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Gadgets

My First Week of Librem 5 Convergence

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Linux
Gadgets

Using a phone that has real convergence like the Librem 5 is a complete game changer. It feels like I’m getting a sneak preview into the future of personal computing. In many ways it’s hard to explain what it’s like, you kind of have to see it yourself to understand why this is so groundbreaking. Having all of the same desktop applications and all of my files with me in my pocket, and having those same running applications morph to a larger screen automatically, changes how you think about phones and their potential.

Calling the Librem 5 a phone doesn’t do it service. It’s really a mobile computer, a desktop in your pocket. Using it like a laptop or desktop computer really opens your eyes to all of the possibilities, and underscores to me all of the things I’ve been missing with other phones.

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Open Source phone news roundup: FreeBSD, Google-free Android, and Ubuntu Touch

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Gadgets

The next version of Ubuntu Touch is scheduled to launch on March 10, and the folks at UBPorts are looing for testers willing to check out the latest features, bug fixes, and more. The developers of the ExpidusOS smartphone Linux distribution that uses the Xfce desktop environment have outlined a roadmap for the next six months. And not all of the free and open source operating systems designed for smartphones are based on Linux.

One developer has announced plans to build a FreeBSD-based operating system for the PinePhone. And the folks at the /e/ Foundation have been de-Googling Android software for years. Now you can buy a phone with /e/ OS pre-installed and have it shipped to the US or Canada. Previously their phones were only available in Europe.

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Good News! De-Googled /e/OS Smartphones is Now Shipping to the US and Canada

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OS
Gadgets

The de-googled Android fork /e/OS is a passionate step towards removing Google from your daily driver (i.e. your smartphone).

Considering they’re also working on a privacy-friendly Siri alternative, /e/OS is particularly an exciting pitch for the future smartphones without relying on Google.

While /e/ smartphones have been around for a while, it still is not tailored for everyone depending on various requirements for daily activities that you do on a smartphone. I’d suggest doing your research before making a purchase.

However, there’s good news that /e/ smartphones will now also be shipping to the USA and Canada.

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Framework Laptop Brings Hardware Upgrade to a New Level

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Linux
Gadgets

Think about this. What if, you buy a laptop today and can simply swap and upgrade hardware components when needed and use that device for decades. Sounds interesting, isn't it? Introducing Framework Laptop.
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Linux smartphone news roundup: Xfce for phones, browser and camera updates, and more

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Linux
Gadgets

There’s a new Linux distribution for smartphones that’s the first I’m aware of to be based on the Xfce desktop environment, but while the first pre-release builds of ExpidusOS for the PinePhone are now available for download, there’s still a lot of work to be done to make it into a usable operating system.

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F(x)tec Pro1-X will ship in August with a Snapdragon 662 processor rather than March with an SD835 chip

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Gadgets

ine64 has posted specs for a Quartz64 SBC that runs Linux on Rockchip’s new NPU-equipped, quad -A55 RK3566 with up to 8GB RAM. There are also plans for an under $15 SBC showcasing the RISC-V based Allwinner XuanTie C906.

As we noted in our recent report on Geniatech’s RK3568 and RK3566 Development Boards, Pine64 has been working on a community backed, Rockchip RK3566 driven Quartz64 SBC. In a February blog update on various Pine64 products, the company has posted images and full specs on the 133 x 80mm Quartz64 model-A SBC, as well as specs for an upcoming, Raspberry Pi-like model-B (see farther below).

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Sailfish OS Koli

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OS
Gadgets

  • Fourth generation of Sailfish OS is here!

    We’ve come a long way, since Sailfish OS was first introduced in 2013. Now as we enter the 4th generation with Sailfish OS, the secure platform for trusted mobile solutions, we can proudly say that our product is in great shape and ready to expand to new frontiers! After Sailfish 3 was launched many big developments have happened that have have impacted Jolla, Sailfish OS, our partners with us, and all the daily Sailfish users.

    [...]

    The first Sailfish 4 software release, Koli, is today made available to all Sailfish users. You’re welcome to read more details from the Koli blog post, which our software engineer David Llewellyn-Jones has crafted.

    To celebrate this milestone Sailfish 4 release, we’ve also just published a major update to the Sailfish OS website to show better and more visually what this great alternative OS is all about – be sure to check out that as well!

  • Sailfish OS Koli is now available

    No doubt you’ll already have read about the transition of Sailfish OS into its fourth generation. And that, of course, also means a new Sailfish OS release. We’re very pleased to announce Sailfish OS 4.0.1 Koli, one of our biggest Sailfish releases for a long time. There are far too many improvements to cover all of them in detail here – you can check details from the release notes. In line with our version 4 naming, we’ve chosen to look at four significant improvements below.

    But before getting in to that, you’ll of course want to know about Koli. The Koli National Park is in the North Karelia region of Finland in the east, hugging the western shore of Lake Pielinen, which you can see in the update photo. It’s not hard to see why the beautiful vistas provided inspiration for Jean Sibelius, composer of the Finnish national anthem. The photograph also shows the characteristic white quartzite on the Koli “vaara” (amongst the many words for “hill” in Finnish, “vaara” is the second smallest).

The 8 Best Linux Secure Phones for Privacy and Security in 2021

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Gadgets

The definition of online privacy has been expanded to include many more elements beyond the basic definition. With today’s advanced Internet technology, having “privacy” is no longer simple. In fact, it is about being able to have much more control over the information that others can access about you and your activities. Many people are concerned about the security of their phones. While it may seem like common sense, many individuals do not realize how easy it can be for a person to take advantage of technology when they have the ability to secure their online privacy by using Linux secure phones.

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Hackers develop open source firmware for the PinePhone modem, use it to make phone calls

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Gadgets

The PinePhone is an inexpensive smartphone designed to run free and open source operating systems like Manjaro, postmarketOS, Mobian, or Ubuntu Touch. But the phone isn’t 100-percent open hardware: its modem ships relies on proprietary, closed-source firmware.

A team of independent developers are working to provide an alternative – and it looks like they’re getting closer all the time.

Developer @biktorgj has posted a short video showing a PinePhone making a phone call using Voice over LTE without using proprietary “blobs.”

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MutantC v3 open hardware DIY UMPC works with Raspberry Pi and compatible SBC’s

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Gadgets

FOSDEM 2021 open-source developer event will take place online later this week, and yesterday we compiled a list of talks, with one entitled “MutantC PDA introduction – open source and hardware PDA shell” piquing my interest.

The talk will be about the third revision of the hardware which allows you to create your own UMPC or handheld computer powered by a Raspberry Pi SBC or other compatible single board computers including Asus Tinker Board S, PINE H64 Model B, Banana Pi BPI-M4B, among others.

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Programming Leftovers

  • Rust Lang team March update

    Did you know that you can see the lang team's active projects on our project board? We're still experimenting and evolving the setup, but the goal is that it should give you a quick overview of what kinds of things the lang team is focused on, and what stage they are in their development. Our minutes contain a writeup for each active project, but let me call out a few highlights here...

  • DIY primary/foreign key relationships, again

    In a blog post in 2020 I described a problem I was finding in linked tables. One table had a primary key field and the other had a foreign key field that should have referred back to the first table. That wasn't always the case, because the tables didn't always come from a database with referential integrity. The tables were sometimes built in spreadsheets and the primary and foreign keys were entered by hand. The defective tables usually have formatting differences or orphaned foreign keys. The formatting issue is that the primary key is something like "Abc_def_236-ghi" and the foreign key is "Abc-def-236-ghi"; close, but no cigar. Orphaned foreign keys are correctly formatted entries with no match at all in the primary key set.

  • Flutter 2.0 reaches stable and adds support for foldable and dual-screen devices

    For a while now, Flutter for Desktop has been in an alpha stage, which meant changing APIs, bugs, and performance issues. With Flutter 2.0, Google has moved its status to somewhere between beta and stable. What does that mean? Well, it’s available in Flutter 2.0 Stable, but Google doesn’t think it’s fully complete yet. It should be fine for production use, but there may be a bug here and there.

  • How I Built a Web Scraper with Beautiful Soup and Used it to Land My First Job

    Landing any job, let alone a first job, can be a difficult process. Employers often tell you that you don't have enough experience for them to hire you. But that means you also won't get an opportunity to gain that experience (like a job). Landing a job in tech can feel even more challenging. On the one hand you have to answer interview questions well, like any other job. On the other you have to prove that your technical skills can do the job you're interviewing for. These hurdles can be difficult to overcome. In this article I'll share how I built a web scraper to help me land my first job in tech. I'll explain what exactly I built and the key lessons I learned. Most importantly, I'll share how I leveraged those lessons to ace my interviews and land a job offer.

  • We Sent 304,654 Coding Tests to Developers from 156 Countries – Here’s What We Learned

    At DevSkiller, we are known for our detailed industry reports that assist IT recruitment professionals with their hiring decisions. And this past year has been the most diverse and data-heavy set of information ever compiled by our team. Despite the circumstances that 2020 brought us, the show must go on. We have compiled 304,654 coding tests sent to developers in 156 countries to create the 2021 DevSkiller IT skills report. Whilst it’s easy to point to the big tech multinationals that will indeed profit from a crisis like we’ve had, many other small businesses will have a hard time adapting to the market’s fluctuating demands.

  • Qt 6.0.2 Released

    We have released Qt 6.0.2 today. As a patch release, the Qt 6.0.2 does not add any new functionality but provides bug fixes and other improvements.

  • The Month in WordPress: February 2021

    That was Josepha Haden Chomphosy on WordPress is Free(dom) episode of the WP Briefing Podcast, speaking about the four freedoms of open-source software. Those four freedoms are core to how WordPress is developed. A lot of the updates we bring you this month will resonate with those freedoms.

  • Toolbox your Debian

    Last week I needed a Debian system to test things, I had heard others were using toolbox with Debian images without much trouble so decided to give it a go instead of creating a VM. Toolbox only requires a handful utilities to work with any given docker image. After a quick search I stumbled upon Philippe’s post which in turn linked into this PR about an Ubuntu based toolbox image. Looks like the last major issues where worked out recently in toolbox and there isn’t anything extra needed apart the image.

  •   
  • February GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 23 new releases

    23 new GNU releases in the last month (as of February 25, 2021): artanis-0.5 autoconf-archive-2021.02.19 binutils-2.36.1 freeipmi-1.6.7 freeipmi-1.6.8 glibc-2.33 gnuhealth-3.8.0 gwl-0.3.0 help2man-1.48.1 inetutils-2.0 intlfonts-1.4.1 libgcrypt-1.9.2 libredwg-0.12.1 libredwg-0.12.2 linux-libre-5.11 mailutils-3.12 nano-5.6 nettle-3.7.1 octave-6.2.0 parallel-20210222 tar-1.34 unifont-13.0.06 xorriso-1.5.4.pl02

Free Software Leftovers

  • Zstd 1.4.9 Released With ~2x Faster Performance For Long Mode

    Zstd previously introduced the "--long" mode to analyze large quantities of data in a timely manner and suitable memory budget. The aim in this mode is to improve the compression ratio for files with long matches at a large distance. With Zstd 1.4.9 the long distance mode is much faster thanks to a number of optimizations that preserve the compression ratio while drastically speeding up the compression time. Test cases are showing this long distance mode being 114~154% faster than the prior point release of Zstd. These new algorithms for the long distance mode appear to be a big win based on all of the data published thus far.

  • Conditions and Implied Licenses: Bitmanagement v. United States

    An interesting case was handed down by the Federal Circuit on February 25, 2021, discussing some software licensing issues seldom mentioned in case law. Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States was a dispute that involved the use of certain proprietary software, BS Contract Geo, a 3D visualization product. The facts surrounding the license of the software are complex, but laid out in detail in the opinion. The owner of the software, Bitmanagement, and the user of the software, the US Navy, never entered into a direct or express software license. The contracting process, which took place via a reseller called Planet 9, stalled, when it was determined that the Navy’s system needs were incompatible with Bitmanagement’s software management keys. In the end, the Navy paid for some copies, but engaged in “massive free copying” (see concurring opinion, p.27) of the software with no express license to do so. Central to the court’s finding, the parties had agreed that as a condition to the license, the Navy would use Flexera’s license-tracking software FlexWrap to monitor the number of simultaneous users of the software. It noted that the Claims Court found that Bitmanagement agreed to the licensing scheme “because Flexera would limit the number of simultaneous users of BS Contact Geo, regardless of how many copies were installed on Navy computers.” (p. 20) But the Navy did not use the FlexWrap tool as agreed. The court held that use of this management software was a condition of the license, even though the license was not in writing. The court said, “This is one of those rare circumstances where the record as a whole reflects that the only feasible explanation for Bitmanagement allowing mass copying of its software, free of charge, was the use of Flexera at the time of copying.” (p.21)

  • Sustainability for Open Source Projects: 4 Big Questions [Ed: VM (Vicky) Brasseur, who promotes proprietary software in some contexts, wants to FUD Free software as having that mythical "sustainability" woe (as if it's all about money). GNU developed for 37 years (soon 38) in spite of that "sustainability" nonsense. People can get paid for things other than their per Free software project.]

    What does sustainability look like for open source projects? VM (Vicky) Brasseur considers four key questions to help determine the answer for your project. These days the word "sustainability" gets thrown around a lot with respect to free and open source software (FOSS). What is sustainability, and what does it mean for your project? The concept of sustainability didn't originate in the 1980s, but it gained a lot of mindshare at that time thanks to the Brundtland Report, which was released by the United Nations in 1987 after three years of research by a cross-functional team of scientists, policy makers, and business people. The report defines sustainability as "…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

  • Samuel Iglesias: Igalia is hiring! [Ed: Case of point; you can get paid to do Free software]

    One of the best decisions I did in my life was when I joined Igalia in 2012. Inside Igalia, I have been working in different open-source projects, most of the time related to graphics technologies, interacting with different communities, giving talks, organizing conferences and, more importantly, contributing to free software as my daily job. [...] What we offer is to work in an open-source consultancy in which you can participate equally in the management and decision-making process of the company via our democratic, consensus-based assembly structure. As all of our positions are remote-friendly, we welcome submissions from any part of the world.

Asymmetric Multi Processing with Linux & Zephyr on the STM32MP1

In the embedded world, more and more vendors offer Arm-based System-on-Chips (SoC) including both powerful Cortex-A CPU cores, designed to run a full-featured OS such as Linux, and one or more low-power Cortex-M cores, usually found in microcontrollers, designed to execute bare-metal or RTOS-based applications. [...] While the Linux kernel can run on a wide range of devices, it requires a decent amount of memory (> 4MB), and therefore cannot be used on memory-constrained microcontrollers. Enters Zephyr, a project initiated by Wind River, now developed as a Linux Foundation project. Read more

Geniatech XPI-3288 Raspberry Pi lookalike features Rockchip RK3288 SoC

Geniatech XPI is a family of single board computers following Raspberry Pi 3 form factor. We first covered XPI-S905X SBC in 2018, which was followed by XPI 3128 board last year. The company has now launched another model with Geniatech XPI-3288 SBC powered by Rockchip RK3288 32-bit quad-core Cortex-A17 processor coupled with 2G RAM and 16GB eMMC flash. Read more