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Reviews

Linux on your laptop: A closer look at EFI boot options

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Linux
Reviews

For some time now I have gotten a slow but steady volume of requests that I write about UEFI firmware and EFI boot relative to installing and maintaining Linux. As a result of a casual comment I made in a recent post about installing Linux on a new laptop, the volume has gone up considerably.

So in this post I will review and explain some of what I consider to be the most important points about UEFI firmware and Linux systems. I intend for this to be a relatively short post, but once I get started you never know... so you might want to get a cup of coffee before starting to read.

First, the specific aspect of UEFI firmware that I am concerned with here is the boot sequence, and how to use it with Linux. There is a lot more to UEFI (EFI) than that, but I will not be addressing any of that here.

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A Look at Redcore Linux: Gentoo based Linux Distribution

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GNU
Linux
Gentoo
Reviews

Many people in the technology world have heard, at least in passing, of the Linux distribution Gentoo. Gentoo is one of the most famous distributions to the point of becoming a joke; with it’s complexity and depth, installing Gentoo has been a daunting task for many.

Redcore is one of the latest distributions to attempt to bring the power of Gentoo to the everyday user.

I previously wrote an article in 2017 about Sabayon Linux, another popular Gentoo based system; but Redcore Linux holds its own and pulls its own weight.

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Review: Raspberry Pi 4

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Hardware
Reviews

The Raspberry Pi began life as a hacker's dream: a cheap, low-power, highly extendable, hackable PC that shipped as a bare circuit board. Intended as one part educational device, one part tinkering tool, it became something of a phenomenon that has been used to power everything from scaled-down Mars rovers to millions of science and hackday experiments in schools around the world.

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Akaunting: a web-based accounting system

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Software
Reviews

One of these years, LWN will have a new accounting system based on free software. That transition has not yet happened, though, despite the expending of a fair amount of energy into researching alternatives. Your editor recently became aware of a system called Akaunting, so a look seemed worthwhile. This tool may have the features that some users want, but it seems clear that your editor's quest is not done yet.

As an aside, additional motivation for this effort came in the form of an essentially forced upgrade to QuickBooks 2019 — something that QuickBooks users have learned to expect and dread. There appear to be no new features of interest in this release, but it does offer a newly crippled data import mechanism and routine corruption of its database. If your editor didn't know better, he might just conclude that proprietary software is buggy, unreliable, and unfixable.

[...]

The system is written in PHP and JavaScript; the code is licensed under GPLv3. Akaunting is able to use MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQLite to store the actual data. It is, as one might expect given the implementation languages, designed to run as a web application; one can install it on a handy machine, but Akaunting (the company) also offers to host accounts free of charge on its own servers. The company promises "we cover it, for free, forever" — a pretty big promise for a free-software startup with a minimal track record.

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Endeavour OS | Review from an openSUSE User

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Reviews

Endeavour OS is the unofficial successor to Antegros, I’ve never used Antegros so I cannot make any comparisons between the two. It should also be noted that I think Arch Linux, in general is more work than it is worth so this won’t exactly be a shining review. Feel free to bail here if you don’t like the direction of my initial prejudice.

I am reviewing Endeavour OS as a rather biased openSUSE Linux user that is firmly entrenched in all things openSUSE. I am going at this from the perspective that my computer is my companion, my coworker or assistant in getting my digital work done and some entertainment sprinkled in there as well.

Bottom Line Up Front: If you want to run main-line Arch, Endeavour OS is absolutely the way to get going with it. They take the “Easy Plus One” approach to Arch by allowing you to install what I would consider a minimal but very usable base and learn to use “genuine Arch” with all the triumphs and pitfalls. If you want to go Arch, I can most certainly endorse this as the route to do so. However, even after playing here for two weeks, I find Arch to be more trouble than it is worth but a great educational experience.

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Review: AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

What sets AcademiX apart from other distributions is the EDU software manager. This package manager provides curated lists of educational software, which are grouped by subject and by age range. This package manager makes finding educational software really easy. There is software for astronomy, biology, geography, foreign languages, and many other subjects. While there are gaps in the availability of applications covering various subjects, that is a gap in the broader open source application ecosystem, not something specific to AcademiX. While some of the rough edges I noted with the installation process and the desktop customization make me a hesitant to recommend AcademiX to new Linux users, Educational Technology professionals should perhaps try out AcademiX just to use the EDU package manager to explore various open source applications.

While installing and updating software was easy and basically the same experience as any other modern, Debian-based distribution, the fact that some of the packages come from servers in Romania means that some package downloads can be much slower than downloading from the world-wide network of Debian mirrors. For individual packages and small collections of packages this is not too noticeable, but it is still an issue. The frustrating part is the fact that the speeds are not consistent. Sometimes I was downloading at only 40kbps, but other times it was much faster. I experienced the same issue when trying to download the ISO. One download took about 20 minutes for the 1.7GB image but some other attempts took 4 hours.

Final thoughts

AcademiX GNU/Linux is an interesting distribution, but it has some rough edges that need to be cleaned up. Honestly, I really, really wanted to like this distribution (good distributions aimed at the educational market are always needed), but found it to be merely okay. AcademiX has a lot of potential, but it is just not there yet. DebianEdu/Skolelinux is far more polished while serving almost the exact same niche. However, if the AcademiX team cleans up some of the issues I noted above, especially the installer issues, I think future versions of AcademiX might turn out to be worthwhile. The EDU software installer is well organized and aids in discovering educational software, so that is one solid advantage AcademiX offers, but overall the distribution needs more work and polish before I could move it from "this distribution is okay" to "you should give this distribution a try".

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Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Xfce review - Nice but somewhat crude

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Reviews

Overall, Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Xfce is a decent distro. It has lots of good and unique points. Network, media and phone support is good. You get a colorful repertoire of high-quality programs, the performance and battery life are excellent, and the desktop is fairly pretty. The system was also quite robust and stable.

But then, there were issues - including inconsistent behavior compared to the Plasma crop. The installation can be a bit friendlier (as Plasma one does). The package management remains the Achilles' Heel of this distro. Having too many frontends is confusing, and none of them do a great job. The messages on dependencies, the need for AUR (if you want fancy stuff), and such all create unnecessary confusing. There were also tons of visual papercuts, and I struggled getting things in order. All in all, Manjaro is getting better all the time, but it is still too geeky for the common person, as it breaks the fourth wall of nerdiness too often. 7/10, and I hope it can sort itself out and continue to deliver the unique, fun stuff that gets sidelined by the rough edges.

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Slackel Linux Works Well Inside Its Openbox

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Linux
Reviews

The current Slackel Linux release can be a good choice for new users. It is easy to stumble through the installation steps, but this distro has some benefits.

Slackel is a reliable operating system that is easy to use. If you like to learn how Linux works, Slackel gets you closer to understanding the pure Linux environment without resorting to the terminal window and the command line.

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A look at MX Linux 18.3

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Reviews

I’ve been doing a little bit of distrohopping in the last week or so to take a look at new systems being developed and to try a few I haven’t had a look at in a while; MX Linux being one of the latter.

The last time I touched MX Linux was at least two or three years ago, and I remember that I wasn’t a fan at the time. However, I’m really happy to say that my opinion of the OS has changed with my latest dive into it.

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Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon vs Kubuntu 19.04 Review

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Reviews

Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon still ships with ‘ureadahead’ daemon which as I’ve shown, has the capacity to significantly speed things up (again, it only works on rotational disks) when booting up, even though the memory usage is not as impressive compared to modern KDE desktops (that then again is not Cinnamon’s fault, because, that’s how it is with most GNOME 3 based distributions these days).

If you’re not happy with the power usage, then install TLP, if the responsiveness is not impressive, try changing the I/O scheduler, and you’re good to go. It’s easy to use, quite stable and even though Cinnamon’s apps are forked from GNOME 3’s apps, due to its will to retain its own identity, nowadays, to a great extent, Cinnamon is its own thing. If interested in, download it from Mint’s official web page. Good luck and thank you for reading.

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and CentOS 6 Receive Important Kernel Security Update

Marked by the Red Hat Product Security team as having a security impact of "Important," the new Linux kernel security update is here to patch a memory corruption (CVE-2018-9568) that occurred due to incorrect socket cloning and a NULL pointer dereference (CVE-2019-11810) discovered in drivers/scsi/megaraid/megaraid_sas_base.c, which could lead to a denial of service. Also fixed in this update are two bugs affecting the performance of the Linux kernel on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and CentOS Linux 6 systems, namely a fragmented packets timing out issue and the backport TCP follow-up for small buffers. These two bugs can be corrected if you install the new kernel versions for your operating system. Read more

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FreeBSD 12 & DragonFlyBSD 5.6 Running Well On The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X + MSI X570 GODLIKE

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