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Reviews

Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

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Android
Reviews

Sony's Xperia X Compact is basically the newest version of the Z5 Compact that hit the US earlier this year. But just because it's a newer version of the (comparatively) tiny handset doesn't mean it's an upgrade in every way. Sony is pushing the camera sensors in the X Compact and the flagship-level XZ, as well as new features like five-axis image stabilization and HDR photo mode. Sony knows cameras, so we know the shooter in the X Compact will at least be competent. However, it has to be good enough to encourage photography buffs to shell out $499 for this unlocked handset while delivering solid performance across the board as well.

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Black Panther OS Is No Cool Cat

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OS
Reviews

Installation requires at least 10 GB of hard drive space and 1.5 GB memory. Normally, those requirements are not an issue. It becomes one, however, when installing to a virtual machine.

Avoid two annoyances with installing Black Panther OS. The cancel/next buttons on the bottom of the screen did not show until I narrowed the height of the panel bar.

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Polar M600 review: The best sports focused Android Wear smartwatch available

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Reviews

Polar created a solid Android Wear device and when you consider it is also a highly functional GPS sports watch, the $329.95 retail price is very reasonable. You can purchase one in black or white. Polar has done a great job of updating the Polar V800 sports watch so you can expect to see updates for its first Android Wear device as well.

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Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0

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Reviews

Uruk GNU/Linux appears to be a fairly young project with some lofty goals, but some rough edges and unusual characteristics. I applaud the developers' attempts to provide a pure free software distribution, particularly their use of Gnash to provide a pretty good stand-in for Adobe's Flash player. Gnash is not perfect, but it should work well enough for most people.

On the other hand, Uruk does not appear to offer much above and beyond what Trisquel provides. Uruk uses Trisquel's repositories and maintains the same free software only stance, but does not appear to provide a lot that Trisquel on its own does not already offer. Uruk does feature some add-ons from Linux Mint, like the update manager. However, this tends to work against the distribution as the update manager hides most security updates by default while Mint usually shows all updates, minus just the ones known to cause problems with stability.

As I mentioned above, the package compatibility tools talked about on the Uruk website do not really deliver and are hampered by the missing alien package in the default installation. The build-from-source u-src tool may be handy in some limited cases, but it only works in very simple scenarios with specific archive types and build processes. Hopefully these package compatibility tools will be expanded for future releases.

Right now I'm not sure Uruk provides much above what Trisquel 7.0 provided two years ago. The project is still young and may grow in time. This is a 1.0 release and I would hold off trying the distribution until it has time to build toward its goals.

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OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Beta2 OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Beta2

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Reviews
SUSE

Leap 42.2 Beta2 is looking pretty good, except for the problems with Plasma 5 and the nouveau driver. That’s really an upstream issue (a “kde.org” issue). I hope that is fixed in time for the final release. Otherwise, I may have to give up on KDE for that box.

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Lenovo G50 & CentOS 7.2 MATE - Fairly solid

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Red Hat
Reviews

Is there a perfect track record for any which distro? No. Do any two desktop environments ever behave the same? No. Is there anything really good and cool about the MATE offering? Yes, definitely. It's not the finest, but it's definitely quite all right.

You do get very decent hardware support, adequate battery life and good performance, smartphone and media support is top notch, and your applications will all run happily. On the other hand, you will struggle with Samba and Bluetooth, and there are some odd issues here and there. I think the Gnome and Xfce offerings are better, but MATE is not to be dissed as a useless relic. Far from it, this is definitely an option you ought to consider if you're into less-than-mainstream desktops, and you happen to like CentOS. To sum it all up, another goodie in the growing arsenal of CentOS fun facts. Enjoy.

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2016 LiFT Scholarship Winner Yasin Sekabira: Open Source Entrepreneur

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Linux
OSS
Reviews

Being a LiFT Scholarship 2016 recipient on paper is like a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to work even harder, train harder, and stay competitive in what you really do best,

Today open source and Linux are absolutely up there in the top, it’s an opportunity to sharpen my open source skills from newbie to Ninja Pro. With The Linux Foundation and Linus Torvalds, you just feel like you’re learning and mastering Kung fu from Bruce-Lee.

The LiFT Scholarship will help me to prepare for my LFCE (Linux Foundation Certified Engineer), and hopefully pass it and add it to my belt. The LFCE badge really shows the world that you can play like Messi or Score like T.Henry of Arsenal.

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A Not For The Everyday Linux User Review Of Porteus 3.1

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Reviews

Ok, so this is the way I see it. Porteus is fine as a USB based distribution if you just want to use a web browser and maybe type a document.

For everything else it is just too difficult and for no real reward. For instance I could create a Xubuntu or Lubuntu persistent USB drive and all the hardware stuff would work out of the box and I would have access to the full software repositories.

With Porteus it feels like you are fighting it and if something is difficult to master then it needs to provide some reward for the effort such as having something so cool that you go wow.

Yes it is small at around the 300 megabytes mark and it boots quickly. The download screen is a good idea and whilst the idea of save files isn't new (Puppy does it, as do persistent *buntu distributions) the concept is a decent one.

The fact that you have to mess around with configuration files to get it to work and the fact that there is a concept of cheat codes and the fact that finding and installing software is so convoluted just makes it too much effort.

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OpenMandriva Lx 3.0

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MDV
Reviews

OpenMandriva is a member of the Mandriva (formally Mandrake Linux) family of Linux distributions. OpenMandriva strives to be a newcomer friendly, desktop operating system. The latest release, version 3.0, features version 5.6 of the KDE Plasma desktop environment and the Calamares system installer. This release of OpenMandriva was compiled using the Clang compiler which is unusual for a Linux distribution as most distributions use the GNU Compiler Collection to build their software. From the end-user's perspective the choice of compiler will probably have no practical impact, but it does suggest the OpenMandriva team sees either a practical or philosophical benefit to using the liberally licensed Clang compiler.

OpenMandriva is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. I downloaded the project's 64-bit build which is approximately 1.8GB in size. Booting from the project's media brings up a menu asking if we would like to start a live desktop session or launch the Calamares system installer. Taking the live option brings up a graphical configuration wizard which asks us a handful of questions. We are asked to select our preferred language from a list, accept a license agreement, select our keyboard's layout from a list and confirm our time zone. With these steps completed, the wizard disappears and the Plasma desktop loads. The desktop displays an application menu, task switcher and system tray at the bottom of the screen. The wallpaper is a soft blue and, on the desktop, we find an icon which will launch the Calamares system installer. Other icons on the desktop are available for launching a welcome screen and accessing the OpenMandriva website.

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Parsix Normalizes GNOME

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Linux
GNOME
Reviews

The Parsix project's goal is to provide a ready-to-use and easy-to-install Debian operating system with the latest stable release of the GNOME desktop environment. The Parsix distro meets that goal and even goes beyond it.

The developer community is far more independent than other Debian testing-based derivatives. The Parsix community keeps four software repositories enabled by default. Official repositories contain packages maintained by project developers that are built on the community's own build servers.

Content repository is a snapshot of Debian's stable branch. Wonderland repository contains multimedia-related software packages and is a snapshot of Debian multimedia repositories.

Even better is the fact that the community maintains its own security software repository for both the stable and testing branches. Parsix Developers closely follow Debian Security Advisories and port them to the distro's own security repository.

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Purism’s next product could be a smartphone that runs Linux/free software

Purism is a company that’s been developing laptops and tablets that run Linux-based, free and open source software for a few years. Now Purism is considering building a smartphone and the company is soliciting feedback from potential customers. The idea would be to release a Librem Phone that runs GNU/Linux rather than Android, and which offers security and privacy features to help set it apart from most other phones on the market. Read more

Cinnamon 3.2 in Linux Mint 18.1 Supports Vertical Panels, Better Accelerometers

After informing the community a few days ago about the Mintbox Mini Pro PC and the upcoming improvements and new features shipping with the XApps software projects in Linux Mint 18.1, Clement Lefebvre just published the monthly Linux Mint newsletter. Read more

Blender 2.78 Open-Source 3D Graphics Software Released with Spherical Stereo VR

Today, September 30, 2016, the Blender Foundation is proud to release Blender 2.78, the latest stable and most advanced version of the popular, open-source, free, and cross-platform Blender 3D modelling software. Blender 2.78 comes six months after the release of Blender 2.77, and it's a major update that adds numerous new features and improvements, among which we can mention rendering of spherical stereo images for VR (Virtual Reality), viewport rendering improvements, as well as brand new freehand curves drawing over surfaces. Moreover, the Grease Pencil received awesome improvements and it now doubles as both an animation and drawing tool, powerful new options have been added for B-Bones, it's now possible to import and export basic operators in the Alembic support, and the Cloth Physics feature received new Simulation Speed option and Dynamic Base Mesh support. Read more

OSS Leftovers

  • Tools for writing the next best seller
    I am using bibisco in conjunction with LibreOffice on my Ubuntu 16.04 Asus laptop that I converted over from Windows 7 to develop my characters, scenes, and plot. I tried Manuskript, but find that I like bibisco better, although the results are similar. For one, it gives helpful prompts.
  • GNOME Calendar App to Feature a New Sidebar, Week View & Attendees in GNOME 3.24
    GNOME developer Georges Stavracas wrote an in-depth blog post the other day to inform the GNOME, Linux, and Open Source communities about the upcoming improvements and new features coming to the GNOME Calendar apps. Now that some of us are already enjoying the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, the GNOME developers are hard at work to improve the GNOME apps and core components by either adding new exciting features and technologies or improving existing ones.
  • PHP version 5.6.27RC1 and 7.0.12RC1
  • Kubernetes Arrives in New Flavors
    Kubernetes has taken center stage in recent days, and, as we’ve been noting in recent posts, the open source container cluster manager is heading in new directions. Google has just announced the release of Kubernetes 1.4, which makes the tool much easier to install. Meanwhile, Canonical has now launched its own distribution of Kubernetes, with enterprise support, across a range of public clouds and private infrastructure. It's Kubernetes at the core, but features a number of extra bells and whistles.
  • 2016 Women in Open Source Award Winners
    We hope you enjoy and are inspired by this short video celebrating Preeti Murthy and Jessica McKellar, the winners of this year’s Red Hat Women in Open Source Awards.
  • Tech, talent and tools: The secret to monetizing open-source
    “In California during the gold rush, you didn’t make money digging for gold; you made money selling shovels,” said Mehta. A fitting metaphor for the idea that investing in talent and tools, especially tools, is how to turn a profit. The actual data, databases, algorithms and so on would be open source. Money would come from the tools to use that technology to benefit specific areas, such as automation of healthcare. And healthcare is a good place to start. “Big Data is all about making life cheaper, better. … If we forget about how to solve problems for humans, we’ve lost. We want to be known for enriching life,” said Mehta.
  • Changing the way we design for the web
    On the one hand, open source should mean lower cost of entry for people from poorer communities (like me, growing up). But on the other, I feel it is hard to contribute when under- or unemployed. I had a grant to work on the Web Animations API documentation, but I can't do as much as I'd like with other animation features (motion paths, advanced timing functions) because I need to spend a lot of time working on my own business, getting paid. Essentially this leads to an awkward model where the only contributors are employed programmers—and when it comes to open source animation or design APIs, platforms, etc, this lack of user input really starts to show. Or, the only products with thriving open source development teams are those that have financially lucrative futures, turning the open source software (OSS) model into a capitalist one.
  • Leaders in Data Management and Open Source Innovation to Gather for Postgres Vision 2016
  • CloudReady by neverware
    I thought I would put together a quick “installation” review of a product called CloudReady by neverware. What is CloudReady? CloudReady is basically a project to bring Chromium OS to those who would like to convert traditional laptops into Chromebook-like devices. I stumbled on them several months ago and finally decided to see how hard it was to install Chromium OS and how functional it actually was as a Chromebook-like device. I have a few low end (netbook-like) devices and I have been trying to figure out how I could make them functional for my boys, I thought this might be the solution.
  • Mozilla tells Firefox OS devs to fork off if they want to chase open web apps vision
    The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox development team has decided enough is enough and will stop supporting Windows XP and Vista in March 2017 and also bin Firefox OS. The OS first. In this post Mozillans Ari Jaaksi and David Bryant, respectively the head of connected devices and veep for platform engineering, write that “By the end of 2015 Mozilla leadership had come to the conclusion that our then Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners would not bring Mozilla the returns we sought.” That decision means that “as of the end of July 2016 have stopped all commercial development on Firefox OS.”
  • Cloudera Delivers Release Built on Apache Spark 2.0, and Advances Kudu
    Cloudera, focused on Apache Hadoop and other open source technologies,has announced its release built on the Apache Spark 2.0 (Beta), with enhancements to the API experience, performance improvements, and enhanced machine learning capabilities. The company is also working with the community to continue developing Apache Kudu 1.0, recently released by the Apache Software Foundation, which we covered here. Kudu is an open source columnar storage engine built for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem designed to enable flexible, high-performance analytic pipelines. Taken together, Cloudera's new tools are giving it more diverse kinds of presence on the Big Data scene. Cloudera claims it was the first Hadoop big data analytics vendor to deliver a commercially supported version of Spark, and has participated actively in the open source community to enhance Spark for the enterprise through its One Platform Initiative. "With Spark 2.0, organizations are better able to take advantage of streaming data, develop richer machine learning models, and deploy them in real time, enabling more workloads to go into production," the company reports.
  • Cloudera Delivers Enterprise-Grade Real-Time Streaming and Machine Learning with Apache Spark 2.0 and Drives Community Innovation with Apache Kudu 1.0
  • INSIDE Secure and Marvell Deliver Open Source Open Data Plane Security VPN Solution [Ed: “open source Open Data Plane (ODP) security API” sounds like nonsensical openwashing]
    INSIDE Secure (Paris:INSD), at the heart of security solutions for mobile and connected devices and network equipment, today announced the Marvell-INSIDE Secure solution, a collaboration that provides open source Open Data Plane (ODP) security API support on Marvell’s ARMADA® 8K and ARMADA 7K System-on-Chip (SoC) families with embedded INSIDE Secure Security Protocol Accelerator IP technology. The Marvell-INSIDE Secure solution provides customers with an easy and efficient way to secure their high-speed networking applications with access to all of the ARM ecosystem’s software support.
  • GE, Bosch Combine Resources to Bolster IoT
  • OpenBSD 6.0 Limited Edition CD set (signed by developers)
    Five OpenBSD 6.0 CD-ROM copies were signed by 40 developers during the g2k16 Hackathon in Cambridge, UK. Those copies are being auctioned sequentially on ebay. All proceeds will be donated to the OpenBSD Foundation to support and further the development of free software based on the OpenBSD operating system.
  • Friday Working together for Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 30th
  • Machine Learning with Python
    I first heard the term “machine learning” a few years ago, and to be honest, I basically ignored it that time. I knew that it was a powerful technique, and I knew that it was in vogue, but I didn’t know what it really was— what problems it was designed to solve, how it solved them and how it related to the other sorts of issues I was working on in my professional (consulting) life and in my graduate-school research. But in the past few years, machine learning has become a topic that most will avoid at their professional peril. Despite the scary-sounding name, the ideas behind machine learning aren’t that difficult to understand. Moreover, a great deal of open-source software makes it possible for anyone to use machine learning in their own work or research. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that machine learning already is having a huge impact on the computer industry and on our day-to-day lives.