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Elephant and Its Ivory

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Elephant and Its Ivory

LIVES at risk. This is a travesty. REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA'S MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND TOURISM: "We should manage elephants based on science and not emotions." By auctioning/selling off 170 live elephants? Give us a break. Oftentimes, animals were to make a sacrifice over humans because they are just "animals", so they can't speak to us, and can't protest. We're asked to assume they're just the least important, therefore we can eradicate (or "cull") them -- as simple as that. How I wish the the Animal Kingdom will become a force and burn this kind of society just to make a statement -- and then, maybe, humans will truly realise the value of animal rights. Shame on those African countries which don't give a shit about all those people who tirelessly devoted their time and life to protecting the wild animals, and specifically the elephants. Animals can't speak, but they can see you and they can feel you; just look into and gaze at their eyes, doesn't that give you goosebumps? Burn.

Microsoft Loves Painting Apple (or "GAFA") as the Problem

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Mask Me No Questions: The 'new' Microsoft; Mask Me No Questions

Summary: The latest twist in Microsoft's PR strategy is, divert attention and blame to other companies [1,2], even if their alleged abuses are in fact a copy of Microsoft's own

  • Microsoft Backs Epic’s Apple Battle on Game Technology Access

    The graphics technology, known as Unreal Engine, is a suite of software used by millions of developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company can no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in its legal filing. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.

  • Microsoft Supports Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

    In a declaration in support of Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote that "Apple's discontinuation of Epic's ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers." Specifically, Gammill said that games utilizing Unreal Engine will be put at a "substantial disadvantage," citing Microsoft's own racing game Forza Street for iPhone and iPad as an example.

In the face of an Orangutan

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Orangutan

Mother of two species.

The camels' outcry

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Camel

When a human doesn't know what to do and people don't know how to tackle the real issue, the animals are becoming the sacrifice. Billion of animals were lost to bushfires alone and millions are slaughtered every day, yet the audacity to kill the camels is astonishing. I wonder what would be the humans' reaction if the animals called for human culling. Think about it.

Why Tux Machines Occasionally Adds Editorial Comments

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Editorials

Summary: Editorial remarks (or Editor's comments, "Ed" for short) play a role in highlighting potential inaccuracies -- and manipulations of the mind -- when those aren't so shallow and aren't abundantly obvious

Recently, and as lately as a few hours ago, Richard Stallman exchanged some messages and we might meet again in a few months (he is traveling to the UK). Stallman and I share a concern about neglect of truth and history; for instance, many GNU programs are nowadays dubbed "LINUX COMMANDS" (I saw one example of that just 2 hours ago) and people sometimes lose sight of the important goals, focusing on brands instead of philosophy, political aspects and so on.

"Sometimes we link to something which isn't entirely accurate or can be misleading."

I would like to take this moment, on the last day of this year, to explain where we stand on issues pertaining to software freedom. A few times in the past one reader bemoaned my editorial comments (marked "Ed"), which typically bemoan something about the cited article/s. Sometimes we link to something which isn't entirely accurate or can be misleading. One example of that is openwashing. Another rather common and increasingly ubiquitous example concerns Microsoft "loving" Linux (it actually loves Windows).

We live in a world with Public Relations and marketing agencies. They exist to mislead; they shape perceptions -- that's their business model! To blindly link to just anything online without commentary or curation would likely lead us astray. Truth does matter. Facts need to be checked. This is what Tux Machines strives to achieve; throwing the word "LINUX" into something like Google News would expose one to loads of cruft, irrelevant stuff, plagiarism, pure spam and sometimes intentional lies. With no human operator or editor just about anything can be dunked into search results, owing to SEO manipulation and mishandling of indexes. I've seen that for well over a decade. Automation just doesn't work; someone who understands the problem domain needs to assess things for quality and accuracy.

"To be fair, comments are open, so readers can respond."

My adult life (since age 18 or so when I became a GNU/Linux user) involved very hard work and lifelong activism for software freedom. Not everyone agrees with me and if sometimes I may say something readers disagree with (e.g. in editorial comments), then it's likely because I try to be realistic, not jingoistic. Moreover, no two individuals will agree on everything 100% of the time. That's inevitable. So some readers might dislike these editorial comments. To be fair, comments are open, so readers can respond.

At the moment, the way I personally see it, Free software is under a number of attacks. There are different types of attacks. I think Free software will endure regardless. On a more positive note, Free software is nowadays used everywhere, it's just not being called that ("Open Source" is the term corporate media prefers) and it has been leveraged as a low-cost 'cushion' for DRM, surveillance, militarism etc. Think of companies like Facebook and Netflix (GNU and Linux at their back ends). Is this what we strive for? Closed systems that are merely built upon Freedom-respecting stacks?

"At the moment, the way I personally see it, Free software is under a number of attacks."

Software freedom is a huge objective in a world where almost everything becomes digital (only more so over time). I think it's up to us to somehow guide the world's software towards ethical uses, without necessarily imposing how it's used, and that is perhaps a future challenge for the Free Software Movement. It's a monumental challenge because politics can be a massive terrain to navigate. Over at Techrights I mostly focus on issues such as patents (laws), with emphasis on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO) granting software patents in Europe and so on. Patents on algorithms are one kind of barrier (among many) impeding Free software adoption.

Koalas Need Our Help

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Koalas Need Our Help

Watching videos/photos of Koalas being rescued from a charred/burning forests in Australia is heart-breaking and devastating. More than 350 Koalas are reported being dead and these numbers are growing. Those who live far from Australia (just like me) can't help physically rescue them, but a small amount of money/donation to sustain the hospital/facilities, volunteers and rescuers is of great help. Koala is just one of the many species that perish from the bushfire and they need our help, so please donate through the GoFundMe page and through other legitimate websites. Help those who support animal welfare.

Twins for Meng Meng and Jiao Qing

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Meng Meng

About 8 months ago we had the chance to meet Meng Meng (above) and Jiao Qing, the female and male pandas on loan to Berlin Zoo in Germany. I took lots of photos with them and we stayed in their Pagoda sanctuary a little longer. Seeing them eating, napping and wandering inside their secured place brings joy to my heart. I don't really like seeing animals in the zoo, but if this is the only way to keep and protect them from any harm or from becoming extinct, then so be it. Today, in the news (video) the two adorable pandas became parents as they were having twins; this is good news and I'm so happy for them both. To Meng Meng and Jiao Qing (and also to Berlin Zoo), congratulations!

Slack: It Used to Be a GNU/Linux Distro, Now It's Surveillance Capitalism

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I like "Freedo" (a symbol for freedom) better

Freedo

THE meaning of words can change over time, along with connotations that accompany these words. A little cat, for example, we can no longer call "pussy" and the word "gay" rarely means happy (colloquially). What about "Slack"?

Once upon a time I knew Slack as a solid, freedom-respecting distribution (GNU/Linux distro), whereas nowadays it is something to be stubbornly avoided as it threatens my freedom. It's technically spyware. It is a threat to everybody's freedom because of the network effect. When we use it we participate in a viral campaign of unwanted societal dependency. We help it spread exponentially. Like disease amongst anti-vaxxers. Richard Stallman had spoken about it in the context of Skype long before Microsoft entered the fray/picture. That's just common sense. The requirement of opening a Slack account to interact with other people is like the equivalent of an employer demanding the applicant has a Facebook account (despite all that is known about Facebook's incredible abuses). It can harm our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends as much as it harms ourselves.

As a little bit of background/context/polite remarks on this, I had been writing about Slack (the spyware, not the distro) for several years -- years before the prospects of actually using it. I never ever used it, but I know about it technically, from various angles (not just the shallow, user-centric end). Slack is proprietary at the front end and the back end. Only Slack employees know for sure what it does (and may do in the foreseeable future, as per secret roadmaps). They cannot speak out about it, for fear of retribution (so they're inherently gagged by fear over mortgage etc. or self-restraint that defies logic/ethics). Stallman has long warned about the morality of such circumstances and the ideology they breed. It was recently discovered that Facebook had targeted its critics (a huge number of them), subjecting them to Stasi-like treatment not for any government but for a private corporation, namely Facebook. It had been 'hunting' people using dubious and shallow justifications/pretexts. Nobody has yet been held accountable. Negative press has been the only cost/toll, so they got away with it with barely even a slap on the wrist. Others may imitate them, seeing that there are no fines, no arrests, no sanctions.

A colleague told me several months ago that someone at our company wanted to experiment with Slack; there was no final decision about it, so I assumed it was like our RT/OTRS 'dance' (choice of ticketing system half a decade ago). Sometimes we explore FOSS options/alternatives, which is a good thing! He sent me an invite, but he wasn't assertive about me joining as it was still an experimental thing (as I understood it back then, based on what I was told; I'll come to that in a moment). I thought we would, if it got adopted, still have options (duality). One colleague (at least) wasn't even sent an invite, so I took that as a sign of the adoption's semi-hearted nature (at the time). My colleagues never mentioned it since, except one person (who apparently liked Slack). Another colleague wondered why nobody had told her about it; as if she was left out, but she's happily using Kopete on KDE, so on she went with Jabber.

I've long been writing about Slack, maybe about 15 years (even when the name referred to a Live GNU/Linux distro, well before the name got 'hijacked'; it's Debian-based, it still has regular releases a few months apart, not the same as Slackware despite the names' similarity; BoycottNovell made a Slack-based distro called SUEME Linux 12 years ago); Tux Machines publishes announcements of Slack releases several times a year, but it's always about the distro. It's a European distro with pedigree; but I digress..

Nowadays "Slack" means something different; in a technical context, people no longer recognise it as the distro's name; Slack is now the darling of corporate media; myself and others could never quite explain why (we were rather baffled as it did not seem particularly innovative and we thus attributed most/all the press coverage to good marketing/PR); the name collision also raised legal questions because Slack is a well-known distro and the name is strictly used in the domain of software; it has been used for decades. Now the distro's development team needs to explain to people what came first and how this confusion came about.

OK, so now Slack is enjoying a valuation at $billions (as per very recent news headlines), with IPO rumours floated as well (making it easier to buy/subvert). Slack is relatively new a player/contender; it goes about 3-4 years back (in the mainstream), around the time we were in Alton Towers. I still remember that based on other events. Privacy activists had been warning about it and recently I kept seeing (also publicly writing about) more red flags. Slack, the company, is getting more invasive over time. It's like Facebook. Facebook for business. LinkedIn got picked by Microsoft, along with all that data (NSA PRISM comes to mind). Personal messages, passwords, social graphs, employment records and so on. Even location (picked every 60 seconds or so from one's phone through the 'app'). Same for Skype, which Microsoft added to PRISM just months after buying it (Microsoft was first in PRISM, based on Snowden's leaks -- it was one among the first stories to come out/emanate). Far less opinionated people than myself have blasted Slack for a variety of reasons. Some tweets of mine about it go ~3 years back (warning for 'opinionatedness'... I don't mince words much).

I still remember having to install Skype on an old phone for one company meeting. Back then the mere installation (for one hour, then deleted) meant sending Microsoft entire address books, entire call history and more. This phone of my wife is 7+ years old, so that's a lot of data, going a long way back. That's their business model. I'm usually apprehensive because some of my sources, e.g. for exclusive articles in Techrights (I published my 25,000th article last week in Techrights!), are named in files on my system. I'm no Free software 'purist' per se (I use proprietary drivers sometimes), but "Slack would be the surveillance capitalism competitor to Jabber," to quote something I read yesterday. They digest information, including corporate communications. There's a certain risk associated with this, including competitive risk. As a Free software-based company I think it's important to demonstrate that every piece of proprietary framework can be swapped with FOSS. There are quite a few Slack equivalents that are FOSS; a colleague told me that another colleague had brought some of these up. We might examine these soon, maybe test and adopt these. Time will tell. Maybe I'll write about some of these.

I am also reading about bridges between protocols that enable access to Slack, but yesterday when researching it I found that Slack is gradually burning these bridges/gateways. Not entirely surprising, as once they get to a certain point/market share they up/boost the lockin. Naturally. More so if they have obligations to shareholders. Twitter did this last August, shutting out all third-party apps/APIs for the first time ever (in the company's entire existence). Many of us were devastated because we had built interaction tools, custom-made around these APIs). So, basically, whatever a centralised platform gets adopted, we can always lose control as they can change everything they want at any time. Even, at worst, some company can just buy them for the data; they can start charging a lot, they can shut down, change ToS etc.

The bottom line is, Slack ought to be avoided. It's worse than proprietary because it's all centralised, even the data. There's no concept such as "private" or "privacy". These are only illusions.

Unixstickers

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Unixstickers

Awesome products, will definitely get another bunch of some more stickers soon Smile

GitHub as the Latest Example of Microsoft Entryism in Free/Libre Software

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"This is in effect the very same trick they did/pulled with Novell and SUSE (where Nat Friedman came from after his Microsoft internship) about a decade ago."

Postman

THE recent GitHub takeover, which has not formally been approved just yet (although there are no foreseen barriers to it), is definitely bad news; it is a lot of things to Microsoft however. It is good news only to Microsoft and GitHub shareholders, who basically sold out many developers without rewarding/compensating them for this unwanted (to them) takeover.

There are many aspects to it: First of all, it helps paint Microsoft as "open source" and it helps Microsoft gain leverage over developers, e.g. their choice process of framework/s and licence/s (Microsoft still dislikes copyleft); by leverage over platform they can suggest Azure, for example, or create bindings to it; they gain leverage over projects tied to governments, including some of our clients at work; Microsoft can vainly tell them, i.e. the governments and their developers: "look, you want FOSS? We're FOSS" (so they effectively become their own competitor!). In fact, there's so much more and I could easily name a couple dozen examples, but I know people pursue/need concision here. For an analogy, in politics this concept or strategy is known as "entrism" or "entryism".

Microsoft also uses patents to blackmail FOSS; there's that element too, albeit many people conveniently choose to forget it. Microsoft is sending patents to patent trolls, then offers "Azure IP Advantage". This is in effect the very same trick they did/pulled with Novell and SUSE (where Nat Friedman came from after his Microsoft internship) about a decade ago.

There are many other angles to it, including programming languages, frameworks (e.g. proprietary IDEs like MSVS), code editors and not just bindings to Microsoft as a host and API provider. People, especially developers of software, generally know how E.E.E. works; the basic precondition/premise is that you gain controls/leverage over that which threatens you (Nokia: Elop, Novell: Mono and lots more examples). So that's kind of a way of getting inside, gradually forming a partnership and then shutting down or sidelining whatever threatens you. Like Xamarin did to RoboVM, in effect killing it under Friedman's leadership. Friedman is going to be the chief of GitHub.

Microsoft can direct the opposition's decisions and its fate. Sadly, they already do this inside the Linux Foundation, where Microsoft staff already has chairs in the Board.

From what I can gather, developers ditching GitHub is becoming a fairy common thing this month. I already see the 1) active 2) large 3) non-Windows ones leaving, but it can take time; some told me they still rely on open bug reports and other 'vendor lockin'; that needs some work before they can migrate; the real alternative is self-hosted git.

"Sadly, they already do this inside the Linux Foundation, where Microsoft staff already has chairs in the Board."

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today's leftovers

  • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 678

    Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 678 for the week of April 4 – 10, 2021.

  • Ubuntu Blog: Design and Web team summary – 12 April 2021

    The web team at Canonical run two-week iterations building and maintaining all of Canonical websites and product web interfaces. Here are some of the highlights of our completed work from this iteration. This iteration has seen many of the team out of the office as schools are out in the UK. This has not limited the exciting new features and developments from the team.

  • Enabling Rapid Decision Making with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and NVIDIA Virtual GPU (vGPU)
  • SUSECON Digital 2021: a Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Space Oddity | SUSE Communities

    It’s been almost a year since we unveiled SUSECON Digital 2020 – our first virtual SUSECON event. No lies, that event was pulled off in a frenzied whirlwind of pandemic onslaughts, virtual session recordings, and bandwidth battles. Frankly, I was amazed that we met our production schedule in the wake of the Covid-cancellation of our live event in Dublin. And I was even more amazed at our SUSECON audience reaction to the virtual event. You loved it! As one of the first virtual conferences of the Covid era, your feedback told us that we had delivered exactly what was needed at the time. What an exceptional opportunity for us to include thousands of friends from all over the world who normally can’t join us at the big event!

  • JK Tyre & Industries improves operating efficiency and drives future innovation with SUSE
  • Top 3 Linux Server Operating Systems in 2021

    In this article we will look at several Linux distributions, which are an excellent choice if we want to use them as servers. We chose them precisely because they have an excellent level of security, regular patch maintenance and updates, and huge communities. In addition, there are thousands of tutorials on the Internet for every single thing on how to do it and last but not least they are easy to use. [...] Although we have not put them in the top three, not because they are not unique server operating systems, but because they require more patience, knowledge and time, we must mention FreeBSD, Red Hat, Cent OS and Fedora.

  • Element Keeps conversations in your control

    You are probably using chat applications like Slack, WhatsApp, Discord, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and another chat app. These are all great to have but in using them you are making a trade-off; you are trading security and privacy for a service that easy to use. Matrix is an open standard for communication messages. It is not a server so much as a standard way for clients and servers to talk with each other. The clients and server are open sources. With Matrix, you are not giving your data away to a company that is going to profile you and target advertising at you. This provides a degree of transparency you can look at the code, and you can be confident that it is behaving itself. Many developer love Matrix because it let them build on it like Lego bricks and write their clients and servers bots or anything else you can self-host your Matrix server and that means you can create a private community where it knows that your communications are not being intercepted by anybody else. Matrix also has the option for end-to-end encryption, so you know that your messages are private. Let’s take a look at a Matrix client known as Element (Riot and Vector) and it is pretty much the reference messaging client.

  • RSS Guard 3.9.2

    RSS Guard is a simple (yet powerful) feed reader. It is able to fetch the most known feed formats, including RSS/RDF and ATOM. It's free, it's open-source. RSS Guard currently supports Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian. RSS Guard will never depend on other services - this includes online news aggregators like Feedly, The Old Reader and others.

  • Free Software: Is It Just A Thing Of The Past?

    Free software is an idea that has existed since before the foundation of Linux but has the idea become stuck in the past and is FOSS something that we should move past, this author seems to think so, I disagree though.

  • New Linux Foundation project takes blockchain and the open source approach to the insurance industry
  •    
  • Linux Foundation Hosts Collaboration Among World’s Largest Insurance Companies

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, and the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS), today are announcing the launch of OpenIDL, the Open Insurance Data Link platform and project. The platform will reduce the cost of regulatory reporting for insurance carriers, provide a standardized data repository for analytics and a connection point for third parties to deliver new applications to members. openIDL brings together some of the world’s largest insurance companies, including The Hanover and Selective Insurance Group, along with technology and service providers Chainyard, KatRisk and MOBI to advance a common distributed ledger platform for sharing information and business processes across the insurance ecosystem. [...] “AAIS, and the insurance industry in general, are trailblazers in their contribution and collaboration to these technologies,” said Mike Dolan, senior vice president and general manager of Projects at the Linux Foundation. “Open governance networks like openIDL can now accelerate innovation and development of new product and service offerings for insurance providers and their customers. We’re excited to host this work.” As an open source project, all software source code developed will be licensed under an OSI-approved open source license, and all interface specifications developed will be published under an open specification license. And all technical discussions between participants will take place publicly, further enhancing the ability to expand the network to include other participants. As with an openly accessible network, organizations can develop their own proprietary applications and infrastructure integrations.

  • Windows, Ubuntu, Zoom, Safari, MS Exchange Hacked at Pwn2Own 2021

    The 2021 spring edition of Pwn2Own hacking contest concluded last week on April 8 with a three-way tie between Team Devcore, OV, and Computest researchers Daan Keuper and Thijs Alkemade. [...] The Zoom vulnerabilities exploited by Daan Keuper and Thijs Alkemade of Computest Security are particularly noteworthy because the flaws require no interaction of the victim other than being a participant on a Zoom call. What's more, it affects both Windows and Mac versions of the app, although it's not clear if Android and iOS versions are vulnerable as well. Technical details of the flaws are yet to be disclosed, but in a statement sharing the findings, the Dutch security firm said the researchers "were then able to almost completely take over the system and perform actions such as turning on the camera, turning on the microphone, reading emails, checking the screen and downloading the browser history."

  • Security updates for Monday

    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (kernel and libldb), Debian (mediawiki, qemu, ruby-kramdown, and xen), Fedora (grub2, libldb, libopenmpt, python-pikepdf, python39, samba, squid, and webkit2gtk3), openSUSE (bcc, ceph, gssproxy, hostapd, isync, kernel, openexr, openSUSE KMPs, and tpm2-tss-engine), SUSE (fwupdate and wpa_supplicant), and Ubuntu (spamassassin).

Programming Leftovers

  • Create Beautiful Websites Using Emacs Org Mode

    In my never-ending quest to find the perfect way to create beautiful (yet minimal) websites, I had to try out Org Export in Emacs. Since I tend to write everything in Org Mode these days, it would be amazing to simply be able to convert my Org docs into HTML, and maybe add a little CSS to spice things up.

  • Qt Creator 4.15: New CMake Features

    Qt Creator 4.15 comes with a bunch of features and bug fixes for the CMake Project Manager. Below, you have a list of what’s new and a few tips and tricks which would hopefully improve your CMake experience in Qt Creator.

  • 7 Popular Open Source CI/CD Tools

    DevOps is a software development strategy that incorporates agile practices for fast, efficient product creation and release. It focuses on integration of development and operations teams, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and automation of tasks and processes. Typically, DevOps teams use pipelines to streamline and standardize processes. DevOps pipelines are toolchains that teams can use to automate tasks and provide visibility into the software development life cycle. In this article, we’ll cover seven popular open source CI/CD tools.

  • Community Member Monday: Gökçe Kuler

    I’m from Aydın, Turkey. Currently I’m studying in my final years at the Computer Engineering department of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. I’m interested in free software – and enjoy working with free software projects and learning new things aboutthemit. I met free software when I started university via my advisor Necdet Yücel. I like playing the guitar and the kalimba. Also, I recently started painting with acrylic paints. I’m vegetarian, and actively participate in animal protection and gender equality projects.

  • App Showcase: Drawing

    Drawing is a simple app in the PureOS store to doodle on a digital canvas.

today's howtos

  • How to Use tcpdump and 6 Examples

    Are you trying to capture data packets in order to analyze traffic on your network? Maybe you are a server administrator who has bumped into an issue and wants to monitor transmitted data on the network. Whatever the situation be, the tcpdump Linux utility is what you need. In this article, we will discuss the tcpdump command in detail, along with some guides on how to install and use tcpdump on your Linux system.

  • How to play The Forest on Linux

    The Forest works on Linux, but only with Proton’s help, which is a built-in feature of the Linux release of Steam. So, before we can go over how to configure the game, we must demonstrate how to install Steam on Linux.

  • How to Install CopyQ Clipboard Manager 4.0.0 in Ubuntu 20.04 | UbuntuHandbook

    The CopyQ clipboard manager released version 4.0.0 a day ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 21.04, Ubuntu 18.04 via PPA. CopyQ is a free and open-source clipboard manager with editing and scripting features. The new 4.0.0 release features new script engine with some new functions, better ECMAScript support, improved performance.

  • These 10 Sed Examples Will Make You a Linux Power User

    Editing text files and terminal output is an everyday job for those who administer Linux machines. Command-line utilities like sed allow a user to modify and change the content of a text file right from the terminal window. In this article, we will discuss the sed command in detail, along with some essential examples that demonstrate the power of the sed utility in Linux.

Today in Techrights