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MX Linux MX-18 Continuum - Time x Space x Fun

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MX Linux MX-18 Continuum is a pretty good distro. It has a lot of really cool points, and some superbly nice and unique ones, too. It looks good, it gives you everything out of the box, it comes with a fast installation that will preserve your data, and you get the excellent MX Tools and Package Installer as a bonus. It's also rock stable, very frugal, the performance is dog's bollocks, and consequently, you get a really neat battery life. Overall, it's better than its predecessor in most areas.

But then, there were also some problems. Mostly cosmetic, just like in the past. But I am not happy about things not working - media playback from the phone, topmenu plugin, those kind of things. By now, I'm expecting perfection. I know it's hard making always better and smarter products, but it's the only way. All in all, Continuum is a great distro, don't get me wrong, but it must not let complacency and randomness spoil its game. 8.5/10 this time, and if you're looking for a nice distro to test and try, this is by far one of the more refreshing and fun systems I've used in a long time. Just be on the lookout for an odd bug. Lastly, we shall soon commence testing on the old Nvidia-powered machine. And that would be all.

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Another review from today: MX Linux 18 "Continuum" Review

Review: Reborn OS 2018.11.28 and TinyPaw-Linux 1.3

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Reborn OS is a distribution from the Antergos and Arch Linux family of distributions. Like Antergos, Reborn uses the Cnchi system installer and provides a wide range of desktop environments and extra features we can enable at install time. Reborn's website mentions the project offers support for running Android applications through the Anbox compatibility software, works with Flatpaks, and can run the Mycroft personal desktop assistant.

I had previously tried Reborn OS back in October of 2018 and gave up trying to install the distribution because Cnchi kept running into problems downloading packages, telling me it had run into "error: 0". Since failure to download packages during the installation rendered it impossible to set up Reborn, I had to abandon the project.

Shortly after my truncated review appeared, one of the Reborn developers got in touch and reported that the problem with Cnchi had been fixed and invited me to try the distribution again. I gave the project a few months (and updated releases) to mature and then decided to give Reborn another test drive.

The Reborn ISO file is a 1.6GB download. Booting from the media brings up the Budgie desktop environment and shows us a welcome window. The welcome window appears to be borrowed from Antergos and displays buttons which will provide us with information. Some buttons link to the project's on-line source code repository, others offer to show us available software, another gives us a quick overview of the operating system.

Using the welcome window I ran into my first problem with Reborn. Clicking some of the buttons caused the operating system to lock up. For example, browsing the software list caused the system to freeze, necessitating a reboot. When I clicked on the source repository link, the Firefox browser opened, displayed the page and then the system locked up, again forcing a hard reset of the computer.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 4

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I've said this a hundred times before. Plasma has the basics right. But the second and third and ninth order of coolness and integration is where things go wrong. Everything has to click, and it's the convoluted paths of need and necessity that bring out the worst in software. Like keyboard shortcuts or online accounts. Imagine if you could really have a seamless, transparent desktop-cloud Plasma experience? You may never want it, but the technical possibility should be there. Or a consistent stack of programs that really look and behave the same?

If I compare this experience with a typical Windows 7 box, Plasma is far less transparent. I do have to invest more time fiddling and tweaking. But then, it's also easy to forget the initial setup time and configs that I invested in every Windows machine I have ever set up. And it wasn't trivial, at all.

I am pretty sure that the intrusive interactiveness of the configuration will slowly ebb, not that I do not enjoy these reports - and hopefully they will ultimate make the Linux desktop experience better for everyone, should anyone happen to read them and take heed. So our work isn't done here. All in all, Plasma is about 93% there, but summa cum laude happens at the 100% mark. To be continued.

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Also: KDE Privacy Sprint

Deepin Linux 15.8: A functional and elegant desktop

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Thanks to a finely balanced ratio of aesthetics and ease of use, the developers of Deepin created the closest thing to a perfect desktop I have ever experienced. If you're looking for a desktop operating system that will make all others seem like they've wound up behind the curve, it's time you give Deepin Linux 15.8 a try. I have faith there's no way you'll be disappointed.

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Also: Ubuntu 19.04 Daily Builds with updated Yaru Theme

Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa - Adrift

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Fonts aside, Linux Mint 19.1 is an average plus distro, with some good points but not as many awesome advantages over the competition as Mint used to have. I've highlighted this in my best distro of 2018 article, whereby Mint seems to have lost its edge. It does what most other distros do and little else besides. There's no supreme quality factor as once upon time, where Mint did things no other system could. So you get media, phone connectivity, reasonable networking, a good collection of apps, but you also get glitches, only okay performance with high-resource usage, plus niggles and errors here and there.

But the one thing that totally ruins the deal - the fonts. So pale my eyes hurt. And I have perfect vision. Plus you can't change them, not easily, not anyway. So this makes Mint Tessa simply unusable for me. I spend hours working in front of a computer, writing, gaming, whatnot, and I am extremely aware and sensitive to how one gets the highest level of comfort and productivity. I can do that with Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Kubuntu for example. With Mint Tessa, even 15 minutes feels like a strain. Worst thing, Tara did let you change the fonts, and everything worked fine only six months ago!

Anyway, Mint used to be Ubuntu on steroids and the friendliest distro around. Not anymore. I can't name even a single distinct killer feature that it has, plus the sweet momentum of innovation and fun is gone. Or going away. And the whole 12% Xorg CPU eater, that sure ain't helping the matters. This is a change, and not a good one, with a steady, gradually increasing loss of quality and coolness. Overall grade, 6/10. On a sad note, here goes the first review of 2019. Oh well.

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Raspberry Pi 3: Testing out Manjaro ARM 18.12

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It now exists as a project with its own web page, a small group of dedicated developers, and a focus on the Raspberry Pi 3 and Odroid C2 SBCs, and the Pinebook laptop. When I saw the announcement of Manjaro-ARM 18.12.1 on the Manjaro News page, I decided it was time to get back to this, so here we go!

First, a few words about supported devices. I'm not sure that I really understand everything about this; the release announcement specifically mentions the Pi 3, Odroid C2 and Pinebook laptop, with LXQt and KDE desktops, and a "minimal" version which I assume is CLI-only for the Pi and Odroid. However, it doesn't specifically mention the Raspberry Pi 2, and although there is not a new image for the Pi 2, it does say that "Old images should just keep on rolling". I will just give that a try before I finish this post.

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Review: FreeBSD 12.0

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Playing with FreeBSD with past week I don't feel as though there were any big surprises or changes in this release compared to FreeBSD 11. In typical FreeBSD fashion, progress tends to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and this release feels like a polished and improved incremental step forward. I like that the installer handles both UFS and ZFS guided partitioning now and in a friendly manner. In the past I had trouble getting FreeBSD's boot menu to work with boot environments, but that has been fixed for this release.

I like the security options in the installer too. These are not new, but I think worth mentioning. FreeBSD, unlike most Linux distributions, offers several low-level security options (like hiding other users' processes and randomizing PIDs) and I like having these presented at install time. It's harder for people to attack what they cannot see, or predict, and FreeBSD optionally makes these little adjustment for us.

Something which stands out about FreeBSD, compared to most Linux distributions I run, is that FreeBSD rarely holds the user's hand, but also rarely surprises the user. This means there is more reading to do up front and new users may struggle to get used to editing configuration files in a text editor. But FreeBSD rarely does anything unless told to do it. Updates rarely change the system's behaviour, working technology rarely gets swapped out for something new, the system and its applications never crashed during my trial. Everything was rock solid. The operating system may seem like a minimal, blank slate to new users, but it's wonderfully dependable and predictable in my experience.

I probably wouldn't recommend FreeBSD for desktop use. It's close relative, GhostBSD, ships with a friendly desktop and does special work to make end user applications run smoothly. But for people who want to run servers, possible for years without change or issues, FreeBSD is a great option. It's also an attractive choice, in my opinion, for people who like to build their system from the ground up, like you would with Debian's server install or Arch Linux. Apart from the base tools and documentation, there is nothing on a FreeBSD system apart from what we put on it.

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Archman 2019.01 Screenshot Tour and a New (Hours-Old) Look at MX Linux 18

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Kodachi Builds Privacy Tunnel for Linux

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Online and Internet security are not topics that typical computer users easily comprehend. All too often, Linux users put their blind trust in a particular distribution and assume that all Linux OSes are equally secure.

However, not all Linux distros are created with the same degree of attention to security and privacy control. A misconfiguration of a firewall, or misapplied Web browser privacy and modem settings, can trash the best-designed Linux safety strategies.

Kodachi Linux offers an alternative to leaving your computer privacy and security to chance. It is developed by Oman-based Eagle Eye Digital Solutions, an IT firm with a focus on preserving computer privacy and anonymity.

The developers announced the release of Linux Kodachi 5.6 last month. Based on Debian 9.5 Xbuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support, it runs from a DVD or USB thumb drive as a live session OS for a completely isolated and secure Linux session on any computer for portable Linux convenience.

You also can install Kodachi to a hard drive. That method blunts one of the primary features of the distro, though. Running in a live session removes all traces of your Internet activity and your documents from the host computer when you remove the DVD or USB.

Otherwise, either option provides an anti-forensic, anonymous operating system with all the features a person concerned about privacy needs. In this sense, Kodachi gives you built-in techniques, gadgets and software designed to hamper a computer investigation seeking to intercept your email or breach your digital data.

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5 Best Free Code Editors for Ubuntu, Linux

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Here’s 5 free code editors for Linux systems which you should try. Atom, Sublime Text, Brackets, Lighttable & Visual Studio Code - all of them are outstanding. Have a look and pick your favorite.

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Android Leftovers

Ubuntu-Centric Full Circle Magazine and Debian on the Raspberryscape

  • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Weekly News #121
  • Debian on the Raspberryscape: Great news!
    I already mentioned here having adopted and updated the Raspberry Pi 3 Debian Buster Unofficial Preview image generation project. As you might know, the hardware differences between the three families are quite deep ? The original Raspberry Pi (models A and B), as well as the Zero and Zero W, are ARMv6 (which, in Debian-speak, belong to the armel architecture, a.k.a. EABI / Embedded ABI). Raspberry Pi 2 is an ARMv7 (so, we call it armhf or ARM hard-float, as it does support floating point instructions). Finally, the Raspberry Pi 3 is an ARMv8-A (in Debian it corresponds to the ARM64 architecture). [...] As for the little guy, the Zero that sits atop them, I only have to upload a new version of raspberry3-firmware built also for armel. I will add to it the needed devicetree files. I have to check with the release-team members if it would be possible to rename the package to simply raspberry-firmware (as it's no longer v3-specific). Why is this relevant? Well, the Raspberry Pi is by far the most popular ARM machine ever. It is a board people love playing with. It is the base for many, many, many projects. And now, finally, it can run with straight Debian! And, of course, if you don't trust me providing clean images, you can prepare them by yourself, trusting the same distribution you have come to trust and love over the years.

OSS: SVT-AV1, LibreOffice, FSF and Software Freedom Conservancy

  • SVT-AV1 Already Seeing Nice Performance Improvements Since Open-Sourcing
    It was just a few weeks ago that Intel open-sourced the SVT-AV1 project as a CPU-based AV1 video encoder. In the short time since publishing it, there's already been some significant performance improvements.  Since the start of the month, SVT-AV1 has added multi-threaded CDEF search, more AVX optimizations, and other improvements to this fast evolving AV1 encoder. With having updated the test profile against the latest state as of today, here's a quick look at the performance of this Intel open-source AV1 video encoder.
  • Find a LibreOffice community member near you!
    Hundreds of people around the world contribute to each new version of LibreOffice, and we’ve interviewed many of them on this blog. Now we’ve collected them together on a map (thanks to OpenStreetMap), so you can see who’s near you, and find out more!
  • What I learned during my internship with the FSF tech team
    Hello everyone, I am Hrishikesh, and this is my follow-up blog post concluding my experiences and the work I did during my 3.5 month remote internship with the FSF. During my internship, I worked with the tech team to research and propose replacements for their network monitoring infrastructure. A few things did not go quite as planned, but a lot of good things that I did not plan happened along the way. For example, I planned to work on GNU LibreJS, but never could find enough time for it. On the other hand, I gained a lot of system administration experience by reading IRC conversations, and by working on my project. I even got to have a brief conversation with RMS! My mentors, Ian, Andrew, and Ruben, were extremely helpful and understanding throughout my internship. As someone who previously had not worked with a team, I learned a lot about teamwork. Aside from IRC, we interacted weekly in a conference call via phone, and used the FSF's Etherpad instance for live collaborative editing, to take notes. The first two months were mostly spent studying the FSF's existing Nagios- and Munin-based monitoring and alert system, to understand how it works. The tech team provided two VMs for experimenting with Prometheus and Nagios, which I used throughout the internship. During this time, I also spent a lot of time reading about licenses, and other posts about free software published by the FSF.
  • We're Hiring: Techie Bookkeeper
    Software Freedom Conservancy is looking for a new employee to help us with important work that supports our basic operations. Conservancy is a nonprofit charity that promotes and improves free and open source software projects. We are home to almost 50 projects, including Git, Inkscape, Etherpad, phpMyAdmin, and Selenium (to name a few). Conservancy is the home of Outreachy, an award winning diversity intiative, and we also work hard to improve software freedom generally. We are a small but dedicated staff, handling a very large number of financial transactions per year for us and our member projects.

Security: Back Doors Running Amok, Container Runtime Flaw Patched, Cisco Ships Exploit Inside Products

  • Here We Go Again: 127 Million Accounts Stolen From 8 More Websites
    Several days ago, a hacker put 617 million accounts from 16 different websites for sale on the dark web. Now, the same hacker is offering 127 million more records from another eight websites.
  • Hacker who stole 620 million records strikes again, stealing 127 million more
    A hacker who stole close to 620 million user records from 16 websites has stolen another 127 million records from eight more websites, TechCrunch has learned. The hacker, whose listing was the previously disclosed data for about $20,000 in bitcoin on a dark web marketplace, stole the data last year from several major sites — some that had already been disclosed, like more than 151 million records from MyFitnessPal and 25 million records from Animoto. But several other hacked sites on the marketplace listing didn’t know or hadn’t disclosed yet — such as 500px and Coffee Meets Bagel. The Register, which first reported the story, said the data included names, email addresses and scrambled passwords, and in some cases other login and account data — though no financial data was included.
  • Vendors Issue Patches for Linux Container Runtime Flaw Enabling Host Attacks
  • How did the Dirty COW exploit get shipped in software?
    An exploit code for Dirty COW was accidentally shipped by Cisco with product software. Learn how this code ended up in a software release and what this vulnerability can do.