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Reviews

Cosmo Communicator Review: the dual boot pocket PC phone

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KDE
Linux
Reviews
Debian

Around the turn of the century, smartphones came in many clever and innovative shapes and sizes. For about 10 years, we lost that innovation to rectangular touch screen slabs, but now some of that innovation is coming back. The Cosmo Communicator is a good example. It’s an Android smartphone with a real physical keyboard, a clam-shell hinge to open it up, and an external screen. It even allows you to partition the storage area and install full Linux for a dual boot experience.

The Cosmo Communicator is 171.4mm long, 79.3mm wide, and 17.3mm thick. It’s not a small device. The weight is 326g, so it’s not light either. It’s got a 4220mAh battery with fast charging, 5.99″ FHD 2160×1080 pixel main display, 1.91″ external OLED touch display, 24Mp external camera with LED flash, and 5Mp front-facing video call camera. It supports all of the GSM, CDMA, and 4G LTE radios and is also available in a Verizon version or Japan version for those different frequencies. You’ve got dual nano-SIM card slots and eSIM support as well. It comes with Android 9.0 installed, but now with recent updates, we can also install a special version of Debian Linux. Sailfish might work too.

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AMD Ryzen Embedded SBC Review with Ubuntu 20.04

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Reviews
Ubuntu

DFI GHF51 Ryzen Embedded SBC runs about as well in Ubuntu 20.04 as it does in Windows 10. Everything basically works and performs well. Our testing shows AMD Ryzen Embedded R1606G processor to offer slightly better performance than the top of the line Intel Gemini Lake Pentium J5005 processor.

I also had one of the same issues as in Windows: one Seagate USB hard drive would not work reliability at all with transfer stalled. That’s probably just a hardware incompatibility, as the drive works with other platforms, and other USB storage devices achieve normal performance when connected to DFI SBC. I also noticed some artifacts with one 3D graphics benchmark, but those did not show up in other 3D accelerated programs.

DFI GHF51 is an impressive piece of hardware as it packs lots of CPU and GPU power in a form factor similar to Raspberry Pi 4 SBC. I’d like to thank DFI for sending a review sample. If you plan to buy in large quantities to integrate the board into your product, you could contact the company via the product page. It’s used to be available as a sample on the company’s DFI-ITOX online store for $378, but it has been taken down since last time.

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Review: Zentyal Server 6.2

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Reviews

Zentyal is an Ubuntu-based server distribution which is designed to be easy to set up and then manage using a friendly, web-based interface. The distribution targets small and medium office and business environments. The Zentyal distribution is intended to take on such tasks a as a storage server, Internet gateway, or to provide other office IT infrastructure - all through a convenient, point-n-click web portal.

The latest version of Zentyal is based on Ubuntu 18.04.4 and mostly features minor updates. There are new anti-virus packages, improved DNS management, easier management of hard drives, and the AppArmor security software is enabled by default.

The download for Zentyal is 1GB in size and is available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines only. Booting from the install media brings up a menu asking us to select our preferred language from a list. Then we are given the choice of wiping the hard drive and installing Zentyal or launching an expert installer. Both menu options launch a text-based installer which should be familiar to people who have set up Ubuntu Server or used Debian's text installer.

[...]

After my second failed attempt at using Zentyal, and some troubleshooting, I came to the realization the distribution was not going to work as expected and put it aside. According to the documentation, I should be able to simply install the distribution and connect to it using a web browser, but this did not work, either locally or over the LAN. This was disappointing as I have used Zentyal in the past and generally had positive experiences with it. I've even recommended the distribution to a few people who wanted to run a light office server with an easy, point-n-click interface.

I have three theories as to why Zentyal did not work for me this time around. One is that the documentation is out of date (or updated in places I'm not looking) and additional steps are now required to set up the web portal service. The second is that there is a bug in the web portal software that is preventing it from running.

Personally, I suspect neither of these are true and, instead, something (or multiple somethings) are going wrong during the setup phase. While the installer appears to finish copying its files to my hard drive and reports it is done, the fact the system does not shut down cleanly afterwards suggests something is not finished in the background. The shutdown services never conclude and, while disk and CPU activity was virtually non-existent all twenty minutes I waited, I suspect additional configuration steps were supposed to be happening during that time. It is hard to say for certain though since no status messages are displayed and the installer claims to be finished. I would also consider it odd for services to be enabled during the shutdown phase of the live media, but stranger things have happened.

Whatever the case, Zentyal did not work for me and, unfortunately, did not display any errors or status messages which would help explain why. The documentation, while normally helpful, did not offer any tips to help me get going. In the past Zentyal has proven to be easy for me to use, but this version has left me with a server-sized void to fill.

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Beelink GT-R Review – An AMD Ryzen 5 Mini PC Tested with Windows 10 and Ubuntu 20.04

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Reviews

One issue I did encounter both in Windows and in Ubuntu was that my 4-port KVM was not properly recognized. I did get a rather poor HDMI signal to the monitor however the USB port was not working and by extension neither were my wireless keyboard and mouse. However, using a USB-C hub (2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x HDMI) worked fine as did using the various HDMI and USB ports directly including wirelessly connected peripherals.

Another point to note is that the power cord from the device to the power adapter is slightly shorter than most and the power adapter itself is quite large meaning care needs to be taken when using a US/EU to AU adapter for example.

Overall this is a powerful mini PC (relative to similar form factor devices but excluding the higher-end Intel NUCs and comparable models) and the addition of capable graphics makes gaming possible together with light video editing. Equipped with a very good selection of ports and features including multiple configurable storage options, the GT-R makes a great impression as one of the first AMD based mini PCs. The only negative is that the fans are quite noisy when the processor is under load.

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Review of Firefox “Fenix” for Android

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Android
Moz/FF
Reviews

Mozilla has begun a staged roll-out of its redesigned and rearchitected Firefox browser for Android (codename “Fenix”). So far, Fenix has only been released in 14 countries through the Google Play Store. Here’s my review of Mozilla’s new flagship mobile browser as a long-time user and as an extension developer.

Fenix’s user interface is minimal, but it represents a large amount of work under the hood. It’s built on GeckoView and Mozilla Android Components (MOZAC); a set of reusable components for mobile app developers that makes it easier to build a web browser based on Mozilla technology. These components are a modernization of the old codebase as well as a direct competitor to WebView — the web engine that’s built-in to Android, as well as Google’s ChromiumView.

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Pantheon Desktop Review: A Beautiful Alternative to macOS

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OS
Reviews

The Pantheon Desktop is designed specifically for elementaryOS and is considered one of the most visually appealing desktops around. It clearly draws a lot of inspiration from macOS, which makes it a great alternative for those who are looking to make the switch or who have always wanted to master that workflow. In this Pantheon Desktop review, I take a look at user experience and performance, as well as some notable features, and deciding who should use the Pantheon desktop.

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Review: Haiku R1 beta 2

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OS
OSS
Reviews

Haiku is an open-source operating system that specifically targets personal computing. Inspired by the Be Operating System (BeOS), Haiku aims to be fast, efficient, simple to use, and easy to learn. It is specifically geared toward desktop usage and maintaining a responsive desktop environment.

The Haiku project has been, to date, in perpetual development mode. Which is to say the releases to date have been labelled as being alpha or beta releases. I mention this because while the version label is R1 beta 2, the platform should probably be regarded a relatively mature project with the benefit of nearly 20 years of development behind it.

The R1 beta 2 release includes a number of new features such as improved font scaling and HiDPI support, along with the ability to work with mouse devices that offer more than three buttons. More applications have been ported and are now available through the project's software manager. The installer has mostly remained the same, however users can now exclude the installation of optional packages while setting up Haiku. New driver support has been added and there are some new options for keeping the Deskbar (a sort of combined desktop panel and system tray) out of the way.

The project's latest release is available in 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x86_64) builds. There are also builds for ARM, PowerPC, m68k, and SPARC architectures, however these builds are considered to be unsupported. I downloaded the 64-bit build which is available as a 955MB ZIP file. Unpacking the ZIP file presents us with a 1,108MB (1GB) ISO file we can write to optical media or a thumb drive.

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openSUSE 15.2 Is The Mercedes-Benz of Linux Distributions

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Reviews
SUSE

The openSUSE DVD comes with a large collection of software packages, which include the GNOME, KDE, Xfce, MATE desktops and much more. The installer will allow you to select the desktop environment you want during the installation, beside any other packages you may desire.

[...]

Overall, the openSUSE 15.2 distribution is a good release, as it ever was. We recommend upgrading to the new version or installing it on a fresh hardware if you are willing to transfer to the openSUSE world.

One can also give a word about how awesome the available documentation for openSUSE is; You can search in their wiki, for any information you desire and you’ll probably find it in no time.

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KDE Plasma Desktop review: I'm still not switching from GNOME

Filed under
KDE
GNOME
Reviews

I have to confess: I don't give KDE a fair shake. It's not because I don't believe it to be a strong take on the Linux desktop, it's just that I prefer a much more minimal desktop. Also, I was never a big fan of the old taskbar/start menu/system tray combo. I leaned more toward the GNOME way of thinking and doing things.

Recently, a reader called me out on my lack of KDE coverage, so I thought it was time to offer up my take on where KDE Plasma stands, and who might be best suited to use this open source desktop. Comparing Plasma to my usual GNOME desktop is really quite challenging, given these two desktops are night and day. It's like comparing the works of Clive Barker to that of William Gibson--they're both incredibly good at what they do, they're using the same tools to tell stories, but in very different genres.

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CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4 Learning Kit Review – Part 1 – Unboxing and First Boot

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Linux
Reviews

Last month, we wrote about Elecrow introducing CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4 laptop and electronics learning kit for its launch on Kickstarter crowdfunding website.

The company has now sent one of its kits to CNX Software for evaluation and review. I’ll start by checking out the content of the package, and boot it up, before publishing a more detailed review in a few weeks.

The package is fairly big and highlights it’s made for kids over 8 years old with close to 100 course resources and over 20 electronics modules.

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More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

IBM/Red Hat/Fedora Leftovers

  • The modern developer experience

    We hear from many clients that developer productivity and efficiency continue to be pain points. Cloud adoption can help normalize developer experiences across application stacks and runtimes. The path and steps for your developers to push code should be clear, simple, and easy to implement, even on Day 1. The modern developer experience provides a unified and normalized practice with modern tools. Developers thrive in the inner loop where unit tests and code come together, and in a penalty-free runtime execution environment where no one gets hurt, no processes take down precious workloads, and no one knows that it took 20 minutes to resolve that pesky runtime error. The inner loop occurs in a developer workspace that is easy to set up, manage, prepare, maintain, and, more importantly, easy to allocate. If a new developer is added to your squad, they can have all of the mechanical things they need to push code changes into the pipeline on their first day. An important part of the modern developer experience is expressed as Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces, which provides a set of constructs to provision a developer workspace in the cloud where they can perform their inner loop. A save action to a workspace file initiates an inner loop build in their local workspace, and an endpoint for the developer to see their changes quickly.

  • Call for Code Daily: Grillo, and how your code can help

    The power of Call for Code® is in the global community that we have built around this major #TechforGood initiative. Whether it is the deployments that are underway across pivotal projects, developers leveraging the starter kits in the cloud, or ecosystem partners joining the fight, everyone has a story to tell. Call for Code Daily highlights all the amazing #TechforGood stories taking place around the world. Every day, you can count on us to share these stories with you. Check out the stories from the week of August 10th:

  • Culture of Innovation and Collaboration: Hybrid Cloud, Privacy in AI and Data Caching

    Red Hat is continually innovating and part of that innovation includes researching and striving to solve the problems our customers face. That innovation is driven through the Office of the CTO and includes OpenShift, OpenShift Container Storage and use cases such as the hybrid cloud, privacy concerns in AI, and data caching. We recently interviewed Hugh Brock, research director for the office of the CTO, here at Red Hat about these very topics.

  • Fedora program update: 2020-33

    Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora this week. Fedora 33 has branched from Rawhide. Please update the Release Readiness page with your team’s status. I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

  • Fedora Magazine: Come test a new release of pipenv, the Python development tool

    Pipenv is a tool that helps Python developers maintain isolated virtual environments with specifacally defined set of dependencies to achieve reproducible development and deployment environments. It is similar to tools for different programming languages, such as bundler, composer, npm, cargo, yarn, etc. A new version of pipenv, 2020.6.2, has been recently released. It is now available in Fedora 33 and rawhide. For older Fedoras, the maintainers decided to package it in COPR to be tested first. So come try it out, before they push it into stable Fedora versions. The new version doesn’t bring any fancy new features, but after two years of development it fixes a lot of problems and does many things differently under the hood. What worked for you previously should continue to work, but might behave slightly differently.

  • Introduction to cloud-native CI/CD with Tekton (KubeCon Europe 2020)

    If you’re interested in cloud-native CI/CD and Tekton but haven’t had a chance to get hands-on with the technology yet, the KubeCon Europe Virtual event provides an opportunity to do that. Tekton is a powerful and flexible open source framework for creating cloud-native CI/CD pipelines. It integrates with Kubernetes and allows developers to build, test, and deploy across multiple cloud providers and on-premises clusters as shown in Figure 1.

  • Introduction to Strimzi: Apache Kafka on Kubernetes (KubeCon Europe 2020)

    Apache Kafka has emerged as the leading platform for building real-time data pipelines. Born as a messaging system, mainly for the publish/subscribe pattern, Kafka has established itself as a data-streaming platform for processing data in real-time. Today, Kafka is also heavily used for developing event-driven applications, enabling the services in your infrastructure to communicate with each other through events using Apache Kafka as the backbone. Meanwhile, cloud-native application development is gathering more traction thanks to Kubernetes. Thanks to the abstraction layer provided by this platform, it’s easy to move your applications from running on bare metal to any cloud provider (AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM, and so on) enabling hybrid-cloud scenarios as well. But how do you move your Apache Kafka workloads to the cloud? It’s possible, but it’s not simple. You could learn all of the Apache Kafka tools for handling a cluster well enough to move your Kafka workloads to Kubernetes, or you could leverage the Kubernetes knowledge you already have using Strimzi.

  • OpenShift for Kubernetes developers: Getting started

    If you are familiar with containers and Kubernetes, you have likely heard of the enterprise features that Red Hat OpenShift brings to this platform. In this article, I introduce developers familiar with Kubernetes to OpenShift’s command-line features and native extension API resources, including build configurations, deployment configurations, and image streams.

  • Man-DB Brings Documentation to IBM i

    IBM i developers who have a question about how a particular command or feature works in open source packages now have an easy way to look up documentations, thanks to the addition of support for the Man-DB utility in IBM i, which IBM unveiled in late July. Man-DB is an open source implementation of the standard Unix documentation system. It provides a mechanism for easily accessing the documentation that exists for open source packages, such as the Node.js language, or even for commands, like Curl. The software, which can be installed via YUM, only works with open source software on IBM i at the moment; it doesn’t support native programs or commands.

  • Making open decisions in five steps

    The group's leader made a decision, and everyone else accepted it. The leader may have been a manager, a team lead, or the alpha in a social group. Was that decision the best one for the group? Did it take all relevant factors into account? It didn’t really matter, because people didn’t want to buck authority and face the ramifications. But this behavior was typical of life in hierarchical systems.

  • 7 tips for giving and receiving better feedback

Wine 5.15 and Beyond

  • Wine Announcement
    The Wine development release 5.15 is now available.
    
    
    
    
    What's new in this release (see below for details):
      - Initial implementation of the XACT Engine libraries.
      - Beginnings of a math library in MSVCRT based on Musl.
      - Still more restructuration of the console support.
      - Direct Input performance improvements.
      - Exception handling fixes on x86-64.
      - Various bug fixes.
    
    
    
    
    The source is available from the following locations:
    
    
    
    
      https://dl.winehq.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.15.tar.xz
      http://mirrors.ibiblio.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.15.tar.xz
    
    
    
    
    Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
    
    
    
    
      https://www.winehq.org/download
    
    
    
    
    You will find documentation on https://www.winehq.org/documentation
    
    
    
    
    You can also get the current source directly from the git
    repository. Check https://www.winehq.org/git for details.
    
    
    
    
    Wine is available thanks to the work of many people. See the file
    AUTHORS in the distribution for the complete list.
    
  • Wine 5.15 Release Brings Initial Work On XACT Engine Libraries

    Wine 5.15 is out as the latest bi-weekly development snapshot for this program allowing Windows games/applications to generally run quite gracefully on Linux and other platforms. 

  •        
  • Wine Developer Begins Experimenting With macOS ARM64 Support

    Over the months ahead with Apple preparing future desktops/laptops with their in-house Apple silicon built on the ARM 64-bit architecture, Wine developers are beginning to eye how to support these future 64-bit ARM systems with macOS Big Sur.  Wine developer Martin Storsjo has been experimenting with the macOS + ARM64 support and has got the code along far enough that "small test executables" can run on the patched copy of Wine. 

Wandboard IMX8M-Plus SBC debuts AI-enabled i.MX8M Plus

echNexion’s “Wandboard IMX8M-Plus” SBC runs Linux or Android on NXP’s new i.MX8M Plus with 2.3-TOPS NPU. Pre-orders go for $134 with 2GB RAM or $159 with 4GB and WiFi/BT, both with 32GB and M.2 with NVMe. In January, NXP announced its i.MX8M Plus — its first i.MX8 SoC with an NPU for AI acceleration — but so far the only product we’ve seen based on it is a briefly teased Verdin iMX8M Plus module from Toradex. Now, TechNexion has opened pre-orders for a Wandboard IMX8M-Plus SBC based on a SODIMM-style “EDM SOM” module equipped with the i.MX8M Plus. Read more