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Reviews

Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 7

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KDE
Hardware
Reviews

When I started my Slimbook & Kubuntu journey, I didn't know where it would end. And I still don't. But half a dozen reports later, I am much more confident into what kind of experience awaits me day in, day out. What I really value in software are two main qualities: stability and predictability, the kind of stuff one must have for their production setup. So far, this laptop and its blob of code are delivering nicely, reliably.

Another facet of this journey is its randomness. I typically have a very strict routine when it comes to distro reviews, but here, I'm letting the challenges surprise me. I am using the system, and if and when a use case occurs, I handle it. For better or worse. Well, you can definitely read all about that in the previous articles. Now, let's see what happened over the last handful of moonrises.

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12 Most Beautiful Linux Distros To Use In 2019

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Reviews

Linux users have the liberty to enjoy unparalleled freedom while choosing the Linux distributions as per their needs. Using different open source technologies, the developers keep creating something new and surprising for enthusiasts. Here, in this article, I’ll be listing the most beautiful Linux distros that have impressed me and other Linux users. This list is a mixture of newcomers and popular distros.

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Review: PCLinuxOS 2019.02

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PCLOS
Reviews

PCLinuxOS is a distribution I like to check in on every few years. The project maintains a curious combination of styles and technology which make it both unusual and, curiously enough, pleasantly familiar at the same time. PCLinuxOS was originally forked from Mandriva and has since become an independent distribution that mixes RPM packages with the APT package manager, which is typically paired with Deb packages. The distribution is also unusual in that it is a rolling release that generally keeps up with the latest available software while maintaining a conservative style. The distribution ships with a modern release of KDE Plasma, for example, but uses a classic menu tree for its application menu.

I will get deeper into PCLinuxOS's approach later. For now, I think it is worth noting the project is available in KDE Plasma and MATE editions. There are also community editions in Xfce, LXDE, LXQt, and Trinity flavours. The official releases are available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines only and the ISO for the KDE Plasma edition is a 1GB download.

Booting from the live media brings up a graphical interface and a window appears, asking us to select our keyboard's layout from a list. The window then disappears and the Plasma desktop loads. The Plasma panel is placed at the bottom of the screen and populated with an application menu, the system tray, and quick-launch buttons for some key system utilities. Icons on the desktop open the Dolphin file manager and the distribution's system installer.

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NanoPi NEO4 review: A powerful Raspberry Pi rival but with drawbacks

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Linux
Reviews

The NanoPi NEO4 is a curious machine, a single-board computer that's both better and worse than the Raspberry Pi's flagship 3 B+.

In what's an all too common problem with machines pitched in competition to the $35 Pi in the low-cost computing market, it's a board that should be faster and more capable but whose shiny specs don't tell the full story.

Whether those shortcomings overshadow some solid performance depends on what you want to do with the $50 NanoPi NEO4, which like other single-board computers is aimed at developers building software and hardware.

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Best Open Source Tools for Staying on Top of Projects

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OSS
Reviews

Project management applications for Linux offer an overlapping range of features and user interfaces. I deliberately avoided ranking these Linux products. I also suspended the usual star rating for each one in this roundup.

Project Management software for Linux, much like Time-tracking, Task Management and To-Do List software for Linux, is increasingly overshadowed by cloud services. That is one reason open source applications available for the Linux platform lack many new non-cloud contenders.

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Screencasts: "BEST Linux Distro EVER!" and New Videos of Linux Lite 4.4

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Reviews

Review: Solus 4.0

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Reviews

I very much enjoyed my time with Solus. The project offered an unusually polished experience and presents a breath of fresh air that is all the more impressive considering it is an independent distribution which cannot rely on a parent project to do the heavy lifting. Early on I ran into some minor issues. For instance, the installer cannot handling manual partitioning and will not launch GParted for us. When I tried using the automatic location check, I ended up with the wrong keyboard layout and measurement units.

After these initial hurdles though, and some minor frustration dealing with the inconsistent menus in GNOME applications, I rapidly grew to appreciate the care that has gone into both Budgie and Solus. The theme is unusually consistent, the desktop both well crafted and flexible enough for people like me who want to customize their environment. The default applications are generally some of the best in their categories and worked beautifully.

I really like the software centre and found it pleasantly easy to navigate and uncomplicated. I like that Solus has managed to make one streamlined package manager instead of shipping three different software managers to handle different situations.

Ideally I would have preferred one settings panel instead of two. The GNOME panel offers many more options and deals with operating system configuration while the Budgie panel deals specifically with the user interface. However, there is some overlap between the two and that sometimes meant it took longer for me to find settings I wanted to tweak. That being said, the Budgie settings panel is beautiful in its explanations and simplicity; other desktops could learn from Budgie's example.

In short, all the issues I ran into were minor, more inconveniences than problems. Meanwhile the polish, flexibility, default applications, stability and performance were all top notch. I was happy with my experiences with Solus 4.0 and think it will definitely appeal to new Linux users and more experienced users who want to install their system and just have it work.

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My First 24 Hours With Purism's Librem 15 v4 Laptop And PureOS

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Reviews

Purism's 15-incher starts at $1499, so it needs to look and feel premium. In my opinion it accomplishes that with its anodized black aluminum chassis, although the color becomes a magnet for fingerprints -- one complaint I've never had with my XPS 13 9370. You'll also notice a pleasing lack of branding. No logo on the lid or display. No stickers under the keyboard. It's just a sleek black slab.

Opening up the laptop reveals a top-right power button, a full-size backlit keyboard (10-key included) and a touchpad that boasts a thin silver trim that really makes it pop. The keyboard is exponentially better than any recent MacBook as it's more tactile and has more travel, but falls just short of the newer XPS 13 or any modern ThinkPad.

The touchpad feels just slightly sluggish compared to XPS 13 or MacBook (but this can improved by tweaking acceleration), resulting in tracking that isn't quite as smooth as its competitors out of the box. It's no deal breaker and is quite comfortable to use; it's just not the best of the bunch.

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New Zorin OS 15 Beta Is Worth the Wait

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OS
Reviews

I am impressed with the Zorin OS 15 beta release. Zorin OS is not the same old GNOME distro retread. It has a well-integrated and tweaked user interface that makes the GNOME interface much more productive.

This release also introduces the Wayland display server with application sandboxing and improved security. Zorin OS 15 has a lot more to offer. It is a serious contender that should rank high on the Linux hit parade list of easy-to-use and productive OSes.

Zorin OS 15 beta is a solid performer. That bodes well for a successful upgrade or adoption changeover when the final version of Zorin OS 15 is released.

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Shutter - Eyes Wide Tux

Filed under
Software
Reviews

Shutter is a very handy screenshot tool. I'm quite pleased. But then, it also has its tiny flaws that make it imperfect. Most notably, the workflow is slightly more intrusive than if and when you work with something like Spectacle or Gnome screenshot. In this regard, I need something with the flexibility of the former and the simplicity of the latter. Back in the day, I think KSnapshot was that tool.

Philosophy aside, because we've already said all that needs to be said on these other programs, on its own, Shutter is a respectable choice. Powerful, extensible, practical, with lots of good features and options, and the ability to tweak the settings. It allows you to take screenshots en masse, and it's definitely a smart choice for extensive use. I'd like to see a somewhat faster flow, and since the buttons are there, the use of native desktop plugins for image export. Other than that, a very pleasing surprise. Clearimage Screenshot Revival. Or something.

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ExTiX 19.4 "The Ultimate Linux System" is Based on Deepin 15.9.3 and Linux 5.0

The biggest news about the ExTiX Deepin 19.4 release is that it's the first GNU/Linux distribution to be based on the upcoming Deepin Linux 15.9.3 release, which is currently in beta stages of development and has not yet been officially released by Deepin Technology. Additionally, ExTiX Deepin 19.4 comes with the Linux 5.0.8 kernel for the best possible hardware support, making ExTiX worthy for its "The Ultimate Linux System" nickname. Latest Refracta Snapshot is included as well by default for those who want to make their own ExTiX Deepin 19.4 live systems, along with Spotify and Skype apps. Read more

FreeBSD ZFS vs. ZoL Performance, Ubuntu ZFS On Linux Reference

With iX Systems having released new images of FreeBSD reworked with their ZFS On Linux code that is in development to ultimately replace their existing FreeBSD ZFS support derived from the code originally found in the Illumos source tree, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at the FreeBSD 12 performance of ZFS vs. ZoL vs. UFS and compared to Ubuntu Linux on the same system with EXT4 and ZFS. Using an Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6 with ASUS P10S-M WS motherboard, 2 x 8GB DDR4-2400 ECC UDIMMs, and Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB NVMe solid-state drive was used for all of this round of testing. Just a single modern NVMe SSD was used for this round of ZFS testing while as the FreeBSD ZoL code matures I'll test on multiple systems using a more diverse range of storage devices. Read more

Why Linux stands out amongst other OSes

Up until recently, Elementary OS was my platform of choice. It's an elegant, simple, and user-friendly solution for the desktop. One thing that the Elementary developers do that I believe is fairly wise is to not allow upgrades from one major release to another. In other words, if you use Elementary OS Loki, you can't upgrade to Juno. To get the benefits of Juno, you must do a full-blown re-install of the OS. Why is this route wise? My latest adventures in Linux will help explain. A few months ago, I purchased a System76 Thelio. It's a beast of a desktop, while at the same a masterful work of art. Preinstalled on that desktop machine was System76's own Pop!_OS. Based on Ubuntu, it seemed like a great way for me to dive back into the GNOME desktop. So I did. It took no time to get accustomed to the new workflow with GNOME. Once my fingers understood the new keyboard shortcuts, I was good to go. Read more