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Session: An Open Source Private Messenger That Doesn’t Need Your Phone Number

Monday 2nd of March 2020 03:51:32 AM

Brief: Our open source software highlight of the week is Session. It is a fork of another increasingly popular private messenger Signal. Session doesn’t even need your phone number to operate.

Session: A private messenger in true sense

Privacy concerned people are always in the search of an ultimate service that lets you communicate securely while respecting our privacy across multiple platforms.

Recently, I came across an interesting open-source messaging app “Session” by Loki Foundation, which is technically a fork of another open source encrypted messenger Signal.

In this article, I’ll be sharing my experience with the Session app while highlighting the features it offers.

Session is fairly new to the scene – I’ve mentioned some of the bugs that I encountered at the bottom of the article.

Features of Session Messenger

I’ll highlight the key features of Session that will help you decide if it’s good enough for you to try.

Session does not require a phone number

For privacy-enthusiasts, registering the phone number with Signal or other such applications is a potential risk.

But, with Session, you do not need a phone number, simply click on “Create Account” after you install it on your desktop or phone and it will simply generate a random (unique) Session ID.

It’ll look something like this: 05652245af9a8bfee4f5a8138fd5c……..

So, you just have to share your Session ID with the contact you want to add. Or, you can also opt to get the QR Code after account creation which you can share with your friends to add you back.

Session uses blockchain (and other crypto tech) Session ID

For the users who’re aware of what a blockchain is – they’ve been waiting for real-world applications that an average user can utilize. Session is one such example that utilizes blockchain at its core and you don’t need to know it’s there.

If you’re curious about how it works, you can take a look at their official blog post explaining it.

Cross-Platform Support

For something strictly privacy-focused, you’d also want it to be available across multiple platforms.

Of course, primarily, I’d focus on the Linux and Android support but it also supports Windows/Mac/iOS. So, you can easily sync between multiple devices cross-platform.

Includes Essential Privacy Options

Undoubtedly, it offers some essential privacy-focused features that will help make the experience more secure.

For starters, you have the following options:

  • Message TTL: This lets you control how long the message exists before the recipient sees the message.
  • Read Receipts: Let others know that you’ve seen the message or if your message has been read.
Session uses a decentralized network and protects your metadata

Even though Session isn’t a peer-to-peer technology, it does not have a central server for the network.

It takes a decentralized approach to how the messages are transmitted (or routed). If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, you can follow Session’s official blog post to know the difference between centralization and decentralization and explore how it potentially works.

And, this approach of network helps them to protect the metadata (the information associated with a message like IP address).

Other Features

Not just limited to the latest/greatest privacy-friendly features, but it also supports group chats, voice messages, and also allows you to send attachments.

Installing Session on Linux

If you head to the official download page, you will be able to download an .AppImage file. In case you have no clue how it works, you should take a look at our article on how to use AppImage.

In either case, you can also head to their GitHub releases page and grab the .deb file.

Download Session My Experience On Using Session App

I’ve managed to try it on multiple platforms. For the desktop, I utilized the .AppImage file on Pop!_OS 19.10 to run Session.

Overall, the user experience was impressive and had no UI glitches.

It’s also easy to recover your account once you’ve backed up your secret code (which is known as seed) from the settings.

But, I also noticed a couple of issues- which can be fixed/improved:

  • Delay in accepting a friend request
  • The way of linking devices is not intuitive
  • Sometimes when you reply from two separate devices (using the same ID), the receiver gets two different conversations.

Conclusion

Of course, nothing’s ever perfect. For now, I’m thinking of keeping it installed and considering Session’s features, it is definitely something a privacy-focused user should try.

What do you think about it? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Add New Brushes in GIMP [Quick Tip]

Sunday 1st of March 2020 12:33:24 PM

GIMP, is the most popular free and open-source image editor and perhaps the best Adobe Photoshop alternative on Linux.

When you install GIMP on Ubuntu or any other operating system, you’ll find a few brushes already installed for basic image editing. If you need something more specific, you can always add new brushes in GIMP.

How? Let me show you that in this quick tutorial.

How to add brushes in GIMP

There are three steps involved in installing new brushes in GIMP:

  • Get new brush
  • Put it in the designated folder
  • Refresh the brushes in GIMP
Step 1: Download new GIMP brushes

The first step is to get new brushes for GIMP. Where do you get it from? From the internet, of course.

You can search on Google or alternative private search engines like Duck Duck Go for ‘GIMP brushes’ and download the ones you like from a reputed website.

GIMP brushes are usually available in .gbr and .gih file formats. The .gbr file is for regular brushes while .gih is used for animated brushes.

Did you know?

For the versions 2.4 and above, GIMP makes installing and using Photoshop brushes (.abr file) quite straightforward. All you need to do is place the Photoshop brush files in the proper folder.
Do keep in mind that the latest Photoshop brushes might not work with GIMP flawlessly.

Step 2: Copy the new brushes into its location

After you get your brush file, the next step is to copy and paste it to the right folder in GIMP configuration directory.

On Windows, you’ll have to go to a folder like “C:\Documents and Settings\myusername.gimp-2.10\brushes“.

I’ll show detailed steps for Linux because It’s FOSS is a Linux-focused website.

After selecting the brush files press Ctrl+h in your Home folder to see hidden files in Linux.

Press Ctrl+H to see hidden files in the home directory

You should go to .config/GIMP/2.10/brushes folder (if you are using GIMP version 2.10). If you are using some other version, you should see an equivalent folder under .config/GIMP.

Adding New Brushes in GIMP

Paste the brush files in this folder. Optionally, you can hide the hidden files by pressing Ctrl+h again.

Step 3: Refresh the brushes (to avoid restarting GIMP)

GIMP will automatically load brushes when it’s launched. If you are already running it and don’t want to close it, you can refresh the brushes.

In GIMP go to Windows->Dockable Dialogues->Brushes in the main menu.

Refresh GIMP Brushes by going go to Windows->Dockable Dialogues-> Brushes

Locate the refresh icon in the Brushes dialog on the right side bar.

Refresh GIMP Brushes

If your brushes are not present, you can always try to restart GIMP.

Bonus Tip!

Adding new brushes in GIMP also allows you easily watermark images. Just use your logo as a brush and add it to the images in a single click.

I hope you enjoyed this quick GIMP tip. Stay tuned for more.

Dimitrios Savvopoulos

Dimitrios is an MSc Mechanical Engineer but a Linux enthusiast in heart. He is well settled in Solus OS but curiosity drives him to constantly test other distros. Challenge is part of his personality and his hobby is to compete from 5k to the marathon distance.

Remember Unity8 from Ubuntu? UBports is Renaming it to Lomiri

Saturday 29th of February 2020 12:44:54 PM

Ever since Ubuntu abandoned the Unity project, UBports continued the maintenance and development of Unity. On February 27th 2020, UBports announced that they are giving Unity8 a new branding in the form of Lomiri.

Unity8 is now Lomiri Unity8 in action | Image Credit: UBports

UBports announced that the Unity8 desktop environment would be renamed as Lomiri. They gave three reasons for this fairly drastic announcement.

First, they want to avoid confusion with the Unity game engine. Quite a few people confused the two. UBports noted that they are frequently receiving questions regarding “how to import 3D models and meshes into our shell”. When you search “Unity” in your favorite search engine, most of the top links are for the game engine.

The second reason for the name change has to do with the new effort to package Unity8 for Debian. Unfortunately, many of the Unity8’s dependencies have Ubuntu in the name, for example, ubuntu-ui-toolkit. Debian packagers warned that packages that have Ubuntu in the name may not be accepted into Debian.

Finally, UBports said the name change would improve verbal communications. Saying Unity8 repeatedly can be a mouthful. People would not have to worry about confusing “users of Ubuntu Unity and Unity (the game engine)”.

UBports went on to stress that the name change was not “triggered by any action from Canonical or the Ubuntu community, legal or otherwise”.

They noted that this name change was the perfect time for them to switch to GitHub alternative GitLab for their development.

Interestingly, the announcement did not explain how they picked Lomiri as the new name. All they said is that “We went through many different names before settling on Lomiri. All of them had problems with pronunciation, availability, or other related issues.”

UBports noted that most Ubuntu Touch users would be unaffected by the name change. Developers and power users might notice some changes, but UBports “will strive to maintain backwards compatibility within Ubuntu Touch for the foreseeable future”.

What Exactly is Being Renamed?

According to the announcement, packages that have either Ubuntu or Unity in the title will be affected. For example,

  • unity8, containing the shell, will become lomiri
  • ubuntu-ui-toolkit will become lomiri-ui-toolkit
  • ubuntu-download-manager will become lomiri-download-manager

On top of this, interfaces call will change, as well. “For example, the Ubuntu.Components QML import will change to Lomiri.Components.” For the sake of backwards compatibility, Ubuntu Touch images will not change too much. “Developers will only need to update to the new API when they’d like to package their apps for other distributions.”

What Will Stay the Same?

Since renaming packages can cause quite a few cascading problems, UBports wants to limit the number of packages they change. They don’t expect the following things to change.

  • Packages that don’t use the “Ubuntu” or “Unity” names
  • Ubuntu Touch will remain the same
  • Any components which are already used by other projects and accepted into other distributions
Final Thoughts

Overall, I think this change will be good for Ubuntu Touch in the long run. I understand why Canonical picked the Unity name for their convergence desktop, but I think the desktop environment was overshadowed by the game engine from the beginning. This will give them room to breathe and also free up valuable coding time. The less time spent replying to questions about 3D models the more time that can be spent creating a convergent desktop.

If you have any further questions or concerns about the name change, you visit the UBports forms. They have set up a thread specifically for this topic.

Don’t hesitate to share your views on it in the comment section.

Solus Linux Creator Ikey Doherty Enters the Game Dev Business With a New Open Source Game Engine

Friday 28th of February 2020 07:29:23 AM

Ikey Doherty, the creator and former lead dev of Solus, is back with a new project. His new company, Lispy Snake, Ltd, uses open source technology to create games, with a focus on Linux support.

I asked Ikey some questions about his new project. Here are his answers.

It’s FOSS: What made you decide to get into game development?

Ikey: Honestly I would have to say a respect for older games. The creativity that came from so much limitation is frankly amazing. If you think of how limited the NES or C64 were, (or indeed my Amstrad CPC) – yet how much joy people experienced from those platforms. It’s a buzz I can’t avoid. Even though we’re a long way now from that world, I still look to model that technical excellence and creativity as best I can. I’m a sucker for good stories.

It’s FOSS: There are already several open-source game engines. Why did you decide to make your own? What is Serpent’s killer feature?

Ikey: There are a good number of open and closed source ones, each with a great set of features. However, I’m a pretty old school developer and there is nothing I hate more than an IDE or ‘drag n drop’ codeless environment. I simply wanted to create indie games with the least fuss possible and using a framework where I didn’t have to compromise. Once you get to ‘must work nicely on Linux and be open source’ you’re kinda short on choice.

I collected a set of projects that I’d use as the foundation for Lispy Snake’s first games, but needed something of a framework to tie them all together, as a reusable codebase across all games and updates.

I wouldn’t say killer features are present yet – just a set of sensible decisions. Serpent is written in D so it’s highly performant with a lower barrier of entry than say C or C++. It’s allowing me to flesh out a framework that suits my development ideals and pays attention to industry requirements, such as a performant multithreading Entity Component System or the sprite batching system.

When you rope together all the features and decisions, you get a portable codebase, that thanks to its choice of libraries like SDL and bgfx, will eventually run on all major platforms with minimal effort on our part. That basically means we’re getting OpenGL, DirectX, Vulkan and Metal “for free”.

Being able to target the latest APIs and create indie games easily, with industry standard features emerging constantly, from a framework that doesn’t impose itself on your workflow…that’s a pretty good combination.

It’s FOSS: Why did you name your company LispySnake? Did you have a pet snake with a speech impediment when you were a kid?

Ikey: Honestly? Naughty Dog was taken. Gotta love some Bandicoot. Plus, originally we were taking on some Python contracting work and I found the name amusing. It’s pretty much a nonsensical name like many of my previous projects (Like Dave. Or Dave2.)

It’s FOSS: After being an operating system developer for many years, how does it feel to be working on something smaller? Would you say that your time as an OS developer gives you an edge as a game dev?

Ikey: OS dev needs a very high level view constantly, with the ability to context switch from macro to micro and back again. Many, many moving parts in a large ecosystem.

Serpent is much more task orientated – though similarities in the workflow exist in terms of defining macro systems and interleaving micro features to build a cohesive whole. My background in OS dev is obviously a huge help here.

Where it especially shines is dealing with the ‘guts’. I think a lot of indie devs (forgive me for being sweeping) are generally happy to just build from an existing kit and either embrace it or workaround the issues. There are some true gems out there like Factorio that go above and beyond and I have to hold my hat to them.

In terms of building a new kit we get to think, properly, about cache coherency, parallel performance, memory fragmentation, context switching and such.

Consumers of Serpent (when released in a more stable form) will know that the framework has been designed to leverage Linux features, not just spitting out builds for it.

It’s FOSS: Recently you ported your Serpent game engine from C to the D language. Why did you make this move? What features does D have over C?

Ikey: Yeah honestly that was an interesting move. We were originally working on a project called lispysnake2d which was to be a trivial wrapper around SDL to give us a micro-game library. This simply used SDL_Renderer APIs to blit 2D sprites and initially seemed sufficient. Unfortunately as development progressed it was clear we needed a 3D pipeline for 2D, so we could utilize shaders and special effects. At that point SDL_Renderer is no good to you anymore and you need to go with Vulkan or OpenGL. We began abstracting the pipelines and saw the madness ensue.

After taking a step back, I analyzed all the shortcomings in the approach, and tired of the portability issues that would definitely arise. I’m not talking in terms of libraries, I’m talking about dealing with various filepaths, encodings, Win32 APIs, DirectX vs OpenGL vs Vulkan…etc. Then whack in boilerplate time, C string shortcomings, and the amount of reinventing required to avoid linking to bloated “cross-platform” standard library style libraries. It was a bad picture.

Having done a lot of Go development, I started researching alternatives to C that were concurrency-aware, string-sane, and packed with a powerful cross-platform standard library. This is the part where everyone will automatically tell you to use Rust.

Unfortunately, I’m too stupid to use Rust because the syntax literally offends my eyes. I don’t get it, and I never will. Rust is a fantastic language and as academic endeavours go, highly successful. Unfortunately, I’m too practically minded and seek comfort in C-style languages, having lived in that world too long. So, D was the best candidate to tick all the boxes, whilst having C & C++ interoptability.

It took us a while to restore feature parity but now we have a concurrency-friendly framework which is tested with both OpenGL and Vulkan, supports sprite batching and has nice APIs. Plus, much of the reinvention is gone as we’re leveraging all the features of SDL, bgfx and the DLang standard library. Win win.

The first game from LispySnake

It’s FOSS: How are you planning to distribute your games?

Ikey: Demo wise we’ll initially only focus on Linux, and it’s looking like we’ll use Flatpak for that. As time goes on, when we’ve introduced support and testing for macOS + Windows, we’ll likely look to the Steam Store. Despite the closed source nature, Valve have been far more friendly and supportive of Linux over the years, whilst the likes of Epic Games have a long history of being highly anti-Linux. So that’s a no go.

It’s FOSS: How can people support and contribute to the development of the Serpent game engine?

Ikey: We have a few different methods, for what it’s worth. The easiest is to buy a Lifetime License – which is $20. This grants you lifetime access to all of our 2D games and helps fund development of our game titles and Serpent.

Alternatively, you can sponsor me directly on GitHub to work on Serpent and upstream where needed. Bit of FOSS love.

Support with Lifetime License Sponsor the development on GitHub

I would like to thank Ikey for taking the time to answer my questions about his latest project.

Have any of you created a game with open source tools? If so, what tools and how was the experience? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media, Hacker News or Reddit.

No More WhatsApp! The EU Commission Switches To ‘Signal’ For Internal Communication

Thursday 27th of February 2020 05:40:02 AM

In a move to improve the cyber-security, EU has recommended its staff to use open source secure messaging app Signal instead of the popular apps like WhatsApp.

Signal is an open source secure messaging application with end to end encryption. It is praised by the likes of Edward Snowden and other privacy activists, journalists and researchers. We’ve recently covered it in our ‘open source app of the week‘ series.

Signal is in news for good reasons. The European Union Commissions have instructed its staff to use Signal for public instant messaging.

This is part of EU”s new cybersecurity strategy. There has been cases of data leaks and hacking against EU diplomats and thus policy is being put in place to encourage better security practices.

Governments recommending open source technology is a good sign

No matter what the reason is, Government bodies recommending open-source services for better security is definitely a good thing for the open-source community in general.

Politico originally reported this by mentioning that the EU instructed its staff to use Signal as the recommended public instant messaging app:

The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that “Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.”

The report also mentioned the potential advantage of Signal (which is why the EU is considering using it):

“It’s like Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage but it’s based on an encryption protocol that’s very innovative,” said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. “Because it’s open-source, you can check what’s happening under the hood,” he added.

Even though they just want to secure their communication or want to prevent high-profile leaks, switching to an open-source solution instead of WhatsApp sounds good to me.

Signal gets a deserving promotion

Even though Signal is a centralized solution that requires a phone number as of now, it is still a no-nonsense open-source messaging app that you may trust.

Privacy enthusiasts already know a lot of services (or alternatives) to keep up with the latest security and privacy threats. However, with the EU Commission recommending it to its staff, Signal will get an indirect promotion for common mobile and desktop users.

Wrapping Up

It is still an irony that some Government bodies hate encrypted solutions while opting to use them for their own requirement.

Nevertheless, it is good progress for open-source services and tech, in general, is recommended as a secure alternative.

What do you think about the EU’s decision on switching to the Signal app for its internal communication? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Best Open Source Slack Alternatives for Team Communication

Tuesday 25th of February 2020 04:13:17 AM

Brief: Here, we shall take a look at the best open source slack alternatives that you can choose to communicate with your team at work.

Slack is one of the most popular team communication services for work. Some may call it a glorified IRC but that doesn’t impact its popularity.

It is available for free with additional features offered in its paid plans. Though Slack can be installed on Linux thanks to an Electron app but it is not open source, neither the client nor the server.

In this article, I’ll list a few open source Slack alternatives that you can try.

Slack Alternatives Software That Are Open Source

The software mentioned here are open source which means you could install them on your own server (self-hosting) and thus control the data.

You may also opt to pay for the managed hosting for some of these Slack alternatives. A few of them provide both free and paid options.

That’s how some open source projects make money. You can take the trouble of hosting it on your own or pay for a hosted service offered by the project itself.

Let’s take a look at what options do you have to replace Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking.

1. Riot

Key Highlights:

  • Decentralized Communication
  • Cross-platform support
  • Built on Matrix
  • Self-hosting supported
  • Third-party integrations supported
  • Free and paid options available for managed hosting

While Riot has been a decent Slack alternative since its first stable release, it offers a lot of essential features that most of the Slack users can utilize. You can choose to use the public Matrix servers for free or the premium hosted servers.

To start with, you get cross-platform support, so once you’ve set up your own server (or by using the free public server), all you have to do is create rooms/communities. Rooms are like the channels and the communities act as a new group/server.

Everything should work flawlessly ranging from sending messages to attaching files. However, you might find it tricky to enable the end-to-end encryption for the room you’re joined in. You may refer to the official FAQ docs available.

Simply follow the official installation instructions to get started. There’s a lot more to explore, try it out!

Riot.im 2. Zulip Chat

Key Highlights:

  • Advanced threaded conversation
  • Self-hosting supported
  • Integration support with Matrix
  • Third-party integrations that include GitHub as well
  • Cross-platform
  • Free and paid options available

Zulip Chat is a good open-source team chat software.

Not just limited to the open-source enthusiasts, but Zulip Chat offers some really useful features when compared to Slack in general. The threaded conversations with the ability to filter by topics is a plus. So, you can just join back to a conversation that was hours ago before scrolling down hours of gibberish messages that weren’t probably meant for you in a channel.

The UI may not be as good as Slack but it is good enough for most of the users. You can either choose to install Zulip on your server or use Zulip’s hosted solution for free with limitations (or upgrade it to unlock features). You can also take a look at their GitHub page to learn more.

Zulip Chat 3. Rocket.Chat

Key Highlights:

  • Cross-platform
  • User support helpdesk integration support
  • Real-time translation
  • Audio/Video conferencing
  • Third-party integrations
  • Self-hosting supported
  • Free and paid options available

Rocket.Chat is also an impressive Slack alternative that you can choose for your work or organization. In fact, we are considering to use it for our internal team communication at It’s FOSS.

The user interface is quite good and you can choose to customize the look of it by creating your own theme packages. In addition to all the essential features that Slack offers, it also supports video/audio conferencing, which is very important to some. You can host it yourself with limited features for free or opt for premium cloud hosting options.

Using end-to-end encryption with Rocket.Chat is a one-click task as well. Personally, I like the user experience better when compared to the others in the list – but that’s just me. You can also follow their active GitHub page to know more about it.

Rocket.Chat 4. Mattermost

Key Highlights:

  • Cross-platform
  • Tailored mostly for enterprise use
  • Free and paid options
  • Real-time group chat
  • Third-party integration
  • Self-hosting supported
  • UI/UX Customization supported

Unlike others, Mattermost is an enterprise-focused Slack alternative. You wouldn’t be too surprised that you may not like to use it for personal use.

You can opt to deploy the open-source edition for free but you will be limited to the free features. So, it is highly likely that you have to request a trial key before purchasing the license for Mattermost.

For obvious reasons, you won’t be able to try anything on your desktop unless you have a trial key because the demo is limited to their online website as a temporary session. Unless you’re an enterprise who needs something very similar to Slack but open-source, I don’t think you’d need this. If you’d like, you can also take a look at their GitHub page.

Mattermost 5. Wire

Key Highlights:

  • Cross-platform
  • No free options (30-day Trial offered)
  • Text, voice and video chats
  • Privacy-focused
  • Self-hosting option available for Enterprise

We’ve already covered Wire as an alternative to Slack in one of our previous articles. It is indeed a useful open-source solution that focuses on privacy while giving a premium UX for users looking to switch from Slack.

You would need to opt for the Enterprise-focused premium plan if you want a custom deployment for Wire. You can try the hosted pro version (Desktop/Mobile) for free up to 30 days but for a private hosting deployment, you need to contact them.

You can learn more about it on their GitHub page or simply visit the official website through the button below.

Wire

Wrapping Up

Slack is unquestionably a good team chat app, but if you want to stick with open source solution, you can try one of these recommendation.

I’d recommend you to re-read the key highlights mentioned for each of the apps mentioned to help decide for yourself.

Feel free to try them and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if I missed something that’s potentially an open source Slack alternative, let me know!

VokoscreenNG: Open Source Screencasting Tool

Monday 24th of February 2020 07:43:15 AM

Brief: Vokoscreen, open source screencasting tool, has been reborn as vokoscreenNG. It is created from scratch using Qt and GStreamer. In this week’s open source software highlight, let’s take a look at vokoscreenNG.

Vokoscreen recreated as vokoscreenNG VokoscreenNG Interface

Vokoscreen was one of the best screen recording software for Linux. Despite its rather ‘outdated looking’ interface, it had a decent userbase.

For some time, vokoscreen didn’t see updates and eventually it was discontinued.

The good news is that vokoscreen is not entirely dead. It’s reborn as vokoscreenNG.

The NG in vokoscreenNG stands for New Generation and rightly so because it’s been created from scratch using Qt and Gstreamer.

Features of VokoscreenNG

VokoscreenNG has all the standard features you would expect in an standard screen recording tool.

You can record the entire desktop, a specific area or a specific application window. You can zoom in, add a delay before starting the recording.

You can choose the output video format, codec (like x264), frame rates and other such parameters.

Set time duration for the recording

You can also limit the disk space usage or set a fixed time duration for the recordings.

Record the webcam

You can also record the webcam (if you were having a video-conference).

There are more features that you can explore while using VokoscreenNG.

Installing VokoscreenNG on Linux

VokoscreenNG is under active development and doesn’t have DEB packages at the time of writing this article. AppImage and other packages are in pipeline.

At present, you can install it on Fedora using the following command:

sudo dnf install vokoscreenNG

On openSUSE, you can use:

sudo zypper install vokoscreenNG

For Ubuntu and other Ubuntu-based distributions, you can use an unofficial PPA created by Jim of Ubuntu Handbook.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntuhandbook1/apps sudo apt update sudo apt install vokoscreen-ng

Learn more about using PPA. You should also know how to remove applications installed via PPA.

For other distributions, you’ll have to install it from source code which I don’t recommend specially when you are a regular user. Wait for some time and you should have ‘easy to install’ packages available. Till then use Kazam or SimpleScreenRecorder for this purpose.

vokoscreenNG on GitHub

Wrapping up…

Vokoscreen was a popular tool 6-7 years back. I am glad to see that it is reincarnated into vokoscreenNG and is being actively developed now.

Have you used vokoscreenNG already? If yes, how’s your experience with it? If not, will you be giving it a try? Do share your views in the comment section.

17 Cool Arduino Project Ideas for DIY Enthusiasts

Saturday 22nd of February 2020 07:53:11 AM

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform that combines both open source software and hardware to let people make interactive projects with ease. You can get Arduino-compatible single board computers and use them to make something useful.

In addition to the hardware, you will also need to know the Arduino language to use the Arduino IDE to successfully create something.

You can code using the web editor or use the Arduino IDE offline. Nevertheless, you can always refer to the official resources available to learn about Arduino.

Considering that you know the essentials, I will be mentioning some of the best (or interesting) Arduino projects. You can try to make them for yourself or modify them to come up with something of your own.

Interesting Arduino project ideas for beginners, experts, everyone

The following projects need a variety of additional hardware – so make sure to check out the official link to the projects (originally featured on the official Arduino Project Hub) to learn more about them.

Also, it is worth noting that they aren’t particularly in any ranking order – so feel free to try what sounds best to you.

1. LED Controller

Looking for simple Arduino projects? Here’s one for you.

One of the easiest projects that let you control LED lights. Yes, you do not have to opt for expensive LED products just to decorate your room (or for any other use-case), you can simply make an LED controller and customize it to use it however you want.

It requires using the Arduino UNO board and a couple more things (which also includes an Android phone). You can learn more about it in the link to the project below.

LED Controller 2. Hot Glue LED Matrix Lamp

Another Arduino LED project for you. Since we are talking about using LEDs to decorate, you can also make an LED lamp that looks beautiful.

For this, you might want to make sure that you have a 3D printer. Next, you need an LED strip and Arduino Nano R3 as the primary materials.

Once you’ve printed the case and assembled the lamp section, all you need to do is to add the glue sticks and figure out the wiring. It does sound very simple to mention – you can learn more about it on the official Arduino project feature site.

LED Matrix Lamp 3. Arduino Mega Chess

Want to have a personal digital chessboard? Why not?

You’ll need a TFT LCD touch screen display and an Arduino Mega 2560 board as the primary materials. If you have a 3D printer, you can create a pretty case for it and make changes accordingly.

Take a look at the original project for inspiration.

Arduino Mega Chess 4. Enough Already: Mute My TV

A very interesting project. I wouldn’t argue the usefulness of it – but if you’re annoyed by certain celebrities (or personalities) on TV, you can simply mute their voice whenever they’re about to speak something on TV.

Technically, it was tested with the old tech back then (when you didn’t really stream anything). You can watch the video above to get an idea and try to recreate it or simply head to the link to read more about it.

Mute My TV 5. Robot Arm with Controller

If you want to do something with the help of your robot and still have manual control over it, the robot arm with a controller is one of the most useful Arduino projects. It uses the Arduino UNO board if you’re wondering.

You will have a robot arm -for which you can make a case using the 3D printer to enhance its usage and you can use it for a variety of use-cases. For instance, to clean the carbage using the robot arm or anything similar where you don’t want to directly intervene.

Robotic Arm With Controller 6. Make Musical Instrument Using Arduino

I’ve seen a variety of musical instruments made using Arduino. You can explore the Internet if you want something different than this.

You would need a Pi supply flick charge and an Arduino UNO to make it happen. It is indeed a cool Arduino project where you get to simply tap and your hand waves will be converted to music. Also, it isn’t tough to make this – so you should have a lot of fun making this.

Musical Instrument using Arduino 7. Pet Trainer: The MuttMentor

An Arduino-based device that assists you to help train your pet – sounds exciting!

For this, they’re using the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense while utilizing TensorFlow to train a small neural network for all the common actions that your pet does. Accordingly, the buzzer will offer a reinforcing notification when your pet obeys your command.

This can have wide applications when tweaked as per your requirements. Check out the details below.

The MuttMentor 8. Basic Earthquake Detector

Normally, you depend on the government officials to announce/inform about the earthquake stats (or the warning for it).

But with Arduino boards, you can simply build a basic earthquake detector and have transparent results for yourself without depending on the authorities. Click on the button below to know about the relevant details to help make it.

Basic Earthquake Detector 9. Security Access Using RFID Reader

As the project describes – “RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification “.

So, in this project, you will be making an RFID reader using Arduino while pairing it with an Adafruit NFC card for security access. Check out the full details using the button below and let me know how it works for you.

Security Access using RFID reader 10. Smoke Detection using MQ-2 Gas Sensor

This could be potentially one of the best Arduino projects out there. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to equip smoke detectors for your home, you can manage with a DIY solution to some extent.

Of course, unless you want a complex failsafe set up along with your smoke detector, a basic inexpensive solution should do the trick. In either case, you can also find other applications for the smoke detector.

Smoke Detector 11. Arduino Based Amazon Echo using 1Sheeld

In case you didn’t know 1Sheeld basically replaces the need for an add-on Arduino board. You just need a smartphone and add Arduino shields to it so that you can do a lot of things with it.

Using 5 such shields, the original creator of this project made himself a DIY Amazon Echo. You can find all the relevant details, schematics, and code to make it happen.

DIY Amazon Echo 12. Audio Spectrum Visualizer

Just want to make something cool? Well, here’s an idea for an audio spectrum visualizer.

For this, you will need an Arduino Nano R3 and an LED display as primary materials to get started with. You can tweak the display as required. You can connect it with your headphone output or simply a line-out amplifier.

Easily one of the cheapest Arduino projects that you can try for fun.

Audio Spectrum Visualizer 13. Motion Following Motorized Camera

Up for a challenge? If you are – this will be one of the coolest Arduino Projects in our list.

Basically, this is meant to replace your home security camera which is limited to an angle of video recording. You can turn the same camera into a motorized camera that follows the motion.

So, whenever it detects a movement, it will change its angle to try to follow the object. You can read more about it to find out how to make it.

Motion Following Motorized Camera 14. Water Quality Monitoring System

If you’re concerned about your health in connection to the water you drink, you can try making this.

It requires an Arduino UNO and the water quality sensors as the primary materials. To be honest, a useful Arduino project to go for. You can find everything you need to make this in the link below.

Water Quality Monitoring System 15. Punch Activated Arm Flamethrower

I would be very cautious about this – but seriously, one of the best (and coolest) Arduino projects I’ve ever come across.

Of course, this counts as a fun project to try out to see what bigger projects you can pull off using Arduino and here it is. In the project, he originally used the SparkFun Arduino Pro Mini 328 along with an accelerometer as the primary materials.

Punch Activated Flamethrower 16. Polar Drawing Machine

This isn’t any ordinary plotter machine that you might’ve seen people creating using Arduino boards.

With this, you can draw some cool vector graphics images or bitmap. It might sound like bit of overkill but then it could also be fun to do something like this.

This could be a tricky project, so you can refer to the details on the link to go through it thoroughly.

Polar Drawing Machine 17. Home Automation

Technically, this is just a broad project idea because you can utilize the Arduino board to automate almost anything you want at your home.

Just like I mentioned, you can go for a security access device, maybe create something that automatically waters the plants or simply make an alarm system.

Countless possibilities of what you can do to automate things at your home. For reference, I’ve linked to an interesting home automation project below.

Home Automation Bonus: Robot Cat (OpenCat)

A programmable robotic cat for AI-enhanced services and STEM education. In this project, both Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards have been utilized.

You can also look at the Raspberry Pi alternatives if you want. This project needs a lot of work, so you would want to invest a good amount of time to make it work.

OpenCat

Wrapping Up

With the help of Arduino boards (coupled with other sensors and materials), you can do a lot of projects with ease. Some of the projects that I’ve listed above are suitable for beginners and some are not. Feel free to take your time to analyze what you need and the cost of the project before proceeding.

Did I miss listing an interesting Arduino project that deserves the mention here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Discussing Past, Present and Future of FreeBSD Project

Friday 21st of February 2020 02:01:54 PM

FreeBSD is one of the most popular BSD distributions. It is used on desktop, servers and embedded devices for more than two decades.

We talked to Deb Goodkin, executive director, FreeBSD Foundation and discussed the past, present and future of FreeBSD project.

It’s FOSS: FreeBSD has been in the scene for more than 25 years. How do you see the journey of FreeBSD? 

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of innovation happening on and with FreeBSD. When the Foundation came into play 20 years ago, we were able to step in and help accelerate changes in the operating system. Over the years, we’ve increased our marketing support, to provide more advocacy and educational material, and to increase the awareness and use of FreeBSD.

In addition, we’ve increased our staff of software developers to allow us to quickly step in to fix bugs, review patches, implement workarounds to hardware issues, and implement new features and functionality. We have also increased the number of development projects we are funding to improve various areas of FreeBSD.

The history of stability and reliability, along with all the improvements and growth with FreeBSD, is making it a compelling choice for companies, universities, and individuals.

It’s FOSS: We know that Netflix uses FreeBSD extensively. What other companies or groups rely on FreeBSD? How do they contribute to BSD/FreeBSD (if they do at all)?

Sony’s Playstation 4 uses a modified version of FreeBSD as their operating system, Apple with their MacOS and iOS, NetApp in their ONTAP product, Juniper Networks  in JunOS, Trivago in their backend infrastructure, University of Cambridge in security research including the Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instruction (CHERI) project, University of Notre Dame in their Engineering Department, Groupon in their datacenter, LA Times in their data center, as well as, other notable companies like Panasonic, and Nintendo.

I listed a variety of organizations to highlight the different FreeBSD use cases. Companies like Netflix support FreeBSD by supporting the Project financially, as well as, by upstreaming their code. Some of the companies, like Sony, take advantage of the BSD license and don’t give back at all. 

Deb Goodkin and Ed Maste, project development director, promoting FreeBSD at OSCON

It’s FOSS: Linux is ruling the servers and cloud computing. It seems that BSD is lagging in that field?

I wouldn’t characterize it as lagging, per se. Linux distributions do have a much higher market share than FreeBSD, but our strength falls in those two markets. FreeBSD does extremely well in these markets, because it provides a consistent and reliable foundation, and tends to just work. Known for having long term API stability, the user will integrate once and upgrade on their terms as both FreeBSD and their product evolves. 

It’s FOSS: Do you see the emergence of Linux as a threat to BSD? 

Sure, there are so many Linux distributions already, and most of them are supported by for profit companies. In fact, companies like Intel have many Linux developers on staff, so Linux is easily supported on their hardware.

However, thanks to the continuing education efforts and as our market share continues to grow, more developers will be available to support companies’ various FreeBSD use cases. 

It’s FOSS: Let’s talk about desktop. Recently, the devs of Project Trident announced that they were moving away from FreeBSD as a base. They said that they made this decision because FreeBSD is slow to review updates and support for new hardware. For example, the most recent version of Telegram on FreeBSD is 9 releases behind the version available on Linux. How would you respond to their comments?

There are quite a few FreeBSD distros for the desktop, with various focuses. The latest, is FuryBSD, which coincidentally was started by iXsystems employees, but is independent of iXsystems, just like Project Trident is. In addition to FuryBSD, you may want to check out NomadBSD and MidnightBSD.

Regarding supporting new hardware, we’ve stepped up our efforts to get FreeBSD working on more popular newer laptops. For example, the Foundation recently purchased a couple of the latest generation Lenovo X1 Carbon laptops and sponsored work to make sure that peripherals are supported out-of-the-box.

It’s FOSS: Why should a desktop user consider choosing FreeBSD?

There are many reasons people should consider using FreeBSD on their desktop! Just to highlight a few, it has rock solid stability; high performance; supports ZFS to protect your data; a community that is friendly, helpful, and approachable; excellent documentation to easily find answers; over 30,000 open source software packages that are easy to install, allowing you to easily set up your environment without a lot of extras, and that includes many choices of popular GUIs, and it follows the POLA philosophy (Principle of Least Astonishment) which means, don’t break things that work and upgrades are generally painless (even across major releases). 

It’s FOSS: Are there any plans to make it easier to install FreeBSD as a desktop system? The current focus seems to be on servers.

The Foundation is supporting efforts to make sure FreeBSD works on the latest hardware and peripherals that appear in desktop systems, and will continue to support making FreeBSD easy to deploy, monitor, and configure to provide a great toolbox for building a desktop on top of it. That allows others to take as much or as little of FreeBSD to build a desktop version to produce a specific user experience they desire.

Like I mentioned above, there are other FreeBSD distributions that have taken these FreeBSD components and created their own desktop versions.

It’s FOSS: What are your plans/roadmap for FreeBSD in the coming years?

The FreeBSD Foundation’s purpose is to support the FreeBSD Project. While we’re an entirely separate entity, we work closely with the Core Team and the community to help move the Project forward. The Foundation identifies key areas we should support in the coming years, based on input from users and what we are seeing in the industry. 

In 2019, we embarked on an even broader spectrum advocacy project to recruit new members throughout the world, while raising awareness about the benefits of learning FreeBSD. We are funding development projects including WiFi improvements, supporting OpenJDK, ZFS RAID-Z expansion, security, toolchain, performance improvements, and other features to keep FreeBSD innovative.

The FreeBSD Foundation will continue to host workshops and expand the amount of training opportunities and materials we provide. Finally, the BSD Certification program recently launched through Linux Professional Institute with greater availability. 

It’s FOSS: How can we bring more people to the BSD hold?

We need more PR for FreeBSD and get more tech journalists like yourself to write about FreeBSD. We also need more trainings and classes that include FreeBSD in universities, trainings/workshops at technical conferences, more FreeBSD contributors giving talks at those conferences, more technical journalists, as well as, users writing about FreeBSD, and finally we need case studies from companies and organizations successfully using FreeBSD. It all takes having more resources! We’re working on all of the above. 

It’s FOSS: Any message you would like to convey to our readers?

Readers should consider getting involved with the largest and oldest democratically run open source project!

Whether you want to learn systems programming or how an operating system works, the small size of the operating system makes it a great platform to learn from. The size of the Project makes it easier for anyone to make a notable contribution, and there is a strong mentorship culture to support new contributors.

Being a democratically run project, allows your voice to be heard and work in the areas you are interested in. I hope your readers will go to freebsd.org and try it out themselves.

How to Install Latest Git Version on Ubuntu

Tuesday 18th of February 2020 12:02:47 PM

Installing Git on Ubuntu is very easy. It is available in the main repository of Ubuntu and you can install it using the apt command like this:

sudo apt install git

Easy? Isn’t it?

There is only a slight little problem (which might not be a problem at all) and that is the version of Git it installs.

On an LTS system, the software stability is of upmost importance this is why Ubuntu 18.04 and other distributions often provide older but stable version of a software that is well tested with the distribution release.

This is why when you check the Git version, you’ll see that it installs a version which is older than the current Git version available on Git project’s website:

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ git --version git version 2.17.1

At the time of writing this tutorial, the version available on its website is 2.25. So how do you install the latest Git on Ubuntu then?

Install latest Git on Ubuntu-based Linux distributions

One way would be to install from source code. That cool, old school method is not everyone’s cup of tea. Thankfully, there is a PPA available from Ubuntu Git Maintainers team that you can use to easily install the latest stable Git version.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:git-core/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install git

Even if you had installed Git using apt previously, it will get updated to the latest stable version.

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ git --version git version 2.25.0

The beauty of using PPA is that if there is a new stable version of Git released, you’ll get it with the system updates. Just update Ubuntu to get the latest Git stable version.

Trivia

Did you know that Git version control system was created by none other than Linux creator Linus Torvalds?

Configure Git [Recommended for developers]

If you have installed Git for development purposes, you’ll soon start cloning repos, make your changes and commit your change.

If you try to commit your code, you may see a ‘Please tell me who you are’ error like this:

abhishek@itsfoss:~/compress-pdf$ git commit -m "update readme" *** Please tell me who you are. Run git config --global user.email "you@example.com" git config --global user.name "Your Name" to set your account's default identity. Omit --global to set the identity only in this repository. fatal: unable to auto-detect email address (got 'abhishek@itsfoss.(none)')

This is because you haven’t configured Git with your personal information which is mandatory.

As the error already hints, you can set up global Git configuration like this:

git config --global user.name "Your Name" git config --global user.email "you@example.com"

You can check the Git configuration with this command:

git config --list

It should show an output like this:

user.email=abhishe@private.com user.name=abhishek

This configuration is stored in ~/.gitconfig file. You may also change it manually to change the configuration.

In the end…

I hope this quick little tutorial helped you to install Git on Ubuntu. With the PPA, you easily get the latest Git version.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask in the comment section. A quick ‘thank you’ is also welcomed :)

Waterfox: Firefox Fork With Legacy Add-ons Options

Monday 17th of February 2020 09:43:57 AM

Brief: In this week’s open source software highlight, we take a look at a Firefox-based browser that supports legacy extensions that Firefox no longer supports while potentially providing fast user experience.

When it comes to web browsers, Google Chrome leads the market share. Mozilla Firefox is there still providing hopes for a mainstream web browser that respects your privacy.

Firefox has improved a lot lately and one of the side-effects of the improvements is removal of add-ons. If your favorite add-on disappeared in last few months/years, you have a good new in the form of Waterfox.

Attention!

It’s been brought to our notice that Waterfox has been acquired by System1. This company also acquired privacy focused search engine Startpage.
While System1 claims that they are providing privacy focused products because ‘there is a demand’, we cannot vouch for their claim.
In other words, it’s up to you to trust System1 and Waterfox.

Waterfox: A Firefox-based Browser Waterfox Classic

Waterfox is a useful open-source browser built on top of Firefox that focuses on privacy and supports legacy extensions. It doesn’t pitch itself as a privacy-paranoid browser but it does respect the basics.

You get two separate Waterfox browser versions. The current edition aims to provide a modern experience and the classic version focuses to support NPAPI plugins and bootstrap extensions.

Waterfox Classic

If you do not need to utilize bootstrap extensions but rely on WebExtensions, Waterfox Current is the one you should go for.

And, if you need to set up a browser that needs NPAPI plugins or bootstrap extensions extensively, Waterfox Classic version will be suitable for you.

So, if you like Firefox, but want to try something different on the same line, this is a Firefox alternative for the job.

Features of Waterfox Waterfox Current

Of course, technically, you should be able to do a lot of things that Mozilla Firefox supports.

So, I’ll just highlight all the important features of Waterfox in a list here.

  • Supports NPAPI Plugins
  • Supports Bootstrap Extensions
  • Offers separate editions for legacy extension support and modern WebExtension support.
  • Cross-platform support (Windows, Linux, and macOS)
  • Theme customization
  • Archived Add-ons supported
Installing Waterfox on Ubuntu/Linux

Unlike other popular browsers, you don’t get a package to install. So, you will have to download the archived package from its official download page.

Depending on what edition (Current/Classic) you want – just download the file, which will be .tar.bz2 extension file.

Once downloaded, simply extract the file.

Next, head on to the extracted folder and look for the “Waterfox” file. You can simply double-click on it to run start up the browser.

If that doesn’t work, you can utilize the terminal and navigate to the extracted Waterfox folder. Once there, you can simply run it with a single command. Here’s how it looks like:

cd waterfox-classic ./waterfox

In either case, you can also head to its GitHub page and explore more options to get it installed on your system.

Download Waterfox

Wrapping up

I fired it up on my Pop!_OS 19.10 installation and it worked really well for me. Though I don’t think I could switch from Firefox to Waterfox because I am not using any legacy add-on. It could still be an impressive option for certain users.

You could give it a try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

MyPaint 2.0 is Here With Brushes, Python 3 Support and More Features

Sunday 16th of February 2020 07:54:33 AM

Brief: Open source painting application MyPaint 2.0 has been released with new features and improvements. Check out what’s new and how to get the latest MyPaint on Linux.

MyPaint 2.0 MyPaint 2.0

MyPaint is one of the top open source alternatives to Microsoft Paint. It’s a handy little tool that allows you to quickly sketch and draw. While there are more sophisticated open source tools for digital artists like Krita, MyPaint is not too bad for light sketching.

You can also use it on Wacom touch devices without much trouble.

MyPaint has a major new release with support for Python 3, new layer mode, new brush parameters among other changes.

New features in MyPaint 2.0 MyPaint v1.2 and v2.0

Here are the new changes in this major release:

  • Linear compositing and spectral blending (pigment).
  • Layer views.
  • Brush strokes dependent on view rotation and view zoom.
  • Additional symmetry modes: vertical, vertical+horizontal, rotational, snowflake.
  • Expanded flood fill functionality: offset, feather, gap detection and more.
  • New brush settings: offsets, gridmap, additional smudge settings, posterize, pigment.
  • New brush inputs: barrel rotation, base radius, zoom level, gridmap x/y, direction 360, attack angle.

Apart from that there are plenty of minor changes as well that improve the overall experience with MyPaint:

  • Full Python3 support (Python2 still supported)
  • Switch to PyGI
  • New Import Layers feature
  • Progress feedback for loading/saving
  • New Layer Views
  • Spectral mixing
  • Curve editor points snaps on 0.5 increments
  • Maximum input mapping curve points increased to 64

The new release also features plenty of bug fixes.

Installing MyPaint 2.0 on Linux

It will take some time before your distribution provides MyPaint 2.0 (if it provides at all). An easier and more convenient way of using MyPaint 2 right now on Linux is via AppImage.

MyPaint 2 is available in an AppImage format that you can download from its GitHub repository, give it execute permission and run it.

The source code and other installation options are available on the release page.

Download the latest MyPaint

Conclusion

The new release looks good. If you try MyPaint 2.0, do share your experience.

Here Are The Most Beautiful Linux Distributions in 2020

Sunday 16th of February 2020 04:30:38 AM

It’s a no-brainer that there’s a Linux distribution for every user – no matter what they prefer or what they want to do.

Starting out with Linux? You can go with the Linux distributions for beginners. Switching from Windows? You have Windows-like Linux distributions. Have an old computer? You can use lightweight Linux distros.

In this list, I’m going to focus only on the most beautiful Linux distros out there.

Top 7 Most Beautiful Linux Distributions

Wait! Is there a thing called a beautiful Linux distribution? Is it not redundant considering the fact that you can customize the looks of any distribution and make it look better with themes and icons?

You are right about that. But here, I am talking about the distributions that look great without any tweaks and customization effort from the user’s end. These distros provide a seamless, pleasant desktop experience right out of the box.

Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking.

1. elementary OS

elementary OS is one of the most beautiful Linux distros out there. It leans on a macOS-ish look while providing a great user experience for Linux users. If you’re already comfortable macOS – you will have no problem using the elementary OS.

Also, elementary OS is based on Ubuntu – so you can easily find plenty of applications to get things done.

Not just limited to the look and feel – but the elementary OS is always hard at work to introduce meaningful changes. So, you can expect the user experience to improve with every update you get.

elementary OS 2. Deepin

Deepin is yet another beautiful Linux distro originally based on Debian’s stable branch. The animations (look and feel) could be too overwhelming for some – but it looks pretty.

It features its own Deepin Desktop Environment that involves a mix of essential features for the best user experience possible. It may not exactly resemble the UI of any other distribution but it’s quite easy to get used to.

My personal attention would go to the control center and the color scheme featured in Deepin OS. You can give it a try – it’s worth taking a look.

Deepin 3. Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS manages to offer a great UI on top of Ubuntu while offering a pure GNOME experience.

It also happens to be my personal favorite which I utilize as my primary desktop OS. Pop!_OS isn’t flashy – nor involves any fancy animations. However, they’ve managed to get things right by having a perfect combo of icon/themes – while polishing the user experience from a technical point of view.

I don’t want to initiate a Ubuntu vs Pop OS debate but if you’re used to Ubuntu, Pop!_OS can be a great alternative for potentially better user experience.

Pop!_OS 4. Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is an Arch-based Linux distribution. While installing Arch Linux is a slightly complicated job, Manjaro provides an easier and smoother Arch experience.

It offers a variety of desktop environment editions to choose from while downloading. No matter what you choose, you still get enough options to customize the look and feel or the layout.

To me, it looks quite fantastic for an Arch-based distribution that works out of the box – you can give it a try!

Manjaro Linux 5. KDE Neon

KDE Neon is for the users who want a simplified approach to the design language but still get a great user experience.

It is a lightweight Linux distro which is based on Ubuntu. As the name suggests, it features the KDE Plasma desktop and looks absolutely beautiful.

KDE Neon gives you the latest and greatest KDE Plasma desktop and KDE applications. Unlike Kubuntu or other KDE-based distributions, you don’t have to wait for months to get the new KDE software.

You get a lot of customization options built-in with the KDE desktop – so feel free to try it out!

KDE Neon 6. Zorin OS

Without a doubt, Zorin OS is an impressive Linux distro that manages to provide a good user experience – even with its lite edition.

You can try either the full version or the lite edition (with Xfce desktop). The UI is tailored for Windows and macOS users to get used to. While based on Ubuntu, it provides a great user experience with what it has to offer.

If you start like its user interface – you can also try Zorin Grid to manage multiple computers running Zorin OS at your workplace/home. With the ultimate edition, you can also control the layout of your desktop (as shown in the image above).

Zorin OS 7. Nitrux OS

Nitrux OS is a unique take on a Linux distribution which is somewhat based on Ubuntu – but not completely.

It focuses on providing a good user experience to the users who are looking for a unique design language with a fresh take on a Linux distro. It uses Nomad desktop which is based on KDE.

Nitrux encourages to use of AppImage for applications. But you can also use Arch Linux’s pacman package manager in Nitrux which is based on Ubuntu. Awesome, isn’t it?

Even if it’s not the perfect OS to have installed (yet), it sure looks pretty and good enough for most of the basic tasks. You can also know more about it when you read our interview with Nitrux’s founder.

Here’s a slightly old video of Nitrux but it still looks good:

Nitrux OS Bonus: eXtern OS (in ‘stagnated’ development)

If you want to try an experimental Linux distro, extern OS is going to be beautiful.

It isn’t actively maintained and should not be used for production systems. Yet, it provides unique user experience (thought not polished enough).

Just for the sake of trying a good-looking Linux distro, you can give it a try to experience it.

eXtern OS

Wrapping Up

Now, as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. So this list of beautiful Linux distributions is from my point of view. Feel free to disagree (politely of course) and mention your favorites.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat/Fedora: FHE, CoreOS, LLVM, GraalVM and Paul Cormier

  • IBM Releases Fully Homomorphic Encryption Toolkit for MacOS and iOS; Linux and Android Coming Soon

    Often, when I begin explaining fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) to someone for the first time I start by saying that I’ve been working in the field for nearly a decade and yet, I still have to pause to spell it right. So, let’s call it FHE. Half-kidding aside, FHE really sounds like magic when you hear about it for the first time, but it’s actually based on very sound mathematics. The main difference is that FHE requires a shift in the programming paradigm that we are used to, which makes it a little more difficult to integrate into applications. That was until today thanks to a new toolkit we are making available for MacOS, iOS and soon for Linux and Android. In fact, developers with basic platform tool familiarity can get up and running by following a few simple instructions rather quickly (see video below). It was no small feat to synthesize 11 years of top-notch cryptography research into a streamlined developer experience that is accessible and freely available to anyone in the time most people would spend to brew a pot of coffee or de-clutter a desk.

  • New open source security tools let you develop on encrypted data

    Building security into the fabric of your applications no longer requires you to be an expert in cryptography. The open source IBM Fully Homomorphic Encryption Toolkits provide code and development environment settings that developers can use to experiment with a different kind of secure programming model.

  • Contribute at the Fedora CoreOS Test Day

    The Fedora CoreOS team has released the first Fedora CoreOS testing release based on Fedora 32. They expect that this release will promote to the stable channel in two weeks, on the usual schedule. As a result, the Fedora CoreOS and QA teams have organized a test day on Monday, June 08, 2020. Refer to the wiki page for links to the test cases and materials you’ll need to participate. Read below for details.

  • IBM C/C++ and Fortran compilers to adopt LLVM open source infrastructure

    IBM® has been investing significantly in open source code, communities, and governance. LLVM is an open source compilation technology framework that is actively maintained by a large development community, supporting multiple architectures and programming languages. Clang is the open source C/C++ frontend for the LLVM project and provides full support for the latest language standards. IBM intends to fully incorporate the LLVM Core and Clang sub-projects in future C/C++ offerings on IBM z/OS®, Linux on Power, IBM AIX®, and IBM i (with PASE) platforms. As an active sponsor and strong supporter of the LLVM open source project, IBM is contributing code for both IBM Power® and IBM Z® in the areas of code generation and exploitation, portability and usability enhancements, and toolchain support. In 2019, IBM increased participation in the LLVM project by adding AIX support and enhancing loop optimizations. IBM is intending to fully leverage the LLVM infrastructure in C/C++ offerings as the next step in our compiler strategy.

  • Mandrel: A community distribution of GraalVM for the Red Hat build of Quarkus

    The Java community has demonstrated time and time again its ability to evolve, improve, and adapt to meet the needs of its developers and users. Even after 25 years of language and framework choices, Java has consistently ranked in the top languages in use today due to its strong track record and capabilities in enterprise use cases. Red Hat has long been a strong leader in Java and open source software development and remains committed to being at the forefront of Java as it continues to evolve. Today, Red Hat and the GraalVM community jointly established a new downstream distribution of GraalVM, called Mandrel. This distribution will power the Red Hat build of Quarkus, a recently announced addition to Red Hat Runtimes. This article explains what Mandrel is and why it is necessary.

  • Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier Talks About IBM and His Vision for the Future

    Paul Cormier recently sat down for a talk with us about how the company's relationship with its new owner, IBM, is working out and to reflect on where the company is going.

Latest Security Patches and FUD/Drama

Android Leftovers

Windows 10 May 2020 vs. Linux Performance On AMD Ryzen Threadripper

Given the recent release of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, here are some fresh benchmarks showing how the latest Windows 10 software update paired with the latest AMD drivers performs against the latest 2020 Linux distribution releases. This testing was done on an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X box given the interesting performance differences we have seen in the past to Linux's advantage with these HEDT processors. The Linux distributions tested against Windows 10 May 2020 Update were Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Arch-based Manjaro 20.0.2, Clear Linux 33250, and Fedora Workstation 32. Read more