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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Linux Mint 19

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Linux
Reviews

Well, there you have it. I have covered everything that I can think of in this review.

Installation is as straight forward as downloading an ISO image, copying it to a USB and then navigating a few installation screens.

The Cinnamon user interface is first class. It looks incredibly stylish and is very easy to use.

The default software with Linux Mint is perfect for most purposes although I would always go with Chrome over Firefox and Evolution over Thunderbird but they are personal preferences.

The software manager makes it easy to find new software and you can install either flatpak packages or debian format packages.

Steam is available for playing games and you can now play Windows games without installing WINE but it isn’t yet 100% perfect.

If you need Citrix then I have covered the fact that it works but there are a few pitfalls. These are not unique to Linux Mint and are generally the same on every distribution.

I have shown that it is possible to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine meaning you can use Linux Mint for most tasks and swap into a virtual machine for everything else. No need to waste disk space dual booting.

Timeshift is a great new tool for adding system restore points and there are various tools for keeping your system up to date, changing the look and feel of your system and for setting up hardware such as graphics cards and printers.

It is easy to see why Linux Mint is so popular. It is straight forward, easy to use and consistent.

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What Apps Can You Actually Run on Linux?

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GNU
Linux

Most Linux distributions include Mozilla Firefox as the default web browser. Google also offers an official version of Google Chrome for Linux, and you can even get an “unbranded” open-source version of Chrome named Chromium.

Pretty much everything inside your web browser should “just work” in Linux. Netflix now works normally in both Firefox and Chrome on Linux thanks to added support for its DRM.

Adobe Flash has become less common on the web but is also available for Linux. It’s included with Chrome, just like on Windows, and you can install it separately for Firefox or Chromium. Linux doesn’t support some older browser plug-ins like Silverlight, but those are no longer widely used on the web.

As the desktop PC world has shifted more and more to online, web-based software, Linux has become easier to use. If an application you want to run has a web version, you can use it on Linux.

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'Stores' and Network Usage Tools for GNU/Linux

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GNU
Linux
  • Alternative Linux-centric App Stores to Google Play for Chrome OS

    The native Linux experience on Chrome OS is relatively new in the form of debian Linux and was limited to the extremely unstable canary and dev channel of the operating system up until recently when it made its debut in the beta channel.

    The container came in the exclusive form of an interaction via the inbuilt terminal after you might have activated the Linux functionality in the settings of your Chrome system. Before its acclaimed popularity, the sub-platform was infamously codenamed Crostini with what is a relatively active subreddit.

  • 16 Useful Bandwidth Monitoring Tools to Analyze Network Usage in Linux

    Are you having problems monitoring your Linux network bandwidth usage? Do you need help? It’s important that you are able to visualize what is happening in your network in order to understand and resolve whatever is causing network slowness or simply to keep an eye on your network.

New SparkyLinux 5.5 "Nibiru" ISOs Released with Latest Debian Buster Updates

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Linux
Debian

The new SparkyLinux 5.5 "Nibiru" Rolling images are now synced with the Debian Testing (soon to become Debian GNU/Linux 10 "Buster") software repositories as of September 17, 2018, which means that they are now shipping the Linux 4.18.6 kernel, the Calamares 3.2.1 installer, as well as the latest GCC 8 system compiler by default aas GCC 7 has been completely removed.

"There are new live/install iso images of SparkyLinux 5.5 “Nibiru” available to download. The live system of MinimalGUI/CLI uses Debian’s Linux kernel 4.18.6 as default. The live system of LXQt, due to a problem with long loading the desktop, features Sparky’s Linux kernel 4.18.8 (32bit pae/64bit amd64) as default; and the Debian’s one as well," reads the release announcement.

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Escuelas Linux Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Major Release, Here's What's New

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Linux

Continuing the Edubuntu legacy of delivering Linux-based operating systems and Open Source software projects to schools and other educational institutions around the world, Escuelas Linux 6 has been released earlier this month with major improvements and new features. The biggest highlights of this release being the availability of dedicated English language ISO images for non-Spanish users.

"Escuelas Linux 6 as a massive amount of improvements, but one of them is key around Softpedia," said Alejandro Díaz. "And, at this point came your help, that above improvement would not be worth the effort if English language people are not aware of our existence. In fact, we recognize that most downloads from non-Spanish language countries are due to your nice articles about us."

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LWN's Latest (Today Outside Paywall) Articles About the Kernel, Linux

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Linux
  • Toward better handling of hardware vulnerabilities

    From the kernel development community's point of view, hardware vulnerabilities are not much different from the software variety: either way, there is a bug that must be fixed in software. But hardware vendors tend to take a different view of things. This divergence has been reflected in the response to vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre which was seen by many as being severely mismanaged. A recent discussion on the Kernel Summit discussion list has shed some more light on how things went wrong, and what the development community would like to see happen when the next hardware vulnerability comes around.

    The definitive story of the response to Meltdown and Spectre has not yet been written, but a fair amount of information has shown up in bits and pieces. Intel was first notified of the problem in July 2017, but didn't get around to telling anybody in the the Linux community about it until the end of October. When that disclosure happened, Intel did not allow the community to work together to fix it; instead each distributor (or other vendor) was mostly left on its own and not allowed to talk to the others. Only at the end of December, right before the disclosure (and the year-end holidays), were members of the community allowed to talk to each other.

    The results of this approach were many, and few were good. The developers charged with responding to these problems were isolated and under heavy stress for two months; they still have not been adequately thanked for the effort they put in. Many important stakeholders, including distributions like Debian and the "tier-two" cloud providers, were not informed at all prior to the general disclosure and found themselves scrambling. Different distributors shipped different fixes, many of which had to be massively revised before entry into the mainline kernel. When the dust settled, there was a lot of anger left simmering in its wake.

  • Writing network flow dissectors in BPF

    Network packet headers contain a great deal of information, but the kernel often only needs a subset of that information to be able to perform filtering or associate any given packet with a flow. The piece of code that follows the different layers of packet encapsulation to find the important data is called a flow dissector. In current Linux kernels, the flow dissector is written in C. A patch set has been proposed recently to implement it in BPF with the clear goal of improving security, flexibility, and maybe even performance.

  • Coscheduling: simultaneous scheduling in control groups

    The kernel's CPU scheduler must, as its primary task, determine which process should be executing in each of a system's processors at any given time. Making an optimal decision involves juggling a number of factors, including the priority (and scheduling classes) of the runnable processes, NUMA locality, cache locality, latency minimization, control-group policies, power management, overall fairness, and more. One might think that throwing another variable into the mix — and a complex one at that — would not be something anybody would want to attempt. The recent coscheduling patch set from Jan Schönherr does exactly that, though, by introducing the concept of processes that should be run simultaneously.

    The core idea behind coscheduling is the marking of one or more control groups as containing processes that should be run together. If one process in a coscheduled group is running on a specific set of CPUs (more on that below), only processes from that group will be allowed to run on those CPUs. This rule holds even to the point of forcing some of the CPUs to go idle if the given control group lacks runnable processes, regardless of whether processes outside the group are runnable.

    Why might one want to do such a thing? Schönherr lists four motivations for this work, the first of which is virtualization. That may indeed be the primary motivation, given that Schönherr is posting from an Amazon address, and Amazon is rumored to be running a virtualized workload or two. A virtual machine usually contains multiple processes that interact with each other; these machines will run more efficiently (and with lower latencies) if those processes can run simultaneously. Coscheduling would ensure that all of a virtual machine's processes are run together, maximizing locality and minimizing the latencies of the interactions between them.

  • Machine learning and stable kernels

    There are ways to get fixes into the stable kernel trees, but they require humans to identify which patches should go there. Sasha Levin and Julia Lawall have taken a different approach: use machine learning to distinguish patches that fix bugs from others. That way, all bug-fix patches could potentially make their way into the stable kernels. Levin and Lawall gave a talk describing their work at the 2018 Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Canada.

    Levin began with a quick introduction to the stable tree and how patches get into it. When a developer fixes a bug in a patch they can add a "stable tag" to the commit or send a mail to the stable mailing list; Greg Kroah-Hartman will then pick up the fix, evaluate it, and add it to the stable tree. But that means that the stable tree is only getting the fixes that are pointed out to the stable maintainers. No one has time to check all of the commits to the kernel for bug fixes but, in an ideal world, all of the bug fixes would go into the stable kernels. Missing out on some fixes means that the stable trees will have more security vulnerabilities because the fixes often close those holes—even if the fixer doesn't realize it.

  • Trying to get STACKLEAK into the kernel

    The STACKLEAK kernel security feature has been in the works for quite some time now, but has not, as yet, made its way into the mainline. That is not for lack of trying, as Alexander Popov has posted 15 separate versions of the patch set since May 2017. He described STACKLEAK and its tortuous path toward the mainline in a talk [YouTube video] at the 2018 Linux Security Summit.

    STACKLEAK is "an awesome security feature" that was originally developed by The PaX Team as part of the PaX/grsecurity patches. The last public version of the patch set was released in April 2017 for the 4.9 kernel. Popov set himself on the goal of getting STACKLEAK into the kernel shortly after that; he thanked both his employer (Positive Technologies) and his family for giving him working and free time to push STACKLEAK.

    The first step was to extract STACKLEAK from the more than 200K lines of code in the grsecurity/PaX patch set. He then "carefully learned" about the patch and what it does "bit by bit". He followed the usual path: post the patch, get feedback, update the patch based on the feedback, and then post it again. He has posted 15 versions and "it is still in progress", he said.

WireGuard Picks Up A Simpler Kconfig, Zinc Crypto Performance Fix

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Linux
Security

WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld sent out the fifth revision of the WireGuard and Zinc crypto library patches this week. They've been coming in frequently with a lot of changes with it looking like this "secure VPN tunnel" could reach the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel.

With the WireGuard v5 patches there are various low-level code improvements, a "saner" and simpler Kconfig build-time configuration options, a performance regression for tcrypt within the Zinc crypto code has been fixed and is now even faster than before, and there is also now a nosimd module parameter to disable the use of SIMD instructions.

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Variscite’s latest DART module taps headless i.MX6 ULZ

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Linux

Variscite is prepping a headless version of its Linux-friendly DART-6UL module with NXP’s new i.MX6 ULZ SoC, a cheaper version of the i.MX6 UL without display or Ethernet features.

Variscite is spinning out yet another pin-compatible version of its 50 x 25mm DART-6UL computer-on-module, this time loaded with NXP’s headless new i.MX6 ULZ variant of the single Cortex-A7 core i.MX6 UL. Due for a Q4 launch, the unnamed module lacks display or LAN support. It’s billed as “a native solution for headless Linux-based embedded products such as IoT devices and smart home sensors requiring low power, low size, and rich connectivity options.”

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Stable kernels 4.18.9, 4.14.71, 4.9.128 and 4.4.157

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Linux

Kernel: Virtme, 2018 Linux Audio Miniconference and Linux Foundation Articles

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Linux
  • Virtme: The kernel developers' best friend

    When working on the Linux Kernel, testing via QEMU is pretty common. Many virtual drivers have been recently merged, useful either to test the kernel core code, or your application. These virtual drivers make QEMU even more attractive.

  • 2018 Linux Audio Miniconference

    As in previous years we’re trying to organize an audio miniconference so we can get together and talk through issues, especially design decisons, face to face. This year’s event will be held on Sunday October 21st in Edinburgh, the day before ELC Europe starts there.

  • How Writing Can Expand Your Skills and Grow Your Career [Ed: Linux Foundation article]

    At the recent Open Source Summit in Vancouver, I participated in a panel discussion called How Writing can Change Your Career for the Better (Even if You don't Identify as a Writer. The panel was moderated by Rikki Endsley, Community Manager and Editor for Opensource.com, and it included VM (Vicky) Brasseur, Open Source Strategy Consultant; Alex Williams, Founder, Editor in Chief, The New Stack; and Dawn Foster, Consultant, The Scale Factory.

  • At the Crossroads of Open Source and Open Standards [Ed: Another Linux Foundation article]

    A new crop of high-value open source software projects stands ready to make a big impact in enterprise production, but structural issues like governance, IPR, and long-term maintenance plague OSS communities at every turn. Meanwhile, facing significant pressures from open source software and the industry groups that support them, standards development organizations are fighting harder than ever to retain members and publish innovative standards. What can these two vastly different philosophies learn from each other, and can they do it in time to ensure they remain relevant for the next 10 years?

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Elementary OS Juno Beta 2 Released

Elementary OS June beta 2 is now available to download. This second beta build of the Ubuntu-based Linux distribution touts a number of changes over the elementary OS june beta released back in July. Due to the shifting sands on which Juno is built the elementary team advise those planning on testing the release to do so by making a fresh install rather than doing an upgrade from beta 1 or (worse) an older version of elementary OS. Read more

today's howtos

Linux - The beginning of the end

You should never swear at people under you - I use the word under in the hierarchical sense. Colleagues? Well, probably not, although you should never hold back on your opinion. Those above you in the food chain? It's fair game. You risk it to biscuit it. I say, Linus shouldn't have used the language he did in about 55-65% of the cases. In those 55-65% of the cases, he swore at people when he should have focused on swearing at the technical solution. The thing is, people can make bad products but that does not make them bad people. It is important to distinguish this. People often forget this. And yes, sometimes, there is genuine malice. My experience shows that malice usually comes with a smile and lots of sloganeering. The typical corporate setup is an excellent breeding ground for the aspiring ladder climber. Speaking of Linus, it is also vital to remember that the choice of language does not always define people, especially when there are cultural differences - it's their actions. In the remainder of the cases where "bad" language was used (if we judge it based on the approved corporate lingo vocab), the exchange was completely impersonal - or personal from the start on all sides - in which case, it's a different game. The problem is, it's the whole package. You don't selective get to pick a person's attributes. Genius comes with its flaws. If Linus was an extroverted stage speaker who liked to gushy-mushy chitchat and phrase work problems in empty statements full of "inspiring" and "quotable" one-liners, he probably wouldn't be the developer that he is, and we wouldn't have Linux. So was he wrong in some of those cases? Yes. Should he have apologized? Yes, privately, because it's a private matter. Definitely not the way it was done. Not a corporate-approved kangaroo court. The outcome of this story is disturbing. A public, humiliating apology is just as bad. It's part of the wider corporate show, where you say how sorry you are on screen (the actual remorse is irrelevant). Linus might actually be sorry, and he might actually be seeking to improve his communication style - empathy won't be part of that equation, I guarantee that. But this case - and a few similar ones - set a precedence. People will realize, if someone like Linus gets snubbed for voicing his opinion - and that's what it is after all, an opinion, regardless of the choice of words and expletives - how will they be judged if they do something similar. But not just judged. Placed in the (social) media spotlight and asked to dance to a tune of fake humility in order to satisfy the public thirst for theatrics. You are not expected to just feel remorse. You need to do a whole stage grovel. And once the seed of doubt creeps in, people start normalizing. It's a paradox that it's the liberal, democratic societies that are putting so much strain on the freedom of communication and speech. People forget the harsh lessons of the past and the bloody struggles their nations went through to ensure people could freely express themselves. Now, we're seeing a partial reversal. But it's happening. The basket of "not allowed" words is getting bigger by the day. This affects how people talk, how they frame their issues, how they express themselves. This directly affects their work. There is less and less distinction between professional disagreement and personal slight. In fact, people deliberately blur the lines so they can present their business ineptitude as some sort of Dreyfuss witchhunt against their glorious selves. As an ordinary person slaving in an office so you can pay your bills and raise your mediocre children, you may actually not want to say something that may be construed as "offensive" even though it could be a legitimate complaint, related to your actual work. This leads to self-censored, mind-numbing normalization. People just swallow their pride, suppress their problems, focus on the paycheck, and just play the life-draining corporate game. Or they have an early stroke. Read more Also: Google Keeps Pushing ChromeOS and Android Closer Together