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Reviews

Raspberry Pi Camera v2 Review

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Hardware
Reviews
Gadgets

The versatile single-board computer from the UK, the Raspberry Pi, is a firm favorite among makers and tinkerers and Linux hackers the world over. It’s small, it’s light, it’s easy to use and set up, and with the launch of the new Model B version 4, it’s really quite powerful.

But almost as interesting as the board itself are the kinds of peripheral gizmos you can attach to the main board. Most of these are third-party hats and other add-ons, but one of the most popular ones is the official Raspberry Pi camera.

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Nathan Wolf: Regolith Linux | Review from an openSUSE User

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Reviews

Regolith is a very interesting distribution based on Ubuntu that uses the i3 Window manager. In this case, you get all the benefits of the Ubuntu distribution with the unique i3 interface with predefined shortcut keys. The creator of this fine distribution, Ken Gilmer, has put a lot of time, effort into really making this a fine demonstration of i3.

This is my first i3 experience and overall it has been quite enjoyable. For those that are less familiar with what a Window Manager vs a Desktop…. I really can’t say, to me, it is a desktop environment I’m sure there is some nuance that distinguishes a “desktop environment” to a “window manager” but that debate and discussion is outside of the scope of this blathering. For my purposes, anything that allows me to interact with my computer in a holistic fashion is a Desktop Environment. So what is holistic in this context?

This is my impression of using Regolith as a deeply entrenched, content openSUSE Tumbleweed User that thinks using anything other than Plasma keeps my fingers hovering just over the bail-out button. Bottom Line Up Front, Regolith was a challenging but educationally enjoyable experience. My trip through Regolith sparked my imagination as to some specific applications and uses for this user environment. As cool as the interface is for Regolith (i3) is, it is not enough to push me off the openSUSE Tumbleweed Plasma mountain. This is my biased impression after running Regolith as a my interface into my computer.

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Review: deepin 15.11

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OS
Reviews

deepin is a Debian-based distribution developed in China. The distro ships with its own desktop environment, also called Deepin, and a dozen or so applications that are developed in-house. To avoid confusion, the distribution is called "deepin" (in all lower case) while the desktop environment's name is "Deepin" (with a capital "D").

The latest version of deepin was released in July and mainly features bug fixes. The most notable new feature is "Cloud Sync", which is an option to store various system settings (everything from the wallpaper to the power settings) in the "cloud". This is an interesting option but it is currently only available for users in mainland China. In other words, there aren't a whole lot of new and exciting features in deepin 15.11. However, as deepin is one of those distros about which there is a lot to say, it is worth having a look at the latest release.

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Kdenlive 19.08 review - Film Noir Redux

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KDE
Reviews

About a year ago, I reviewed the beta version of Kdenlive 18.08. It proved to be an okay program, an incremental improvement, even though there were some issues that you'd expect to find in beta-quality software. Overall, there weren't any big surprises, but I was hoping for a more streamlined workflow and improved consistency.

Twelve months later, Kdenlive 19.08 has been released, and it's time for another review. After all, this is my favorite video editor, and I've used it to create all of my funny and unfunny Youtube videos, so I'm always very keen on what new things and improvements we can have here. Let us commence then, ever so gingerly.

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Xfce 4.14 review - Holding out for a hero

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Reviews

People often ask me (joking, no one asks me anything, I ain't got no friends) what my favorite Linux desktop is. And my answer is, well, long and complicated. But I guess, in the past fifteen years, I've mostly used and loved Plasma and Unity, with some brief moments of joy with Gnome 2. Then, inevitably, the question of Xfce comes up, and my answer is even longer and more complicated.

The release of Xfce 4.14 might provide a part of the answer you're looking for. And you should definitely look at my reviews of various distros running Xfce, like say Xubuntu or MX Linux, to get a sense of what this desktop environment does, and how it does it. But then, it's never been really my default go-to setup, although I did use it quite successfully and effectively - and still do - on my feisty, 10-year-old Asus eeePC netbook. On the desktop proper, I like it, and I liked what it did approximately three years or so. Since, it's kind of kept a quiet profile, not quite here nor there. Well, I want to see if the new version has the kick to make my proverbial colt buck and gallop. Testing time it is then!

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A Linux Noob Reviews The MX Linux 18.3 Installer

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Linux
Reviews

Overall, installing MX Linux is a piece of cake whether you're doing it on a virtual machine or bare metal. And it's one of the fastest installers I've used.

If I have one complaint, it's simply that the installer itself looks dated. Dull grey color schemes feel like they're from a different era. On the bright side, the contextual help text ensures that even new users won't be left in the dark.

Also, MX Linux has made some refreshing tweaks to the default Xfce desktop environment, making it look more modern out of the gate.

This is actually my first brush with Debian in general, and I'm liking the out-of-box Xfce appearance. Beyond that, MX Linux looks to have a wonderful, centrally-located set of tools and tweaks that I find valuable. I also have no doubt it will feel snappy thanks to Xfce. So, I think my next step will be jumping aboard the MX Linux 19 Beta train and taking it for a proper test drive. Who's with me?

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Drauger OS Makes a Capable Linux Game Console Platform

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Reviews

This distro lacks an OS upgrade mechanism. So upgrading to the next release requires a fresh installation. However, system updates to the existing installation come from Ubuntu and are regularly updated by Drauger OS.

If you play around with the live session, the default user name is "user" or "default." The default password is "toor."

Complete instructions are found in the Readme.pdf file. Also, check out the Welcome screen. It provides access to help files and shows buttons that open links to the distribution's website, launch a tool for installing third-party drivers, and link to some online resources.

There is also a tutorial button on the Welcome screen that opens a series of pop-up messages about the desktop elements. The welcome window is pretty straightforward to use and navigate.

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Review: Drauger OS 7.4.1, and EndeavourOS 2019.07.15

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Reviews

This week I once again turned to the DistroWatch waiting list to sample new items I had not tried before. Near the top of the list of projects waiting for evaluation was Drauger OS, a Linux distribution based on Xubuntu. The project uses the Xfce desktop environment and is built to run on 64-bit (x86_64) computers. The project places a strong focus on offering easy access to games and, correspondingly, good desktop performance. To this end, Drauger ships with Steam installed by default, along with WINE and PlayOnLinux. Drauger OS also comes with the modified, low-latency, Liquorix Linux kernel, which is based off the ZEN kernel.

According to the project's documentation, the distribution can run on UEFI-enabled machines, but booting in legacy BIOS mode is recommended. The documentation also mentions that in place of the regular Xubuntu installer, Drauger uses the System Install utility to copy the operating system from the live media to the local hard drive.

While most of the project's listed features are technical in nature, one of the main talking points goes a bit over the top when describing Drauger's security advantage: "Drauger OS is far more secure than the leading desktop operating system. This means that you can game without fear of trolls hacking into your computer, getting a virus, or losing your data." Of course Linux systems can be hacked and certainly may lose data due to various bugs, security breaches or hardware failure. The developers' claims strike me as being optimistic, at best.

Drauger is available in one edition and the distribution's ISO file is a 3.2GB download. Booting from the disc brings up a menu asking if we would like to run a live desktop session or launch a system installer. The live option shows the Ubuntu boot screen, which identifies the distribution as "Ubuntu 7.4.1". The system then presents us with a graphical login screen where we are given the choice of using a "user" account or a "guest" account. In either case we can sign in without a password.

Drauger's live mode uses the Xfce 4.12 desktop. Once the desktop loads, a welcome screen appears, showing buttons that open links to the distribution's website, launch a tool for installing third-party drivers, open a readme file, and link to some on-line resources. There is also a tutorial button which opens a series of pop-up messages about the desktop elements. We can only move forward through the tutorial tips one at a time, and cannot go back to previous pop-ups. The Additional Drivers button opens the Ubuntu software sources, updates and driver utility. On-line resources and documentation are opened in the Firefox web browser. The welcome window is pretty straight forward to use and navigate and I like that we are put in touch with both on-line and off-line resources.

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Cryptocurrency OS Makes It Easy to Buy and Spend Digital Cash

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Reviews
Security

Cryptocurrency OS is a specialty Linux distribution that serves a niche user market destined to grow as the crypto economy continues to develop. This distro is packed with all the tools you need to create and manage your crypto accounts. It also is a fully functional Linux operating system. It is easy to use this distro as your daily computing platform.

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LibreOffice 6.3 - Waiting for a miracle

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LibO
Reviews

LibreOffice 6.3 is a powerful, rich office suite, and the fact it comes with no strings attached, the string to your purse included, is a commendable thing. But it is not enough. Simply isn't. Functionality is what matters, and if the program cannot satisfy the necessary needs, it's not really useful. Maybe on the scale of un-value, it's less un-valuable than something that costs a lot of money, but you still don't get what you require.

And in this regard, LibreOffice 6.3 doesn't quite cut it. I mean, you can still use it happily - I know I will, it does an okay job, and you can create files and export to PDF and all that. But then, working with Office files is pretty much a no-go, the style management is inefficient, and the UI layouts are somewhat clunky. I also feel the momentum has slowed, and the great, amazing hope that was there when LibreOffice was born is just a thing of mildly apathetic momentum now. True, this ailment grips the entire open-source world, and Linux in particular, but it doesn't change the fact that the hope is slowly dwindling. All in all, worth testing, but a solution to all office problems, LibreOffice 6.3 ain't.

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More in Tux Machines

How App Stores Are Addressing Fragmentation in the Linux Ecosystem

According to DistroWatch, 273 Linux distributions are currently active, with another 56 dormant and 521 discontinued. While some of these have shared underpinnings, it still makes for an extremely varied landscape for companies and developers. It means developers must create multiple versions of their applications to be able to provide their software to all Linux users or just address a fraction of the market. Also, developers require multiple versions of build tools, which inevitably results in significant resource overhead. Desktop application distribution is complex across all operating systems in general; in Linux, this is further compounded by such fragmentation and inter-dependencies both in the packaging and distribution of software. For example, Fedora uses the RPM packaging format, while Debian uses the .deb format. Moreover, packages built for one version of a Linux distribution are often incompatible with other versions of the same distribution and need to be built for each version separately. Read more

Security Leftovers

  • Security updates for Monday

    Security updates have been issued by Debian (ansible, faad2, linux-4.9, and thunderbird), Fedora (jbig2dec, libextractor, sphinx, and thunderbird), Mageia (expat, kconfig, mediawiki, nodejs, openldap, poppler, thunderbird, webkit2, and wireguard), openSUSE (buildah, ghostscript, go1.12, libmirage, python-urllib3, rdesktop, and skopeo), SUSE (python-Django), and Ubuntu (exim4, ibus, and Wireshark).

  • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 161 - Human nature and ad powered open source

    Josh and Kurt start out discussing human nature and how it affects how we view security. A lot of things that look easy are actually really hard. We also talk about the npm library Standard showing command line ads. Are ads part of the future of open source?

  • Skidmap malware drops LKMs on Linux machines to enable cryptojacking, backdoor access

    Researchers have discovered a sophisticated cryptomining program that uses loadable kernel modules (LKMs) to help infiltrate Linux machines, and hides its malicious activity by displaying fake network traffic stats. Dubbed Skidmap, the malware can also grant attackers backdoor access to affected systems by setting up a secret master password that offers access to any user account in the system, according to Trend Micro threat analysts Augusto Remillano II and Jakub Urbanec in a company blog post today. “Skidmap uses fairly advanced methods to ensure that it and its components remain undetected. For instance, its use of LKM rootkits – given their capability to overwrite or modify parts of the kernel – makes it harder to clean compared to other malware,” the blog post states. “In addition, Skidmap has multiple ways to access affected machines, which allow it to reinfect systems that have been restored or cleaned up.”

  • Skidmap Linux Malware Uses Rootkit Capabilities to Hide Cryptocurrency-Mining Payload

    Cryptocurrency-mining malware is still a prevalent threat, as illustrated by our detections of this threat in the first half of 2019. Cybercriminals, too, increasingly explored new platforms and ways to further cash in on their malware — from mobile devices and Unix and Unix-like systems to servers and cloud environments. They also constantly hone their malware’s resilience against detection. Some, for instance, bundle their malware with a watchdog component that ensures that the illicit cryptocurrency mining activities persist in the infected machine, while others, affecting Linux-based systems, utilize an LD_PRELOAD-based userland rootkit to make their components undetectable by system monitoring tools.

Oracle launches completely autonomous operating system

Together, these two solutions provide automated patching, updates, and tuning. This includes 100 percent automatic daily security updates to the Linux kernel and user space library. In addition, patching can be done while the system is running, instead of a sysadmin having to take systems down to patch them. This reduces downtime and helps to eliminate some of the friction between developers and IT, explained Coekaerts. Read more

Software: Zotero, PulseCaster and Qt Port of SFXR

  • Zotero and LibreOffice

    If you’re working with LibreOffice and need to create a bibliography, this software makes it simple to manage your citations. You can tell how few people use LibreOffice’s Bibliography Database by the fact that a bug that would take 10 minutes to fix has survived since 2002. Instead, those who need bibliographies or citations rely on other software such as Zotero, which can be integrated into LibreOffice with an extension. That robust bug is that the Citation Format in the database table is called the Short Name in the input fields. Even more confusing, the examples give an arbitrary name, when to work with the citation insertion tool in Insert | Table of Contents and Index | Insert Bibliography Entry, it should in a standard form, such as (Byfield: 2016) for the MLA format. Add the fact that a single database is used for all files – an absurdity in these memory-rich days – and the neglect of the Bibliography Database is completely understandable.

  • PulseCaster 0.9 released!

    For starters, PulseCaster is now ported to Python 3. I used Python 3.6 and Python 3.7 to do the porting. Nothing in the code should be particular to either version, though. But you’ll need to have Python 3 installed to use it, as most Linux bistros do these days. Another enhancement is that PulseCaster now relies on the excellent pulsectl library for Python, by George Filipkin and Mike Kazantsev. Hats off to them for doing a great job, which allowed me to remove many, many lines of code from this release. Also, due the use of PyGObject3 in this release, there are numerous improvements that make it easier for me to hack on. Silly issues with the GLib mainloop and other entrance/exit stupidity are hopefully a bit better now. Also, the code for dealing with temporary files is now a bit less ugly. I still want to do more work on the overall design and interface, and have ideas. I’ve gotten way better at time management since the last series of releases and hope to do some of this over the USA holiday season this late fall and winter (but no promises).

  • SFXR Qt 1.3.0

    I just released version 1.3.0 of SFXR Qt, my Qt port of the SFXR sound effect generator.