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Reviews

Evaluating Artix Linux with OpenRC, KDE Edition

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KDE
Reviews

In an article for Distrowatch in July I looked at Artix Cinnamon and Plasma editions with runit to start up and manage services. That indicated a problem in the sense that if reliant on software written for systemd that no ready-made runit service scripts are available for one will have to create their own. Specifically, I had a problem getting my VPN client to work. Let's see if this works any better with the OpenRC flavour of Artix.

This is really a follow-up but for those who haven't read the original review and not familiar with the distribution here's a quick recap.

Artix is a systemd-free fork of Arch Linux that grew out of the Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC projects joining forces to provide installable images with alternative init solutions to Arch users who were unhappy with the parent moving to systemd. In fact, Arch was one of the early adopters. While in the beginning only OpenRC might have been offered, Artix now also provides install images using the runit and s6 init software. There's a lot of choice on the download page, only the x86_64 architecture is supported. The project provides Artix basic images of 520MB, similar to a net-install or the Arch install images, and with Cinnamon, MATE, Plasma, Xfce, LXDE and LXQt also ISOs for every major desktop environment. They come in between 939MB and 1.1GB depending on your chosen flavour - not too big a download these days. The page makes it clear what to expect, i.e. only a basic set of applications is included to get the user started.
A file manager, a media player (MPV), a network manager, a document viewer, a web browser and the graphical installer. It is then up to the user to add applications and shape the system.

Every flavour is available for download with any of the three supported init systems. Official images seem to be respun now and then. Although there are weekly images, at the time of writing most stable images were dated from February 2020, with the Xfce ISO labelled 20200506 apparently released in May.

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New MakuluLinux Distro Puts a 'Shift' in Your Computing Routine

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Linux
Reviews

MakuluLinux Shift is an interesting Linux distro that takes some of the best features of popular desktop environments and rolls them together into one computing platform. It doesn't pit productivity against simplicity. It offers choices of minimal software or full application.

Shift Linux is easy to use. Yet it has enough bells and whistles to satisfy power users.

The one area that left me wanting more was the background images. They all are colorful and abstract. Rather than make users add their own image arrays, I would like to see the developer add some of the scenic collections used in the other MakuluLinux distros. The classy image display tool for picking background images seems wasted with such a minimal selection.

If you want to get a closeup sampling of Shift Linux in action, view this Youtube presentation Raymer made.

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CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4 Education Laptop Review

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Linux
Reviews

CrowPi2 looks to be a great little platform to learn about electronics, programming, and the basics of artificial intelligence thanks to over one hundred lessons and tutorials. Multiple kids can make use of the laptop since there can be an offline account of each that keeps track of the progress of each student.

But the platform is not perfect. Sometimes samples won’t work without messing with the command line, as some instructions may not be complete. Some Project samples simply do not work as intended, but hopefully, this will be fixed before shipping to backers. I could not really find any (active) online resources for CrowPi2 and the earlier CrowPi, but Elecrow does have a Wiki for their other products.

Another potential issue is that the fan is really loud, especially when you take out the keyboard to play with the electronics module underneath. As we’ve seen in the review it might be possible to convert it into a fanless laptop with some minimal efforts.

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Review: NixOS 20.03

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OS
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NixOS is a Linux distribution with a special approach to package and configuration management. NixOS is built on top of the Nix package manager which is declarative and makes upgrading systems reliable by way of atomic updates and package snapshots. Nix also provides the ability to roll forwards and backwards through package snapshots, which it calls generations, allowing the administrator to rollback changes or move forward through available versions. Since package transactions are atomic this means upgrades and installations will not break the operating system if a crash or power failure occurs. The administrator can simply revert back to the original snapshot of the installed packages.

Nix can use declarative configuration, meaning we can use the same system configuration file on multiple machines to have them all set up the same way without needing to use disk cloning.

There are over 60,000 packages in the Nix repository. Since Nix can be installed on most Linux distributions, this provides a great repository of software to any distribution where we care to install the Nix package manager.

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PCLinuxOS Review: This Classic Independent Linux Distribution is Definitely Worth a Look

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Reviews

Most of the Linux distributions are based on Debian/Ubuntu/Arch. PCLinuxOS is not one of them. Take a look at the classic independent PCLinuxOS distribution.
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LXQt Review: A Lightweight, Extensible and Attractive Desktop Environment

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Reviews

Similarly to the w LXDE article, the user who should use LXQt is the user who is looking for the most performance out of the box at the expense of everything else. You may be on a system with limited RAM and CPU horsepower and looking to maximize your experience, or you may just value minimalism or simplicity over cohesion. Regardless, LXQt is a great choice.

Now that you’ve learned about LXQt, make sure to check out some of our other Desktop Environment reviews, including GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon and Xfce.

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Review: BunsenLabs Linux Lithium

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Reviews

BunsenLabs Linux is a distribution offering a lightweight and easily customizable Openbox desktop. The BunsenLabs distribution is based on Debian's Stable branch which gives the project access to a vast collection of software packages.

Bunsen's latest release is called Lithium (the project uses element names in place of version numbers) and is based on Debian 10 "Buster". Lithium now automatically updates the application menu when new software is installed and includes a range of Broadcom wireless drivers to help users get on-line. The distribution now ships with a dark theme by default and the project's welcome window script has been streamlined to get the system up and running faster. Bunsen should now work with Secure Boot systems.

BunsenLabs is available in two builds. One is a 1.2GB ISO file for 64-bit (x86_64) computers while the other is a 651MB ISO for 32-bit systems. The second ISO is quite a bit smaller in order to allow it to fit on a CD. Booting from the project's install media brings up a menu asking if we would like to boot into a live desktop environment or launch the system installer. The live mode is available in three flavours (normal, failsafe, and running from RAM) while the installer can be launched in graphical or text mode.

Taking the live option brings up a graphical desktop, powered by the Openbox window manager. Once we arrive at the desktop a welcome window appears. This window gives us a few quick tips on using desktop shortcut keys, provides us with the live environment's password, and tells us how to use the command line to change our keyboard's layout. We are also told we can quickly access the application menu by right-clicking on the desktop. Finally, we are told that to run the system installer we need to restart the computer and select an install option from the boot menu; the installer is not available through the live session.

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Exploring LibreOffice 7.0

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LibO
Reviews

The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the release of LibreOffice 7.0. This major release is a significant upgrade from version 6.4.6, focusing on interoperability with Microsoft Office, general performance, and support for OpenDocument Format (ODF) version 1.3. A complete list of new features and bug fixes can be found in the release notes.

When talking about the latest LibreOffice release, one must also talk about ODF, the default format for LibreOffice documents. ODF version 1.3, which was approved as an OASIS Committee specification back in December 2019, offers several improvements to the format that LibreOffice can now take advantage of. For the security concerned, document encryption using OpenPGP (PGP) is a welcome addition. Further, while LibreOffice has supported digital signatures in past releases via SSL/TLS certificates, PGP keys can now be used to sign documents in LibreOffice 7.0.

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Life - Part III of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Review

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Reviews

This last part of Ubuntu 20.04 review conveys the use for real world life purposes. If the first part talks about panorama, second talks about power, then this part speaks about life. Ubuntu Focal Fossa empowers my old laptop for everything routine smoothly including browsing folders, viewing pictures, editing documents, and playing videos without any hardware problem so I felt very satisfied. I report to everyone in computing you can happily use Ubuntu right away. Enjoy!

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Review: GeckoLinux 152 "KDE Plasma", MX Linux 19.2 "KDE"

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KDE
Reviews

This week instead of spending several days with one distribution I decided to try two alternative spins or approaches to projects I have explored in the recent past. In particular I wanted to compare the latest release of GeckoLinux against its parent, openSUSE, and try out the new KDE Plasma edition of MX Linux. Let's start with Gecko.

The GeckoLinux project presents itself as a more desktop-oriented version of openSUSE, which I reviewed in July. The project ships in multiple live desktop editions for 64-bit (x86_64) computers. Available editions include Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. I decided to try the KDE Plasma edition to keep my trial as close to my experience with openSUSE 15.2 as possible.

Booting from the Gecko media brings up the KDE Plasma desktop. Icons for opening a language installer and the Calamares system installer are located on the desktop. There is a panel placed at the bottom of the display.

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More in Tux Machines

Mozilla/Firefox/Tor Browser

  • New Release: Tor Browser 10.5a1

    Tor Browser 10.1a1 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.

  • Karl Dubost: Week notes - 2020 w39 - worklog - A new era

    So the Mozilla Webcompat team is entering a new era. Mike Taylor (by the time this will be published) was the manager of the webcompat team at Mozilla since August 2015. He decided to leave. Monday, September 21 was his last day. We had to file an issue about this. The new interim manager is… well… myself. So last week and this week will be a lot about: * have a better understanding of the tasks and meetings that Mike was attending. * trying to readjust schedules and understanding how to get a bit of sleep with a distributed organization which has most of its meeting toward friendly European and American time zones. Basically, all meetings are outside the reasonable working timeframe (8:00 to 17:00 Japan Time). * trying to figure out how to switch from peer to manager with the other persons in the webcompat team. I want to remove any sources of stress.

  • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n Report: September 2020 Edition

Programming Leftovers

  • Code your first algorithm in Scratch

    With more kids learning from home this year, it's important to engage them with unique learning opportunities. The classroom looks very different than it did before, and it's going to continue to evolve. So should the lessons we teach. In the first article in this series, I shared how my students taught me to code. Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring how educators and parents can harness the power of coding to teach kids a wide variety of skills. "But I don't know anything about coding!" you may be shouting at your computer. That's one of the beauties of open source code: everyone is a learner, and everyone is a teacher. Whether you're new to coding or you've been doing it all your life, part of the process is making mistakes. It's all about problem-solving and learning how to find information. The greatest tool an educator has in a coding classroom is the phrase, "I don't know; let's find out together!"

  • 5 questions to ask yourself when writing project documentation

    Before getting down to the actual writing part of documenting another one of your open source projects, and even before interviewing the experts, it's a good idea to answer some high-level questions about your new document. [...] Or, what company is behind the document? What brand identity does it want to convey to its audience? The answer to this question will significantly influence your writing style. The company may also have its own style guide or at least a formal mission statement, in which case, you should start there. If the company is just starting out, you may ask the questions above to the document's owner. As the writer, it's important to integrate the voice and persona you create for the company with your own worldview and beliefs. This will make your writing sound more natural and less like company jargon.

  • 33 Excellent Free Books to Learn all about R

    The R language is the de facto standard among statisticians for the development of statistical software, and is widely used for statistical software development and data analysis. R is a modern dialect of S, one of several statistical programming languages designed at Bell Laboratories. R is much more than a programming language. It’s an interactive suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation, and graphical display. R offers a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. The ability to download and install R packages is a key factor which makes R an excellent language to learn. What else makes R awesome? Here’s a taster.

  • [Perl] while loops that have an index

    Perl got this syntax that allow to use a while loop without having to explicitly increment an index by doing an i++. It is made possible by the each function.

  • OO linked lists in Perl

    After many days, trying to implement linked lists by nested hash (link to Rosetta Code) (link to my code) or Struct::Dumb, I get how to write the (singly) linked list in object-oriented style by Perl. One with bless, another one with Moose. Keep the learning record here.

  • Find all the prime numbers less than 'n' in O(n) Time complexity

    Our task is to find all the prime numbers that are less than n in Linear Time. We use Sieve of Eratosthenes to find the prime numbers till n. But the time complexity is O(N log (log N)). Here our desired time complexity is O(N). Hence a modified version of the Sieve of Eratosthenes is to be used.

  • PyPy 7.3.2 triple release: python 2.7, 3.6, and 3.7

    The interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the multiple release. This is a micro release, all APIs are compatible with the 7.3.0 (Dec 2019) and 7.3.1 (April 2020) releases, but read on to find out what is new. Conda Forge now supports PyPy as a python interpreter. The support is quite complete for linux and macOS. This is the result of a lot of hard work and good will on the part of the Conda Forge team. A big shout out to them for taking this on. Development of PyPy has transitioning to https://foss.heptapod.net/pypy/pypy. This move was covered more extensively in this blog post. We have seen an increase in the number of drive-by contributors who are able to use gitlab + mercurial to create merge requests. The CFFI backend has been updated to version 1.14.2. We recommend using CFFI rather than c-extensions to interact with C, and using cppyy for performant wrapping of C++ code for Python.

Security Leftovers

  • Security updates for Friday

    Security updates have been issued by Debian (rails), openSUSE (chromium, jasper, ovmf, roundcubemail, samba, and singularity), Oracle (firefox), SUSE (bcm43xx-firmware, firefox, libqt5-qtbase, qemu, and tiff), and Ubuntu (aptdaemon, atftp, awl, packagekit, and spip).

  • Foreign Hackers Cripple Texas County’s Email System, Raising Election Security Concerns

    Last week, voters and election administrators who emailed Leanne Jackson, the clerk of rural Hamilton County in central Texas, received bureaucratic-looking replies. “Re: official precinct results,” one subject line read. The text supplied passwords for an attached file.

    But Jackson didn’t send the messages. Instead, they came from Sri Lankan and Congolese email addresses, and they cleverly hid malicious software inside a Microsoft Word attachment. By the time Jackson learned about the forgery, it was too late. Hackers continued to fire off look-alike replies. Jackson’s three-person office, already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, ground to a near standstill.

  • Windows XP Source Code Reportedly Leaked, Posted to 4chan
  • Windows XP source code leaked online, on 4chan, out of all places
  • [Attacker] Accessed Network of U.S. Agency and Downloaded Data

    An unnamed U.S. federal agency was hit with a cyber-attack after a [attacker] used valid access credentials, authorities said on Thursday.

    While many details of the hack weren’t revealed, federal authorities did divulge that the [attacker] was able to browse directories, copy at least one file and exfiltrate data, according to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA.

    The [attacker] implanted malware that evaded the agency’s protection system and was able to gain access to the network by using valid access credentials for multiple users’ Microsoft 365 accounts and domain administrator accounts, according to authorities.

New in calibre 5.0

Welcome back, calibre users. It has been a year since calibre 4.0. The two headline features are Highlighting support in the calibre E-book viewer and that calibre has now moved to Python 3. There has been a lot of work on the calibre E-book viewer. It now supports Highlighting. The highlights can be colors, underlines, strikethrough, etc. and have added notes. All highlights can be both stored in EPUB files for easy sharing and centrally in the calibre library for easy browsing. Additionally, the E-book viewer now supports both vertical and right-to-left text. calibre has moved to using Python 3. This is because Python 2 was end-of-lifed this year. This should be completely transparent to calibre users, the only caveat being that some third party calibre plugins have not yet been ported to Python 3 and therefore will not work in calibre 5. For status on the various plugin ports, see here. This effort involved porting half-a-million lines of Python code and tens-of-thousands of lines of extension code to Python 3. This would not have been possible without the help of Eli Schwartz and Flaviu Tamas. Read more Also: 5 Best free software for disk imaging or cloning hard drives