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Review: NetBSD 8.0

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Reviews
BSD

NetBSD, like its close cousins (FreeBSD and OpenBSD) does not do a lot of hand holding or automation. It offers a foundation that will run on most CPUs and we can choose to build on that foundation. I mention this because, on its own, NetBSD does not do much. If we want to get something out of it, we need to be willing to build on its foundation - we need a project. This is important to keep in mind as I think going into NetBSD and thinking, "Oh I'll just explore around and expand on this as I go," will likely lead to disappointment. I recommend figuring out what you want to do before installing NetBSD and making sure the required tools are available in the operating system's repositories.

Some of the projects I embarked on this week (using ZFS and setting up file sharing) worked well. Others, like getting multimedia support and a full-featured desktop, did not. Given more time, I'm sure I could find a suitable desktop to install (along with the required documentation to get it and its services running), or customize one based on one of the available window managers. However, any full featured desktop is going to require some manual work. Media support was not great. The right players and codecs were there, but I was not able to get audio to play smoothly.

My main complaint with NetBSD relates to my struggle to get some features working to my satisfaction: the documentation is scattered. There are four different sections of the project's website for documentation (FAQs, The Guide, manual pages and the wiki). Whatever we are looking for is likely to be in one of those, but which one? Or, just as likely, the tutorial we want is not there, but is on a forum or blog somewhere. I found that the documentation provided was often thin, more of a quick reference to remind people how something works rather than a full explanation.

As an example, I found a couple of documents relating to setting up a firewall. One dealt with networking NetBSD on a LAN, another explored IPv6 support, but neither gave an overview on syntax or a basic guide to blocking all but one or two ports. It seemed like that information should already be known, or picked up elsewhere.

Newcomers are likely to be a bit confused by software management guides for the same reason. Some pages refer to using a tool called pkg_add, others use pkgsrc and its make utility, others mention pkgin. Ultimately, these tools each give approximately the same result, but work differently and yet are mentioned almost interchangeably. I have used NetBSD before a few times and could stumble through these guides, but new users are likely to come away confused.

One quirk of NetBSD, which may be a security feature or an inconvenience, depending on one's point of view, is super user programs are not included in regular users' paths. This means we need to change our path if we want to be able to run programs typically used by root. For example, shutdown and mount are not in regular users' paths by default. This made checking some things tricky for me.

Ultimately though, NetBSD is not famous for its convenience or features so much as its flexibility. The operating system will run on virtually any processor and should work almost identically across multiple platforms. That gives NetBSD users a good deal of consistency across a range of hardware and the chance to experiment with a member of the Unix family on hardware that might not be compatible with Linux or the other BSDs.

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Ubuntu MATE 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish - Reasonable-ish

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Reviews
Ubuntu

We mentioned consistency, remember? Well, in this regard, Ubuntu MATE is consistent. Lots of tiny visual bugs, average battery life, an occasional crash or three, and network connectivity issues. These were my top complaints with Beaver and they remain so with Cuttlefish. Ubuntu MATE 18.10 is more or less identical to its LTS predecessor. The changes aren't really big, with some extra hardware problems - the phone side is a big, big disappointment, but you get better overall theming and a more streamlined package manager.

I would like to see this project succeed, but the energy investment from going hobby to pro is exponential, and it can't be done easily. But this is exactly what Ubuntu MATE needs. A super-strong QA process, and more focus on getting things tightly integrated. Power management is another issue. In the end, you should stay with the LTS edition of course, but hopefully, the problems we see here will be resolved in the next version. This reminds me of the situation Xfce was in two years ago. Gaining momentum, becoming better, and then ... we'll see.

Because, speaking of energy, there does seem to be a limited, finite amount of it, and the mojo pendulum seems to have swung away from Xfce to MATE. There are a lot of excellent and unique new ideas in this project, but the glue (gluons in nuclear physics, if you will) isn't strong enough. Grade, about 7/10. I really want to see everything working like clockwork. Having a modern, majestic Gnome 2 reincarnate would be super fun. Take care, Borgians.

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Canonical: Mastering the upgrading of OpenStack

Manjaro Linux 18.0 – Review and Features

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Reviews

Manjaro has finally released a stable version of Manjaro 18.0 also codenamed “Illyria“. Manjaro always provided a lot of lot of emphasis on a user-friendly experience and Illyria is lived upto that to a great extent. The open source operating system is designed in such a way that it work completely out of the box straight away as it comes with a lot of pre-installed software. So once complete the installation of Manjaro 18.0, you don’t need to go installing other software that is needed for your day to day tasks. And Manjaro 18.0 has come out with fixes for a lot of issues and some improvements as well. Manjaro Linux 18.0 is certainly one of the easy-to-use and simple Arch Linux desktop version.

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A Linux Noob Reviews: The Pop!_OS Installer From System76

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Reviews

Welcome to a new series here at Forbes that zeroes in on your very first experience with a new desktop Linux operating system: the installer. In this debut review I'm going to explain why the heck I'm doing this, and give you a closer look at the relatively new Pop!_OS installer from boutique PC manufacturer System76 -- the same installer that actually inspired these articles. (Spoiler: yes it's that good.)

[...]

That tagline, present in the default wallpaper for Pop!_OS, also says a little something about the installer itself. This is, in my experience, sets a benchmark for other installers in the desktop Linux world. Even the most complex aspect of installing a Linux OS -- partitioning -- is explained in detail. Granted, the simplest partitioning tasks will take rookies a few tries to comprehend and master (myself included), but System76 did an exemplary job with the included help pages, and the interface is the most intuitive I've used. So far anyway!

Seriously folks, I never thought I'd walk away from an installer and feel excited. Nor did I imagine it would inspire an entire series of articles. But here we are! System76 has crafted an intuitive, fast and streamlined installation process that improves the incoming perception of desktop Linux for newcomers, and may perhaps feel like a breath of fresh air for Linux veterans. Overall, it looks fantastic and made me eager to dig into the daily Pop!_OS experience.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Elementary OS 5.0 Juno

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Reviews

Elementary OS is currently riding high in the Distrowatch rankings and it has been a while since my last review so I thought it was high time I took another look.

The tag line at the top of the Elementary OS website reads as “The fast, open and privacy respecting replacement for Windows and macOS”.

In this review I am going to examine this claim in depth as well as other claims such as “Apps you need, without the ones you don’t”. The website states that the applications have been carefully considered to cater for your everyday needs so you can spend more time using your computer and less time cleaning up bloatware.

Without further ado lets separate the fact from the fiction and explore Elementary OS with a virtual magnifying glass befitting a well known sleuth. After all it is “Elementary” my dear Watson. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

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Samsung Linux on DeX beta hands-on: do almost everything on your phone

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Reviews
Ubuntu
Gadgets

Among the various Linux on Android implementations, Samsung’s Linux on DeX definitely looks the most polished ready to use solution, even if it’s still in beta form. Although it uses a two-year-old version of Ubuntu, there is already a lot that can be done from that. Plus, just like Android users, Linux users can be pretty creative and only time will tell if they’ll be able to use Linux on DeX to make almost any Linux distro work.

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Review: Fedora 29 Workstation

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Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora 29 is a good release, but there are some issues with it. Users who are interested in trying out new things and are okay with the the occasional bug should feel comfortable trying out Fedora 29 Workstation. However, users wanting a polished experience might want to hold off until a few more bugs are fixed.

I would be okay with a few rough edges if they were just limited to the new features, but the two show-stopper bugs I had were playing full-screen video with GNOME Videos and being able to install texlive-scheme-full. Only the latter has been fixed, while video playback remains an issue. Playing full-screen videos in GNOME Videos on Wayland has worked perfectly on my hardware for the last several Fedora releases, but in Fedora 29 it is unusable. The video playback bug has already been reported in Red Hat’s Bugzilla, but the bug is still classified as new.

Overall, Fedora 29 Workstation is worth checking out, but I have to say "buyer beware" and encourage people to check to make sure all of the things they need are in a functional state before making the switch or upgrade. Things should be fixed in a few weeks, but I have honestly run beta releases of previous Fedora versions that had fewer issues than the final release of Fedora 29.

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Review: Clu Linux Live 6.0

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Reviews

Clu Linux Live is a Debian-based distribution which "provides various processing command line utilities (CLU) and data rescue tools which can be used on a wired or wireless network." The distribution provides a live CD that will automatically set up Samba network shares and the OpenSSH service to help users rescue files off a computer. The distribution also features such data recovery tools as ddrescue and Clonezilla.

Clu Linux Live is based on Debian 9 and is built for 32-bit x86 computers. The distribution will run on 64-bit processors too and, given the nature of the utilities included, there should be no practical drawbacks to Clu being 32-bit only.

The project's ISO for version 6.0 is approximately 420MB in size. Booting from the ISO brings up boot menu where we can opt to launch the distribution in regular or safe graphics mode. We can also load the distribution entirely into RAM in case we want to remove the boot media.

When the distribution finishes booting we are shown a text console where we are greeted by a series of prompts. The first one asks us to set a password for the root account. The second prompt asks if we would like to mount all attached storage devices. Later we will be told there is a command which will reverse this action, unmounting all hard drives and other attached storage volumes. The next two prompts ask if we would like to start the Samba and OpenSSH network services. These two services can be used to transfer files off the computer and, in the case of OpenSSH, it allows us to remotely manage a cloning or recovery process over the network.

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Feren OS Delivers Richer Cinnamon Flavor

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OS
Reviews

Feren OS is a popular replacement for Linux Mint. It is speedy and has enough developer differences to make using it interesting and fun. From a practical viewpoint, Feren OS does a nice job of improving on the core Linux Mint Cinnamon experience.

Feren OS is a nearly flawless Linux computing platform. This distro is practically maintenance-free. The developers have taken the best parts of several innovative Linux distros and seamlessly integrated them into an ideal computing platform.

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Dell Precision 5530 with Ubuntu Review

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

The Precision is deceptive in size. It’s a 15inch laptop, and despite its relative thinness it feels large in the hand. Open it and the edge-to-edge screen gives the impression that they have some how snuck an even larger laptop into the housing of this sleek minimal model.

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