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Zorin OS 15 | Review from an openSUSE User

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One of those distributions there is a lot of buzz about and I have mostly ignored for a significant number of years has been Zorin OS. I just shrugged my shoulders and kind of ignored its existence. None of the spoken or written selling points really stuck with me, like a warm springtime rain trickling off of a ducks back, I ignored it.

I think that was a mistake.

Instead of just acting like I know something about it, I made the time to noodle around in this rather nice Linux distribution. My review on Zorin OS is from the perspective of a deeply entrenched, biased openSUSE user. I won?t pretend that this is going to be completely objective, as it absolutely is not. So take that for what it?s worth.

Bottom line up front and to give you a quick escape from the rest of this blathering, I was pleasantly surprised by the Zorin OS experience. It is a highly polished experience molded with the Gnome Desktop Environment. It is such a nicely customized and smooth experience, I had to check twice to verify that it was indeed Gnome I was using. Although I am exceptionally satisfied with using openSUSE Tumbleweed with the Plasma desktop, the finely crafted distribution gave me pause and much to think about. So much so, I had to think about some of my life decisions. This was such an incredibly seamless and pleasant experience and I could easily recommend this for anyone that is curious about Linux but doesn?t have a lot of technical experience. I would put this right up next to Mint as an approachable introduction to the Linux world.

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Review: Q4OS 3.8

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Q4OS is a curious project which has done a few things that set it apart from most other Linux distributions. The first thing which stands out about Q4OS is it runs the Trinity desktop. Trinity is the continuation of KDE 3, a flexible desktop environment that was replaced by KDE Plasma on most Linux distributions. Q4OS is one of just two projects in the DistroWatch database still using Trinity as a first tier desktop.

The other feature which immediately stands out is Q4OS is designed to look like classic versions of Microsoft Windows. The Trinity desktop has been themed to have a distinctly Windows XP appearance, complete with desktop icons and a two-pane application menu.

Q4OS 3.8 is based on Debian 10 and is available in 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x86_64) builds. The project ships two editions. The first edition now uses KDE Plasma by default, but still ships with Trinity as a secondary desktop on the install media. The second edition ships with Trinity only. The KDE Plasma media is 869MB in size while the pure Trinity edition is a 638MB download. I decided to download the combined Plasma and Trinity edition.

The disc boots to a graphical environment. A pop-up appears and asks us to select our language from a drop-down list. When wireless networks are detected we are also given the chance to connect over wi-fi. The Plasma desktop (version 5.14.5) then loads. The desktop features a single icon for launching the distribution's installer. A panel at the bottom of the display holds the application menu, task switcher and system tray. A welcome window then appears and offers us six buttons that launch configuration modules or tools to help us install packages. I will come back to the welcome window later as it is not particularly useful when running from the live media.

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MINIX NEO S2 USB-C SSD Hub Review in Ubuntu 18.04 with Khadas Edge

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Ubuntu

MINIX NEO S1 & S2 USB-C hubs are specifically designed for Apple Macbook, Macbook Air, and Macbook Pro, but since they follow USB-C specifications they should work with compatible devices. You must note your experience may vary, as we’ve seen MINIX NEO S2 “works” with Khadas Edge running Ubuntu 18.04 + XFCE, but stability, at least with regards to driving an extra display may be an issue. An external power supply is almost certainly needed unless you only use the product as a USB-C SSD.

MINIX NEO S1 & S2 can be purchased on various shops including GearBest, GeekBuying, and Amazon starting at respectively $79.99 and $97.99.

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Star Labs Linux Laptop Review — A Premium Ultrabook for Open Source Admirers

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

We’ve previously covered System76 and their Linux loving laptops. But there are several other brands around that put Linux first. Star Labs is one of them and they’ve provided a demo unit of their Labtop (yes, Labtop). A premium laptop with fairly boastful specs.

[...]

Powering this understated device is no modest hardware, either. The Core-i7 8550u gives you four cores with eight threads running at 1.8 GHz and boosting to a whopping 4.0 GHz to chew through your workload with relative ease. The 8GB of DDR4 RAM isn’t bad, but a 16GB option would be nice given the increasing demands of modern software. Underpinning all of that computing power is also a beast of an NVMe SSD capable of 3200MB/s read speeds and 2200MB/s write speeds. Of course, none of this really matters without the context of pricing. The Labtop comes in at a very fair $850USD (before any applicable surcharges). That’s significantly better than the $720USD I paid for my Asus Zenbook that came with an Intel Core-M CPU and SATA SSD, both far less performant (keeping in mind that it is now about four years old).

As I mentioned before, I had no brand awareness of Star Labs before embarking on this review. So, my very first impressions were gathered from the product packaging. The shipping box seemed very thin, which worried me, but that was dispelled afterward. The product packaging is a stylish black matching the laptop with a silvery metallic depiction of the laptop on each side of the box. It’s a little bit flashy but it compensates with the very clean illustrations. The unboxing experience was fairly standard, however, I was very happy with the general lack of non-recyclable materials. As a proponent of environmentally friendly packaging, I was happy to see that there wasn’t a bunch of styrofoam inside. Despite the minimalistic packaging, I was confident that it would stand-up to shipping. After all, mine shipped all the way from the UK to Canada and it was fine.

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EndeavourOS Review: A New Distribution in Arch Linux World

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EndeavourOS is trying to develop a beginner-friendly Arch-based distribution around a friendly community. Read this review of EndeavourOS Linux distribution.
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Newcomer EndeavourOS Offers a Friendlier Arch Linux Experience

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Linux
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EndeavourOS has a lot of potential. It is an impressive addition to the shortlist of distros that want to make using Arch a more rewarding experience.

For a Linux distro built around one of the more challenging Linux families, EndeavourOS is a stable, solid performer with few, if any, noticeable quirks. That shouts volumes, given the relative youth of the first stable release following beta development.

EndeavourOS is not an easy choice for Linux users with no hands-on experience with the Arch Linux ecosystem. Despite its newness, though, it is a better Arch Linux choice than other Arch variants.

It is a great choice for those willing to roll up their sleeves and learn Arch Linux's inner workings. Hopefully, EndeavourOS succeeds in making the Arch-based neighborhood a more inviting place for new users and seasoned Arch users as well.

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Peppermint OS 10 – Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS and Available in 32bit and 64bit

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Peppermint OS 10 is the latest release of peppermint OS, this release based on ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS which ships with updated kernel and graphics stacks from the Ubuntu 18.10. As such, Peppermint 10 is powered by Linux kernel 4.18.0-18, available in both 64bit and 32bit flavors so older hardware is still supported.

This release using the LXDE desktop environment, but not in its traditional form. Instead of Openbox, it’s paired with Xfwm4 window manager and instead of LXDE panel it’s the XFCE panel with the (terrific) Whisker menu plugin.

Proprietary nvidia graphics drivers in Peppermint 10 now installed automatically if “Install third party drivers/software” is selected as part of the installation routine, this includes automatic configuration of nvidia optimus setups up to the nvidia-390 drivers. If you intend to install the later 396/410/415/418/430 drivers from the ‘Proprietary GPU Drivers’ PPA it would

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TROM-Jaro: A New Twist on Open Source Freedom

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TROM-Jaro Linux offers a new twist on the concept of open source as free software.

First released as a beta version last December, TROM-Jaro's second and current non-beta release pushed out in June.

This new distro is a custom-built version of the popular Manjaro Arch Linux. It is probably more accurate to describe TROM-Jaro as a strategically modified version of Manjaro Linux. The unnamed developers used the Manjaro community tools to construct the modifications.

That rebuilding, of course, is perfectly legitimate in the open source software world. TROM-Jaro is not a fork of Manjaro. It has the pronounced look and feel of the Manjaro base.

In fact, nowhere in the screen displays or application titles is anything branded as anything other than "Manjaro Linux." This is evident with the initial help screen that welcomes you to Manjaro! Even the installation screens do not hawk the "TROM-Jaro" distro name.

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Review: Endless OS 3.6

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They sell computers, small computers, with up to 4GB of RAM, HDMI and VGA on most, and all the other usual accouterments like USB 3 and Bluetooth. They definitely aren't powerful machines, and there is no price listed, instead you need to submit a form with contact information and they will get back to you. The computers are sleek and some seem to be design pieces. With the lower end specs, they are probably able to get the price down pretty well to match their marketing agenda towards lower income audiences. One other thing the company offers is a pay-as-you-go system (which they call PAYG) that allows lower income people to more easily afford their computers. On the surface this seems like an admirable cause, but if you dig a little you can see that their system, "was designed to de-risk loans through a PC locking mechanism, built into the Endless OS, that is tied to the payment status of a loan. If a customer is not able to make their loan payment the laptop locks until payment is made. While locked the users' data, files and settings are all perfectly preserved and protected. Endless PAYG is a completely offline code based locking mechanism. Users receive unlock codes over SMS once they make a payment. These codes then unlock the PC for different time intervals (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, etc)."

In the free and open source world that we as Linux users have become accustomed to, it is hard to remember that companies exist - companies have employees and employees need to make money to feed their families and put a roof over their head. Still, this mechanism upset me a great deal. I understand Endless is a company and needs to make money, but this feels akin to hackers who hold data ransom. If a person is paying as-they-go to use a computer because they cannot afford it outright, maybe we as a society should give them a little more grace than locking up their data when they cannot afford to pay. I would recommend, personally, a more gentle approach - perhaps locking functionality to only educational purposes and LibreOffice would be more appropriate.

Overall, I am impressed with Endless OS. I would never use it because I am a tinkerer and Endless OS does not allow tinkering. Endless has a good little thing going, and if they are able to bring Linux to the whole world, I support them in their endeavors. (I do not have to approve of all the ways they go about doing that.)

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GIMP review

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GNU
Software
Reviews

GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is our top pick for the best free photo editor, and comes with a huge array of professional-quality functions for fine-tuning snaps and creating your own artwork from scratch.

It includes layers, highly customizable brushes, filters and automatic image-enhancement tools, and support for a huge number of plugins (some pre-installed, and others available to download separately).

Its active community of contributors means it’s in constant development, and any bugs are squished in short order. It all adds up to make a truly remarkable free photo editor that’s superior to many commercial programs.

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