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Reviews

Blue Collar Linux: Something Borrowed, Something New

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Linux
Reviews

Sometimes it takes more than a few tweaks to turn an old-style desktop design into a fresh new Linux distribution. That is the case with the public release of Blue Collar Linux.

"The guidance and design were shaped by real people -- blue collar people," Blue Collar developer Steven A. Auringer told LinuxInsider. "Think useful and guided by Joe and Jane Whitebread in Suburbia."

Blue Collar Linux has been under development for the last four years. Until its public release this week, it has circulated only through an invitation for private use by the developer's family, friends and associates looking for an alternative to the Windows nightmare.

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

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Reviews

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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Reviews

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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KDE
Reviews

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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Reviews

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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Reviews

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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Linux
Hardware
Reviews

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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Reviews
BSD

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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Reviews

Kodachi Builds Privacy Tunnel for Linux

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Reviews
Security

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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More in Tux Machines

Games: Farm Life, ProtoCorgi, Teeworlds, Sigma Theory: Global Cold War, Steam on Ubuntu 19.04, Optimizations For Mesa 19.1

  • Farm Life, the Match 3 game about restoring a farm has been released for Linux and it's lovely
    Great to see another Match 3 game on Linux with Farm Life, ported over by Bearded Giant Games as part of their Linux 1st Initiative. I had the pleasure of testing this one before releasing and it's sucked away hours from me! Not a genre I play too often, partly because there's not many good Match 3 games available on Linux, so for me this does fill a little hole. Although I will fully admit that I was horribly addicted to Candy Crush on Android a few years ago.
  • The shoot 'em up 'ProtoCorgi' now has an updated demo, which is also on Steam for Linux too
    In ProtoCorgi you're a pup that means business, serious business. You play as Bullet, a cybernetic pup on a quest to save your owner. Since I tested the original demo, it's had a pretty large update reworking some systems which you can find a full changelog of here. This Godot Engine powered shoot 'em up is very promising, so I'm looking forward to seeing the full game. What the demo offers is obviously quite short, as it's only meant as a taster of what's to come
  • Teeworlds, the classic free multiplayer platform battler is still being updated and it's looking good
    Teeworlds, a game that's been around for a great many years now continues to be improved and updated with another update pushed out recently. For those who've never played it, Teeworlds is a side-scrolling platform action game played online across various game modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag. It's free, it's also open source (GitHub) and if you manage to get a bunch of people together to play with, it can be seriously fun.
  • The near-future game of espionage 'Sigma Theory: Global Cold War' is out in Early Access
    Developed by Mi-Clos Studio (Out There) and Goblinz Studio (Robothorium, Dungeon Rushers), Sigma Theory: Global Cold War, a game about using special agents to attempt control of the world has entered Early Access with Linux support recently. In the near-future scientists made a discovery called the Sigma Theory, which could throw the world into complete chaos. Apparently it's capable of helping to create new weapons of insane power, as well as tools that could disrupt everything from the economy to the human mind. Sounds pretty wild, so naturally everyone wants a piece of the pie.
  • How to install Steam on Ubuntu 19.04
    In this video, we look at how to install Steam on Ubuntu 19.04.
  • Intel Iris Gallium3D Picks Up More Game Performance Optimizations For Mesa 19.1
    There is just one week to go until the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze and branching for this next quarterly feature update to these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan Linux drivers. Notable this round is the introduction of the Intel "Iris" Gallium3D driver for supporting Broadwell graphics and newer atop this next-gen OpenGL driver ahead of next year's Xe Graphics dGPU launch. With days to go until the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze, more performance optimizations have landed. Kenneth Graunke of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center who has led the Iris Gallium3D driver development for more than the past year pushed a number of notable improvements into Mesa Git today. iris: Track valid data range and infer unsynchronized mappings - On Skylake graphics this improves the FPS average for games like DiRT Rally, Bioshock Infinite, and Shadow of Mordor by 2~7% and the max FPS by as much as 9~20%.

10 Best Programming Languages for Embedded Systems

As we continue to expand our technological horizons by making anything that we can to be smart, the importance of embedded systems is becoming more apparent and many programmers are beginning to concentrate on IoT projects and there is no better time than now for you to start building your embedded systems programming-related skills and you need to know the most appropriate languages to use. Embedded systems programming languages are different from others in the sense that they are perfect for low-level system access and require relatively fewer resources than others. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the best programming languages for embedded systems. Read more Also: MLIR Is A New IR For Machine Learning That Might Become Part Of LLVM Top 20 Best Machine Learning Applications in Real World

ps_mem Shows Per-Program Memory Usage On Linux

Unlike many other tools that report memory usage per process, ps_mem reports the RAM usage of programs. For example it shows how much RAM is used by all Chromium processes combined. The program developer notes that the ps_mem name is used for backwards compatibility, but a more accurate name would be coremem. The displayed RAM is calculated by adding the sum of private RAM and the sum of shared RAM for a program processes. Running ps_mem with no arguments shows a list programs and their RAM usage in ascendant order (from the lowest RAM usage to the highest). For each program it shows the private, shared, and total used RAM, as well as the number of processes. Swap information for each program can be shown as well, by using the -S option (sudo ps_mem -S). Read more

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