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Reviews

AutoTux Review: A Linux Distro That Fully Automates Installation Process

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Linux
Reviews

There are tons of Linux-based operating systems with each designed for specific use cases. Like, if you’re a beginner, you have Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Pop!_OS. If you’re a more advanced user and want full control of your OS, you have Arch Linux and Gentoo. Or if you’re an ethical hacker and penetration tester, you may choose Kali Linux, Parrot OS, or Tusurugi Linux.

But the common thing that each of them possesses is the installation step that everyone has to go through first. Some have the easiest installation process like Ubuntu while others like Arch are a tough nut to crack. So, if you have ever wished someone could install Linux and configure settings for you so that you can just get on and start using it, AutoTux is a perfect Linux distro for you.

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Review: Regolith Linux 19.10.0-R1.3 and distri

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Linux
Reviews

I was sceptical about what it would be like to mix these two (i3 and GNOME) desktop approaches, but I thought the result might be interesting. Regolith is available in two versions, one is based on Ubuntu 18.04 and the other on Ubuntu 19.10. I took the latter one, which is the latest release. Regolith appears to run on 64-bit (x86_64) machines only and its ISO file is a 2.2GB download. Alternatively, we are told existing Ubuntu installs can be converted into Regolith by adding a PPA to our package sources and performing an upgrade.

After downloading Regolith, I booted from the live media and, with the default settings, the distribution failed to start. The system displayed a message indicating it was applying a Spector security fix and then locked up, unable to continue or respond.

Restarting the computer I brought up the boot menu and selected booting to the live desktop in Safe Graphics mode. This time the operating system seemed to boot successfully and presented me with what appeared to be the i3 window manager with a panel at the bottom of the display and a menu to the right. This menu includes options for switching between windows and launching programs, such as a terminal, the web browser, and a file manager. Selecting any of the menu options did nothing as the graphical environment almost immediate locked up and refused to respond to mouse or keyboard input.

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Review: Regolith Linux 19.10.0-R1.3 and distri

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The distri package manager downloads software very quickly. With the possible exception of Alpine Linux's package manager, this may be the fastest package manager I have encountered. I suspect this is in part because of the way distri packages are organized. The packages appear to be entirely self-contained, bundling their dependencies inside a single SquashFS archive. (I could not confirm dependencies are bundled, but it seemed this way in the packages I downloaded.) This means the package manager can skip resolving dependencies and unpacking the archive. Instead it seems the bundle is downloaded as a single file and then mounted or accessed as needed. Whenever I ran a new command, such as vim or bash, a message would appear on the console indicating the software was being mounted.

Again, there is not much documentation on how distri works, but it looks as though new software is downloaded into the /roimg directory. Then unpacked or accessed through the /ro directory. Symbolic links are set up in /sbin which point to the executables. For instance, when I install the vim package, the SquashFS archive appears under /roimg and a directory containing the bundled programs is placed in /ro. A symbolic link, called vim, is placed in /sbin which points to the appropriate program in /ro. This may seem a little complicated, but it works and appears to side-step dependency issues. This makes distri an interesting alternative to other portable packaging approaches, such as AppImage and Flatpak as distri integrates software into the rest of the operating system more seamlessly.

Most of the available packages appear to be simple command line tools or developer utilities. There are a handful of graphical utilities and applications, but most are low-level command line programs.

As the project's website warns, distri is not intended to be used as a day to day operating system. It is an experimental platform and one that does not offer support or much in the way of documentation. Some interesting ideas are presented (such as fast, minimal, portable package management). I certainly can get behind the idea of transferring programs and their dependencies through SquashFS archives. It is fast, portable and, with the use of symbolic links, seems to avoid breaking conventions the way other distributions like GoboLinux do. I'm curious to see if distri can complete with alternatives like AppImage, though first I suspect the interface and documentation will need to expanded.

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Review of Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

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Reviews

Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa was released by Canonincal on April 23, 2020. Focal Fossa is named after a feline creature from Madagascar and includes a wide range of improvements and new features. We have been testing this distribution for nearly a month, and from our experience, this distro offers a promising user experience and is ultra-fast compared to Ubuntu 19.10.Focal Fossa has many new and exciting improvements, some of which are discussed below.

[...]

Ubuntu 20.04 has added most of the apps in its official repository and recommends installing these apps via the APT package manager. Canonical developed the snap framework as a package management tool for installing packages or snaps via snapd, a REST API DAEMON.

[...]

Ubuntu 19.10 introduced ZFS technology, a new file system, and Ubuntu 20.04 has improved on this technology a lot in the latest update.

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Manjaro Linux Review: ‘Arch Linux for Human Beings’

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Reviews

Take a look at the features of Manjaro Linux in general, understand why people like Manjaro and check the performance comparison of Cinnamon flavor with Linux Mint.
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My impression of the PineBook Pro – a $200 ARM powered laptop

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I can compress my experience to this sentence: The more I use the PineBook Pro – The more I realize that THIS is the laptop I always wanted!

Wow, that's is pretty big words! I will try to explain why. First of all – The Pinebook Pro is the result of the hard work of the team over at Pine64. The machine have been made “as a community service” to provide a cheap, hackable and fun laptop to hackers, advanced users and pioneers on the AARCH64 platform. I really get the feeling that there is no greed for revenue unlike other companies – that is worth supporting!

The machine is not made for with planned obsolesce – the scary and sad trend that is going on with Tech-companies nowadays. You can buy every single part of this machine from the Pine64 shop so you can repair it if you need to.

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PsychOS: A Crazy Cool Distro That Pushes Linux Limits

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One of the great joys of constantly checking out new or obscure Linux operating systems is finding some insane innovations that stand out from the crowded collection of distros. The current release of PsychOS Linux, code-named “Insane,” possibly might blow your mind.

This distro is really an off-the-wall project with the potential to become a thing unto itself. PsychOS is a systemd-free, GNU/Linux operating system based on Devuan ASCII — a fork of Debian Linux.

PsychOS Linux is a strange duck in the Linux distro world. It is very retro-esque.

Even if you consider yourself a retrophile, however, PsychOS may not be for you. It is developed for older hardware and is available only for 32-bit computers. The developer has no immediate plans to release a 64-bit version.

However, there is a workaround. If you are interested in checking it out, you can run it in a virtual box with 32-bit settings.

Many Linux devs are dropping 32-bit releases, so even though PsychOS is not a mainstream product, it can keep aging hardware productive.

PsychOS is polished in that it runs well. It is interesting in that it is clearly unlike the look and feel of today’s top-of-the-line Linux distributions.

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Raspberry Pi 4 - a viable mini desktop?

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Linux
Reviews

I spent three or four days fiddling, and in the end I did have a 100% working desktop that I could sit back, relax and enjoy. But that's a lot of time invested. Well, as you can see, there's nothing smooth or plug 'n' play about this experience. So the answer to our question. It's: YES. This can be a nice little mini desktop when running MATE, provided you have the patience to sort everything out.

Overall, Raspberry Pi remains nerd technology. Well, in essence, this is the bread and butter of the Pi - hardcore nerddom, and tweaking unto oblivion. Perfectly fine, no surprises there. But the problem is, it's a binary choice: zero or everything. There's no middle ground whereby you get a simple and modern PC, without having to resort to hackery. This is a perennial symptom of Linux-at-home in general. Very few distributions are able to provide the user with you could classify as a smooth, simple experience.

Now, with that said, Raspberry Pi 4 has a lot of potential. It can be a mini desktop in its own right. I am pleased with my setup overall. It looks the part, the performance is reasonable, the capabilities quite solid, even jolly good given the device price tag. But it is still not a plug-n-play box as I'd like it to be. Which is why I will continue fiddling and tweaking, as is my duty as a nerd, and I will bombard you with guides and articles that showcase my progress. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to say: there, there's your perfect mini desktop, just grab it, and Bob's your uncle. We're close. Almost there. So keep your eyes peeled for updates, and see you around, fellow nerds.

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Linux distro review: System76’s Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS

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Linux
Reviews
Ubuntu

The subject of today's Linux distro review is perhaps one of a kind—as far as we know, Pop!_OS is the first Linux distribution to be created and maintained by a hardware OEM manufacturer. At the very least, it's the first one anyone has taken seriously.

That hardware manufacturer is System76, probably the world's best-known Linux-only laptop manufacturer. Some larger OEMs offer Linux as an alternative operating system on a few models—but System76 sells Linux systems, and only Linux systems.

Until 2017, System76 sold its systems preinstalled with Ubuntu Linux. But Canonical left the company cold when it decided to stop development on its Unity desktop environment and move back to Gnome3—and, controversially, System76 decided that instead of merely adding its own private repository and a few packages to a stock Ubuntu install, it would create and manage its own Ubuntu-derived distribution.

Crucially, the new distribution would not just be for System76 hardware. Although the company uses the new distro to simplify and retain more control over its hardware setup, it designed Pop!_OS to be a real distro suitable for use—and encouraged for use—on any Linux PC, whether purchased from System76 or not.

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EndeavourOS Review: A Very User-Friendly Arch-Based Linux Distribution

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I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize the excellent Welcome tool. The EndeavourOS Welcome Tool gives you access to a huge range of documentation through links to the project’s website. You can learn about the AUR, package management, hardware and networking issues, Bluetooth, Nvidia support, and can even add more useful applications right from that welcome page.

The project is very open in saying that they will happily answer any questions, saying, “Stupid questions simply don’t exist with us, we’re happy to help you through your system and the terminal commands from beginning to end in a friendly manner.”

From what I can see, this is absolutely true. The Forums on its website are broken up into easily-recognized groupings, and they have many users in the community and contributors from the project that appear active in the forums answering questions that come up. They’re doing an excellent job at bridging the gap between advanced users who know how to work with an Arch system and new users who are looking for a powerful and flexible OS to make the most of the hardware available to them. It’s something to applaud.

[...]

EndeavourOS is a great Linux distribution for new users that can span the full life cycle of growth from novice to advanced users. Though they are self-described as terminal-focused, there are several helpful graphical applications that help users navigate the complexities of an Arch Linux-based distribution. The bleeding-edge nature of any Arch Linux-based distribution, including the newest kernels and access to the AUR, will make for excellent hardware compatibility. I highly recommend trying out EndeavorOS, whether it’s your first distro hop or your 51st.

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openSUSE Tumbleweed vs. Leap 15.2 vs. Jump Alpha Benchmarks

Following the recent alpha debut of the openSUSE Jump distribution for testing that is working to synchronize SUSE Linux Enterprise with openSUSE Leap, there was an inquiry made about the performance of it. So for addressing that premium member's question, here are some benchmarks carried out recently of the latest openSUSE Leap 15.2 against the openSUSE Jump in its early state against the rolling-release openSUSE Tumbleweed. Read more

today's howtos

Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 Released With More Phones Supported, UI Improvements

The UBports community has announced the release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 as their newest over-the-air update to this Ubuntu mobile operating system. With Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 now supported are the Sony Xperia X/XZ/Performance and OnePlus 3/3T devices. This is on top of around one dozen other devices from the LG Nexus 4/5 to earlier OnePlus devices, FairPhone 2, Nexus 7, and different Meizu and BQ devices from the early days of the Ubuntu Touch effort at Canonical. Read more Direct: Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 release Also: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 649

Announcement of the passing of Jari Fredriksson

Some know that Jari's mirror broke a few weeks ago and we've been trying
to reach him. I am sorry to announce that Jari Fredriksson was a great
supporter of the project running an sa-update mirror, helping with our
masscheck program, testing releases, and just generally being a great
member of our community.

On behalf of the entire project, I'd like to extend our condolences to
him and his family.  He will be missed.

If anyone wishes to send a note of condolences it can be done through
Jouni, his employer. http://www.jounivirtanenconsulting.com/contact/

Sincerely,

Kevin A. McGrail
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