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Reviews

Review: Chakra GNU/Linux 2017.10

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Chakra is an unusual distribution for a few reasons. It is a rare semi-rolling project, which tries to maintain a fairly stable base system while providing up to date applications. This is an interesting compromise between full rolling and static operating systems. The semi-rolling concept is an idea I like and I was curious to see how well the approach would work dealing with around six months of updates. I was pleased to find Chakra handled the massive upgrade well.

Chakra was once also considered unusual for being very KDE-focused. There are more KDE distribution these days (KaOS, Kubuntu and KDE neon come readily to mind) and I think Chakra may have lost some of its appeal as more competition has established itself in the KDE-centric arena.

I found the distribution to be easy to set up and pretty straight forward to use, but there were a few characteristics which bothered me during my trial with Chakra. One was that while updates installed cleanly, once Plasma 5.12 was installed, I experienced slow login times and reduced performance on the desktop. It could be argued that this is a Plasma problem, not a Chakra problem, but the distribution's rolling release nature means any regressions in new versions of software end up in the user's lap.

Something that tends to bother me about distributions which focus on one desktop toolkit or another is that this approach to selecting software means we are sometimes using less capable tools in the name of toolkit purity. This is not a trade-off I like as I'd rather be using more polished applications over ones which a particular affiliation.

Finally, Chakra includes a number of command line aliases which got in my way. This seems to be a problem I have been running into more often recently. Developers are trying to be helpful by aliasing common commands, but it means that for some tasks I need to change my habits or undefine the provided aliases and the feature ends up being a nuisance instead of a convenience.

Chakra seems to be a capable and useful distribution and I am sure there are people who will appreciate the rolling release nature. Many people will likely also like having lots of KDE applications, and I can see the appeal of this combination. However, one thing which makes me hesitate to recommend Chakra is that the distribution does not appear to bring any special features to the ecosystem. It's a useful operating system and, to be completely fair, users can install non-KDE alternatives if they want to use LibreOffice instead of Calligra or GIMP instead of KolourPaint. But I'm not sure Chakra brings anything unique which makes it stand apart from openSUSE's Tumbleweed or KaOS's polished Plasma offering. Chakra used to be special in its semi-rolling, KDE-focused niche, but these days the distribution has a more competition and I'm not sure the project has any special sauce to set it apart from the crowd.

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Nix This Innovative OS for Its Uninviting Complexity

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OS
Reviews

I had to keep reminding myself that I was not dealing with an extreme case of Arch Linux instead of GNU/Linux. NixOS is more demanding and definitely not a distro for users with anything less than advanced skills.

To say NixOS comes with a steep learning curve and lots of hands-on overhead is putting it mildly. If you are a typical Linux user who lacks sysadmin training, avoid NixOS like a malware attack hiding in plain sight.

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KDE’s New Elisa Music Player: So Close, Yet So Far Away

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Reviews

KDE is a working on a new music player called Elisa. Can Elisa become the new default music player in most Linux distributions? Find out in this review of Elisa music player.
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The Enjoyable Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 2

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Ubuntu

It's beautiful, it's lovely, it's amusing, it's Ubuntu MATE 18.04 beta 2. It is an LTS version which will be supported for 3 years. It's more just-work now with a set of different appearances for Windows users ("Redmond"), for Mac OS X users ("Cupertino"), for Unity 7 users ("Mutiny"), and of course for long time Ubuntu MATE users themselves ("Traditional"). It comes with special Welcome program to introduce Ubuntu MATE for any new user, it comes with same experience like previous versions but latest applications (LibreOffice 6.0, Firefox 59, MATE Desktop 1.20) and enhancements, it needs only mid-level specs. with around 640MiB of RAM, and those all made Ubuntu MATE beta 2 really enjoyable. This short review will help you expecting what you will get on Ubuntu MATE final release later on April 26. Enjoy!

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Review: Neptune 5.0

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What I tended to find with Neptune was if I stuck with the default settings and used applications in the normal or most straight forward fashion, then things went smoothly. But when I stepped off the straight and narrow path, things tended to unravel. Trying Enlightenment or Wayland sessions, for example, did not work well, but things went smoothly while using Plasma's X session. Checking for updates as soon as I logged in resulted in no packages being found, but if I waited for things to settle in the background and gave the operating system a few minutes, I'd eventually be told updates were available and could install them with a few clicks.

There are a few rough edges here and there, but on the whole Neptune worked well. The stable Debian base combined with the latest version of Plasma, Chromium and LibreOffice were a good mixture. It gives us a solid base with lots of new features and I think that's a good combination, especially for me. There are some edge cases where I ran into minor problems and I didn't like that the settings panel didn't warn me before discarding changes, but otherwise I had a good week with Neptune. I think it's a good fit for relative newcomers to Linux and people looking for a balance between reliability and fresh desktop software.

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Video: See What's New in Ubuntu 18.04 Beta Preview. Is it Worth the Hype?

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Ubuntu 18.04 Beta has been released ahead of the final release on 26th April. I took it for a test ride and created a video of the main new features in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

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Also (Video): EzeeLinux Show 18.15 | GNU Midnight Commander

Falkon browser - Fly babe fly

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KDE
Software
Reviews
Web

Falkon and QupZilla may be the same product, but just re-branding it has already improved the overall impression. Not by a huge margin, but enough to make it interesting. Once you start using it, you do realize that it's a mix of good and odd, much like the predecessor, with some really brilliant and dubious choices packaged together. Adblocking, session manager versus fuzzy interface, missing spellcheck and database plaintext thingie. Then, the behavior is nowhere near as stellar, lithe or fast as it should be.

Still, this has been my most successful QupZilla-ed experience so far. Falkon was stable, it did not crash, there were no errors, and overall, it worked well. But the sense of unease remains. I can't put my finger to it, but there's just something slightly out of place with it. Not sure what it is. But whatever it is, it's probably the reason why there hasn't been that much uptake with this native KDE Internet-giving program. Once that part is sorted out, Plasma may have a nice and friendly browser. Worth testing, and try not to be dissuaded by the oddness.

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Gemini: Vulture gives PDA some Linux lovin'

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Linux
Reviews

During my month with Gemini I went from initial disappointment (mainly with the keyboard) through to acceptance and now, having been able to bring up a Linux desktop, being impressed with the potential.

It certainly is not for everyone. The keyboard will disappoint many at first and the lack of a display and camera on the back is frustrating. However, as a device for someone with a need to write on the move or a person who would like a penguin in their pocket without having to resort to a Bluetooth keyboard, the Gemini merits a closer look.

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A Look at Solus 3 Budgie, GNU/Linux Distribution

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The last time I tried Solus, it was still in its infancy stages, and it wasn’t to my tastes really. I had been thinking of which Linux distro to take a look at next, and I wanted to pick something that wasn’t based off Debian / Ubuntu / Arch / Gentoo / OpenSUSE or any of the majors, so I decided to give Solus 3 a try, being a completely independent distro – And it wasn’t bad.

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Antergos 18.3 Gnome - Regression celebration

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Antergos 18.3 is everything that 17.9 is not - in a bad way. My previous encounter with this distro was fairly good. There were issues, but they were not cardinal. This time around, we do gain some on the touchpad front, but everything else is a loss. Network support is bad, Nvidia didn't install outright, we have a font discrepancy between the live session and the installed system, no iPhone support, Steam crashes, and the list goes on. Virtually, everything is worse than it was.

Another thing that pops to mind - Manjaro seems to be holding well. Antergos 18.3 feels like it's been cobbled hastily, with no QA, and the end result is jarring, frustrating and saddening. I mean why? Just a few months ago, I selected this distro as the winner of my best-of-2017 Gnome list, and it really was unique, fun and colorful. The new edition retains the aesthetic spin, but it's more than negatively offset by hardware and software bugs and regressions. Unfortunately this time, I cannot recommend Antergos. 2/10. Hopefully, this is a one-time fluke, and it will go back to being a solid, refreshing alternative in the world painted Ubuntu. To be continued.

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