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Sway – A Tiling Wayland i3-Compatible Compositor

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GNU
Linux

I have covered window tiling editors/managers previously with apps like herbstluftwm and Tilix so check them out if you haven’t already.

Sway is a free and open source tiling Wayland compositor that is compatible with the i3 window manager, uses the same configuration syntax, and works with most of the software designed for i3.

Sway makes use of all the available space on your screen and automatically adjusts window sizes as you open more apps and you can navigate between apps with your keyboard.

App windows can be arranged horizontally, vertically, stacked, or tabbed and you can change their size as well as split windows into containers of several windows all without touching your mouse. You could, however, use your mouse to rearrange windows and even take windows out of the tiling grid and manipulate them.44

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New From RMS: Install Fests: What to Do about the Deal with the Devil

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GNU
Linux

Install fests invite users to bring their computers so that experts can install GNU/Linux on them. This is meant to promote the idea of free software as well as the use of free software. In practice, these two goals conflict: users that want to reject nonfree software entirely need to choose their computers carefully to achieve that goal.

The problem is that most computers can't run with a completely free GNU/Linux distro. They contain peripherals, or coprocessors, that won't operate unless the installed system contains some nonfree drivers or firmware. This happens because hardware manufacturers refuse to tell us how to use their products, so that the only way to figure out how is by reverse engineering, which in most cases has not yet been done.

This presents the install fest with a dilemma. If it upholds the ideals of freedom, by installing only free software from 100%-free distros, partly-secret machines won't become entirely functional and the users that bring them will go away disappointed. However, if the install fest installs nonfree distros and nonfree software which make machines entirely function, it will fail to teach users to say no for freedom's sake. They may learn to like GNU/Linux, but they won't learn what the free software movement stands for. In effect, the install fest makes a tacit deal with the devil that suppresses the free software movement's message about freedom and justice.

The nonfree software means the user sacrifices freedom for functionality. If users had to wrestle with this choice, they could draw a moral lesson from it, and maybe get a better computer later. But when the install fest makes the compromise on the user's behalf, it shelters the user from the moral dimension; the user never sees that something other than convenience is at stake. In effect, the install fest makes the deal with the devil, on the user's behalf, behind a curtain so the user doesn't recognize that it is one.

I propose that the install fest show users exactly what deal they are making. Let them talk with the devil individually, learn the deal's bad implications, then make a deal—or refuse!

As always, I call on the install fest itself to install only free software, taking a strict stance. In this way it can set a clear moral example of rejecting nonfree software.

My new idea is that the install fest could allow the devil to hang around, off in a corner of the hall, or the next room. (Actually, a human being wearing sign saying “The Devil,” and maybe a toy mask or horns.) The devil would offer to install nonfree drivers in the user's machine to make more parts of the computer function, explaining to the user that the cost of this is using a nonfree (unjust) program.

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Also: RMS article: "Install fests: What to do about the deal with the devil"

LinHES R8.6 Released

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GNU
Linux

The LinHES Dev team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES R8.6!

LinHES R8.6 updates MythTV to 30-fixes as well as updates to the kernel, system libraries, graphics drivers and many other parts of LinHES.

Release notes and upgrade instructions can be found here.

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Also: Tails 3.13 is out

Ten Years After Part III - A Storied Conclusion

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GNU
Linux

Old habits are indeed hard to break, and especially if you don't really understand the reason why those habits have to change. The idea of a software repository just didn't make sense to most of our Reglue kids at first. I cannot count the times when I went to troubleshoot a problem on a Reglue computer to find the desktop riddled with .exe files of failed installations.

What isn't really surprising is that the kids did eventually pick up the whole installation process on their Linux machines, and mostly came to prefer it. But the parents? Not so much. I wish I had recorded some of the calls I got from irate parents or guardians because they couldn't install XYZ software on the computer. It didn't take me long to make sure to make sure that Mom or Dad were present when I explained that part during the orientation. At times, I had to remind those adults that the computer and software was engineered for the benefit of the student, not as a household computer. I mean, get TurboTax on your own machine. It helped some, but still....Adults, right?

[...]

By far the most vocal complaints concerned "needed" software not being available on Linux. We might as well just call out The Terrible Two. Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Now remember, the bulk of my work was done between 2005 and 2009. I never offered any excuses for Photoshop. The Gimp isn't Photoshop, no matter how you twist or turn it and trying to tell someone who uses Photoshop scholastically or professionally that The Gimp can replace Photoshop is a fools errand. Sure it can do a lot of what Photoshop can do but it's those pesky little items that The Gimp lacks that everyone got all bunched up over.

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MATE 1.22 released

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GNU
Linux

After about a year of development, the MATE Desktop team have finally released MATE 1.22. A big thank you to all contributors who helped to make this happen.

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Also: MATE Desktop discussion forums are closing

Forbes Says The Raspberry Pi Is Big Business

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

Not that it’s something the average Hackaday reader is unaware of, but the Raspberry Pi is a rather popular device. While we don’t have hard numbers to back it up (extra credit for anyone who wishes to crunch the numbers), it certainly seems a day doesn’t go by that there isn’t a Raspberry Pi story on the front page. But given that a small, cheap, relatively powerful, Linux computer was something the hacking community had dreamed of for years, it’s hardly surprising.

[...]

So where has the Pi been seen punching a clock? At Sony, for a start. The consumer electronics giant has been installing Pis in several of their factories to monitor various pieces of equipment. They record everything from temperature to vibration and send that to a centralized server using an in-house developed protocol. Some of the Pis are even equipped with cameras which feed into computer vision systems to keep an eye out for anything unusual.

[Parmy] also describes how the Raspberry Pi is being used in Africa to monitor the level of trash inside of garbage bins and automatically dispatch a truck to come pick it up for collection. In Europe, they’re being used to monitor the health of fueling stations for hydrogen powered vehicles. All over the world, businesses are realizing they can build their own monitoring systems for as little as 1/10th the cost of turn-key systems; with managers occasionally paying for the diminutive Linux computers out of their own pocket.

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New Screencasts: Xubuntu 18.04.2, Ubuntu MATE, and Rosa Fresh 11

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GNU
Linux

9 Admirable Graphical File Managers

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GNU
Linux
Software

Being able to navigate your local filesystem is an important function of personal computing. File managers have come a long way since early directory editors like DIRED. While they aren’t cutting-edge technology, they are essential software to manage any computer.

File management consists of creating, opening, renaming, moving / copying, deleting and searching for files. But file managers also frequently offer other functionality.

In the field of desktop environments, there are two desktops that dominate the open source landscape: KDE and GNOME. They are smart, stable, and generally stay out of the way. These use the widget toolkits Qt and GTK respectively. And there are many excellent Qt and GTK file managers available. We covered the finest in our Qt File Managers Roundup and GTK File Managers Roundup. But with Linux, you’re never short of alternatives.

There are many graphical non-Qt and non-Gtk file managers available. This article examines 9 such file managers. The quality is remarkably good.

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As a longtime Windows user, I made the switch to Chrome OS: How does it fair?

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GNU
Linux
Google

I’m a Google fan, but there has always been one product that I’ve been hesitant to try: Chrome OS, Google’s desktop operating system that powers all Chromebooks on the market. If you’ve ever heard anything about Chromebooks, chances are that you’ve heard the stereotype that it’s just a “glorified web browser.” I’ve been following Chrome OS for years and I know that there is so much more to it now—Android apps, Linux support, etc. But I never actually ditched Windows and exclusively used a Chromebook as my only laptop—until now.

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Availability of KDE Plasma 5.15 on GNU/Linux Distros

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GNU
KDE
Linux

We are getting excited as Plasma 5.15 has been released (since 12 February 2019) and we soon want to test it. I have tested it on Neon and it is lightweight and very impressive. This list is for you wanting to test Plasma as quick as possible by downloading GNU/Linux distros with built-in Plasma 5.15. They are Neon 5.15, Kubuntu 19.04, Chakra, KaOS, and openSUSE Tumbleweed. You can download the ISO images from links I mentioned below and quickly run a LiveCD session of them. Additionally, I also mentioned Kubuntu 18.10 and Fedora 30 on the separate section below as they don't bundle it but make it available through repositories. Anyway, go ahead and happy testing!

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Also: The Second Return of the Fluffy Bunny

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