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5 specialized Linux distributions for computer repair

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Linux

Computers are incredible tools that let users doing amazing things, but sometimes things go wrong. The problem could be as small as accidentally deleting files or forgetting a password—and as major as having an operating system rendered non-bootable by file system corruption. Or, worst case scenario, a hard drive dying completely. In each of these cases, and many more like them, there are specialized tools that can aid you in fixing problems with a computer or help you be prepared for when something bad does happen.

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Today in Techrights

today's leftovers

  • The General Purpose Computer In Your Pocket – Purism

    Computers have us surrounded. Just about every piece of consumer electronics these days puts “smart” in front of the name, which means they embedded a computer that runs specialized software. The “smart” trend started with “smartphones” which marketers started calling cellular phones once they got powerful enough processors to run a general-purpose operating system and applications. The name “smartphone” was intended to differentiate them from “feature phones” which had a limited set of additional applications (calculator, SMS application, possibly a music player or a limited web browser). Feature phones were designed to make phone calls and send text messages, but smartphones were actually general-purpose computers that happened to have a phone and SMS application on them. Today, a majority of people hardly ever use their smartphone as a phone and instead use it to chat, browse the web, and run applications–the same things they do on their desktop or laptop computers. Your smartphone is a pocket-sized general-purpose computer that’s more powerful than desktop computers from not that long ago, yet smartphones are prevented from realizing their full potential, are still marketed as special-purpose computers, and most people think of them that way. Why? One of the neatest tricks Big Tech ever pulled was convincing people that phones weren’t general-purpose computers and should have different rules than laptops or desktops. These rules conveniently give the vendor more control so that you don’t own a smartphone so much as you rent it. Now that the public has accepted these new rules for phones, vendors are starting to apply the same rules to laptops and desktops. [...] When you bought a computer starting in the `90s you generally expected to get operating system upgrades for the life of the computer. In the Windows world you normally could upgrade to the next version of Windows years later, and you’d only replace hardware after the OS upgrades and applications got so bloated (along with the spyware) that the computer was too slow to use. Of course, those “slow” computers then got a new life for many more years after installing Linux on them. Now imagine a computer that only lasted two or three years, after which you would no longer get OS and security updates. Even though the hardware was still fast enough to run the OS, if you cared about security you’d be forced to upgrade. That’s the situation we have with Android phones today. If you are lucky your vendor will let you update to the next version of Android at least once, and receive general updates for two years or three years. If you are unlucky your device may never upgrade to the next Android OS. Even flagship Google phones only promise OS updates three years from the date the phone first was sold and security updates for only 18 months after they stop selling a device. For instance, at the time of this article, Pixel 2 owners just lost guaranteed OS and security updates.

  • Mac vs PC: The next major tech shift | INTHEBLACK

    There is another option for those with older systems – or even new Intel-based systems for that matter: move to Linux. This OS powers about 70 per cent of the world’s web servers. It is popular among software developers and other high-end users, though its overall share of desktop and laptop computers is tiny. Yet, this does not mean Linux is just for experts. Linux is free and open-source, with large communities of developers that provide regular updates. As a result, it is efficient, secure and offers plenty of choices, with hundreds of different versions (called “distributions”) available. Linux wasn’t always the friendliest OS to install and use, but mainstream distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora, are now much easier to install. There’s a choice of graphical user interfaces to choose from, including Elementary OS’s macOS-like experience. For those with old systems, the lightweight Ubuntu variant Xubuntu is one of many options. Businesses that need fast, guaranteed support can pay for it from the likes of Red Hat Linux. There are thousands of Linux applications to choose from. Many, such as office suite LibreOffice, either come bundled with distributions or are easy to install via “repositories”. Alternatively, a Linux tool called WINE can run many Windows apps – or you can dual-boot Linux with Windows or macOS. There is no denying that Windows and macOS users will face a learning curve, but at least they can try Linux first. Many versions are available as “live distributions”, meaning you can run them off a USB stick or DVD. Then, if you like one, you can install it on your computer. Just remember to back up your files first. Alternatively, you can buy a laptop or computer with Linux pre-installed from a speciality provider, such as Purism or Linux Now. Lenovo also has announced greater support for Linux on its systems.

  • Various software updates in FreeBSD

    On an average day, I make use of a few dozen or more Open Source projects, and contribute to one or two (notably Calamares and KDE, but it varies wildly). When I wear my FreeBSD packaging hat, I tend to drive-by contribute to many more projects because there’s compatibility or C++-style fixes to apply. And I try to keep up with releases, some of which I’ll highlight here.

  • Arduino Blog » This aerial system launches Nano 33 BLE Sense darts for data collection

    Sensor deployment via unmanned aerial vehicles is an interesting concept. Up until now, you’ve had two options: use a drone that drops sensors onto the ground, or one with some kind of manipulator to stick them in particular place. However, researchers at Imperial College London have been studying a third approach, which shoots sensor pods from an aerial platform like darts. The system utilizes a compressed spring, along with a shape-memory alloy (SMA) trigger to fling the sensor pods at a nearby surface, at up to a four-meter range. The actual sensor package used here is an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense, allowing for a variety of measurements without extra hardware in hazardous environments or inaccessible locations. Several methods of attachment were proposed, including magnets and chemical bonding, but the experiment’s research paper focuses on dart-like wood attachment, since this would require the most force.

  • Whiskey Lake embedded PC has dual hot-swap SATA

    Axiomtek’s fanless, rugged “eBOX630-528-FL” runs Linux or Win 10 on Intel’s 8th Gen UE-series with up to 32GB DDR4, 2x hot-swap SATA bays, 3x GbE, 6x USB, 4x COM, 2x HDMI, and 2x mini-PCIe. The eBOX630-528-FL may be the quintessential, mid-range Intel-based embedded PC of 2020. With a 15W TDP 8th Gen Whiskey Lake-UE processor that falls between the low-power Apollo Lake Atom and high-end, power-sucking Coffee Lake, the fanless, ruggedized system supports a wide range of embedded applications including smart production, machine automation, product testing, smart warehouse, and AIoT-related.

  • WordPress 5.5.3 Maintenance Release

    WordPress 5.5.3 is now available. This maintenance release fixes an issue introduced in WordPress 5.5.2 which makes it impossible to install WordPress on a brand new website that does not have a database connection configured. This release does not affect sites where a database connection is already configured, for example, via one-click installers or an existing wp-config.php file. [...] These themes and plugins were not activated and therefore remain non-functional unless you installed them previously. It is safe to delete these features should you prefer not to use them. If you are not on 5.5.2, or have auto-updates for minor releases disabled, please manually update to the 5.5.3 version by downloading WordPress 5.5.3 or visiting Dashboard → Updates and click “Update Now.”

  • RT-Thread launches developer event

    RT-Thread is an open source embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) providing a wide range of components along with more than 250 software packages (and counting) for the Internet of Things (IoT). In previous Opensource.com articles, the RT-Thread project has demonstrated how to code hardware with an RTOS and how to program for IoT using open source tools. Great things in open source are never done by one person; they're done by a group of people working together. And if you want to get started with embedded programming or you're looking for an RTOS for your embedded project, RT-Thread wants to collaborate with you! Today, we're pleased to announce that we've teamed up with Programming For Beginners to hold a developer event. We're looking for developers who have ideas, ambitions, and excitement for the open source hardware.

  • Sandstorm: A Complete Open-source Platform with A Rich Ecosystem for Enterprise

    It's a nightmare for many companies and enterprise technical departments to run the required apps separately, keep up with the maintenance, auditing logs and manage their updates. Especially the ones with low IT resources or complex structure. It's not resources-effective approach neither secure. Despite it requires a dedicated team of DevOps to keep up, It is also a challenge for company identity management, access management and compliance. Here it comes Sandstorm, An open-source solution that is designed specifically to resolve these issue and boost enterprise, developers, DevOps and individuals productivity. In this article we will guide you through this amazing application, explaining how it works, listing its features and the best use-cases for it.

  • Xen Summit Keynote: Your self-driving car is awesome. . .because of open source software like Xen - Xen Project

    In his keynote speech, Robin Randhawa, Technical Director at ARM, gives an overview of how many innovations happening in the automotive industry are made possible due to open source software, including Xen. Robin is part of the open source division within ARM. In his talk, Robin outlines how ARM’s place in Vehicle Autonomy, as well as the ecosystem around it and the role Open source software plays.

  • The Linux Foundation wants to help combat COVID-19 with free, open source apps to tell people when they've been exposed to the virus [Ed: Linux Foundation is an enemy of privacy. Linux Foundation actively helps companies that exploit a virus to push surveillance agenda.]

Programming Leftovers

  • 5 Outstanding Open-Source Projects Which Have Just One Source File

    Programmers write code in different ways according to their preference and type of the particular project. If a software project is quite large and growing, we usually decompose the whole thing into several files to achieve maintainability. However, programmers often turn awesome ideas into single-file open-source projects amazingly.

  • Jussi Pakkanen/Nibble Stew: How to build dependencies as Meson subprojects using SDL as an example

    Today we released version 0.56.0 of the Meson build system. This is an especially important release as it marks the 10 000th commit since the start of the project. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed their time and effort, this project would not exist without all of you. However in this post we are not going to talk about that, those interested can find further details in the release notes. Instead we are going to be talking about how to build your dependencies from source on every platform without needing anything other than Meson. Last month I had a lightning talk at CppCon about this way of managing dependencies: Since then there have been many improvements to the workflow for a smoother experience. To demonstrate this I upgraded the sample program to use SDL Mixer and SDL Image instead of relying on plain SDL.

  • Abstraction: The Journey from Memory Tubes to JavaScript Memory Management

    While reading George Dyson’s computer history book Turing’s Cathedral earlier this year, I was struck by how physical the act of programming was back in the 1940s and 50s, when the age of computers began. Take a close look at the lead image of this post, borrowed from Dyson’s book, which shows John von Neumann and the MANIAC computer in 1952. At hip level in the photo are a group of Williams cathode-ray memory tubes, each one storing 1,024 bits. There were 40 tubes, so the total capacity was 40,960 bits (5 kilobytes!) What’s even more remarkable than the fact that von Neumann could touch the memory tubes, is that he was also able to see what was happening inside the tubes. “In the foreground [of the photo] is the 7-inch-diameter 41st monitor stage, allowing the contents of the memory to be observed while in use,” wrote Dyson. When von Neumann and his colleagues programmed the MANIAC, they were acutely aware of what was happening inside the machine. They had to understand precisely how memory worked, in order to physically manipulate it. “Every memory location had to be specified at every step,” explained Dyson, “and the position of the significant digits adjusted as a computation progressed.”

  • A Journey Through Memory Management

    Since that time, MacManus notes, “we’ve gone from having to program instructions—using machine language, no less—into a cathode-ray memory tube, to 80% of the time copying and pasting reusable modules into an internet service (and having no idea where in the world it will actually get computed). [...] Since that time, MacManus notes, “we’ve gone from having to program instructions—using machine language, no less—into a cathode-ray memory tube, to 80% of the time copying and pasting reusable modules into an internet service (and having no idea where in the world it will actually get computed).

  • The accelerating adoption of Julia [LWN.net]

    The Julia programming language has seen a major increase in its use and popularity over the last few years. We last looked at it two years ago, around the time of the Julia 1.0 release. Here, we will look at some of the changes since that release, none of which are major, as well as some newer resources for learning the language, but the main focus of this article is a case study that is meant to help show why the language has been taking off. A follow-up article will introduce a new computational notebook for Julia, called Pluto, that is akin to Jupyter notebooks. Julia is a programming language that was first released in 2012; its implementation is released under the MIT license. It is a general-purpose language, but with a particular suitability for scientific programming and numerical work. Julia is a dynamic language, with an interactive mode and easy-to-learn syntax that is simple for novice programmers; it also has deeper layers of sophistication for the expert. The language allows introspection and metaprogramming, with Lisp-like macros, an optional Lisp syntax, and access to syntax-tree and assembly-language views of functions. It features a rich type system with performant user-defined types, multiple dispatch of functions, and several flavors of concurrent programming built in. Julia recently passed a kind of popularity milestone, breaking into the top 20 in the IEEE Spectrum list of programming languages. Beyond that, the language is being adopted in many new research projects, such as: the Climate Machine, the computational engine used by the Caltech Climate Modeling Alliance; a new space weather forecasting initiative, funded by the NSF; quantum machine learning; drug development; and a computational collaboration called Celeste to create a massive star map of the universe. Professor Mykel Kochenderfer is the creator of an international standard aircraft collision avoidance system, ACAS X. In an email interview, he told me that the Julia version of his system runs as fast as a previous version he wrote in highly optimized C++. Since he wrote the Julia version intending it to merely document the algorithm, this was a surprise. He was able to replace the C++ version with the easier to read and maintain Julia code. The recently concluded annual Julia conference, online this year, naturally, was a good indicator of the audience that Julia is attracting. The presentations (YouTube videos) that one would expect of various computer science topics were outweighed by talks about applications to scientific research in an impressive variety of fields. A recurring theme was the way that the language facilitated collaboration and code reuse, giving scientists an opportunity to take advantage of the packages and algorithms of others.

  • What is coming in PHP 8 [LWN.net]

    Recently, PHP 8 release candidate 2 was posted by the project. A lot of changes are coming with this release, including a just-in-time compiler, a good number of backward-compatibility breaks, and new features that developers have been requesting for years. Now that the dust has settled, and the community is focusing on squashing bugs for the general-availability release scheduled for November 26, it's a good time to look at what to expect. [...] To a certain degree, PHP 8 represents a departure from the project's past. Historically, the community has placed a high value on backward compatibility, even between major releases. This doesn't seem to have been as much of a concern for this release, judging by the upgrade notes. With the scope and quantity of backward-incompatible changes, even relatively modern PHP applications will require a little tweaking to bring them up to speed. The community has expended considerable effort in making PHP 8 into a more consistent language, both in terms of behaviors and syntax. Four separate proposals with a focus on making PHP into a more consistent language — in terms of behavior and syntax — have been implemented. These changes generally concern themselves with edge cases or preexisting quirks of the language; there are, however, a few notable changes worth mentioning explicitly.

  • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.3.24 and 7.4.12

    RPMs of PHP version 7.4.12 are available in remi repository for Fedora 32-33 and remi-php74 repository for Fedora 31 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 7 (RHEL, CentOS). RPMs of PHP version 7.3.24 are available in remi repository for Fedora 31 and remi-php73 repository for Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS).

  • How to Check If a Value Exists in An Array in PHP – TecAdmin

    Q. How do I check if a specific value exists in an array in PHP. Write a sample PHP program to check if a value exists in an array.

  • What's new in Fabric8 Kubernetes Java client 4.12.0 - Red Hat Developer

    The recent Fabric8 Kubernetes Java client 4.12.0 release includes many new features and bug fixes. This article introduces the major features we’ve added between the 4.11.0 and 4.12.0 releases. I will show you how to get started with the new VolumeSnapshot extension, CertificateSigningRequests, and Tekton triggers in the Fabric8 Tekton client (to name just a few). I’ll also point out several minor changes that break backward compatibility with older releases. Knowing about these changes will help you avoid problems when you upgrade to the latest version of Fabric8’s Java client for Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift.

  • Video of EIRSAT-1 talk

    This followed by a detailed proposal as to how amateur radio operators can contribute to ground station operations via SatNOGs and gr_satellites GNU Radio