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Reviews

My First 24 Hours With openSUSE Tumbleweed

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Reviews
SUSE

My understanding is that elementary OS and openSUSE Tumbleweed couldn't be more different. The former is designed to be lean, minimalistic and beginner-friendly, while the latter has a wealth of software bundled in (its 2x larger ISO download size makes that obvious), allows users to choose multiple desktop environments during the installation and can be heavily customized.

[...]

By default, I don't expect to have issues with Linux OS installers. The ones I've reviewed -- such as Deepin and Pop!_OS -- have been attractive, intuitive affairs. For those of you who haven't tried Linux in years, they're incredibly simple compared their past iterations.

The standard graphical installer for openSUSE Tumbleweed, however, threw me a curveball.

Advancing through initial options like network setup, region, packages and desktop environment was straightforward. But then as the install process began I was met with puzzling "Wrong Digest" messages.

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Rock Pi 4 B Review: A Swiss Army Knife Of Single Board Computers

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Hardware
Reviews

The Rock Pi 4 B, while having no official affiliation with the Raspberry Pi, is a single board computer whose intention it is to provide all the features Raspberry Pi fans would like in the now dated Rasberry Pi 3 B+ model, and are hoping to see in the 4 B+ model. The Rock Pi 4 B has a lot to offer, but does it really check all the boxes?

The Rock Pi 4 B is a powerhouse in terms of SBCs, especially when compared to the Raspberry Pi. The board comes in three variants, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM running at 3,200 MB/s, all other specifications are the same across the variants. These will run you $49, $59, and $75 and should not be confused with the model A parts that do not contain the 802.11ac wireless or the Bluetooth 5.0 (but do contain wireless and Bluetooth).

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Endless OS Functionality Controls Simplify Computing

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OS
Reviews

The endless OS offers many computing options. It is easy to use. It is not a Linux solution for sophisticated users, however.

The developers designed this distro to fulfill the demands of underserved users in the developing world. Most of the users live in places where access to information is restricted and computers are expensive.

However, this unique Linux distro with its EOS desktop can have endless uses for schools, church groups and business settings. Endless OS also can be a frustration-free computing platform for students and non tech-savvy users.

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Reviews: Lenovo Thinkpad T480s Business Laptop, DebEX Budgie 190128 and Elementary OS

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Reviews
  • Reviewed: The Lenovo Thinkpad T480s Business Laptop
  • DebEX Budgie 190128 Run Through

    Today we are looking at DebEX Linux 190128 the Budgie edition.

  • Exploring elementary OS

    Elementary OS is an elegant Linux with a long-term vision and a focus on good design.

    "Good design makes a product useful," said the legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams. I couldn't agree more. My productivity is directly proportional to how well designed the tool is. I care about the UI elements – fonts, icons, the spacing between elements, and so on.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to Linux on the desktop, the design is often an afterthought. Most projects don't have a UI designer on the team (some projects are a one-man army). As a result, what you get is all too often a patchwork that stitches disconnected components together.

Audiocasts: Tidelift and Linux Journal

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Reviews
  • What You Need To Know About Open Source Licenses And Intellectual Property

    As a developer and user of open source code, you interact with software and digital media every day. What is often overlooked are the rights and responsibilities conveyed by the intellectual property that is implicit in all creative works. Software licenses are a complicated legal domain in their own right, and they can often conflict with each other when you factor in the web of dependencies that your project relies on. In this episode Luis Villa, Co-Founder of Tidelift, explains the catagories of software licenses, how to select the right one for your project, and what to be aware of when you contribute to someone else’s code.

  • Episode 13: Digital Sovereignty

    Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Elizabeth Renieris about digital identity, ethics, boiled frogs, and horses with lasers.

MakuluLinux Core OS Debuts With Impressive Desktop Design

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OS
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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Linux Mint 19.1: A sneaky popular distro skips upheaval, offers small upgrades

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Linux
Reviews

While Ubuntu and Red Hat grabbed most of the Linux headlines last year, Linux Mint, once the darling of the tech press, had a relatively quiet year. Perhaps that's understandable with IBM buying Red Hat and Canonical moving back to the GNOME desktop. For the most part Linux Mint and its developers seemed to keep their heads down, working away while others enjoyed the limelight. Still, the Linux Mint team did churn out version 19, which brought the distro up to the Ubuntu 18.04 base.

While the new release may not have garnered mass attention, and probably isn't anyone's top pick for "the cloud," Linux Mint nevertheless remains the distro I see most frequently in the real world. When I watch a Linux tutorial or screen cast on YouTube, odds are I'll see the Linux Mint logo in the toolbar. When I see someone using Linux at the coffee shop, it usually turns out to be Linux Mint. When I ask fellow Linux users which distro they use, the main answers are Ubuntu... and Linux Mint. All of that is anecdotal, but it still points to a simple truth. For a distro that has seen little press lately, Linux Mint manages to remain popular with users.

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Review: KaOS 2018.12

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KDE
Reviews

KaOS is an independent desktop Linux distribution that features the latest version of the KDE desktop environment, the Calligra office suite, and other popular software applications that use the Qt toolkit. KaOS employs a rolling-release development model and is built exclusively for 64-bit computer systems.

Some changes have come to the KaOS distribution lately, including the migration of applications to OpenSSL 1.1 (from OpenSSL 1.0) and KDE Plasma 5.14 is now in the project's repositories. KaOS currently ships with a welcome window called Croeso which offers a lot of customization options for first-time users. Croeso replaces the old Kaptan welcome screen.

KaOS has dropped support for Qt 4 which has not received active development for a while. The latest snapshot also updates Calamares and introduces a fix to make sure systems with Btrfs volumes should install properly on UEFI-enabled computers. Further, the project's release notes warn the distribution cannot be installed on a RAID system.

The latest snapshot of KaOS is 1.9GB in size. Booting from this media brings up the KDE Plasma desktop. The interface features a blue and grey theme with the desktop panel displayed vertically down the right-hand side. I think KaOS may be the only distribution I have used which places the panel in this manner.

Once the live desktop loads we are shown a welcome window which offers to open the distribution's guide (which features installation instructions), launch the Calamares installer, display on-line documentation, show us the operating system's default passwords, or open the user forum. The forum and documentation links are opened in the Falkon browser.

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Netrunner's Unique Blackbird Soars to New Heights

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Reviews

Blackbird, Netrunner's version 19.01 release, hit the download servers on Jan. 14, and this distro deserves to be considered bleeding-edge.

Netrunner is a step ahead of other KDE distros, thanks to its solid integration of classic KDE desktop performance with Web-based applications and cloud services. That said, if you aren't fondness of the K Desktop, Netrunner may leave you wanting more desktop simplicity.

For that you must look elsewhere. KDE is the only desktop available from the Germany-based Blue Systems development team. Blackbird is based on Debian's "Testing" branch. Its developer brings some aggressive updates to the distro that propel it ahead of other distros' regular development cycles.

The main updates include KDE Plasma 5.14.3, KDE Frameworks 5.51, KDE Applications 18.08 and Qt 5.11.3 for its essential security updates. Linux Kernel 4.19, Firefox Quantum 64.0 and Thunderbird 60.3 push the envelope as well.

One of the more noticeable new features in Blackbird is its new Netrunner Black theme. This theme is based on a dark-toned contrasting visual. It uses the Kvantum theme engine, plus the Alpha-Black Plasma theme, to produce a more 3D-looking design.

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A day in the office ... without Office

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LibO
Reviews

First, let me give you a brief overview of my typical "office" setup. Normally, I write fiction in LibreOffice Writer, and by that I mean books and short stories, not website content. There's no need for any great embellishment, just text. When I do need to send these files to editors, agents and alike, they are rinsed through Microsoft Word 2010 (the best of the bunch, including the more recent versions).

Non-fiction work, i.e. technical books fall into two buckets: 1) LaTeX and LyX for entirely self-published items 2) the likes of my Problem Solving and System Administration Ethics titles are done and conceived almost entirely in Microsoft Word, because they require a lot more precision and focus, and ultimately, they need to be easily accessible by the publisher. This is a no-nonsense constraint. I cannot have any styling lost converting files between different formats.

If I need to do graphics (including diagrams and alike), I will use all sorts of tools, including even something like Octave, but also Powerpoint, GIMP, and other programs. Equations are best done either using the built-in editor, or the aforementioned LaTeX. Now that covers the writing part. There's also collaboration.

Here, I decided to try a bold thing - which is part of this experiment. On the System Administration Ethics book, I am collaborating with a friend in a different country, so we are using the Internetz to communicate. We also decided to use Google Docs to share files, comment and edit each other's writing and such. Then, I've also recently configured a Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu setup, i.e. Linux, i.e. not Windows. That means that such a system cannot use locally installed Microsoft software - the cloud-based Microsoft Office Online is a really great option though, plus, as luck would have it, it also works just fine on Linux. Now there.

And so, LibreOffice and Google Docs gain even more focus due to these Linux-based restrictions, but not only. Finally, you have the full context for this experiment. Spurred by actual usage needs - and with meaningful, months-long projects at hand - I decided to examine the tech landscape, and you're now enjoying the fruits of my labor. Also worth reading Slimbook reports in parallel, that is.

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OSI: Powering Potential and Open Source Hong Kong (OSHK)

  • You're Invited: Celebrating Powering Potential.
    OSI Affiliate Member Powering Potential Inc. (PPI) is currently preparing for their annual fundraising event scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, 2019, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at NoMad Studio, located at 29 W. 39th Street, 10th Floor, in New York City. This year PPI celebrates their 10 Year Partnership with the Segal Family Foundation. The close, long-time relationship has been a key factor in the amazing progress PPI has made in bringing their “Educating through Technology” programs to the rural students in Tanzania. Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards the Sazira Secondary School SPARC+ Lab Upgrade impacting 800+ students in rural Tanzania: an ambitious project needing $23,500. While this is significant, The Collegiate Churches of New York recently awarded Powering Potential a generous grant of $13,000 towards this goal. PPI has an incredible event planned for their guests. Back by popular demand, Tanzanian dancers performing traditional dance led by Justa Lujwangana, CEO and founder of Curious on Tanzania will provide entertainment for the evening. A buffet will also feature authentic Tanzanian dishes based on menus from Taste of Tanzania by Miriam Malaquais. The author has donated twenty of her books for sale at the event with proceeds going to PPI.
  • Open Source Hong Kong Becomes an OSI Affiliate Member
    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, is excited to announce the Affiliate Membership of the Open Source Hong Kong (OSHK). For ten years OSHK has worked across Asia to support open source communities, foster open source development, and increase the use of open source software, their recent OSI Membership highlights both organizations' desires to collaborate across communities. “OSHK mission is promoting Open Source Software projects in Hong Kong and foster its development by connecting to the global open source community. In joining OSI as an Affiliate Member, OSHK connects with OSI, and other open source organizations, to support the promotion of open source,' said Sammy Fung, President of OSHK. "Open Source Software is not just about viewing the source code, it also guarantees the right to use the software, and modify it for our own use. By working together, I believe both organizations will be able to extend our reach and missions." “We are excited to welcome OSHK as an OSI Affiliate Member,” said Molly de Blanc, OSI President. “The open source community truly is global, and their dedication to that idea is what inspires us as an organization. Our work for the future of open source is driven by that global community, and having the voices of OSHK in our affiliate membership helps us meet our goal in promoting and protecting open source and communities. We look forward to supporting their efforts and collaborating to help spread the message of open source even further.”

Games: GOG, Zork and Epic Games

  • GOG are revamping GOG Galaxy, to help you manage multiple launchers and still no Linux support
    It's like a much fancier version of Steam's own ability to add games installed from other sources, as Galaxy 2.0 will also support cross-launcher friends lists and chat making it sound pretty darn handy. They do also state you can "Connect more platforms and add new features with open-source integrations.". Those hoping that is some kind of olive branch being extended for Linux will likely be disappointed though, going by their FAQ on the newer dedicated Galaxy site it sounds more like it's simply for adding other services into the client itself for those GOG haven't yet done. This would have been the perfect time to finally announce the ridiculously long-overdue Linux support for GOG Galaxy (especially with the Epic Store also not supporting Linux), sadly GOG are continuing to leave Linux out. In response to a user question on Twitter about Linux, the GOG team simply said "GOG GALAXY 2.0 will be available for Windows and Mac.". While an honest answer, it's also pretty blunt. No mention of it coming, just a whole lot of nothing.
  • Zork And The Z-Machine: Bringing The Mainframe To 8-bit Home Computers
    Computer games have been around about as long as computers have. And though it may be hard to believe, Zork, a text-based adventure game, was the Fortnite of its time. But Zork is more than that. For portability and size reasons, Zork itself is written in Zork Implementation Language (ZIL), makes heavy use of the brand-new concept of object-oriented programming, and runs on a virtual machine. All this back in 1979. They used every trick in the book to pack as much of the Underground Empire into computers that had only 32 kB of RAM. But more even more than a technological tour de force, Zork is an unmissable milestone in the history of computer gaming. But it didn’t spring up out of nowhere. [...] While home computers were still scarce, the concept of selling software to regular consumers was also new. This was the time when the Atari 2600 had just gone on sale, starting the second generation game consoles that were expandable to play more that one game through the use of plug-in cartridges. It was a new market, with many questions among MIT, Stanford and other students regarding the open hacker culture versus the world of commercial software. Some, like Richard Stallman, not changing their stance on this much since their student days at MIT. As the Zork developers were graduating, they realized that with the success of Zork on their hands, they had this one chance to commercialize it, taking their lives and careers into an entirely different direction from their original goals. With little standing in their way, Infocom was founded on June 22nd, 1979.
  • Gaming Platform War Update: Epic Games Store Suspends Accounts...For Buying Too Many Games
    As we've talked about before, it seems an era of gaming platform wars is upon us. While Valve's Steam platform mostly only had to contend with less-used storefronts like GOG and Origin, a recent front was opened up by the Epic Games Store, which has promised better cuts to publishers to get exclusive games and has attempted to wage a PR battle to make people mad at Steam. It's all quite involved, with opinions varying across the internet as to who the good and bad guys in this story are.

today's howtos

Programming Leftovers

  • Intel Icelake Brings New Top-Down Performance Counters
    Back to the Sandy Bridge days there have been "Top-Down" metrics for exposing CPU pipeline statistics around bottlenecks in the processor front-end, back-end, bad speculation, or retiring. Those metrics have been done using generic counters but with Icelake and Intel CPUs moving forward, there are in-hardware fixed performance counters for these metrics.
  • Intel Open-Source 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime Released
    For those making use of Intel's OpenCL "NEO" Compute Runtime, a new tagged release is now available. The Intel 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime is this latest release consisting of the latest code around their OpenCL LLVM/Clang components with the graphics compiler, GMM Library, and related bits. With today's release, they pulled in the Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.4 update.
  • Running Python in the Browser
    Running Python in the web browser has been getting a lot of attention lately. Shaun Taylor-Morgan knows what he’s talking about here – he works for Anvil, a full-featured application platform for writing full-stack web apps with nothing but Python. So I invited him to give us an overview and comparison of the open-source solutions for running Python code in your web browser.
  • Python Logging: A Stroll Through the Source Code
    The Python logging package is a a lightweight but extensible package for keeping better track of what your own code does. Using it gives you much more flexibility than just littering your code with superfluous print() calls. However, Python’s logging package can be complicated in certain spots. Handlers, loggers, levels, namespaces, filters: it’s not easy to keep track of all of these pieces and how they interact. One way to tie up the loose ends in your understanding of logging is to peek under the hood to its CPython source code. The Python code behind logging is concise and modular, and reading through it can help you get that aha moment. This article is meant to complement the logging HOWTO document as well as Logging in Python, which is a walkthrough on how to use the package.
  • Enhance your AI superpowers with Geospatial Visualization
  • Kushal's Colourful Adafruit Adventures
    Friend of Mu, community hero, Tor core team member, Python core developer and programmer extraordinaire Kushal Das, has blogged about the fun he’s been having with Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express board, CircuitPython and Mu.