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Reviews

Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0.0 "ASCII"

Filed under
OS
Reviews

When I am trying out a desktop distribution, what really tends to divide the field of Linux distributions in my mind is not whether the system uses MATE or Plasma, or whether the underlying package manager uses RPM or Deb files. What tends to leave a lasting impression with me is whether the desktop environment, its applications and controls feel like a cooperative, cohesive experience or like a jumble of individual tools that happen to be part of the same operating system. In my opinion Ubuntu running the Unity desktop and Linux Mint's Cinnamon desktop are good examples of the cohesive approach. The way openSUSE's administration tools work together provides another example. Like them or hate them, I think most people can see there is an overall design, a unifying vision, being explored with those distributions. I believe Devuan falls into the other category, presenting the user with a collection of utilities and features where some assembly is still required.

This comes across in little ways. For example, many distributions ship Mozilla's Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client together as a set, and they generally complement each other. Devuan ships Firefox, but then its counterpart is the mutt console e-mail program which feels entirely out of place with the rest of the desktop software. The PulseAudio sound mixing utility is included, but its system tray companion is not present by default. Even the system installer, which switches back and forth between graphical windows and a text console, feels more like a collection of uncoordinated prompts rather than a unified program or script. Some people may like the mix-and-match approach, but I tend to prefer distributions where it feels like the parts are fitted together to create a unified experience.

What I found was that Devuan provided an experience where I had to stop and think about where items were or how I was going to use them rather than having the pieces seamlessly fit together. However, once I got the system set up in a way that was more to my liking, I appreciated the experience provided. Devuan offers a stable, flexible platform. Once I shaped the operating system a little, I found it to be fast, light and capable. Having a fairly large repository of software available along with Flatpak support provided a solid collection of applications on a conservative operating system foundation. It was a combination I liked.

In short, I think Devuan has some rough edges and setting it up was an unusually long and complex experience by Linux standards. I certainly wouldn't recommend Devuan to newcomers. However, a day or two into the experience, Devuan's stability and performance made it a worthwhile journey. I think Devuan may be a good alternative to people who like running Debian or other conservative distributions such as Slackware. I suspect I may soon be running Devuan's Raspberry Pi build on my home server where its lightweight nature will be welcome.

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Also: deepin 15.6 Released With New Features: Get This Beautiful Linux Distro Here

Gnome 3.28 review - Minimalism gone wrong

Filed under
GNOME
Reviews

Gnome 3.28 brings in a few interesting changes to the Gnome table - not too many, though, this version isn't a radical revamp, more sort of a gradual progression of the basic idea behind the Gnome desktop environment. Not bad in that regard. Bad in every other regard.

Unfortunately - and this is nothing personal, all I care for is to be happy and productive with my desktops, and Gnome 2 was my favorite thing for years and years - Gnome 3.28 is a sterile, counterproductive pseudo-touch concept that serves little purpose on the desktop. It requires significant tweaking and immense changes under the hood to make presentable and usable, and even then, it works hard against the user. Performance is really bad, a decade-old laptop with anything other than Gnome works better than a contemporary model with Gnome, and you feel the sluggishness with every little thing you do. It's life-sapping. The more you multi-task the worse it gets.

All in all, Gnome 3.28 has changed little from the original Gnome 3 a few years ago. It is still not suited for purpose, it has not evolved in any way, and in fact, there are fresh new functional regressions in the product. It's getting more and more difficult to achieve simple things, and you're fighting against the desktop. Not how it's meant to be. Maybe Linux will make it big on the phone and tablet one day, and then Gnome could be a blast. But on traditional computing devices, it's a flop. Not recommended, I'm afraid. Take care.

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Modicia: Ultimate Linux with a Twist

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Modicia O.S. Desktop Ultimate 18 LTS lives up to its name in terms of being an ultimate computing platform. It offers a very pleasing user experience that is ideal for office or home functions.

It has the potential to be ranked among the best of the general-purpose Linux distros. I tend to favor Linux Mint's homespun Cinnamon desktop as my primary computing workhorse. I keep a few winners on my various computers for variety and different productivity options.

Modicia has been my preferred OS the last few weeks after I stumbled upon its smile-creating capabilities. Its combination of panel types and other user-enhanced tricks soon may qualify it for the default boot choice on my primary computer.

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Alan Pope: KDE Slimbook 2 Review

Filed under
KDE
Hardware
Reviews

The kind folks at Slimbook recently sent me the latest generation of their ultrabook-style laptop line for review, the KDE Slimbook 2. You can hear my thoughts on the latest episode of the Ubuntu Podcast, released on June 7th 2018.

Slimbook are a small laptop vendor based in Spain. All the laptops ship with KDE Neon as the default operating system. In addition to their hardware, they also contribute to and facilitate local Free Software events in their area. I was sent the laptop only for review purposes. There's no other incentive provided, and Slimbook didn't see this blog post before I published it.

Being a small vendor, they don't have the same buying power with OEM vendors as other big name laptop suppliers. This is reflected in the price you pay. You're supporting a company who are themselves supporting Free Software developers and communities.

If you're after the cheapest possible laptop, and don't care about its origin or the people behind the device, then maybe this laptop isn't for you. However, if you like to vote with your wallet, then the KDE Slimbook should absolutely be on your list to seriously consider.

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Plasma Got Tricks – I like big tricks and I cannot lie

Filed under
KDE
Reviews

The Plasma desktop is fun. Rich, detailed, with loads of goodies to explore and discover and play with. I haven’t really gotten bored with it even after a couple of years of rigorous daily testing. There’s always something new and exciting and useful to do, and you constantly come across fresh, handy aspects of desktop usage you haven’t really thought about. The discovery is progressive, which also helps navigate the Plasma environment, without getting a sensory overload of too many choices.

This article showcases only a small portion of what Plasma can do. But the best part about it is: you can completely ignore all of the above and just use it like a traditional desktop. On a day you feel adventurous, it will welcome you into its fold and uncover its many cool facets. In general, the desktop should be a background thing, a canvas to let you get things done. But it does not have to be boring. In this regard, Plasma proves that practicality and functionality do not have to come at the price of fun. You do not need to sacrifice. On the contrary. It’s one giant basket of Easter eggs. Happy hunting.

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What’s new in openSUSE Leap 15 – KDE Plasma 5.12

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Reviews
SUSE

One of the most exiting new things about openSUSE Leap 15 is the updated KDE Plasma desktop environment. We are moving from Plasma 5.8 LTE to Plasma 5.12 LTE. Which means that there are a lot of new features to look forward to. Lets start with emphasizing that the KDE Plasma 5.12 desktop environment looks stunning. Below is a screenshot of my personal desktop, fully configured to my personal preferences. My configuration hasn’t changed much since KDE Plasma 4.3. I use 3 widgets: a folder view, an analog clock and a network monitor.

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Fedora 28 - Improvements drowned in slowness

Filed under
Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora 28 is buggy, riddled with problems and that awful performance issue, some good and brilliant points, and it takes a lot of hard work to tame and put into order. In other words, it's a perfect toy for the typical developer, I guess. For ordinary folks, the good points of being able to play music, connect phones and find nice software are definitely appreciated. But they are more than offset by Gnome 3 being useless and hard to make less useless, inadequate default font settings, tons of visual inconsistencies, occasional app and kernel crashes, and dreadful performance and resource utilization.

This distro makes sense as a test bed for software, nothing more. It is not suitable for day-to-day use, and there are too many problems. I find this sad, because RHEL and CentOS are the exact opposites of this equation, and that means a person interested in a Red Hat distro for their home use will probably have to compromise in some way. All in all, worth checking, but it's a tinkerer's trinket, not a system for serious use. None of the spring crop seem to be. Anyway, feel like testing, go ahead. But I still find the older 24/25 releases to have been much better. 4/10. Take care, freedom fighters.

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A look at Linux Mint 19 Beta

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Reviews

Beta versions of Linux Mint 19 "Tara" are out; the Linux Mint development team released Cinnamon, MATE and XFCE beta versions of the upcoming new version of Linux Mint today.

Note: Beta versions are not necessarily ready for use in production environments. They are designed for testing and if you run Linux Mint in production environments, you may want to install Linux Mint 19 Beta in a virtual machine or a spare-machine to test new functionality and see what has changed.

It will be possible to update from Linux Mint 19 Beta to Stable once the stable version is released; systems with Linux Mint 18.3 can also be upgrade to the new version directly.

The release notes linked at the bottom of the article link to downloads. Just follow the links and download the desired edition of Linux Mint 19 Beta to your system.

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A Penguin tries out Secure-K OS, part I

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Reviews
Debian

As the name suggests (Secure Key), Secure-K OS is a live operating system, based on Debian 9 Stretch, meant to be run from any USB key and “developed with security in mind”, according to its developers, Mon-K Data Protection.

A couple of “hardware versions” of the operating system are being sold on the project website, which means that one can buy Secure-K OS already deployed into a hardware-encrypted USB key with a pin-pad. It feels geeky.

Because I cannot download that piece of hardware via my network (I guess you cannot as well), what I have actually downloaded is the system image file of Secure-K OS Lite, then written into a USB stick of mine.

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Desktop Consolidation Gives SparkyLinux a Clearer Focus

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

You can run SparkyLinux from a thumb drive. You also can supercharge its performance by loading it into your computer's RAM.

However, the OS is not really as useful if you use it only for a portable computing platform. It performs best when installed on the hard drive. SparkyLinux does not use a frugal installation and special antics to provide persistent memory.

SparkyLinux is a very functional Linux OS. It is a solid choice for use as an all-purpose home edition with all the tools, codecs, plugins and drivers preinstalled.

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