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Reviews

Xubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish - Super green?

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Let the distro testing season begin! It's that time of the year again, and me first volunteer is Xubuntu 18.10, the Xfce flavor of the family. My journey with Xubuntu has been a colorful one. I wasn't pleased with it for a long time, but then it suddenly soared, becoming really good around 2014-2017. This past year though, there's been less enthusiasm and innovation in the distro. I don't know why.

The previous edition, Bionic Beaver, was sort of average, which isn't a good result for an LTS, offering the familiar, understated Xfce look and feel but without the extra zest and fun that we had only a year prior. So it shall be most interesting to see how Cosmic behaveth today. The test box will be the eight-boot UEFI/GPT Lenovo G50, with Intel graphics. Let us merrily proceed.

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KDE apps – Any good?

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KDE
Reviews

This is the most important application on the desktop. In this modern age, online connectivity is a must, and Web browsers are a portal into this big, chaotic online world. The default KDE browser is, depending on the interpretation, most likely, either Konqueror or Falkon. However you choose, it’s an nth incarnation of an idea that never quite caught on. Konqueror, rekonq, Qupzilla, Falkon, you name it. At some point in time, you must have seen or used some or all of these, alongside other browsers, and it’s quite likely you went with the more mainstream choice. in fact, KDE neon, Kubuntu, openSUSE and several other KDE desktops all ship Firefox as the default browser.

Falkon is a reasonable product, but it’s sort of odd. There’s something about it that deters enthusiasm, and of course, it does not have any killer features over Firefox or Chrome. It feels like a mature product from an incomplete idea, or vice versa. It also does not have quite as much versatility as you’d expect from a Plasma product, and it doesn’t integrate as seamlessly into the desktop as either Firefox or Chrome do, both of which are non-native to the environment. Add plugins, extensions, overall speed and performance, plus stability, which was always odd for K browsers, and you get a game of diminishing returns.

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Lubuntu 18.10 - now with LXQt

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Reviews

On October 18th the Ubuntu distribution and related community projects released new versions. These new releases are short term releases, receiving just nine months of support. For the most part, I did not find many big, new features listed in the announcements, but one exception was the changing of Lubuntu's desktop environment:
Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 18.10 has been released. This is the first Lubuntu release with LXQt as the main desktop environment. The Lubuntu project, in 18.10 and successive releases, will no longer support the LXDE desktop environment or tools in the Ubuntu archive and will instead focus on the LXQt desktop environment.
The project has also reported that it plans to focus on being relatively light and modern, but will no longer focus on supporting older hardware.

A shift in desktop environments, even related ones like LXDE and LXQt, struck me as interesting and I was curious to see what practical effect, if any, this would have on Lubuntu's users. With that in mind, I would like to share some information on Lubuntu's final release featuring LXDE (version 18.04) and then talk about Lubuntu 18.10 with the LXQt desktop.

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Another Milestone Achieved: Run Linux Apps on a Chromebook

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Linux
Reviews

The Linux apps' performance on Chromebook in its current Beta phase seems to be much more reliable and stable than the Android apps integration initially was. Linux apps on Chromebook will get even better as Crostini gets more developed.

Chrome OS 71 brings considerably more improvements, according to various reports. One of those changes will let the Linux virtual machine be visible in Chrome OS' Task Manager.

Another expected improvement is the ability to shut down the Linux virtual machine easily.

An even better expected improvement is folder-sharing between the Linux VM and Chrome OS. That should resolve the inconvenience of the isolated Linux files folder.

Is it justifiable to get a new "qualified" Chromebook in order to run Linux apps on it? If you are primarily a Linux distro user and have settled for using a Linux-less Chromebook as a companion portable computer, I can only say, "Go for it!"

I do not think you will regret the splurge.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 1

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

It has been a few weeks since I purchased my lovely Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu 18.04 on it. A few weeks during which I put the laptop and its operating system through a series of real-life usage tests, just as I've promised. I do use Linux in my production setup, but only sparingly, mostly because the domains of gaming and writing are not as good as on the Windows side of things.

This attempt is a no-nonsense approach to using Linux fully and completely for serious tasks, without any glamor and fanboyism. While Linux has always served me superbly in the data center space, on the desktop and in the office, it's always taken a second place to Windows. Well, Slimbook + Kubuntu might shatter my preconceptions and exceed my expectations. Might. Also, henceforth, I shall call my machine Slimbuntu. Or not. Anyway, after me.

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Also: Plasma 5.14.2 available in Cosmic backports PPA

Review: System76 Oryx Pro Laptop

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Linux
Reviews

I should start by saying that although I'm definitely no newbie to Linux, I'm new to the world of dedicated Linux laptops. I started with Linux in 1996, when Red Hat 4.0 had just adopted the 2.0 kernel and Debian 1.3 hadn't yet been released. I've run a variety of distros with varying degrees of satisfaction ever since, always looking for the Holy Grail of a desktop UNIX that just plain worked.

About 15 years ago after becoming frustrated with the state of Linux on laptop hardware (in a phrase, "nonexistent hardware support"), I switched my laptops over to Macs and didn't look back. It was a true-blue UNIX that just plain worked, and I was happy. But I increasingly found myself frustrated by things I expected from Linux that weren't available on macOS, and which things like Homebrew and MacPorts and Fink could only partly address.

My last MacBook Pro is now four years old, so it was time to shop around again. After being underwhelmed by this generation of MacBooks, I decided to take the risk on a Linux laptop again.

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DistroWatch Weekly and For The Record Look at elementary OS 5.0

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Reviews
  • Review: elementary OS 5.0

    I found a lot to like about Juno. The release announcement is detailed and shows lots of examples and screen shots. The operating system is easy to install, thanks to Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer and there is a nice collection of default software that will likely appeal to inexperienced users.

    The Pantheon desktop and icons are beautiful. I sometimes ran into sluggish moments with the desktop, but usually only when the disk was under load or I had a video playing. I was really impressed by how Pantheon was put together and I like a lot of the little convenience features. The picture-in-picture preview and the shared edge window resizing are great. I also love that tapping the meta key will show a list of desktop short-cuts. It is little details like these which give the distribution a polished, friendly feel.

    I already mentioned the icons look good and it bears repeating. Minimal icon design drives me mildly mad. I don't like functions represented by vague dots or arrows, I want a detailed icon and (preferably) text to let me know what a button does. elementary does a good job of making icons distinct, clear in purpose and typically accompanied by a text label or tooltip.

    There were a few problems. Some of them were fairly minor, like Epiphany using high CPU load, especially in the virtual machine, or X11 gobbling CPU cycles on my workstation. There were other little touches like the release notes link in the installer not working, that are perhaps only worth mentioning because the rest of the experience was generally so polished and showed a lot of attention to detail.

    My few serious complaints were with user accounts. Specifically, there appears to be a guest account enabled, but I could not find any way to sign into it. It is not a big deal to set up another account for guests, but it makes me wonder if the enabled (and hidden) account could be exploited. I also found it disappointing the parental controls did not work to block application access or forbidden websites.

    On the other hand, I think Pantheon includes some great features and I like that it is fairly flexible in its look and behaviour. The flexible notification area and the quick switching between application menu styles were welcome features.

    Generally speaking, I think elementary OS looks and feels professional. I hope it gets picked up by more hardware sellers, like System76, as I think Juno feels polished and looks good. I think it will especially appeal to less experienced users, but many of the features and the Code tool will likely be useful to more advanced users and developers too.

  • elementary os 5 Juno – For The Record

    elementary os 5 Juno first look. What’s working, what’s not and what happens to be brand new with elementary os. This first look at elementary os 5 Juno includes some things to make upgrading a little easier, suggestions for the next release and list of features I think are simply fantastic.

A Bright Spotlight on elementary OS 5.0

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Reviews

It's really bright. elementary OS 5.0 is the best release so far by mainly it's AppCenter uniqueness and richest of desktop features ever among the prior releases. The thing I love the most is the fact that elementary OS developers contribute greatly to our community which we didn't see anything like that before: they created a new software distribution platform similar to what we previously saw on Apple macOS, except it's for free/libre open source software, by allowing app developers to get paid directly by the users (with the so-called "pay-what-you-want" system). elementary OS is popular, as you may see on Distrowatch, so we can expect bright future for the health of its apps market (and hope more developers getting attracted to join).

The desktop is really usable, the shortcut keys are visible (by pressing Super key) and customizable, its enhanced with parental control as well as Night Light, the apps are plenty and still growing in numbers, plus it's compatible with Ubuntu 18.04 so you can install thousands of packages if you wish right now.

I can run it really smooth on an Intel 967 CPU with 4GB RAM (Intel Graphics). I hope it will be smoother on your systems. I wish this quick review of mine helps you a lot to get attracted to elementary OS and soon be a happy user.

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2nd New MakuluLinux Release Offers Flash and Substance

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Reviews

The MakuluLinux Flash distro is splashy and fast with a spiffy new look and new features.

MakuluLinux developer Jacque Montague Raymer on Thursday announced the second of this year's three major releases in the Series 15 distro family. The Flash edition follows last month's LinDoz edition release. The much-awaited innovative Core edition will debut between the end of November and mid-December.

MakuluLinux is a relatively new Linux OS. Its positive reputation has been developing since 2015. The three-year growth spurt involved a variety of desktop environments.

Its small developer team has delivered a surprisingly efficient and productive desktop distribution in a relatively short time period. It is unusual to see a startup rise so quickly to offer an innovative and highly competitive computing platform.

Series 15 is not an update of last year's editions. This latest release introduces some radical changes that were under development for the last two years. The Series 15 releases of LinDoz and Flash include a complete rip-and-replace rebuild on top of an in-house developed computing base. LinDoz and Flash have been reworked completely from the ground up.

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Plasma 5.14 – Phasers on stun

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KDE
Reviews

Linux is much like the stock market. Moments of happiness broken by crises. Or is the other way around? Never mind. Today shall hopefully be a day of joy, for I am about to test Plasma 5.14, the latest version of this neat desktop environment. Recently, I’ve had a nice streak of good energy with Linux, mostly thanks to my experience with Slimbook Pro2, which I configured with Kubuntu Beaver. Let’s see if we can keep the momentum.

Now, before we begin, there are more good news woven into this announcement. As you can imagine, you do need some kind of demonstrator to test the new desktop. Usually, it’s KDE neon, which offers a clean, lean, mean KDE-focused testing environment. You can boot into the live session, try the desktop, and if you like it, you can even install it. Indeed, neon is an integral part of my eight-boot setup on the Lenovo G50 machine. But what makes things really interesting is that neon has also switched to the latest Ubuntu LTS base. It now comes aligned to the 18.04 family, adorned with this brand new Plasma. Proceed.

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GCC 8.3 Released and GCC 9 Plans

  • GCC 8.3 Released
    The GNU Compiler Collection version 8.3 has been released. GCC 8.3 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 8 branch containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in GCC 8.2 with more than 153 bugs fixed since the previous release. This release is available from the FTP servers listed at: http://www.gnu.org/order/ftp.html Please do not contact me directly regarding questions or comments about this release. Instead, use the resources available from http://gcc.gnu.org. As always, a vast number of people contributed to this GCC release -- far too many to thank them individually!
  • GCC 8.3 Released With 153 Bug Fixes
    While the GCC 9 stable compiler release is a few weeks away in the form of GCC 9.1, the GNU Compiler Collection is up to version 8.3.0 today as their newest point release to last year's GCC 8 series.
  • GCC 9 Compiler Picks Up Official Support For The Arm Neoverse N1 + E1
    Earlier this week Arm announced their next-generation Neoverse N1 and E1 platforms with big performance potential and power efficiency improvements over current generation Cortex-A72 processor cores. The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) ahead of the upcoming GCC9 release has picked up support for the Neoverse N1/E1. This newly-added Neoverse N1 and E1 CPU support for GCC9 isn't all that surprising even with the very short time since announcement and GCC9 being nearly out the door... Arm developers had already been working on (and landed) the Arm "Ares" CPU support, which is the codename for what is now the Neoverse platform.

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