentially use it and take advantage of the 1828 different builds. (We admit that some of them are outdated, though). The winebuild project is open source, uses containers. You can install it on your machine in no time if you want to build wine by yourself.