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Reviews

POP!_OS Makes Classic GNOME Simpler to Use

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OS
GNOME
Reviews

The performance of POP!_OS is nearly indistinguishable from GNOME iterations in other Linux distros I have tried. The developers' customized tweaking is what makes the difference.

Presumably, running POP!_OS on an optimized System76 hardware will give you better performance than just installing the distro on your existing hardware. Comparing your existing machine specs to what is built into a new System76 computer should give you a clue to how much of a performance boost you can expect.

Either way, try out the live session on your current computer. Then weigh the potential benefits of a new computer if you like the customized version of the GNOME desktop.

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MakuluLinux Core OS Is Dressed to Impress

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OS
Linux
Reviews

I have charted the progress of Core's development through sometimes daily ISO releases over the last few months. I can attest to the near constant revisions and design tweaks Raymer has applied.

The more I used Core, the better choice it became over its LinDoz and Flash kin. That, of course, is purely a personal observation. But the features I loved in the other two MakuluLinux options either were even better when integrated into Core, or were surpassed by the Core-only innovations.

MakuluLinux Core's rebuilt Xfce desktop is so well tweaked it looks and feels like something new.

Given the amount of forking Raymer did to Xfce, he could call the desktop something new. For me, referring to it as "the new Core desktop" makes perfect sense.

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Review: Ubuntu MATE 19.04

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu and its family of community editions were updated just over a week ago with the releases of version 19.04. The new set of releases ship with version 5.0 of the Linux kernel and receive just nine months of support.

A few weeks ago we ran a poll asking which member of the Ubuntu family should be the focus on this review and the winner (on the day the new version came out), by a thin margin, was Canonical's main edition, Ubuntu itself. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with GNOME 3.32 which provides fractional scaling for the GNOME desktop along with using Python 3 as the default version of the Python language. The Alt-Tab behaviour has been changed to switch between windows instead of applications by default and there is a "safe graphics mode" available through the GRUB boot menu. These days Ubuntu and its community flavours use a merged-usr filesystem on fresh installs, consolidating executable files and libraries under the /usr directory. Otherwise not much has changed in the desktop edition of Ubuntu for this release.

I downloaded Ubuntu's 2GB ISO file and soon ran into two problems. The first was Ubuntu was unusually slow to boot, taking several minutes to get up and running. The second was the GNOME desktop was painfully slow to respond to input. During the flood of Ubuntu releases I had a chance to boot all eight flavours and found only Ubuntu and Ubuntu Kylin shared these performance issues. These problems have been reported elsewhere so I suspect this may be a driver-related issue. While these problems may be possible to trouble-shoot and may be fixed quickly, they made reviewing Ubuntu in a reasonable time frame difficult.

The next most popular distribution in our poll was Kubuntu, but I briefly reviewed it about a month ago and (apart from shipping a slightly newer version of Plasma) it doesn't look like much has changed since then. In fact, almost nothing new is listed in the release announcement, apart from a few minor package updates. Which brought me to the third most popular poll option: Ubuntu MATE.

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Review of the LDK Game open source handheld retro-game emulation console

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OSS
Reviews
Gaming
Gadgets

ETA Prime reviewed the LDK Game, an open source handheld retro-game emulation console that can play games from Nintendo, Sega, and other retro-platforms. It costs $60.

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Also: Open source kart racing game, SuperTuxKart, sees 1.0 release after 12 years

Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE

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Reviews

Linux Mint is definitely one of the most popular Linux distros out there. Because it’s Ubuntu-based, it offers support from one of the largest Linux communities while being simple and elegant for everyone: newbie to veteran, home users to system admins. With Linux Mint, there are 3 options you can choose in terms of the desktop environment: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. Cinnamon is the original flavor of Linux Mint whereas MATE is a desktop environment with legacy. These 2 are the most popular choice as the desktop environment of Linux Mint.It doesn’t matter whatever desktop environment you’re using, it’s always easy to shift to a new desktop environment. In the case of Cinnamon desktop, it’s easy to set Cinnamon desktop right now. Learn how to install Cinnamon desktop on Linux Mint.
If you’re confused which one to go, I hope this article will help you understand the difference between the 2 desktop environments and let you choose the best one for you.

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Also: Install Linux Mint MATE

Linux Mint Reset Password

Feren OS: An Almost Flawless Linux Computing Platform

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OS
Linux
Reviews

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.

Feren OS is attractively designed and has just enough desktop animation to make using it a tad bit more interesting.

Other than the missing games category in the main menu, this latest snapshot is a bit skimpy on including a better collection of applications. That is not a bad thing in terms of sensitivity to software bloat, but the developers should at least provide automated tools to download software bundles similar to what was included in previous releases.

Still, Feren OS is a nice alternative to Linux Mint, which has gotten sluggish and slow since the version 19.1 release. Feren OS is an easy stepping stone to transition to Linux from Microsoft Windows and macOS. It is also a satisfying change for more experienced Linux users.

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What's New In Xubuntu 19.04?

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Reviews
Ubuntu

April is one of the months awaited by Ubuntu fans. Because this month is the schedule for the release of the latest version. Usually, in every 2 years, we will find Ubuntu releasing the LTS version with longer support.

Ubuntu has released version 19.04 with code name Disco Dingo. This distribution is not included in the LTS category, so it only gets support for the next 9 months. However, many features are added in this version. You can see the detailed features added in here!

Besides Ubuntu, other variants such as Xubuntu, Kubuntu and Lubuntu also released 19.04. And in this article I want to discuss about Xubuntu 19.04.

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Ultrabook & Bionic - Running Plasma

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KDE
Reviews

The more you use a system, the more you detect potential problems. Mind, I haven't come up with seven Slimbook combat reports for no good reason (so far). That said, Trusty gave me no grief at all, so I am a bit miffed that there were some glitches, both with Unity and Plasma here. Mostly isolated problems that did not recur, so these could just be the ghosts after the upgrade. Nothing major, and overall, 'twas a good test and post-upgrade experience.

The good side of the coin is - the Plasma desktop environment is stylish, you can run it in the nostalgia mode if you like, it's super fast, it's super efficient, with great responsiveness and low battery usage, it works well, and offers a wealth of goodies. This is definitely a setup I'm comfortable with, and I can use it for important, real productivity tasks. Now, the ideal state of things would be Trusty Forever, but that's not possible. Looking across the entire spectrum of operating systems, the golden days of stability and quality seem to be behind us. But while perfection may be half an asymptote away, my Vivobook running Plasma is a very sensible solution for everyday needs. In a way, Plasma has proven itself once again. And on that note, we end.

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More KDE: New Features in Elisa: part 2

Gustavo Silva: Disco Dingo Thoughts

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Those already around me know I love Linux and my favourite linux distribuition is Ubuntu.

One of the reasons Ubuntu is my favourite is how simple and compatible it is with pretty much all devices I have tried installing. Except my laptop, but that’s due to the graphics card.

But hey, I fondly received the news that now we can select the option to automatically set nomodeset and other convenient tools when running the setup. For me, this means a major win. I previously had to set nomodeset manually and after installation I had to immediately modifiy some options in the grub’s defaults (namely set the acpi=force) but now, with this new option, the installation process which was already smooth, become (melted) butter. Thank you, honestly, person who remembered to include this option. This seems like a feature that will stick to Ubuntu 20.04, so I’m happy to now a LTS version will become even simpler to install too, so that’s great.

The UI and custom-Gnome experience has been improved as well, in this custom flavour of Gnome. We now have a few more options for customization, including dark options of the themes but I am definitely pleased to say that the Gnome shell, in Ubuntu 19.04, really looks great.

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Review: Alpine Linux 3.9.2

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Reviews

Alpine Linux is different in some important ways compared to most other distributions. It uses different libraries, it uses a different service manager (than most), it has different command line tools and a custom installer. All of this can, at first, make Alpine feel a bit unfamiliar, a bit alien. But what I found was that, after a little work had been done to get the system up and running (and after a few missteps on my part) I began to greatly appreciate the distribution.

Alpine is unusually small and requires few resources. Even the larger Extended edition I was running required less than 100MB of RAM and less than a gigabyte of disk space after all my services were enabled. I also appreciated that Alpine ships with some security features, like PIE, and does not enable any services it does not need to run.

I believe it is fair to say this distribution requires more work to set up. Installing Alpine is not a point-n-click experience, it's more manual and requires a bit of typing. Not as much as setting up Arch Linux, but still more work than average. Setting up services requires a little more work and, in some cases, reading too since Alpine works a little differently than mainstream Linux projects. I repeatedly found it was a good idea to refer to the project's wiki to learn which steps were different on Alpine.

What I came away thinking at the end of my trial, and I probably sound old (or at least old fashioned), is Alpine Linux reminds me of what got me into running Linux in the first place, about 20 years ago. Alpine is fast, light, and transparent. It offered very few surprises and does almost nothing automatically. This results in a little more effort on our parts, but it means that Alpine does not do things unless we ask it to perform an action. It is lean, efficient and does not go around changing things or trying to guess what we want to do. These are characteristics I sometimes miss these days in the Linux ecosystem.

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Security: Hacker Summer Camp, Nexus Repository, Ransomware, Web Server Security

  • Hacker Summer Camp 2019: CTFs for Fun & Profit

    Okay, I’m back from Summer Camp and have caught up (slightly) on life. I had the privilege of giving a talk at BSidesLV entitled “CTFs for Fun and Profit: Playing Games to Build Your Skills.” I wanted to post a quick link to my slides and talk about the IoT CTF I had the chance to play. I played in the IoT Village CTF at DEF CON, which was interesting because it uses real-world devices with real-world vulnerabilities instead of the typical made-up challenges in a CTF. On the other hand, I’m a little disappointed that it seems pretty similar (maybe even the same) year-to-year, not providing much variety or new learning experiences if you’ve played before.

  • Nexus Repository Now Supports APT

    Beginning with version 3.17, Nexus Repository Manager supports APT (Advanced Package Tool) repositories. APT is a set of tools used to search, install, and manage packages on Debian, Ubuntu, and similar Linux distributions. With this new release, you can now host your own local APT repos. Developers benefit from no longer having to rely on connecting externally to a public repository every time an often-used package is needed. In the case of Debian-based Docker containers, the ability to locally cache Debian packages from public repositories can save copious amounts of time when rebuilding your containers. This can do wonders especially for containers built frequently in a CI pipeline and for the more traditional use-case of provisioning virtual machines.

  • Ransomware attack has hit 20 government agencies in Texas [iophk: Windows TCO]

    This week the state of Texas has joined the list of targets. According to Texas’s Department of Information Resources (DIR), more than 20 local government entities have been impacted by a ‘coordinated ransomware attack.’ DIR states that “the Texas Military Department, and the Texas A&M University System’s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Center teams are deploying resources to the most critically impacted jurisdictions.”

    No disclosure has beeen made regarding how much of a payment is being requested, though given recent attacks on other states the amount is likely to be eye-watering. Also absent is any information on which ‘local government entities’ have been affected.

  • Web server security – Part 8: Basic log file analysis

    Tools like lnav (“The Log File Navigator”) allow quicker analysis of log files. Instead of manually searching for attack-like behavior, you can use SQL queries, load and combine multiple files at once, and switch between different views.

    However, keep in mind that not only tools but also underlying processes and organization are important. You must know where log files are stored, how they are created and how long information is available. This requires a basic security concept. Understand the structure of your log files, and use customization of logging rules if available.

Chromebooks Switching Over To The BFQ I/O Scheduler

On Chromebooks when moving to the latest Chrome OS that switches over to a Linux 4.19 based kernel, BFQ has become the default I/O scheduler. BFQ has been maturing nicely and as of late there's been an uptick in interest around this I/O scheduler with some also calling for it to be used by default in distributions. Google has decided BFQ is attractive enough to enable by default for Chromebooks to provide better responsiveness. Read more

Debian: Salsa, Promoting Debian LTS and Debian Patch Porting System

  • salsa.debian.org: Postmortem of failed Docker registry move

    The Salsa admin team provides the following report about the failed migration of the Docker container registry. The Docker container registry stores Docker images, which are for example used in the Salsa CI toolset. This migration would have moved all data off to Google Cloud Storage (GCS) and would have lowered the used file system space on Debian systems significantly. [...] On 2019-08-06 the migration process was started. The migration itself went fine, although it took a bit longer than anticipated. However, as not all parts of the migration had been properly tested, a test of the garbage collection triggered a bug in the software. On 2019-08-10 the Salsa admins started to see problems with garbage collection. The job running it timed out after one hour. Within this timeframe it not even managed to collect information about all used layers to see what it can cleanup. A source code analysis showed that this design flaw can't be fixed. On 2019-08-13 the change was rolled back to storing data on the file system.

  • Raphaël Hertzog: Promoting Debian LTS with stickers, flyers and a video

    With the agreement of the Debian LTS contributors funded by Freexian, earlier this year I decided to spend some Freexian money on marketing: we sponsored DebConf 19 as a bronze sponsor and we prepared some stickers and flyers to give out during the event. The stickers only promote the Debian LTS project with the semi-official logo we have been using and a link to the wiki page. You can see them on the back of a laptop in the picture below.

  • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, July 2019

    Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

  • Jaskaran Singh: GSoC Final Report

    The Debian Patch Porting System aims to systematize and partially automate the security patch porting process. In this Google Summer of Code (2019), I wrote a webcrawler to extract security patches for a given security vulnerability identifier. This webcrawler or patch-finder serves as the first step of the Debian Patch Porting System. The Patch-finder should recognize numerous vulnerability identifiers. These identifiers can be security advisories (DSA, GLSA, RHSA), vulnerability identifiers (OVAL, CVE), etc. So far, it can identify CVE, DSA (Debian Security Advisory), GLSA (Gentoo Linux Security Advisory) and RHSA (Red Hat Security Advisory). Each vulnerability identifier has a list of entrypoint URLs associated with it. These URLs are used to initiate the patch finding.

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