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Reviews

Review: Rolling in the Void

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Reviews

Void is an independently-developed, rolling-release Linux distribution with a number of interesting characteristics, such as its own package management system (called XBPS), a custom init system (runit), integration of LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL in the base operating system, and support for several popular ARM-based devices as well as x86 images. The operating system is available in several editions, including Cinnamon, Enlightenment, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. New Void users will also be able to choose whether to run the distribution with the GNU C Library or musl libc library. I opted to download the Xfce edition running on the GNU C Library for 64-bit machines; the ISO was 693MB in size.

Booting from the Void media brought up the Xfce 4.12 desktop environment. The desktop is presented with a panel at the top of the screen which holds the application menu and system tray. At the bottom of the display is a dock where we can quick-launch applications. The desktop has a few icons for launching the Thunar file manager. If Void detects any disk partitions these will also be listed on the desktop for easy access. The theme is mostly grey and relatively plain.

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Lubuntu 18.04 and 18.10: Between LXDE and LXQt

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Ubuntu

This is a review comparing two versions of Lubuntu, 18.04 LTS with LXDE and 18.10 with LXQt. It's about Bionic Beaver and Cosmic Cuttlefish. This means this is the last review of Lubuntu with LXDE. You will find here how they differ in cases of appearance, default applications set, file manager, network manager, package manager, and so on. Very fortunate for us that both version (and even next version Disco Dingo) keep supporting 32-bit architecture so we can still use any of them on our oldest PCs or Macintosh possible. They're only between +/-250 and +/-350MB in RAM usage. They're lightweight, computer-reviving, and compete operating systems worth to try. Go ahead, happy reading and happy working with Lubuntu!

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 3

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

And we're done. I am not sure what kind of message you're getting - or you think you're supposed to be getting from my articles. Overall, I am quite pleased with my Slimbook & Kubuntu experience. But if I had to choose, I wouldn't abandon my Windows. I simply cannot. The games, the office stuff, even simple image manipulation and text editing. All these are currently not the killer features of any which Linux desktop.

That said, Kubuntu purrs nicely. Runs fast and true, and there are no crashes or errors. The desktop is extremely flexible and extensible, it's pleasing to use, and I'm having fun discovering things, even if they sometimes turn out to be bugs or annoyances. In general, it's the application side that needs to be refined, and then, the system can just become a background for you to be productive and enjoy yourselves. Until the next report.

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Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary

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Linux
Reviews

The more I use the multitasking feature, the more I like its click-and-go navigational style. Getting rid of workspaces or running apps is simple. Hover the mouse pointer over the multitasking bar and click the icon's circled X.

Elementary OS is a very solid Linux distro. Its uncluttered design is encouraged by not being able to place app icons on the desktop. There are no desklet programs to create distractions.

So far, the only real obstacle I've encountered in using Elementary OS is the need to adapt to having fewer power-user features. While basic installation was smooth and event free, not having preinstalled text editors, word processors or an alternative Web browser was an inconvenience.

New users who do not know what software they need to fill this void are at a big disadvantage. Want to Suggest a Review? Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

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Audiocasts/Shows: Going Linux, Linux Thursday and More

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Reviews
  • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

    This month we have voice feedback from Paul, suggestions on alternatives for G+, a question on OpenVPN, feedback and problems moving to Linux. Troy provides a Going Linux story on software for Linux users.

  • Linux Thursday - Dec 6, 2018
  • Gnocchi: A Scalable Time Series Database For Your Metrics with Julien Danjou - Episode 189

    Do you know what your servers are doing? If you have a metrics system in place then the answer should be “yes”. One critical aspect of that platform is the timeseries database that allows you to store, aggregate, analyze, and query the various signals generated by your software and hardware. As the size and complexity of your systems scale, so does the volume of data that you need to manage which can put a strain on your metrics stack. Julien Danjou built Gnocchi during his time on the OpenStack project to provide a time oriented data store that would scale horizontally and still provide fast queries. In this episode he explains how the project got started, how it works, how it compares to the other options on the market, and how you can start using it today to get better visibility into your operations.

Review: openSUSE Tumbleweed (2018)

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SUSE

My experiment with openSUSE's Tumbleweed was a mixed experience. On the positive side, Tumbleweed stays constantly up to date, providing the latest packages of software all the time. For people who regularly want to stay on the cutting edge, but who do not want to re-install or perform a major version-to-version upgrade every six months, Tumbleweed provides an attractive option. I also really like that file system snapshots are automated and we can revert most problems simply by restarting the computer and choosing an older snapshot from the boot menu.

On the negative side, a number of things didn't work during my time with the distribution. Media support was broken, the Discover software manager had a number of issues and some configuration modules caused me headaches. These rough edges sometimes get fixed, but may be traded out for other problems since the operating system is ever in flux.

In the long term, a bigger issue may be the amount of network bandwidth and disk space Tumbleweed consumes. Just to keep up with updates we need set aside around 1GB of downloads per month and (when Btrfs snapshots are used) even more disk space. In a few weeks Tumbleweed consumed more disk space with far fewer programs installed as my installation of MX Linux. Unless we keep on top of house cleaning and constantly remove old snapshots we need to be prepared to use significantly more storage space than most other distributions require.

Tumbleweed changes frequently and uses more resources to keep up with the latest software developments. I would not recommend it for newer Linux users or for people who want predictability in the lives. But for people who want to live on the cutting edge and don't mind a little trouble-shooting, Tumbleweed provides a way to keep up with new versions of applications while providing a safety net through Btrfs snapshots.

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What’s new in Lubuntu 18.10

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

Lubuntu 18.10 is the latest release of Lubuntu. this release officially uses the Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment (LXQt) version 0.13.0 as the main desktop environment.

Lubuntu 18.10 has switched to using the Calamares system installer in place of the Ubiquity installer that other flavors use. Calamares is a universal installer framework that aims to be easy, usable, beautiful, pragmatic, inclusive, and distribution-agnostic.

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Deepin Builds a Better Linux Desktop

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Debian

Deepin 15.8, released last month, is loaded with more efficient layout tweaks that give the distribution greater functionality and maturity.

Deepin, based in China, shed its Ubuntu base when with the 2015 release of version 15, which favored Debian Linux. That brought numerous subtle changes in the code base and software roots. Ubuntu Linux itself is based on Debian.

The chief distinguishing factor that accounts for Deepin's growing popularity is its homegrown Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE). One of the more modern desktop environments, it is one of the first Linux distros to take advantage of HTML 5 technology.

Coinciding with the base affiliation change, the developers, Deepin Technology, slightly changed the distro's name. What was "Deepin Linux" is now "deepin." That subtle rebranding is an attempt to differentiate previous releases named "Deepin," "Linux Deepin" and "Hiweed GNU/Linux."

Regardless of whether the name is rendered as "deepin" or "Deepin Linux," this distro offers users an eloquent, modern-themed Linux OS. It is easy to use and comes with high-quality software developed in-house.

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A Journey on Budgie Desktop #3: Applets

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Continuing second part, here I will discuss about Applets which can be added to Budgie Desktop. I highlight several of more than 20 applets available today: NetSpeed, Clocks, Brightness, Alt+Tab, Global Menu, Workspace Wallpapers, Weather, and Screenshot applets. If you wonder what it is, an "applet" in Budgie is the same as "extension" on GNOME or "widget" on KDE Plasma. Now, for this article I make a journey in installing them and putting them around my desktop and I have much fun. I really love to see things that I didn't see on another desktop environments before and I find many here. Who know that we can still use global menu even in Budgie, considering Unity has been dropped and Budgie itself is still new? Who know tif here is a splendid screenshot tool (with more features than built-in GNOME Screenshot) created solely for Budgie? I won't know until I tried them. I hope it will be more interesting for you this time and you can go try them now. Enjoy!

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Review: GhostBSD 18.10 - Changing the base

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BSD

I was tentatively optimistic going into my experiment with GhostBSD. The shift from a stable FreeBSD base to a rolling TrueOS base was one which I had hoped would bring new features and hardware support, but I was also concerned the result might be rough around the edges. For the most part I was pleased with what GhostBSD 18.10 provided. In my opinion the MATE desktop performs well and looks good. One minor glitch aside, I had no complaints with the desktop experience.

I was very happy to find that GhostBSD would work with my desktop computer, a rare event for me when using FreeBSD or TrueOS. I'm hopeful this means future versions of FreeBSD will also work with this hardware. The only issue I ran into concerning hardware was GhostBSD was unable to work with a wireless network card I plugged into the machine during my trial.

I liked the default applications GhostBSD shipped with. The software included is mostly similar to what we would find in a mainstream Linux distribution and most of the extra applications I wanted could be found through the package manager. Speaking of package management, I think OctoPkg is capable, but not particularly user friendly. Even as a low level package manager, it takes some getting used to, compared to Muon or Synaptic. OctoPkg works, but I'm hoping future versions of GhostBSD are able to adopt a more beginner friendly software manager.

Unlike past versions of GhostBSD (and FreeBSD), this release unites managing the core operating system and third-party packages under one package manager. This is likely to be convenient for users as they no longer need to switch between pkg and freebsd-update to get all their security fixes. However, I think it is too soon to tell if this change brings any problems with it. I am curious to see how well upgrading end user applications mixes with core system security fixes. I am also curious to see how GhostBSD will handle future versions based on TrueOS's rolling release platform.

On the whole, I think GhostBSD is about as easy as it gets when setting up a BSD-based desktop system. Its installer is easy to use, the desktop is pre-configured, there are a small amount of useful applications available out of the box. It's a very positive experience, in my opinion. One of the few problems I think Linux users may face when trying GhostBSD is the lack of certain closed-source applications such as Steam and the Chrome web browser. These are not available on GhostBSD. For people who stick with open source applications, GhostBSD will probably provide everything they need, but people who want to watch Netflix or play big name games, this system may not be able to deliver those experiences. These restrictions aside, I'm very pleased with GhostBSD's latest offering and think it is a pleasant way to get the FreeBSD experience with a quick and easy set up process.

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ExTiX 19.4 "The Ultimate Linux System" is Based on Deepin 15.9.3 and Linux 5.0

The biggest news about the ExTiX Deepin 19.4 release is that it's the first GNU/Linux distribution to be based on the upcoming Deepin Linux 15.9.3 release, which is currently in beta stages of development and has not yet been officially released by Deepin Technology. Additionally, ExTiX Deepin 19.4 comes with the Linux 5.0.8 kernel for the best possible hardware support, making ExTiX worthy for its "The Ultimate Linux System" nickname. Latest Refracta Snapshot is included as well by default for those who want to make their own ExTiX Deepin 19.4 live systems, along with Spotify and Skype apps. Read more

FreeBSD ZFS vs. ZoL Performance, Ubuntu ZFS On Linux Reference

With iX Systems having released new images of FreeBSD reworked with their ZFS On Linux code that is in development to ultimately replace their existing FreeBSD ZFS support derived from the code originally found in the Illumos source tree, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at the FreeBSD 12 performance of ZFS vs. ZoL vs. UFS and compared to Ubuntu Linux on the same system with EXT4 and ZFS. Using an Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6 with ASUS P10S-M WS motherboard, 2 x 8GB DDR4-2400 ECC UDIMMs, and Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB NVMe solid-state drive was used for all of this round of testing. Just a single modern NVMe SSD was used for this round of ZFS testing while as the FreeBSD ZoL code matures I'll test on multiple systems using a more diverse range of storage devices. Read more

Why Linux stands out amongst other OSes

Up until recently, Elementary OS was my platform of choice. It's an elegant, simple, and user-friendly solution for the desktop. One thing that the Elementary developers do that I believe is fairly wise is to not allow upgrades from one major release to another. In other words, if you use Elementary OS Loki, you can't upgrade to Juno. To get the benefits of Juno, you must do a full-blown re-install of the OS. Why is this route wise? My latest adventures in Linux will help explain. A few months ago, I purchased a System76 Thelio. It's a beast of a desktop, while at the same a masterful work of art. Preinstalled on that desktop machine was System76's own Pop!_OS. Based on Ubuntu, it seemed like a great way for me to dive back into the GNOME desktop. So I did. It took no time to get accustomed to the new workflow with GNOME. Once my fingers understood the new keyboard shortcuts, I was good to go. Read more