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Review: Alpine Linux 3.9.2

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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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Condres OS Conjures Up Pleasing Arch Linux Transition

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Linux
Reviews

Working with an Arch-based Linux distro put me out of my Debian Linux comfort zone. I was pleased by how quickly I acclimated to Condres OS. The Condres/Arch-specific software was intuitive to use. The few times I needed to clarify an issue regarding software, the answer was readily available. Hopping from Linux Mint to Condres OS was an easy move.

That said, the other Condres OS desktop offerings should not pose any technical or usability challenges for new users coming from other computing platforms. For that matter, Condres OS in any desktop flavor should be a comfy fit on any hardware.

I tested Condres OS on one of the oldest laptops in my lingering collection. I ran the live session ISO on both new and old gear without experiencing any glitches. I installed it on a laptop running an Intel Core 2 DUO processor with 3GB RAM for more extensive testing. The next step is to install it on my primary desktop computer in place of the troublesome Linux Mint.

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I Can't Believe I'm Writing This Linux Article About Loving The Xfce Desktop Environment

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

My Choose Linux co-host Joe Ressington swears by Xfce. He has no interest in eye candy. He simply wants to get his production work done. I also appreciate a distraction-free environment (like elementary OS), but I crave a bit of elegance and visuals that don't bore me.

Every time I looked at screenshots of Xfce, though -- even from the official website -- I was reminded of something from the days of Windows 2000. Grey. Archaic. Uninteresting. It struck me as as one of the few alternatives people with anemic PCs are forced to use. MATE is one of those alternatives, but it comes off as sharper and more modern despite also thriving on low-end hardware. Even if it is obsessed with the color green.

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Solus 4.0 Fortitude Budgie review - Not bad, kind of unique

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I have to say my expectations were low because of the past experience. But Solus 4.0 Fortitude surprised me, positively. It's not the bestest distro in the universe, but it comes with a lot of nice features and a fresh, unique angle that's always a delight to discover, given how monotone and uninspired the Linux world has become. The Budgie desktop has come along nicely, although it still suffers from some of the issues that plague Gnome. In fact, this is the problem with Solus - usability problems, performance.

On the bright side, it delivered on many fronts - Nvidia drivers, media, smartphones, good package management and third-party extras, crisp fonts. I'd prefer a light theme by default, a better sorted panel, and the security thingie harms network connectivity for Windows boxen. And more enthusiasm. Solus delivers with stoicism, and it could do with more verve. But there's good fortune rubbing off this one, indeed. 8/10, and we shall be keeping a keen eye on this one. Worth testing, I say.

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Also: Antergos 19.04 Budgie Run Through

Review: SolydXK 201902 "Xfce"

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Debian

SolydXK is a Debian-based desktop distribution available in Xfce and KDE Plasma flavours. The distribution takes Debian's Stable branch and attempts to build a user friendly desktop experience on top of it. The latest version of the project adds new file system support for flash drives (offering f2fs and nilfs2 file systems). There have also been some changes in the arena of web browsers:
We changed the SolydXK Firefox settings even further to improve user privacy and also comply with Mozilla's distribution policies. This is done in the firefox-solydxk-adjustments package which can be purged if you don't need it.

Waterfox is now packaged and distributed by the SolydXK repository. You can install Waterfox with this command: apt install waterfox waterfox-solydxk-adjustments.
The official versions of SolydXK run on 64-bit (x86_64) machines only. There are 32-bit x86 ISO files provided by the community and there is a build for Raspberry Pi 3 computers. I opted to try the official Xfce edition which is a 1.5GB download.

The live media boots to the Xfce desktop. The live environment features bright orange wallpaper and offers a single icon on the desktop for launching the system installer. The desktop's panel, with the application menu and system tray, sit at the bottom of the screen.

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MX Linux MX-18 & 10-year-old Nvidia-powered laptop

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I might be boring, because I'm not adventurous, and I like to play it safe when I choose distros for serious work, but then, having tested hundreds of distro versions, spins and editions over the years, I like when I can fall back on a stable, reliable, well-polished release like Continuum. The one thing that's really missing is a guaranteed LTS edition for me to be able to commit it to production, but then, with eeePC and now this RD510, this little distro has done more than most other systems in a long, long, long while. And the results are even better than what I had with a 2003 Lenovo T42, which I revived back in 2013.

MX-18 Continuum really shines. There are some rough edges in the Xfce desktop, sure, and there can be even more goodies, but look what I felt about this project four or five years ago, look where we're now, and look how my 10-year-old laptop runs with the sprightliness of a machine one third its age. That has to count for something. But with two out of two 10-year escapades nailed, I think this is a pretty solid recommendation for anyone looking to freshen up old, weak systems, but also people who want a solid, sane, user-focused experience. And that brings us to the end of this happy review. See you in 10 years. Or in a day or two.

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What’s New in Solus 4.0 Fortitude – Budgie Desktop Edition

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Solus 4.0 fortitude, the latest major release of solus linux distribution has been released and announced by Solus Project’s Joshua Strobl. This release ships with Budgie 10.5 desktop environment includes some minor changes and also comes baked in with the Plata (Noir) GTK Theme.

New to the Budgie Desktop is a “Caffeine Mode” that ensures the system doesn’t suspend/lock/dim, and other minor tweaks to enhance the experience for those “hard at work” and trying not to be interrupted. Budgie 10.5 also brings an updated icon task-list applet, Raven widget/notification center improvements, improved notification management, and various styling improvements to its custom elements.

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Q4OS and TDE: A Juicy Little Linux Secret

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Linux
Reviews

Q4OS 3.6 has a cleaner and more modern appearance. Some of its core components are refreshed, not new. Other features are improved or expanded.

Whether you adopt Q4OS to replace a Microsoft Windows experience or another Linux distribution, you will not have much of a learning curve. Its simplified interface is intuitive.

Q4OS has a focus on conservatively integrating verified new features. This operating system is a proven performer for speed and very low hardware requirements. Its performance is optimized for both new and very old hardware. For small business owners and high-tech minded home office workers, Q4OS is also very applicable for virtualization and cloud computing.

The freedom and ease of setting up the core system your way make Q4OS a viable alternative to other Linux options. It is a very inviting way to meet individual and small business computing requirements. One of the big values in using Q4OS Linux is the add-on commercial support the developer team offers for customizing the distro to meet specific user needs.

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First look at the PinePhone dev kit running KDE Plasma Mobile & PostmarketOS

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OS
Android
KDE
Reviews

The folks at Pine64 are working on a Linux-powered smartphone that could sell for as little as $149. It’s called the PinePhone, and the team unveiled the project and launched a development kit earlier this year.

Now that developers are starting to work with that pre-release hardware, we’re getting our first look at what the phone could look like when it’s running GNU/Linux-based software.

Photos of a dev kit booting PostMarketOS with the KDE Plasma Mobile user interface were posted recently to the PinePhone developers Telegram group.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 7

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KDE
Hardware
Reviews

When I started my Slimbook & Kubuntu journey, I didn't know where it would end. And I still don't. But half a dozen reports later, I am much more confident into what kind of experience awaits me day in, day out. What I really value in software are two main qualities: stability and predictability, the kind of stuff one must have for their production setup. So far, this laptop and its blob of code are delivering nicely, reliably.

Another facet of this journey is its randomness. I typically have a very strict routine when it comes to distro reviews, but here, I'm letting the challenges surprise me. I am using the system, and if and when a use case occurs, I handle it. For better or worse. Well, you can definitely read all about that in the previous articles. Now, let's see what happened over the last handful of moonrises.

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Android Leftovers

Ubuntu 19.10 Daily Builds Are Now Available to Download

While the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) just hit the streets at the end of last week, Canonical's Ubuntu team are already working on the next release, Ubuntu 19.10, which doesn't have a codename at the moment of writing, but we do know that it will be an "Eoan" animal that start with the letter E. Until Canonical decided to give Ubuntu 19.10 a proper codename, early adopters and testers can now download the daily build ISO images, which are available for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server, as well as the official flavors, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, and Ubuntu Kylin. Read more

Apache: AirFlow, PLC4X and Market Share

  • Whirl Adds Local AirFlow Development Technique
    Apache Airflow is a workflow automation and scheduling system that you can use to set up and manage data pipelines. It uses workflows made of directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. Each task produces some output that is then used as the input to another task. The idea of Whirl is to make it easy to run and develop Airflow workflows on your local machine. This gives you rapid feedback about whether the changes you made to your DAG work. The developers suggest you think of it as your integration test environment for developing Airflow DAGs.
  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project
    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP). Apache PLC4X also has the designation as being the 200th project to graduate from the Apache Incubator. Apache PLC4X is a universal protocol adapter for creating Industrial IoT applications through a set of libraries that allow unified access to a wide range of industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using a variety of protocols with a shared API. The project was originally developed at codecentric AG, and entered the Apache Incubator in December 2017.
  • April 2019 Web Server Survey
    Despite the overall loss of sites this month, nginx gained 22.3 million websites and 2.03 million additional active sites. nginx also gained the largest number of web-facing computers, increasing its total by 63,000 to 2.57 million (+2.52%). nginx's market share of web-facing computers is now nearly 30%, and this is continuing to grow steadily closer to Apache's leading share of 37.3%. Microsoft and Apache lost shares in every headline metric this month, with both vendors contributing significantly to this month's overall loss of sites. Microsoft lost 18.9 million sites, while Apache lost 17.2 million, causing their shares to decrease by 1.01 and 0.87 percentage points. These changes have pushed nginx into the lead, giving it a 27.5% share of all sites in Netcraft's April 2019 Web Server Survey. Significantly, this is the first time since 1996 that a vendor other than Microsoft or Apache has served the largest number of websites.

Games: Farm Life, ProtoCorgi, Teeworlds, Sigma Theory: Global Cold War, Steam on Ubuntu 19.04, Optimizations For Mesa 19.1

  • Farm Life, the Match 3 game about restoring a farm has been released for Linux and it's lovely
    Great to see another Match 3 game on Linux with Farm Life, ported over by Bearded Giant Games as part of their Linux 1st Initiative. I had the pleasure of testing this one before releasing and it's sucked away hours from me! Not a genre I play too often, partly because there's not many good Match 3 games available on Linux, so for me this does fill a little hole. Although I will fully admit that I was horribly addicted to Candy Crush on Android a few years ago.
  • The shoot 'em up 'ProtoCorgi' now has an updated demo, which is also on Steam for Linux too
    In ProtoCorgi you're a pup that means business, serious business. You play as Bullet, a cybernetic pup on a quest to save your owner. Since I tested the original demo, it's had a pretty large update reworking some systems which you can find a full changelog of here. This Godot Engine powered shoot 'em up is very promising, so I'm looking forward to seeing the full game. What the demo offers is obviously quite short, as it's only meant as a taster of what's to come
  • Teeworlds, the classic free multiplayer platform battler is still being updated and it's looking good
    Teeworlds, a game that's been around for a great many years now continues to be improved and updated with another update pushed out recently. For those who've never played it, Teeworlds is a side-scrolling platform action game played online across various game modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag. It's free, it's also open source (GitHub) and if you manage to get a bunch of people together to play with, it can be seriously fun.
  • The near-future game of espionage 'Sigma Theory: Global Cold War' is out in Early Access
    Developed by Mi-Clos Studio (Out There) and Goblinz Studio (Robothorium, Dungeon Rushers), Sigma Theory: Global Cold War, a game about using special agents to attempt control of the world has entered Early Access with Linux support recently. In the near-future scientists made a discovery called the Sigma Theory, which could throw the world into complete chaos. Apparently it's capable of helping to create new weapons of insane power, as well as tools that could disrupt everything from the economy to the human mind. Sounds pretty wild, so naturally everyone wants a piece of the pie.
  • How to install Steam on Ubuntu 19.04
    In this video, we look at how to install Steam on Ubuntu 19.04.
  • Intel Iris Gallium3D Picks Up More Game Performance Optimizations For Mesa 19.1
    There is just one week to go until the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze and branching for this next quarterly feature update to these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan Linux drivers. Notable this round is the introduction of the Intel "Iris" Gallium3D driver for supporting Broadwell graphics and newer atop this next-gen OpenGL driver ahead of next year's Xe Graphics dGPU launch. With days to go until the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze, more performance optimizations have landed. Kenneth Graunke of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center who has led the Iris Gallium3D driver development for more than the past year pushed a number of notable improvements into Mesa Git today. iris: Track valid data range and infer unsynchronized mappings - On Skylake graphics this improves the FPS average for games like DiRT Rally, Bioshock Infinite, and Shadow of Mordor by 2~7% and the max FPS by as much as 9~20%.