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Reviews

SparkyLinux 5.1

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

SparkyLinux is a Debian-based distribution for 32- and 64-bit computers. According to Sparky's website, the distro aims to "provide a ready to use, out of the box operating system with a set of slightly customised, lightweight desktop environments." There are no less than 24 desktops to choose from, as well as various "Special" editions. Like Debian, Sparky has three branches, which Sparky refers to as 'editions': Stable, Rolling and Development. For each edition there is a "Home" and "Minimal" version and, to make your choice yet more overwhelming, for each version various ISOs are available. Among others, the Home versions include ISOs for four different desktop environments and the Minimal versions include a "Linux Freedom" ISO. I couldn't find any information about the Linux Freedom version on the Sparky website but I am assuming that it ships with a libre kernel and no non-free packages.

If the download options sound complicated then that is because they are complicated. It doesn't help that the download section on the Sparky website is poorly designed. The pages feature long lists with links to dozens of ISOs and virtually no information to help you pick a suitable image. Worse, what little information is available is ambiguous. Various pages on the Sparky website state that the distro uses Debian's Testing branch while it is in fact built on all three Debian branches. Also, the download page suggests that the Stable editions are recommended - the link to the Stable ISOs is listed first and features an icon of a computer with a green monitor. The Rolling ISOs use the same icon with a red monitor, while the Development branch uses the colour black.

While trying to decide which version of Sparky to install I made the following table, which might make the available flavours a little easier to digest.

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A look at Arch Linux based Antergos

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Reviews

So, I’ve mentioned a few times for my love of Arch Linux and Manjaro, but there is another player in the mix that deserves due diligence, and has actually won over my personal use vote as well; Antergos.

The main difference between Antergos and Manjaro is updates and repositories. Manjaro holds updates for further testing, Antergos does not, and Antergos uses the Arch repos directly.

That said, when you are finished installing Antergos, you are essentially left with an Arch Linux system that has a few extra bells and whistles installed, where as Manjaro is Manjaro, based on Arch. This is over-simplifying, but the essential core difference.

Antergos can be downloaded from the homepage, and comes in either a minimal ISO or a live ISO. Both are graphically bootable and use graphical installers, it’s just that one will allow you to boot into a live system and try things first, the other will not.

The installation tool is very simple to use, and anyone with prior installation experience will have absolutely no problems using it.

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Also: Arch Linux Ends Support for 32-Bit Systems

Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark - Art eater

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark is definitely one of the worst releases ever - among the few distros that I actually consider worth actually using to begin with, and probably the most underwhelming Ubuntu ever released. If Canonical really wants to revive the desktop, then it must ditch Gnome and go with Plasma. Otherwise, it's just going to be one long, neverending disaster of apathy, mediocrity and self-delusion. Fonts are the only thing that works well in this release.

Everything else is just awful - a sad live session that showcases nothing, Samba regressions, Nouveau color fiasco, application crashes, botched extensions mechanism, a neutered and counter-intuitive desktop, and the list goes on. You've read the review, no need for me to repeat itself. And the simple reason for this is Gnome. But then it's up to Canonical to do things right. Only can you really blame them for not trying? They wanted to make Linux big, but the so-called community took a proverbial dump on them. The only reason why anyone even remotely cares about Linux desktop is Ubuntu, and now it's not even that. Ubuntu is tired. The old passion is gone.

The only salvation is to reboot the whole thing. Plasma. Hopefully, come April 2018, there will be one LTS and it will be running KDE, and it will be called Ubuntu. At the moment, we're back in 2005 or so, when Ubuntu just started. Maybe other DE flavors will be better. 1/10. Hardly worth testing. You might be luckier, but if it comes to luck and not professionalism, you might as well not bother. Dedoimedo regretfully approves this review.

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Also: Ubuntu 18.04 Daily Builds Available For Download — A New Default Theme Is (Probably) Coming

Ubuntu 17.10 - unhappy remarriage

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 17.10 is a new operating system not just because it was released very recently, in October 2017. It is also the first operating system from Canonical since it reverted from Unity to the GNOME desktop environment as default. It was GNOME 2 in use at the divorce time, and now it is GNOME 3 after the re-marriage.

Linux notes from DarkDuck has already reviewed the GNOME version of Ubuntu, when Unity was still in place. There is also a quick screenshot-style review of Ubuntu 17.10, but it is now time to get a more in-depth look into this operating system.

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GeckoLinux Beta Does openSuse Better

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
SUSE

GeckoLinux is an ideal option for switching to a new distro experience. I particularly like how the Cinnamon desktop works. Since I favor the Cinnamon environment in Linux Mint, changing over to GeckoLinux came with no difficulties. All the settings and features played out as expected.

Kudos to the developer for making GeckoLinux such a solid alternative computing platform. I did not expect a developing early beta to be so glitch-free.

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BeeFree OS 18.1.2

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Reviews

While the look of the distribution did not appeal to me, the CenterFree application bundles do hold promise. There are many popular applications featured, including the WPS productivity suite, and the idea of having off-line bundles I could port across distributions certainly appealed. I think the on-line app store still needs a little work to make it more user friendly though. The website should probably be secured by HTTPS and, ideally, the BeeFree distribution should recognize CenterFree bundles and be able to install them without a trip to the command line. In short, I like the concept, I just think the approach needs some final touches to make the on-line store easier for newcomers to use.

In the end, I came away from using BeeFree OS thinking that the project may hold some promise, but I think more time is needed for the distribution to go from a mash-up of other projects to having its own, polished identity and style.

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PCLinuxOS 2017.07 KDE - Majestic and horrible

Filed under
KDE
MDV
Reviews

It is amazing how similar and yet how vastly different two distributions can be, even though they share so much same DNA. Mageia delivered very good results throughout. PCLinuxOS, apart from small glitches early on, was splendid. But then, as if it had developed a second personality, it went ballistic with those desktop crashes, and finally, a completely borked setup due to issues with the package manager. That's the one thing that is different between Mageia and PCLinuxOS, but then, I've never really had any issues with apt-get and/or Synaptic.

All I can say is that my PCLinuxOS 2017.07 testing delivers a bi-polar message. One, you get some really super-user-friendly stuff that surpasses anything else in the Linux world, with tons of goodies and focus on everyday stuff. You also get some idiosyncrasies, but that's Mandriva legacy, and it definitely can benefit from some modern-era refresh. Two, the series of Plasma crashes and the package management fiasco that totally ruined the good impressions. Well, I may give this another shot some day, as the early work was ultra promising. I recommend you proceed with caution, as the package management side of things looks quite dangerous. No scoring, as I have no idea why it went so badly wrong, but that's a warning of its own. Majestic and lethal. Take care.

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Mageia 6 review - Very refreshing

Filed under
MDV
Reviews

Mageia 6 is a very interesting, unique distro. It comes with a load of good stuff, including proprietary graphics drivers out of the box even in the live session, user data import, Windows data import, multimedia and smartphone support, a smart control center with a load of powerful features, and still more. The approach to the user experience is different from most other systems, and I am really happy to see that. The copypasta drill you see elsewhere is getting boring fast. It's also emotionally grinding. This is cool.

On the other hand, not everything is perfect. There's an old vs new clash of technologies and styles, hardware support can be better, Samba printing is missing, the package manager is a bit clunky, and performance is really among the least favorable I've seen in a long time. All in all, definitely recommended, but you might struggle with some of the special quirks. Or you might actually find them endearing. Either way, 8/10, and I'm glad to have revived the Mageia experience. Well worth testing.

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Lenovo Yoga 920: The overdetailed Fedora / Linux review

Filed under
Linux
Red Hat
Reviews

Having just purchased a Lenovo Yoga 920, I thought I would offer the following (probibly too detailed) review for any interested parties.

History / Background:

This is now the third yoga laptop I have owned. First a yoga 2 pro in 2013, then a yoga 900 in 2015 and now the 920 here in 2017. Lenovo does come out with new models every year, but for me at least they don’t become compelling to jump to until another model, so I have skipped the yoga 3 pro and the 910 models (and all the other side models they have now like the yoga 700). This cycle I seriously considered moving over to a dell xps 13 developer edition, but in the end a few things drove me to the yoga 920: 8th gen cpu (which tuns out to be a pretty big deal, see below), higher screen resolution, and no “nostil cam” (webcam at the bottom of the screen looking up). I use a laptop as my primary machine, so I am sitting at it typing away for many many hours a day, which makes it well worth it to me to get something nice. The dell xps 13 developer still definitely has some advantages, like firmware updates via fwupd seamlessly in Linux instead of needing to keep windows 10 around just to do that.

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Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti review: A fine graphics card—but price remains high

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Reviews

The GTX 1070 Ti is a great graphics card but a frustrating product. In the year and a half since the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 launched, Nvidia has faced little competition from rival AMD, which has been stretched thin across the launch of mainstream graphics cards like the RX 480 and high-end processors like Ryzen Threadripper. As brilliant as those products are, particularly Threadripper, it took until August of this year for AMD to launch a competitor to Nvidia's year-old graphics cards. The resulting RX Vega 64 wasn't the graphical powerhouse many were hoping for, with high power consumption and performance that couldn't quite top a GTX 1080.

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  • Introducing Fn: “Serverless must be open, community-driven, and cloud-neutral”
    Fn, a new serverless open source project was announced at this year’s JavaOne. There’s no risk of cloud lock-in and you can write functions in your favorite programming language. “You can make anything, including existing libraries, into a function by packaging it in a Docker container.” We invited Bob Quillin, VP for the Oracle Container Group to talk about Fn, its best features, next milestones and more.
  • Debian seminar in Yokohama, 2017/11/18
    I had attended to Tokyo area debian seminar #157. The day’s special guest is Chris Lamb, the Debian Project Leader in 2017. He had attended to Open Compliance Summit, so we invited him as our guest.
  • Overclock Labs bets on Kubernetes to help companies automate their cloud infrastructure
    Overclock Labs wants to make it easier for developers to deploy and manage their applications across clouds. To do so, the company is building tools to automate distributed cloud infrastructure and, unsurprisingly, it is betting on containers — and specifically the Kubernetes container orchestration tools — to do this. Today, Overclock Labs, which was founded two years ago, is coming out of stealth and announcing that it raised a $1.3 million seed round from a number of Silicon Valley angel investors and CrunchFund — the fund that shares a bit of its name and history with TechCrunch but is otherwise completely unaffiliated with the blog you are currently reading.
  • MariaDB Energizes the Data Warehouse with Open Source Analytics Solution
    MariaDB® Corporation, the company behind the fastest growing open source database, today announced new product enhancements to MariaDB AX, delivering a modern approach to data warehousing that enables customers to easily perform fast and scalable analytics with better price performance over proprietary solutions. MariaDB AX expands the highly successful MariaDB Server, creating a solution that enables high performance analytics with distributed storage and parallel processing, and that scales with existing commodity hardware on premises or across any cloud platform. With MariaDB AX, data across every facet of the business is transformed into meaningful and actionable results.
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  • Intel Lands Support For Vector Neural Network Instructions In LLVM
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  • GCC 8 Feature Development Is Over
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    Two organizations founded to help and support developers of free and open-source software have locked horns in public, betraying a long-running quarrel rumbling mostly behind the scenes. On one side, the Software Freedom Law Center, which today seeks to resolve licensing disputes amicably. On the other, the Software Freedom Conservancy, which takes a relatively harder line against the noncompliance of licensing terms. The battleground: the, er, US Patent and Trademark Office. The law center has demanded the cancellation of a trademark held by the conservancy.
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Programming Leftovers

Security: Linux, Free Software Principles, Microsoft and Intel

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  • Free Software Principles
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  • New warning over back door in Linux
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  • IN CHATLOGS, CELEBRATED HACKER AND ACTIVIST CONFESSES COUNTLESS SEXUAL ASSAULTS
  • Bipartisan Harvard panel recommends hacking [sic] safeguards for elections
     

    The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year. Though most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and will strike security professionals as common sense, notorious attacks including the leak of the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, have succeeded because basic security practices were not followed.  

  • Intel Chip Flaws Leave Millions of Devices Exposed
     

    On Monday, the chipmaker released a security advisory that lists new vulnerabilities in ME, as well as bugs in the remote server management tool Server Platform Services, and Intel’s hardware authentication tool Trusted Execution Engine. Intel found the vulnerabilities after conducting a security audit spurred by recent research. It has also published a Detection Tool so Windows and Linux administrators can check their systems to see if they're exposed.