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Chromebooks: The smart person's guide

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Chromebooks are any laptop that, under license from Google, runs the Linux kernel-based Chrome OS. Chrome OS is incredibly lightweight, drawing almost all of its interface from the Chrome browser. It also supports Chrome apps, and as of late 2016 will be the only platform to get new Chrome apps.

Chromebooks are manufactured by a variety of vendors, such as Google, HP, Acer, Samsung, Dell, and others. They range in price from the mid $100 range to over $1,200 for the Google Pixel. Educational pricing is available as well.

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GNU Tools Released

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  • Gnuastro 0.2 released

    I am pleased to announce the second release of GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro).

  • grep-2.26 released

    There have been 110 commits by 5 people in the 23 weeks since 2.25. See the NEWS below for a brief summary.

  • GNUnet for Gentoo

    In summer 2015 I started to package GNUnet for Gentoo as contributor to the youbroketheinternet-overlay.

How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design

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  • How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design

    Google’s first Chromebook was the kind of laptop you’d design if you didn’t give a damn about laptop design. It was thick, heavy, rubbery, boring, and black. Black keys, black body, black trackpad, black everything. Everything about the Cr-48 was designed to communicate that this device was still an experiment. Even the name, a reference to an unstable isotope of the element Chromium, was a hint at the chaos raging inside this black box. “The hardware exists,” Sundar Pichai told a crowd of reporters at the Cr-48’s launch event in December of 2010, “only to test the software.”

    Moments later, Eric Schmidt took the stage and preached about how the “network computer” tech-heads had been predicting for decades was finally ready to change the world. “We finally have a product,” Schmidt said, “which is strong enough, technical enough, scalable enough, and fast enough that you can build actually powerful products on it.” Apparently already sensing the skeptical feedback Chrome OS would get, he gestured toward the audience and told them “it does, in fact, work.”

  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Chromebook

    Chromebook is a different thing from Netbooks with the fact that it does not have Windows being a huge difference. Chromebooks thus run on a fresh and different operating system that while it is not an old OS it isn’t a desktop kind of OS either but a mobile one.

    Chromebooks have pretty hardware, especially if the Haswell processors they are running on, which are energy efficient, are anything to go by. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why buying Chromebooks make a lot of sense.

VintOS Promises to Be the Chromium OS Fork You've Always Wanted and Needed

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Dylan Callahan from the Chromium OS for SBCs (Single-Board Computers) project, which unfortunately was discontinued due to lack of interest from users, informed Softpedia today, September 5, 2016, that he's working on a new Linux-based OS.

We have to admit that we're quite surprised to see that developers aren't giving up on their ambitions of creating the best fork of a well-known Linux kernel-based operating system, in this case Chromium OS. While Chromium OS for SBCs was aimed at embedded and IoT devices, the new one is targeted at all PCs.

World, meet VintOS! What's VintOS? Well, it's upcoming open-source fork of Chromium OS, the operating system on which the famous Google Chrome OS is based. To make a name for itself from the get go, VintOS is named after one of the founding fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf, and it's explicitly designed with educational purposes in mind.

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Gentoo Linux live DVD "Choice Edition"

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Gentoo One of the wonderful things about Linux is the diversity of the distributions available. Some distributions are very beginner friendly with installers that offer only a few basic options. Others are more complex, requiring knowledge of Linux and skills with the command line to install. Gentoo falls into the more complex category. There is no installer per se, the user just needs to follow instructions to perform several steps leading to a fully installed and configured system. This process is certainly harder than using Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer, but it is not that hard. The instructions are clear and do require previous experience with Linux, or the tenacity to keep going (or start over) when things go wrong when Gentoo is used in a "dive in head first" learning experience. Below, I take a look at the latest Gentoo Linux live DVD, the "Choice Edition," and briefly explore how Gentoo gets installed on a system by using a step by step set of instructions instead of an installer that takes care of most of the steps automatically.

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Also: Why did Gentoo Linux fade into obscurity?

Desktop News

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  • Business users force Microsoft to back off Windows 10 PC kill plan

    Microsoft has backed down on its plan to hustle owners of certain PCs to Windows 10 by crimping support options.

    Redmond revealed the plan last January, when it decreed that PCs running 6th-generation Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs and Windows 7 would only get limited security and stability support until mid-2017. By March it backed off a little, extending support for another year and promising critical patches would flow until end of life.

  • People Demand Control Of Their PCs

    You can no longer dictate to the world what folks will do with the hardware they own.

  • The Best Chromebook You Can Buy Right Now (Aug. 2016)
  • Attention, College Students: Chromebooks Are About to Get Awesome

    Here’s some unhelpful back-to-school advice: Don’t buy a laptop. Borrow one, steal one from a family member, buy a piece of junk for 40 bucks on Craigslist. If you can find a way to wait a couple of months before dropping serious coin on a new clamshell, you’ll be glad you did.

    Later this fall, Apple’s almost certainly going to release a new MacBook Pro, which is desperately in need of a revamp. And there will be Windows PCs practically falling from the ceiling—maybe even a few made by Microsoft itself. But the real reason to hold off on your purchase is to wait for the new breed of Chromebooks that are on their way.

Gentoo-Based Pentoo 2015.0 Linux Distro for Ethical Hackers Gets New RC Release

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The Pentoo Linux development team proudly announces today, August 2, 2016, the availability for download of the fifth Release Candidate (RC) build towards the Pentoo 2015.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

We don't write so often about the Pentoo GNU/Linux operating system because new releases are being made available to the public online when a new DEF CON event (the world's largest annual hacker convention) is taking place. So yes, it's now a tradition to see a new Pentoo release around a DEF CON conference.

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In a Quiet Market for PCs, Chromebooks are Marching Steadily Forward

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It's no secret that Chrome OS has not been the same striking success for Google that the Android OS has been. And yet, Chromebooks--portable computers running the platform--have not only found their niche, but they are also introducing a new generation to cloud computing. Chromebooks are firmly entrenched in the education market, where many young users have become used to the convention of storing apps and data in the cloud.

Now, according to new research from Gartner, Chromebooks are ready to hit new milestones. Analysts there report that Chromebook shipment growth will be in the double digits this year. At the same time, though, Chromebooks have not become fixtures in the enterprise, replacing Windows PCs.

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Sabayon 16.07 Ships with Linux Kernel 4.6.3, Introduces the First LXQt Flavor

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Today, June 28, 2016, the developers of the Gentoo-based Sabayon Linux computer operating system have had the great pleasure of announcing the general availability of new respin ISO images for the month of July 2016.

Right on the schedule, Sabayon 16.07 Live ISO images are now available for download, switching the OS to the latest Linux 4.6.3 kernel from the deprecated Linux 4.5 branch that shipped with the May ISO respins of the GNU/Linux distribution, Sabayon 16.05.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • i2pd 2.10 released
    i2pd (I2P Daemon) is a full-featured C++ implementation of I2P client. I2P (Invisible Internet Protocol) is a universal anonymous network layer. All communications over I2P are anonymous and end-to-end encrypted, participants don't reveal their real IP addresses. I2P client is a software used for building and using anonymous I2P networks. Such networks are commonly used for anonymous peer-to-peer applications (filesharing, cryptocurrencies) and anonymous client-server applications (websites, instant messengers, chat-servers). I2P allows people from all around the world to communicate and share information without restrictions.
  • Pixeluvo Review | Photo Editor for Linux & Windows
    A review of Pixeluvo, a great photo editor available on Linux and Windows. Pixeluvo is not free or open source.
  • Blit, A Retrospective On My Largest Project Ever
    I’ve always been someone who’s liked art and programming. Especially combining the two. One of my favorite genres is pixel art, or sprites as they are also known. I’ve dabbled in making a few other art programs before, but nothing like this. Originally Blit supposed to be only a sprite animation tool that had a modern look and feel, but my ideas for it grew greater (*sigh* feature creep). There are many other sprinting tools out there like GrafX2, Aseprite, (and other 2D animation programs like TVPaint). I’m not saying that it’s wrong that they make their own GUI toolkit, but it feels kind of odd. I really wanted to bring these types of programs out of the days of the Amiga. After doing some initial research, I settled on using Qt.
  • An alert on the upcoming 7.51.0 release
    In two weeks time, on Wednesday November 2nd, we will release curl and libcurl 7.51.0 unless something earth shattering happens.
  • Desktop Gmail Client `WMail` 2.0.0 Stable Released
    WMail is a free, open source desktop client for Gmail and Google Inbox, available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.
  • SpaceView: Ubuntu File System Usage Indicator
  • FunYahoo++: New Yahoo Messenger Plugin For Pidgin / libpurple [PPA]
    Yahoo retired its old Messenger protocol in favor of a new one, breaking compatibility with third-party applications, such as Pidgin, Empathy, and so on. Eion Robb, the SkypeWeb and Hangouts developer, has created a replacement Yahoo prpl plugin, called FunYahoo++, that works with the new Yahoo Messenger protocol. Note that I tested the plugin with Pidgin, but it should work with other instant messaging applications that support libpurple, like BitlBee or Empathy.
  • GCC Lands Loop Splitting Optimization
    The latest GCC 7 development code has an optimization pass now for loop splitting.
  • GCC 7 To End Feature Development Next Month
    Friday's GCC 7 status report indicates the feature freeze is coming up in just a few weeks. Red Hat developer Jakub Jelinek wrote in the latest status report, "Trunk which will eventually become GCC 7 is still in Stage 1 but its end is near and we are planning to transition into Stage 3 starting Nov 13th end of day time zone of your choice. This means it is time to get things you want to have in GCC 7 finalized and reviewed. As usual there may be exceptions to late reviewed features but don't count on that. Likewise target specific features can sneak in during Stage 3 if maintainers ok them."
  • GNU Parallel 20161022 ('Matthew') released [stable]
    GNU Parallel 20161022 ('Matthew') [stable] has been released. It is available for download at: No new functionality was introduced so this is a good candidate for a stable release.
  • GNU Health 3.0.4 patchset released
    GNU Health 3.0.4 patchset has been released !
  • guile-ncurses 2.0 released
    I am pleased to announce the release of guile-ncurses 2.0 guile-ncurses is a library for the creation of text user interfaces in the GNU Guile dialect of the Scheme programming language. It is a wrapper to the ncurses TUI library. It contains some basic text display and keyboard and mouse input functionality, as well as a menu widget and a form widget. It also has lower level terminfo and termios functionality.
  • Unifont 9.0.03 Released
    Unifont 9.0.03 is released. The main changes are the addition of the Pikto and Tonal ConScript Unicode Registry scripts.
  • PATHspider 1.0.0 released!
    In today’s Internet we see an increasing deployment of middleboxes. While middleboxes provide in-network functionality that is necessary to keep networks manageable and economically viable, any packet mangling — whether essential for the needed functionality or accidental as an unwanted side effect — makes it more and more difficult to deploy new protocols or extensions of existing protocols. For the evolution of the protocol stack, it is important to know which network impairments exist and potentially need to be worked around. While classical network measurement tools are often focused on absolute performance values, PATHspider performs A/B testing between two different protocols or different protocol extensions to perform controlled experiments of protocol-dependent connectivity problems as well as differential treatment.
  • The Domain Name System

today's howtos

Leftovers: KDE

  • Happy 20th birthday, KDE!
    KDE turned twenty recently, which seems significant in a world that seems to change so fast. Yet somehow we stay relevant, and excited to continue to build a better future. Lydia asked recently on the KDE-Community list what we were most proud of.
  • SETI – Week of Information Technology
  • KDevelop for Windows available on Chocolatey now
    Which is already great in itself! But now it's also possible to install it via the super popular Windows package manager for Windows, Chocolatey.
  • colord-kde 0.5.0 released!
    Last official stable release was done more than 3 years ago, it was based on Qt/KDE 4 tech, after that a few fixes got in what would be 0.4.0 but as I needed to change my priorities it was never released. Thanks to Lukáš Tinkl it was ported to KF5, on his port he increased the version number to 0.5.0, still without a proper release distros rely on a git checkout.
  • Call for attendees Lakademy 2017
    As many of you know, since 2012 we organize the Lakademy, a sort of Latin American Akademy. The event brings together KDE Latin American contributors in hacking sessions to work on their projects, promo meetings to think KDE dissemination strategies in the region and other activities.
  • Plasma 5 Desktop on FreeBSD Branding
    The FreeBSD packages of KDE software — the KDE 4 desktop, and soon KDE Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5 Desktop and KDE Applications — have traditionally been shipped pretty much as delivered from the upstream source. We compile, we package, and there is very little customization we do as a “distro”. The KDE 4 packages came with a default wallpaper that was a smidgen different from the one shipped with several Linux distro’s. I think Ivan Cukic did that artwork originally. For Plasma 5 Desktop, we also wanted to do a tiny bit of branding — just the default wallpaper for new users, mind.
  • A bit on Tooling
    So on the weekend I also worked on updating Qt 5.6.1 to Qt 5.6.2 on FreeBSD, which involves using new and scary tools as well. Power tools, they can be really useful, or they can take off a finger if you’re not careful. In this case it was Phabricator, which is also used in KDE — but not everywhere in KDE. For FreeBSD, the tool is used to review updates to ports (the packaging instructions), so I did an update of Qt from 5.6.1 to 5.6.2 and we handled the review through FreeBSD’s Phab. The ports infrastructure is stored in SVN, so the review is relatively straightforward: update the ports-tree checkout, apply your changes, use arc to create or update a review request. I was amazed by how painless it was — somehow I’d been frightened. Using the tool once, properly, makes a big difference in self-confidence.
  • Krita 3.1 second beta.
    The Krita 3.1 beta come with a full features and fixes. The linux version to download your krita-3.0.91-x86_64.appimage.
  • Second Beta for Krita 3.1 Available
    We’re still fixing bugs like madmen… And working on some cool new features as well, but that’s for a later release. In any case, here is the second Krita 3.1 beta! Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Originally, we had planned to use 3.0.2 as the version for this release, but there is so much news in it that it merits a bigger version bump.


  • Consequences of the HACK CAMP 2016 FEDORA + GNOME
    I used to do install parties in order to promote the use of FEDORA and GNOME project since five years ago. As you can see more details in the Release Party FEDORA 17 for Fedora, and Linux Camp 2012, GNOME PERU 2013, GNOME PERU 2014...
  • GNOME Shell Making It Easy To Launch Apps/Games For Optimus / Dual GPU Systems
    With the GNOME 3.24 desktop that's currently in development the latest GNOME Shell code has support for easily letting the user launch an app on a dedicated GPU when applicable for handling NVIDIA Optimus use-cases of having integrated and discrete GPU laptops. When a dual-GPU system is detected, a menu item will be added to opt for "Launch using Dedicated Graphics Card", per this commit. The GNOME Shell change for supporting discrete GPUs was made and when the user opts to launch on the dedicated GPU, the DRI_PRIME=1 environment variable will automatically be set for that new program/game.