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Reviews

MX Linux Reinvents Computer Use

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Linux
Reviews

MX Linux makes transitioning from any desktop operating system simple. It provides a computing platform that is a bit different and very reliable.

MX Linux is a powerful, easy-to-use computing platform that goes beyond lightweight performance without filling your computer with software bloat.

The latest MX Linux 18.3 ISO is a "refresh" release, not a major upgrade. It has all the recent updates, bug fixes and system updates. This distro does not offer rolling releases, however.

You can perform a system upgrade from an existing MX Linux installation when new refresh releases are issued to get all the updates since the original MX-18 version release. There is no need to do a re-installation with each new release.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 8

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KDE
Reviews

This eighth report is a summary of my worst overall Slimbook & Kubuntu session yet. On one hand, I've witnessed many useful, important, visible improvements in the system over the past six months, and we had hit a plateau of good, sweet stability. The latest wave of updates seems to upset that ever so slightly. Enough to make me miffed, because I really don't want to need any of those crashes or annoyances.

I'm still very happy with my choice, and occasional crashes happen everywhere. This isn't Linux-specific, but that doesn't mean we should settle for comfortable mediocrity. The one outstanding issue is the CPU temperature event, which to me looks like something in the firmware. I will keep an eye, because apart from that, the hardware has been rock solid, there were no other events of this type at all, and no visible problems as a result in any shape or form. Anyway, I think we've had enough excitement for one report. We shall soon convene for yet more thrill, uncertainty, fun, and adventure. Stay cool.

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Review: Manjaro Linux 18.0.4

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Reviews

I've always been a big fan of Ubuntu because of ease of use and it always seemed to work with my hardware, but I've always had a desire to use a rolling release and have more control over my system. Manjaro really impressed me with how well it worked on my computer, even with pretty new hardware (mhwd gets the credit here). Other things about Manjaro that seal the deal are Pamac, Manjaro Settings Manager, and the community. I don't think I can ever go back to the release model that Ubuntu uses and I will be using Manjaro as my distro of choice for the foreseeable future.

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Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo - Order and chaos

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo is a somewhat bi-polar release. It's got a lot of goodies and many improvements, notably Samba support and smartphone support, plus Boutique looks and behaves better than ever. The performance and battery life can be better. But the big issue is customization. There are way too many layouts, which are all good and nice for the end user, for the dev team to manage effectively. With six or seven permutations, lots of little things can go wrong - and they did.

I had to fight the dock, the menu, the global menu, the positioning of the panels, the fonts, all of it really. Shame, because Ubuntu MATE brings a lot of innovation, but it doesn't gel. Then, hardware glitches. Video tearing, the Wireless disconnect. Not something I've seen with the rest of the bunch. All in all, this is a reasonable interim release, but it feels chaotic. Worth testing, and you'll probably find it in line with Cosmic. Something like 6.5-7/10. Once the problems get resolved, it could really be a cushty one. Just look at how MX Linux progressed over the last years. So there. Testing, testing, one two dingo.

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Deepin Linux: Security Threat or Safe to Use?

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Linux
Reviews

Deepin Linux continues to show promise as a productive computing platform. This latest edition has fewer of the annoyances that plagued earlier releases.

The menus and internal dialogue boxes still have some Chinese characters. The potential user base is limited by a short list of available languages.

The ISO file on the standard download page is not a live session. It provides only a loadable interface to handle installation.

To get the live session ISO file, use the download page link in the previous paragraph. Then scroll to the bottom of the download options to the "Live Session Download" label and click the "Live Official Release" button.

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ROSA, A Nice KDE4 Distro in 2019

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Reviews

While Ubuntu doesn't have KDE4 anymore, a Mandriva-based GNU/Linux distro named ROSA from Russia continued to ship KDE4 even in 2019. It is ROSA Desktop Fresh R10 released in 2017 and supported until 2020. ROSA is one among three splits of Mandriva, other two are OpenMandriva and Mageia, happened right after 2011. We cannot run KDE4 anymore on Ubuntu today, but we can still run it on ROSA and get support. This article briefly highlights ROSA R10 for you. I wish anybody who wants a good distro with KDE4 in 2019 finally find what he/she wants.

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Review: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0

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Red Hat
Reviews

My experiment with RHEL 8 got off to a rough start. Going through the on-line registration process produced some errors and ended up with me getting the wrong ISO which, in turn, resulted in some confusion and delays in getting the distribution installed.

Things then began to look up as RHEL 8 did a good job of detecting my system's hardware, registered itself without incident and offered good performance on physical hardware. I was particularly pleased that the distribution appears to detect whether our video card will work well with Wayland and either displays or hides Wayland sessions in response. I did have some trouble with the GNOME Classic Wayland session and GNOME Shell on X.Org was a bit sluggish. However, the Classic session on X.Org and GNOME Shell on Wayland both worked very well. In short, it's worthwhile to explore each of the four desktop options to see what works best for the individual.

The big issues I ran into with RHEL were with regards to software management. Both GNOME Software and the Cockpit screen for managing applications failed to work at all, whether run as root or a regular user. When using the command line dnf package manager, the utility failed to perform searches unless run with sudo and occasionally crashed. In a similar vein, the Bash feature that checks for matching packages when the user types a command name it doesn't recognize does not work and produces a lengthy error.

There were some security features or design choices that I think will mostly appeal to enterprise users, but are less favourable in home or small office environments. Allowing remote root logins by default on the Workstation role rubs me the wrong way, though I realize it is often useful when setting up servers. The enforced complex passwords are similarly better suited to offices than home users. One feature which I think most people will enjoy is SELinux which offers an extra layer of security, thought I wish the Cockpit feature to toggle SELinux had worked to make trouble-shooting easier.

I was not surprised that RHEL avoids shipping some media codecs. The company has always been cautious in this regard. I had hoped that trying to find and install the codecs would have provided links to purchase the add-ons or connect us with a Red Hat-supplied repository. Instead we are redirected through a chain of Fedora documentation until we come to a third-party website which currently does not offer the desired packages.

Ultimately, while RHEL does some things well, such as hardware support, desktop performance, and providing stable (if conservative) versions of applications, I found my trial highly frustrating. Many features simply do not work, or crash, or use a lot of resources, or need to be worked around to make RHEL function as a workstation distribution. Some people may correctly point out RHEL is mostly targeting servers rather than workstations, but there too there are a number of problems. Performance and stability are provided, but the issues I ran into with Cockpit, permission concerns, and command line package management are all hurdles for me when trying to run RHEL in a server role.

I find myself looking forward to the launch of CentOS 8 (which will probably arrive later this year), as CentOS 8 uses the same source code as RHEL, but is not tied to the same subscription model and package repositories. I am curious to see how much of a practical effect this has on the free, community version of the same software.

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Linux Mint Turns Cinnamon Experience Bittersweet

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Reviews

Linux Mint no longer may be an ideal choice for above-par performance out of the box, but it still can serve diehard users well with the right amount of post-installation tinkering.

The Linux Mint distro clearly is the gold standard for measuring Cinnamon desktop integration. Linux Mint's developers turned the GNOME desktop alternative into one of the best Linux desktop choices. Linux Mint Cinnamon, however, may have lost some of its fresh minty flavor.

The gold standard for version 19.1 Tessa seems to be a bit tarnished when compared to some other distros offering a Cinnamon environment. Given that the current Linux Mint version was released at the end of last December, it may be a bit odd for me to focus on a review some five months later.

Linux Mint is my primary driver, though, so at long last I am getting around to sharing my lukewarm experiences. I have run Linux Mint Cinnamon on three primary work and testing computers since parting company with Ubuntu Linux Unity and several other Ubuntu flavors many years ago. I have recommended Linux Mint enthusiastically to associates and readers in my personal and professional roles.

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Pop!_OS 19.04 – Based on Ubuntu 19.04 and Use GNOME 3.32 as Default Desktop

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Pop!_OS 19.04 is the latest release of Pop!_OS, based on Ubuntu 19.04 and use GNOME 3.32 as default desktop environment that brings several other features like new icon theme, fractional scaling, permission control for each application, granular control on Night Light intensity among many other changes. Also, include most of the gnome applications 3.32.

The changes that are exclusive to Pop!_OS 19.04, the new Refresh Install option allows you to reinstall the OS without losing your user account and data stored in Home.

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Review: Sabayon 19.03

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Gentoo
Reviews

Sabayon's claim that it is a "beginner-friendly" distro that is "bleeding edge" and "stable and reliable" is a bit of a stretch. I doubt "beginners" will comprehend the instructions for what to do after installing Sabayon - and that is assuming inexperienced users will find the information in the first place. Similarly, the systemd and GNOME versions are rather old for a distro that claims to be "bleeding edge". That said, I did find Sabayon's GNOME edition to be stable and reliable, bar a few minor issues (such as the notification about the VirtualBox kernel service not running).

I don't think it is entirely fair to ask if Sabayon lives up to the bold marketing slogans on its home page. Personally, I see Sabayon as a friendly and interesting distro for tinkerers and distro-hoppers, and a very good one at that. I should also mention that, in general, Sabayon's use of language is refreshingly informal; both the graphical Rigo package manager and the wiki put a smile on my face more than once. Even Equo has some jokes built in - the command equo moo prints an ASCII cow that says "Entromoooo!".

Sabayon does still has some way to go to become the sophisticated operating system it wants to be. With 19.03 the distro switched from the Anaconda to the Calamares installer which, to my mind at least, is a good decision. However, contrary to what is claimed in the release notes, the disk encryption issue has not been resolved yet and the wiki still talks about how to find your way through the Anaconda installer. Work on the new wiki announced in the release notes seems to be at a very early stage.

I also couldn't fail to notice that Sabayon's forums are rather quiet. Lively forums don't necessarily equate to a thriving community, but the overall feeling I got is that Sabayon could do with a bit more momentum. That shouldn't discourage you from giving Sabayon a try though. On the contrary, if you are a Linux-loving tinkerer then Sabayon might be the distro for you.

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Programming: Joget Operator, Python, LibreOffice, GNOME and KDE

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GNU Scientific Library 2.6 released

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