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Reviews

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

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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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MATE Review: A Lightweight Desktop Environment for the Nostalgic

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Linux
Reviews

MATE is one of the great Linux Desktop Environments for those who are looking for something very traditional and nostalgic. It is the living descendant of one of the most popular Linux desktops, GNOME 2, and has a classic feel and approach. In this MATE review, we’ll look at the user interface, performance, and some notable features, and we’ll cover who should try MATE.

MATE feels classic when you first boot up. This makes sense, as MATE is a fork and continuation of GNOME 2, one of the most beloved Linux desktops of all time. MATE follows traditional desktop paradigms and gives you a great-looking and great-feeling interface. MATE is incredibly sharp out of the box with a great theme and icon pack. The feel is great as well, with very minimal resource usage and a fast, snappy interface. Things run well, and MATE would be a great choice for a lower-end system or those looking to remain efficient on system resources.

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