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Reviews

Fedora 26

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Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora 26 is a great release of one of the major Linux distributions. Yes, the differences between Fedora 26's and Fedora 25's Workstation variants are minimal, but the few changes that are there are solid reasons to upgrade. For users interested in different desktop environments, Fedora's various spins provide a solid Fedora core experience with different desktop environments on top. The LXQt spin in particular is an interesting new addition to the Fedora family and is worth checking out. Though, the real star of this release is the Python Classroom Lab, which is a wonderful way to provide a Python programming environment for classrooms. Even when running off live media, it is very functional, making it a great way to temporarily turn a few general purpose computers into a lab for teaching programming without a lot of work.

If the worst thing I can say is that Fedora 26 is boring, I think the developers have done a great job. I really look forward to the next few releases of Fedora, which should be much more interesting, assuming planned developments actually make it into the releases.

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Nokia 3 review

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Android
Reviews

The Nokia 3 is the lowest-end of Nokia's new line of Android phones. It's on sale in the UK for £120, but you will have to make sacrifices for that price. That converts to $156 or AU$200, although Nokia has no plans to bring the phone to the US.

The biggest problems are in the processor performance. The quad-core chip struggles to run even the stock version of Android Nougat, making swiping around the interface sluggish and stuttery. There's a noticeable delay when opening apps, too, and some apps -- including the Google Play store -- forced quit on several occasions. I found it regularly frustrating.

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Solus 2017.04.18.0 review - Second time lucky?

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Reviews

Solus 2017 looks like a nice distro, with some obvious visual caveats and tiny functional quirks. It's reasonable enough than I'm determined to test it on non-UEFI hardware, where I'll hopefully have more luck. But on a UEFI platform, it seems hopeless. I don't know there should be a problem when so many other distros do just fine without any issues. Solus seems to be a special snowflake, and it does not cooperate well with a modern and complex system.

All in all, I cannot recommend the distro, because the outcome may still be harmful. If a distro cannot install properly, the results can be unpredictable. My testing shows some very favorable things, and Budgie looks quite all right now, but as a package, Solus just doesn't handle UEFI well. I'll report back after a third, and hopefully lucky test, but you are warned to carefully proceed until the hardware side has been polished. Double sigh. Maybe another another time.

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Also: A Short Review of Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" Cinnamon LTS

Debian 9 Stretch - Not by a long stretch

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Reviews
Debian

Debian 9 Stretch is a horrible disappointment. It's a completely unusable product in my scenario, and I see no real reason why I should bother using it. Ubuntu and friends offer a superior experience. Perhaps Debian serves a purposes somewhere, but I fail to see it. What really irks me is that in six or so years since I've last tried it, it's as if nothing at all has changed. Exactly the same kind of issues, only different hardware and kernel modules.

Perhaps without Debian we wouldn't have Ubuntu and such. For that matter, we also wouldn't have pyramids without slaves. But that does not mean we should be grateful for slavery in giving us big stony architecture. Similarly, Debian may be a baseline for many other distributions. But on its own, without a thick layer of customization and changes, it fails horribly on the desktop. This test makes me sad and angry. Because I know an end when I see one. It's still a few years away, but it will inevitably come. Anyway, completely not recommended. My last venture into Debian this way. We're done.

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Review: Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" MATE

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Linux
Reviews

The quest for a replacement Linux distribution for Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce continues. With this post comes a review of the latest MATE edition of Linux Mint. Especially for regular readers of this blog, Linux Mint needs no introduction. I will just say that with the latest point release, it seems like the developers have put more polish into the distribution, including their new set of "X-apps" meant to work across MATE, Cinnamon, Xfce, and GNOME, avoiding the pitfalls of more DE-specific applications. I want to see what has changed since my last review and to see whether this would be suitable for installation and daily use on my laptop. To that end, I made a live USB system (again, on my new SanDisk Cruzer USB flash drive) using the "dd" command. Follow the jump to see what it's like. Note that I'll frequently reference that previous review, noting only changes and overall important points as needed.

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Moto Z2 Play review - Android Authority

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Android
Reviews

Lenovo and Motorola brought their modular functionality concept to the mid-range with the Moto Z Play last year. This device was one of our favorite value smartphones of 2016, and now its successor, the Moto Z2 Play, features some key improvements and even more Moto Mod accessories.

However, Motorola seems to have made a few compromises this time around. The Z2 Play has a much smaller battery than before, and also went up in price. Will this be another home run like the original Z Play, or did the company make too many compromises? Find out, in our full Moto Z2 Play review!

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Review: Debian 9 "Stretch" MATE

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Reviews
Debian

It has been about 2 months since the support cycle for Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" ended. Since then, I haven't been able to update Mozilla Firefox or Adobe Flash, and concurrently, I haven't been able to use the latest versions of Google Hangouts or Skype, the former of which I already cannot use to the fullest extent, and the latter of which I am still somehow able to use but am counting the days when that will end too. Given that, it is urgent that I upgrade the Linux distribution that I use soon, so today, I am trying Debian.

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All about Debian 9 'Stretch,' the Linux distro that just works

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Reviews
Debian

Debian 9 "Stretch" just came out, and as far as Linux distros go, Debian stands apart as a distribution meant for stability. Sure, most desktop users might choose Ubuntu or Fedora for their desktop PC, while users who are more willing to get their hands dirty might opt for Arch or Gentoo. Hackers might gravitate to Kali, while the paranoid among us might look for something like TAILS.

There's a lot to take in with a Debian release, but there are a few key notes for the average desktop user.

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Peppermint OS 8

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Reviews

Peppermint OS is a lightweight Linux distribution built primarily from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS packages. The latest release of Peppermint, version 8, ships with support for booting on UEFI-enabled computers. Peppermint also supports loading on computers protected by Secure Boot. The distribution ships with version 4.8 of the Linux kernel with Ubuntu's Hardware Enablement (HWE) drivers so the distribution should run on most modern computers.

Perhaps the most interesting item Peppermint ships with, and what sets it apart from other lightweight Ubuntu-based projects such as Lubuntu and Linux Lite, is a feature called Ice. The Ice software helps users set up short-cuts to websites and web-apps. These short-cuts can be added to the Peppermint application menu and launched in a streamlined web browser window, giving the web-resource the appearance of a natively run application.

Peppermint 8 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. I opted to download the 64-bit version which is 1.2GB in size. Booting from the downloaded media brings up a menu giving us the chance to load the distribution's live desktop environment, launch the system installer, begin an OEM install or verify the integrity of the installation media.

Peppermint's live session boots to a desktop environment which contains a mixture of Xfce and LXDE components. The hybrid desktop uses LXDE's LXSession software while running the Xfwm4 window manager and Xfce's panel. The panel -- with its application menu, task switcher and system tray -- sits at the bottom of the screen. An icon on the desktop can be used to launch the distribution's system installer. The application menu is divided into two panes with the left side displaying categories of software and the right side showing specific application launchers.

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Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation review: The Ubuntu Linux laptop for power developers

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Dell describes their Project Sputnik computers as systems developed by and for developers. They're right. They are. While the XPS 13 is the best known of these, it could stand a little improvement. For example, it can only hold 16GBs of RAM. For those who need even more power and memory, you can get a Dell Precision 5520 Mobile Workstation.

You can up the RAM on this powerhouse machine to 32GBs of RAM. For processing punch, the 5520 defaults to an Intel Core i5-7440HQ 2.80GHz processor, but for an extra $322 you can crank it up to a blazing-hot Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 CPU. The I5 7440 Processor comes with the Intel 630 HD Graphics. The other processors come with a snappy Nvidia Quadro M1200 graphics processor with 4GBs of video RAM.

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More in Tux Machines

Servers: Boltron, OpenStack, and GoDaddy

  • Announcing Boltron: The Modular Server Preview
    The Modularity and Server Working Groups are very excited to announce the availability of the Boltron Preview Release. Boltron is a bit of an anomaly in the Fedora world — somewhere between a Spin and a preview for the future of Fedora Server Edition. You can find it, warts (known issues) and all, by following the directions below to grab a copy and try it out. Fedora’s Modularity Working Group (and others) have been working for a while on a Fedora Objective. The Objective is generically called “Modularity,” and its crux is to allow users to safely access the right versions of what they want. However, there are two major aspects of “accessing the right versions.”
  • What you need to know about hybrid cloud
    At the center of hybrid cloud solutions sits open source software, such as OpenStack, that deploys and manages large networks of virtual machines. Since its initial release in October 2010, OpenStack has been thriving globally. Some of its integrated projects and tools handle core cloud computing services, such as compute, networking, storage, and identity, while dozens of other projects can be bundled together with OpenStack to create unique and deployable hybrid cloud solutions.
  • GoDaddy Drops Curtain on Its Cloud Business… Again
    Launched only a year ago, Cloud Servers was never intended to go after the big guys — AWS, Azure, GCP, and the like — and had no dreams of competing for well-heeled, big-business customers. Instead, it was hoping to position itself as a gateway to the cloud for small and medium sized businesses wanting to test the waters. In other words, it was hoping to take on DigitalOcean and Linode. It was also undoubtedly hoping to leverage the substantial base of its hosting business and convince some of those customers that their lives would only improve if they made a move to the cloud.

Kernel: "Secure Encrypted Virtualization" and New Blob From Nvidia

  • AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization Updated For Linux
    While AMD's new Epyc processors have a new "Secure Encrypted Virtualization" feature, the support isn't yet mainlined in the Linux kernel but is getting closer.
  • Nvidia 384.59 Linux Graphics Driver Adds Support for GeForce GT 1030 GPUs, More
    Nvidia on Monday announced the release of a new long-lived graphics driver for Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris-based operating systems, versioned 384.59, adding support for new GPUs, along with a bunch of bug fixes and improvements. Nvidia 384.59 is now considered the most advanced version of the proprietary graphics driver for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris platforms, which users should install on their personal computers running a supported Nvidia GPU immediately after reading this article.

Security: BKK, Password Managers, Kaspersky, Fruitfly, WHISTL, IoT and More

  • 18 year old guy arrested for reporting a shamefully stupid bug in the new Budapest e-Ticket system
     

    This last one was the one found by the 18 year old gentleman I started my story with. According to him, he doesn't even know how to program yet (he'll start the university this autumn). He just used the developer tools in the browser, that everybody has access to, saw that the price was being sent back to the server when he was about to make a purchase, and tried if he could change it. A monthly pass costs 9500HUF (about 30EUR) and he modified the price to 50HUF. When he got the confirmation that it worked and was able to see his pass in the app, he immediately emailed the BKK (the Transport Authority) that there was a serious problem. He got an email that his pass was invalidated, but otherwise they didn't get back to him. Instead, when it got leaked out to the press, and in a few hours everyone were talking about the above issues (not just this one), BKK together with T-Sytems Hungary started to what I would call massively covering their arses.  

  • How to use a password manager (and why you really should)
     

    Password managers remove both of these problems by generating and storing complex passwords for you. The password manager lives in your browser and acts a digital gatekeeper, filling in your login info when you need to get on a certain site. You just have to remember one (very secure!) master password for the manager itself, and everything else is taken care of for you. (For a quick introduction on creating a secure but memorable master password, check out this article.)  

  • US local govts still using Kaspersky software despite federal ban
     

    US local government agencies across the country are continuing to use software from Kaspersky Lab even though the federal government removed the company from a list of approved software suppliers for two government-wide purchasing contracts that are used to buy technology services.  

  • “Perverse” malware infecting hundreds of Macs remained undetected for years
    Besides the means of infection being unknown, the exact purpose of the malware is also unclear. Wardle said he found no evidence the malware can be used to install ransomware or collect banking credentials. That largely removes the possibility that Fruitfly developers were motivated by financial profit. At the same time, the concentration of home users largely rules out chances the malware was designed by state-sponsored hackers to spy on targets.
  • Exclusive: WHISTL Labs will be Cyber Range for Medical Devices
     

    The facilities, dubbed WHISTL, will adopt a model akin to the Underwriters Laboratory, which tests electrical devices, but will focus on issues related to cyber security and privacy, helping medical device makers “address the public health challenges” created by connected health devices and complex, connected healthcare environments, according to a statement by The Medical Device Innovation, Safety and Security Consortium (MDISS).

  • Smart fridges and TVs should carry security rating, police chief says
     

    Barton, the national policing lead for crime operations, proposed the idea as part of efforts to protect households from fraudsters and hackers in the era of the Internet of Things, where otherwise “dumb” devices can be put online and be interconnected for automation and smart appliance activities.

  • 'Devil's Ivy' Is Another Wake-Up Call for IoT Security

Fedora and Red Hat: Fedora Elections, Rawhide Notes, Financial Analysis