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Reviews

GNU/Linux Review: Linux Mint 19 LTS Cinnamon Edition

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LMCE 19 has a new star for the future: Timeshift. It makes updating now less-worrisome and will encourage users to experiment more without afraid to break anything. We can revert back easily now! A method to make stable system more stable and to prevent broken system easier for end-user. This is a very good thing for both long-time and new users, even I hope this feature to be exist on other distros as well. Second star, it supports HiDPI better now, which means Linux Mint will embrace more users from Retina Display-alike computers and more! Other features, such as faster Nemo and more extensive Software Manager, will make you love Linux Mint even more. It's really quick to install (15 minutes or less) and brings complete set of apps (LibreOffice, Firefox, and so on). Finally, I recommend Mint users to upgrade to this version or at least try it on LiveCD session. Enjoy!

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Review: NomadBSD 1.1

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BSD

One of the most recent additions to the DistroWatch database is NomadBSD. According to the NomadBSD website: "NomadBSD is a 64-bit live system for USB flash drives, based on FreeBSD. Together with automatic hardware detection and setup, it is configured to be used as a desktop system that works out of the box, but can also be used for data recovery."

The latest release of NomadBSD (or simply "Nomad", as I will refer to the project in this review) is version 1.1. It is based on FreeBSD 11.2 and is offered in two builds, one for generic personal computers and one for Macbooks. The release announcement mentions version 1.1 offers improved video driver support for Intel and AMD cards. The operating system ships with Octopkg for graphical package management and the system should automatically detect, and work with, VirtualBox environments.

Nomad 1.1 is available as a 2GB download, which we then decompress to produce a 4GB file which can be written to a USB thumb drive. There is no optical media build of Nomad as it is designed to be run entirely from the USB drive, and write data persistently to the drive, rather than simply being installed from the USB media.

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Also: Happy Bob's Libtls tutorial

Absolute Linux: Testing Snapshot/15.0 Based on Slackware Current

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Slack

Review: Secure-K OS 18.5

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I like the idea behind Secure-K. Being able to easily set up a distribution on a USB thumb drive so I can take my operating system with me in my pocket is very appealing. Having secure communication and quick access to the Tor network is also handy. I think the Secure-K developers are basically trying to provide an operating system that is like Tails, but more geared toward general purpose use. Tails is typically seen as a utility specifically for secure on-line communication, but probably not a platform for day-to-day use. Secure-K seems to be coming from the other direction and providing a day-to-day operating system that can also be used for secure communication and anonymous web browsing.

In theory, this is a good concept and I can see how it would appeal, especially if people want easy access to on-line storage and persistent settings.

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ExTiX 18.7 Is Not Quite an 'Ultimate Linux System'

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Linux
Reviews

The ExTiX 18.7 release was a disappointment. Given the maturity and variety of the previous Linux distros maintained by the Exton OS and ExTiX developer, I can only conclude that the problems I encountered were an anomaly. No doubt, a fix is in the works.

I hope so. ExTiX and the LXQt desktop have much to offer. This latest release comes with Firefox instead of Google Chrome as the Web Browser. This makes it possible to watch Netflix movies in Firefox while running Linux.

Among many other programs included are LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GParted, Brasero, SMPlayer, Gimp, Flash and win32 codecs. In addition, Java and all necessary additions are supplied to let you install programs from source.

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Dell XPS 13 Kabylake Makes For A Great Linux Laptop

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Hardware
Reviews

When it comes to new laptops for the summer of 2018 that are Linux-friendly, the latest-generation Dell XPS 13 with Intel Kabylake-R processor ranks high on that list. Recent in upgrading my main production workstation, I decided to go with the Dell XPS 13 9370 while using Fedora Workstation 28 and it's been a phenomenal combination. Here are my thoughts on the current Dell XPS 13 as well as some benchmarks and other information.

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Ubuntu 18.04 -- MATE and Budgie editions

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Ubuntu

The Budgie desktop, at least in Ubuntu, is a curious thing. On one hand it appears to cater to relative novices to Linux with all the emphasis on install help in the beginning. On the other, there's quite a reliance on keyboard shortcuts. Despite MATE upping its game with the various layout options in tweak tool, Budgie appears more modern, stylish and has kept the focus on on-line integration of the GNOME Shell. With the Raven side-panel on the right it reminds me of early mock-ups of GNOME 3 which featured a side panel with notifications, a calendar and all sorts of options.

The Budgie edition appeared more solid for everyday use. I did not experience the crashes or weird behaviour of panel applets that had plagued the MATE desktop, probably induced by frequent layout changes. The Budgie edition also did not throw as many unexpected error messages at me and hibernate worked.

Budgie also suffered from the delayed shutdown of systemd jobs but not as frequently as the MATE edition. It has been suggested this is due to the operating system not being able to find swap or a missing swap partition. I cannot confirm this. I completed both installations the same way as a custom setup and while the hibernate option was available in Budgie it was not in the installed MATE edition. Hibernate and resume from swap worked in Budgie but still stop job delays occurred here as well. This was mostly the case after running for longer periods of time under heavy load and when the laptop had been running hot, through multimedia use or with browser tabs like Google Drive or Google Docs open which alone topped 225MB use of RAM. Power and CPU usage were about equal for given tasks, but Budgie consumed far more memory from the start.

As to the choice of desktop, you will know your preferences. Budgie seems more integrated and, with that, more stable at the moment and overall this edition made a better impression. It also presents a lot of options under the hood of which I could only scratch the surface for this review. I for my part am not going to keep any release of Bionic Beaver around for long although I like both desktops. It is just too buggy and running too hot to be used as a long-term stable operating system.

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Also: National Cyber Security Centre publish Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Security Guide

FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy

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Linux
Reviews

SoftMaker's FreeOffice 2018 is a high-end productivity suite that is worthy of consideration. The TextMaker word processor module is one of the closest products I have used in Linux to being capable of handling page design and publication functions.

I often use it for design pages instead of Scribus for desktop publishing tasks. The PlanMaker and Presentation modules are equally adept at rounding out office documents needs.

However, FreeOffice 2018 has a few quirks. One of them is the spelling feature. The English language version is supposed to be included by default. It is not in the installed package. As a workaround, I downloaded the Canada English Hunspell dictionary from the Softmaker website. No U.S. English dictionary was available for download.

Another oddity is the right panel that has a show/hide button. In each of the three modules, the right panel displays handy tips on using some of the core features.

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Review: Peppermint OS 9

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While I have to admit that I am not the target audience for a distribution focused on web-based applications, I found Peppermint 9 to be a solid distribution. Despite pulling components from multiple desktop environments, Peppermint 9's desktop is well integrated and easy to use. It was also easy to add both web-based and traditional applications to the system, so the distribution can be adjusted for users who prefer either.

Peppermint 9 is not for everyone, but users who do most their work in Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online should give Peppermint a try. However, users accustomed to using traditional desktop applications might want to stick to one of the many alternatives out there. Yes, Peppermint 9 can be easily adjusted to use traditional desktop applications, but many of the other distribution options out there come with those kinds of applications pre-installed.

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Kdenlive 18.08 Beta – Film Noir

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KDE
Reviews

Kdenlive is my video editor de jour since the dawn of civilization, or rather, as far back as my video editing attempts go. Pretty much all of the clips I uploaded to my Youtube channel were made using Kdenlive, with only some extra work in other programs. Kdenlive is powerful, flexible, useful, and now there’s a new beta that promises many good things and delights.

The 18.08 version can be found under the label Refactoring Branch – sounds like an avantguard field of mathematics – and it is distributed as a self-contained AppImage, meaning you just need to make the file executable and then run it (single- or double-click). Which is exactly what I did. Follow me.

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Mozilla: Privacy, R.I.P., and Consent Management at Mozfest 2018

  • Firefox collects data on you through hidden add-ons

    Mozilla, the organisation that produces the Firefox browser and makes a loud noise about its open source credentials, is quietly collecting telemetry data on its users by the use of hidden add-ons, even though publicly visible telemetry controls are not selected.

  • R.I.P., Charles W. Moore, a fine man who liked fine Macs
    A farewell and au revoir to a great gentleman in making the most of your old Mac, Charles W. Moore, who passed away at his home in rural Canada on September 16 after a long illness. Mr Moore was an early fan of TenFourFox, even back in the old bad Firefox 4 beta days, and he really made his famous Pismo PowerBook G3 systems work hard for it.
  • Consent management at Mozfest 2018
    Good news. It looks like we're having a consent management mini-conference as part of Mozfest next month. (I'm one of the organizers for the Global Consent Manager session, and plan to attend the others.)

Android Leftovers

LibreOffice: A history of document freedom

My reminiscing led me to reach out to the Document Foundation, which governs LibreOffice, to learn more about the history of this open source productivity software. The Document Foundation's team told me that "StarWriter, the ancestor of the LibreOffice suite, was developed as proprietary software by Marco Börries, a German student, to write his high school final thesis." He formed a company called Star Division to develop the software. In 1999, Sun Microsystems bought Star Division for $73.5 million, changed the software's name to OpenOffice.org, and released the code as open source. Anyone could download the office suite at no charge for personal use. The Document Foundation told me, "For almost 10 years, the software was developed under Sun stewardship, from version 1.0 to version 3.2. It started with a dual license—LGPL and the proprietary SISSL (Sun Industry Standard Software License)—but it evolved to pure LGPL from version 2.0." Read more

Learn the 37 most frequently used shortcuts in GIMP

GIMP is a fantastic artist's tool for editing digital images, especially with the bevy of impressive features in the recent release of version 2.10. Of course, like all creative applications, you can get working more quickly if you can make yourself familiar with the various keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys available. GIMP, of course, gives you the ability to customize these shortcuts to match what you're personally comfortable with. However, the default shortcuts that GIMP ships with are impressive and generally easy to get used to. This cheat sheet is not an exhaustive list of all of the defaults GIMP has available. Instead, it covers the most frequently used shortcuts so you can get to work as fast as possible. Plus, there should be a few in here that make you aware of a few features that maybe you weren't aware of. Read more