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Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Plasma review - Genius in disguise

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Reviews

Manjaro is a totally bi-polar distro. Utterly genius and silly at the same time. It does some things so well, it offers so much innovation, it has some rather unique features you don't get to see elsewhere, and then it spoils it with some visual inconsistencies, glitches with its bundled apps and very cumbersome package management. No AUR, fine, but what other options do common users have? How can ordinary non-CLI folks enjoy the likes of Chrome or Skype or whatnot on their boxen? There's a lot of progress - just read my Manjaro diaries over the years - but it's still all fragile balance, and the distro still needs to fully figure out its identity and direction.

The nonfree aspect of the live session should be highlighted. All in all, I'm pleased with the easy availability of everyday conveniences, the installer was neat, and there's a lot of original goodness in Manjaro, more than most other distros. But the network support needs some rework, there should be better identification or auto-configuration with hardware issues on so-called unfriendly platform, and the package management feels neglected. All in all, this is a very promising system. Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria deserves something like 8/10, and I'll be following up with some customization tricks, plus maybe a review of another edition. That would be all for this rather lengthy review.

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Debian Linux 10 'Buster' Places Stability Ahead of Excitement

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Linux
Reviews
Debian

If you are relatively new to using Linux, Debian's design decisions will not pose obstacles to using it. If you insist on speedier application updates, you might spend excessive time grabbing newer versions from .deb repositories that are outside Buster's reach.

Get Debian 10 Buster ISO downloads here.

You will have plenty of time to resolve those issues. The developers have a long slog to the release of Debian 11, aka "Bullseye."

I can only hope that the next Debian upgrade comes a lot closer to hitting an improved bull's-eye that is less boring.

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Sparky Linux 4.11 LXDE

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Reviews

Today we are looking at Sparky 4.11 LXDE. It comes with the LXDE desktop environment which Lubuntu previously used, but it is no longer in development, the last release was two years ago but it is great to still have a supported Linux Distro which is using it.

The main feature, of this release, is that it changed the repository from Debian Stable to Old-Stable, so still, Debian 9 which tells me that they won't keep it going for long, but it will still be supported for 2 years, like Debian 9.

It uses about 300 MB of ram when idling and Linux Kernel 4.9 which is dated but playing with the distro, the apps can be a bit slow to open up the first time but perfectly workable and for old machines or any machine for which you want to use all the system resources for your work and the minimum for your system.

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Direct/video: Sparky Linux 4.11 LXDE Run Through

OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 - A dream come untrue

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Reviews
SUSE

OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 is significantly better than the first edition. It fixes tons of the problems that the previous version had. But then, it still retains lots of problems and introduces some new ones. You get decent media and phone support, but it's not a perfect record. Network support is average, and overall, the hardware compatibility with the 2010 Pavilion machine is meh.

The installer is no longer as awesome as it used to be, the package management is quite broken, and the system wasn't stable enough to be fun and enjoyable, before or after my tweaks. The Plasma desktop is sweet, and while SUSE does have tricks most other distros don't have, like YaST, BTRFS, Snapper and such, it feels raw and jumbled and hastily put together. There were too many rough edges and errors and application crashes for me to consider this for serious work. Alas, my dream of using openSUSE in my production setup was dashed once again. All in all, Leap 15.1 deserves something like 4/10, a far cry from the legend it used to be. Maybe, maybe one day. But hey, at the current rate, 15.2 might be quite all right. We shall see.

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Openwashing by SUSE: Can You Have Open Source without True Partnership?

Clear Linux with Gnome 3.32

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Today we are looking at a newish distro that is quickly improving and according to many podcasts and blogs it might become one of the major Linux distros soon as it has many interesting features, but it isn't perfect yet.

There are many pros to look at, firstly it is Intel's Linux distro, so it has great financial backing and support. Ikey Doherty, the guy who started Solus OS is part of the developing team of Clear Linux, as we all know he is no longer part of Solus, but he is a great developer for Clear Linux.

It is an independently based distro, so not build on one of the major distros like Debian or Arch. It uses the Gnome Desktop Environment and it uses Gnome Software Center 3.30 as Software Store. It uses Gnome 3.32 and Linux Kernel 5.1 and uses about 1.1GB of ram when idling.

The only downside of it is, that the installer is still a work in progress and a person can only install it on real hardware, not in Virtual Machines, that is the desktop version, so I made this video by using the live session, rest assured that my host system is Linux as well, so I would really like to see that they will enable us to install it on VirtualBox as well. The ISO comes in a compressed package which a person needs to extract to use the ISO.

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Video/direct: Clear Linux OS with Gnome 3.32 Run Throughclear os lms

Mageia 7 Pushes Linux Desktop Boundaries

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MDV
Reviews

Linux dispels the notion that one universal computing platform must define the features and functionality for all users. That is why so many distributions exist.

The Mageia distro is a prime example of how freedom and choice are the hallmarks of open source operating systems. Mageia 7 pushes the limits of personal choice and usability definitions.

What gives Mageia Linux its edge is its independence. Mageia 7 is not based on a predefined Linux family of distributions.

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Testing Ubuntu 18.04 on XIDU PhilPad 2-in-1 Hybrid with Touchscreen

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Reviews
Ubuntu

So I’ve recently completed the review of XIDU Philpad 2-in-1 hybrid with Windows 10. The laptop features a 13.3″ touchscreen and support stylus, and I was intrigued whether those would work in Ubuntu 18.04. So I flash the Ubuntu 18.04.2 Desktop ISO to a flash drive and installed Ubuntu to another USB flash drive to give it a try with persistent storage. Note that while it’s OK for testing, running Ubuntu 18.04 from a USB flash drive is very slow, so it’s not recommended.

[...]

Some are clearly the mouse pointer and touchpad, while the “Goodix” one is for the capacitive touchscreen. So I tried SINO WEALTH USB Composite Device which shows support for Pressure, and selected “Screen” mode, before clicking Save. But using the drawing tools in Gimp, only allows me to draw points with the stylus, not continuous lines, and the size of the points is fixed no matter how lightly or strongly I press on the display. Playing with “Dynamics Pressure Opacity” in the Airbrush settings did not yield any results.

In summary, most features work, except the cameras that fail completely out of the box, and the touchscreen may need some fiddling with the settings depending on the program you are using. I’m unclear whether it’s possible to use the stylus at this stage.

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Geany text editor - a sort of genie

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Software
Reviews

I have to say I'm very pleased with Geany, and I'm sort of surprised - with myself - that I never gave it a more thorough examination in the past. But we shall rectify that, as I do intend, as a consequence of this little test, to try using Geany in a more serious manner, in my production environment. At the moment, on my Slimbook, I am using Notepad++, so maybe this could be a solid alternative.

Geany is a really interesting product - rich, extensible, robust, intelligent. It also looks the part, with a spacious, airy, friendly UI, and none of that modern flatness that ruins usability. You get a wealth of options and features, and while I do feel some small things are missing, I don't think there's any massive, glaring weakness in this text editor. Quite worth testing. Lastly, many thanks for those of you who recommended this program. May the code lint be with you.

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Review: Mageia 7

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MDV
Reviews

Mageia is a user friendly, desktop-oriented Linux distribution. The project originally grew out of the Mandriva family of distributions and is independently developed. The project's latest release is Mageia 7 which, according to the project's release notes, offers 18 months of support. Mageia 7 drops support for the ARMv5 architecture while adding support for 64-bit ARM (Aarch64) and improving support for ARMv7. While ARM packages are being built, ARM installation media is not yet featured on the project's download page. The new release includes the DNF command line package manager and features the ability to play MP3 files - MP3 support was not included by default in previous releases due to patent restrictions.

The release notes mention that GNOME users can enjoy their desktop running on a Wayland session by default with X.Org available as an alternative. KDE Plasma users will have the opposite experience with their desktop running on X.Org and a Wayland session available through a package in the distribution's repositories. The documentation also mentions that when running a GNOME on Wayland session some graphical administrator tools will not work when run through su or sudo. The user can run these tools with their regular user privileges and the system will prompt for an admin password when necessary.

Mageia is available for the 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x86_64) architectures. We can either download an install DVD with multiple desktop packages bundled or we can download live media with the Plasma, GNOME, or Xfce desktops. There are smaller net-install disc images available too. I decided to try the KDE Plasma live disc which is a 2.8GB download.

Booting from the live media brings up a menu which gives us the option of immediately loading the project's system installer or launching a live desktop environment. Choosing the live desktop brings up a series of graphical screens asking us to select our language from a list, confirm the distribution's license agreement, and we are offered a chance to read the release notes. We are then asked to select our time zone from a list and confirm our keyboard's layout.

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KeePass open source password manager review

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Software
Reviews
Security

KeePass is a free and open-source (FOSS) password manager. It is a Windows program, but versions of it are available for all platforms including macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. KeePass is not hard to use, but it lacks the slick user interfaces offered by many of its commercial rivals.

Syncing across devices also take a little more work than with most password manager apps, but there is a good reason for this. KeePass uses true end-to-end encryption. You create encrypted KeePass (.kdbx) files that, by default, never leave the device they are created on.

They are not stored on a centralized database that can be hacked (as commercial password manger ones often are), and only you hold the encryption keys to them. The main downside of this, of course, is that there is no safety net - no third party that can bail you out if you forget your master password!

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CAN-Bus HAT for Raspberry Pi 4 offers RTC and wide-range power

Copperhill’s third-gen, $65 “PiCAN3” HAT features Raspberry Pi 4 support and a SocketCAN-ready CAN-Bus 2.0B port. The HAT has an RTC and is powered by a 3A, 6-20V Switch Mode Power Supply that can also power the Pi. Copperhill Technologies has launched a CAN-Bus HAT for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B designed for industrial and automotive applications. Like the PiCAN2. which we briefly covered last year as part of our report on Network Sorcery’s UCAN software for CAN-equipped Raspberry Pi boards, the HAT is equipped with a Microchip MCP2515 CAN controller and MCP2551 CAN transceiver. Read more

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

For those wondering how well FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD are handling AMD's new Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors, here are some benchmarks on a Ryzen 7 3700X with MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE where both of these popular BSD operating systems were working out-of-the-box. For some fun mid-week benchmarking, here are those results of FreeBSD 12.0 and DragonFlyBSD 5.6.2 up against openSUSE Tumbleweed and Ubuntu 19.04. Back in July I looked at FreeBSD 12 on the Ryzen 9 3900X but at that time at least DragonFlyBSD had troubles booting on that system. When trying out the Ryzen 7 3700X + MSI GODLIKE X570 motherboard on the latest BIOS, everything "just worked" without any compatibility issues for either of these BSDs. Read more

How to break out of a hypervisor: Abuse Qemu-KVM on-Linux pre-5.3 – or VMware with an AMD driver

A pair of newly disclosed security flaws could allow malicious virtual machine guests to break out of their hypervisor's walled gardens and execute malicious code on the host box. Both CVE-2019-14835 and CVE-2019-5049 are not particularly easy to exploit as they require specific types of hardware or events to occur. However, if successful, either could allow a miscreant to run malware on the host from a VM instance. CVE-2019-14835 was discovered and reported by Peter Pi, a member of the Tencent Blade Team. It is found in the Linux kernel versions 2.6.34 up to version 5.3, where it is patched. Read more