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Reviews

Sabayon 16.05

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Gentoo
Reviews

Sabayon Sabayon is a Linux distribution that is based on Gentoo. Sabayon takes on some of the characteristics of its parent, providing users with a rolling release distribution that can make use of both binary and source software packages. Recent snapshots of Sabayon offer support for computers running on 64-bit x86 processors along with Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 computers. Perhaps the biggest new feature of Sabayon though is the launch of Sabayon Community Repositories (SCR). These new repositories provide a way for community members to build and distribute software for Sabayon without the necessity of getting their software into Sabayon's official repositories.

There are seven editions of Sabayon, including the builds for Raspberry Pi computers. There are several desktop editions, a Server edition and a small Minimal edition. I decided to begin my trial with Sabayon's KDE edition which is a 2.7GB download. Booting from the distribution's media brings up a menu asking if we would like to run Sabayon's live desktop, perform an installation, boot to a text console, check the installation media for defects or perform a memory check. Taking the live desktop option loads the KDE desktop. The wallpaper shows a gravel road passing through farmland while a moon rises with the Sabayon logo on it. Icons on the desktop invite us to donate to the distribution, get on-line help and launch the system installer. At the bottom of the display we find the application menu, a task switcher and the system tray.

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ReactOS Is a Promising Open Source Windows Replacement

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OS
OSS
Reviews

ReactOS is the closest working clone of the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS that currently is available. Its developers are meeting their stated goal of creating a quality operating system that is compatible with applications and drivers written for the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems: NT4, 2000, XP, Windows 2003, Vista and Windows 7.

What they have not fully explained is how ReactOS avoids the vulnerabilities that render the outdated OSes unsafe to use online today. The Windows OS security flaws may not be a pressing issue, though, since the developers have created a clone rather than duplicating Windows code.

Open source fans might be drawn to future developments of ReactOS for the same reasons of choice and freedom that draw them to the Linux OS families.

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BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet Review: In-Depth

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Back in February, BQ and Ubuntu announced that they'd joined forces to create the Aquaris M10 Tablet, the first 10.1-inch device to run Ubuntu OS. With the ability to quickly transform from a handheld touch tablet to a full-on desktop computer, the M10 has something different to offer users; and let's be clear on this, the M10 is a tablet for developers and fellow geeks, not the average consumer. If you want something to watch movies, play games and browse the web on, you'll be much better serviced elsewhere.

So, how is the first Ubuntu tablet experience? Here's our Aquaris M10 review.

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Tiny Core Linux 7.1: Big Where It Counts

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Reviews

Tiny Core is quite an achievement in developing a small Linux distribution that offers a lot of functionality with very low resource requirements. Just the fact that Tiny Core runs and provides a desktop environment with 20MB of memory is impressive. If a person has need for a small yet powerful operating system, Tiny Core is an obvious choice.

At the same time, this distribution, being so minimal, leaves us to fend for ourselves a bit. If we want additional software, password protected accounts, extra services or even to have our data survive a reboot, then we need to roll up our sleeves and configure the operating system. There is a strong do-it-yourself element to Tiny Core. In a way, its small size and hands-on approach reminds me of building with Lego blocks. It’s fun and educational if you are into crafting your own operating system, but it does mean a lot more work up front to get what you want.

For people who like efficient systems and who are interested in exploring Tiny Core, I recommend exploring the project’s wiki, and for the more adventurous, reading Into The Core which talks about the inner workings of Tiny Core and how to build one’s own extensions to the operating system.

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Reviewing Nokia's Android Smartphone: Lessons From Finland's Successful Failure

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Android
Reviews

Last month saw the announcement that the Nokia name would be returning to the world of smartphones. The historic company will be licensing the brand name to a new Finnish company (HMD Global Oy) which will partner with Nokia Technologies and a new Foxconn subsidiary (FIH Mobile Ltd) to “collaborate on a global business partnership to sell Nokia-branded mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets.”

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Korora 23 Gnome - Fedora on steroids

Filed under
Red Hat
Reviews

Here we go. A Fedora spin that is a bit confused from so much spinning. Overall, this distro works well. In a way. Korora is a decent, admirable attempt to transform a rather nerdy system into something anyone can use, with good looks, media codecs availability out of the box, lots of programs, and some additional friendly and gentle tweaks. Not bad.

On the other hand, the execution is not flawless. The installer killed my GRUB, the package manager is plain stupid, the updates are done the wrong way, there are half a dozen semi-annoying bugs in day-to-day activities, and the networking needs significant and immediate improvements. All in all, not enough to sway me over. Korora 23 Coral gets about 7.5/10 on a sunny day, and I'm probably being generous. Then again, it's the best effort this spring yet, all distros included, and it does shine a ray of hope into my grizzled heart. Plus, it's better than the previous version I tested, so it might actually be majestic one day. Or like Xubuntu, steadily improve for four years until it becomes da bomb and then bomb. Korora, worth testing. And I'll check the KDE spin, too.

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Also: DNF / YUM History

An Everyday Linux User Review Of 4MLinux 17.0 - The Stable One?

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

The GUI looks stylish and 4MLinux performs well. There are a few too many whys to be answered before I could use this over something like Q4OS and AntiX.

For instance:

Why can I not get a wireless network connection?
Why after installing 4M Linux does it boot to a command prompt and not a GUI?
Why have applications installed that are dependent on other applications which aren't installed?

There is in general a good selection of lightweight applications installed and the extensions menu gives you access to a few key applications such as a decent browser and office suite.

The games section is very nice and the inclusion of DOOM and Quake is a good touch.

The trouble is that I can see some nice things but I can't think of a reason why I would use 4M Linux over something else.

The key fix for the next release is to nail wireless network connections. Borrow the code from another distribution or include a network manager that just works. Puppy Linux has a tool called Frisbee which is lightweight and not so pretty but it definitely works. If in doubt use that.

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Alpine Linux Desktop

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Reviews

I recently resurrected an older, but relatively small laptop to use in cattle class on an airplane, where a full-size laptop is eternally in danger of being crushed by the seat in front. Unfortunately, the laptop was running Windows Vista, a curse inflicted on many laptops of its era, when Microsoft went through one of its phases of pretending that people seek deeper meaning from an operating system as opposed to just hoping it will keep running and not break their applications. (What's that, you say? They're doing it right now by pretending that the next generation of children will be transformed by the tiny, incremental improvements they made to Windows? So surprising.)

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Genuino 101 review

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Reviews

Intel has been trying to break into the maker market for a few years now, having seen the success of the Arduino project and the Raspberry Pi. The Intel Galileo (reviewed in LU&D Issue 138, 4/5) proved unpopular thanks to poor IO performance from the Quark processor. Its successor, the Edison (reviewed in LU&D Issue 151, 4/5), added an Atom processor to address performance issues but its odd form factor and high-density connectors were off-putting.

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Verdict and 10 things to know about Ubuntu bq Aquaris M10

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are becoming more powerful every year and are practically taking over our computing lives. Instead of bemoaning the death of the desktop, Ubuntu Touch takes the bull by the horns and creates a convergence of both worlds in a single device. It is a future that many other companies and tech pundits have pointed to. We're definitely not yet there, but the bq Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Touch is definitely a nice first step.

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More in Tux Machines

Kernel Coverage at LWN (Outside Paywall Now)

  • XArray and the mainline
    The XArray data structure was the topic of the final filesystem track session at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). XArray is a new API for the kernel's radix-tree data structure; the session was led by Matthew Wilcox, who created XArray. When asked by Dave Chinner if the session was intended to be a live review of the patches, Wilcox admitted with a grin that it might be "the only way to get a review on this damn patch set". In fact, the session was about the status of the patch set and its progress toward the mainline. Andrew Morton has taken the first eight cleanup patches, Wilcox said, which is great because there was a lot of churn there. The next set has a lot of churn as well, mostly due to renaming. The 15 patches after that actually implement XArray and apply it to the page cache. Those could be buggy, but they pass the radix-tree tests so, if they are, more tests are needed, he said.
  • Filesystem test suites
    While the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM) filesystem track session was advertised as being a filesystem test suite "bakeoff", it actually focused on how to make the existing test suites more accessible. Kent Overstreet said that he has learned over the years that various filesystem developers have their own scripts for testing using QEMU and other tools. He and Ted Ts'o put the session together to try to share some of that information (and code) more widely. Most of the scripts and other code has not been polished or turned into a project, Overstreet continued. Bringing new people up to speed on the tests and how they are run takes time, but developers want to know how to run the tests before they send code to the maintainer.
  • Messiness in removing directories
    In the filesystem track at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Al Viro discussed some problems he has recently spotted in the implementation of rmdir(). He covered some of the history of that implementation and how things got to where they are now. He also described areas that needed to be checked because the problem may be present in different places in multiple filesystems. The fundamental problem is a race condition where operations can end up being performed on directories that have already been removed, which can lead to some rather "unpleasant" outcomes, Viro said. One warning, however: it was a difficult session to follow, with lots of gory details from deep inside the VFS, so it is quite possible that I have some (many?) of the details wrong here. Since LSFMM there has been no real discussion of the problem and its solution on the mailing lists that I have found.
  • Handling I/O errors in the kernel
    The kernel's handling of I/O errors was the topic of a discussion led by Matthew Wilcox at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM) in a combined storage and filesystem track session. At the start, he asked: "how is our error handling and what do we plan to do about it?" That led to a discussion between the developers present on the kinds of errors that can occur and on ways to handle them. Jeff Layton said that one basic problem occurs when there is an error during writeback; an application can read the block where the error occurred and get the old data without any kind of error. If the error was transient, data is lost. And if it is a permanent error, different filesystems handle it differently, which he thinks is a problem. Dave Chinner said that in order to have consistent behavior across filesystems, there needs to be a definition of what that behavior should be. There is a need to distinguish between transient and permanent failures and to create a taxonomy of how to deal with each type.
  • 4.18 Merge window, part 1
    As of this writing, 7,515 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 4.18 merge window. Things are clearly off to a strong start. The changes pulled this time around include more than the usual number of interesting new features; read on for the details.
  • Year-2038 work in 4.18
    We now have less than 20 years to wait until the time_t value used on 32-bit systems will overflow and create time-related mayhem across the planet. The grand plan for solving this problem was posted over three years ago now; progress since then has seemed slow. But quite a bit of work has happened deep inside the kernel and, in 4.18, some of the first work that will be visible to user space has been merged. The year-2038 problem is not yet solved, but things are moving in that direction. If 32-bit systems are to be able to handle times after January 2038, they will need to switch to a 64-bit version of the time_t type; the kernel will obviously need to support applications using that new type. Doing so in a way that doesn't break existing applications is going to require some careful work, though. In particular, the kernel must be able to successfully run a system where applications have been rebuilt to use a 64-bit time_t, but ancient binaries stuck on 32-bit time_t still exist; both applications should continue to work (though the old code may fail to handle times correctly). The first step is to recognize that most architectures already have support for applications running in both 64-bit and 32-bit modes in the form of the compatibility code used to run 32-bit applications on 64-bit systems. At some point, all systems will be 64-bit systems when it comes to time handling, so it makes sense to use the compatibility calls for older applications even on 32-bit systems. To that end, with 4.18, work has been done to allow both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the time-related system calls to be built on all architectures. The CONFIG_64BIT_TIME configuration symbol controls the building of the 64-bit versions on 32-bit systems, while CONFIG_COMPAT_32BIT_TIME controls the 32-bit versions.

today's leftovers

GNOME 3.29.3 Released

  • GNOME 3.29.3 released
    GNOME 3.29.3 is now available. This release is primarily notable in that all modules are buildable in this release, which is historically very rare for our development releases. This is an accomplishment! I hope we can keep this up going forward.
  • GNOME 3.29.3 Released As The Latest Step Towards GNOME 3.30
    GNOME 3.29.3 is out today as the latest development release in the road to this September's GNOME 3.30 desktop update. Highlights of the incorporated GNOME changes over the past few weeks include: - Epiphany 3.29.3 and its many notable improvements already covered on Phoronix from a reader mode to disabling NPAPI plugins by default.

Android Leftovers