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Reviews

Review: Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1

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Reviews

Clear Linux is a rolling release distro that places a strong emphasis on performance. The distribution focuses on providing optimizations for Intel (and compatible) CPU platforms and often scores well in benchmark tests.

I previously experimented briefly with Clear Linux in 2017 and found it to be very minimal in its features. The distribution presented users with a command line interface by default and, while it was possible to install a desktop environment from the project's repositories, it was not focused on desktop computing. These days Clear Linux is available in several editions. There are separate builds for command line and desktop editions, along with cloud and specially tailored virtual machine builds.

I downloaded the distribution's live desktop edition which was a 2.2GB compressed file. Expanding the download unpacks a 2.3GB ISO. It actually took longer for me to decompress the file than it would have to download the extra 100MB so the compression used on the archive is probably not practical.

Trying to boot from the live desktop media quickly resulted in Clear Linux running into a kernel panic and refusing to start. This was done trying version 29410 of the distribution and, since new versions come along almost every day, I waited a while and then downloaded another version: Clear Linux 29590. The new version had an ISO approximately the same size and, after it passed its checksum, it too failed to boot due to a kernel panic.

I have used Clear Linux on this system before and, though it technically utilizes an AMD CPU, that was not an issue during my previous trial. The current situation does make me wonder if Clear Linux might have optimized itself so much that it is no longer capable of running on previous generation processors.

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Fedora 30 test on laptop with Nvidia - Back in 2010

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Red Hat
Hardware
Reviews

I think the results are obvious, and they speak for themselves. Alas, it would seem that if you want to use Fedora with a setup like the above, then you'll be either very lucky or you're going to face a torrent of problems. But then, Linux has always been, to use a somewhat stupid analogy, like saying you should only drive your car on Mondays on roads that have green sidewalks, and then you will be fine. The whole not-our-problem, use hardware that's "friendly" is nonsense, because people don't have infinite money, choice or expertise, especially since alternative operating systems offer all they need, plus a full range of hardware freedom.

My Fedora 30 test on the G50 was decent - that's a simple Intel graphics box - but even that one used to have millions of problems with Linux - Fedora wouldn't boot until I'd done a BIOS update, and for three years, almost every distro had network disconnect problems. On this box, we're seeing more of what I showed you in the Fedora 29 test. Fedora and Nvidia graphics are not a good fit. Add to that my home dir import woes, the performance woes, the Wireless woes, you get the picture. Feels like we've gone back many years into the past. I'd actually prefer if distros WARNED that the device is not certified or approved or expected to work and refuse to install, than install and then throw a whole bucket of hissy. I will still run an in-vivo upgrade on the Lenovo machine, because that's what I promised to do, but this is a big, big disappointment.

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Hack Computer review

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

I bought a hack computer for $299 - it's designed for teaching 8+ year olds programming. That's not my intended use case, but I wanted to support a Linux pre-installed vendor with my purchase (I bought an OLPC back in the day in the buy-one give-one program).

I only use a laptop for company events, which are usually 2-4 weeks a year. Otherwise, I use my desktop. I would have bought a machine with Ubuntu pre-installed if I was looking for more of a daily driver.

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Review: OS108 and Venom Linux

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Every so often I like to step outside of the distributions I know, the ones I tend to see and use year after year, and try something different. Sometimes trying a new project introduces me to a new way of doing things, as Bedrock Linux did earlier this year. Other times trying a project that is just getting started is a reminder of just how much infrastructure, time and resources go into the big-name projects. At any rate, this week I want to talk about two young projects that grabbed my attention for different reasons.

The first is OS108, which caught my eye because it is a desktop flavour of BSD, which is relatively rare. Specifically, the base operating system is NetBSD. OS108 reportedly wants to be a replacement for Windows and macOS and features the MATE desktop environment. The website did not offer much more information than that. I was able to learn OS108 is available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines only, which I suspect undercuts the usefulness of having a highly portable operating system, such as NetBSD, as the base.

The ISO file I downloaded for OS108 was 1.5GB in size. The file had no version number associated with it, so I assume this is the project's first release. The project's download page says we should install OS108 just as if it were regular NetBSD, then run a script to set up the MATE desktop. Optionally, there is another set of instructions we can follow to set up wireless networking.

Booting from the OS108 media brings up an installer which guides us through a series of text-based menus. We are asked to select our keyboard layout, choose whether to install a fresh copy of the operating system or upgrade, and then select which hard drive will hold OS108. We are also asked to confirm our hard drive's geometry and whether we want to manually partition the disk or let OS108 take over the whole drive. The installer recommends we set aside at least 5GB of space on the drive. Personally, I found more space was required as the default package selection, including the MATE desktop, consumes about 6GB of disk space.

We are next asked if we want a full install, a mostly full install without the X.Org display software, a minimal install, or a custom selection of packages. I went with the full option since it was the default. We can then select where the source packages are located (on the DVD, in this case) and the packages are quickly copied over to the hard drive. A minute later I was asked to perform more configuration steps. These included enabling networking, setting a root password, and turning on optional network services from a list of daemons. We can also create a regular user account and optionally download the pkgsrc ports framework. I skipped installing pkgsrc.

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Enso OS Makes Xfce Elementary

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OS
Reviews

The most impressive aspect of Enso OS is the tweaked desktop that combines a somewhat modified Xfce environment with key elements from Elementary OS. The result could be a better alternative to Xubuntu, depending on your computing preferences.

For an early beta release of a relatively new Linux distribution, Enso OS has much going for it. This distro also has numerous areas where the developer must grow the infrastructure.

Enso OS is clearly a distro that bears watching over the next few releases.

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Nebra AnyBeam: A Raspberry Pi powered home cinema projector you can fit in your pocket [Review]

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Linux
Reviews

Before large screen televisions and 4K content became a thing, I used to enjoy watching films projected onto a white wall at home. I had a Canon projector hooked up to my PC with surround sound, and it was like having a personal cinema.

Technology has moved on quite some way since then, and you can now buy reasonable quality projectors for a fraction of the price. Case in point is Nebra AnyBeam, a Raspberry Pi powered pocket sized projector.

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Review: openSUSE Leap 15.1

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Reviews
SUSE

openSUSE is one of those distros I have always been interested in but which I had never used for more than a few hours. Recently the project released Leap 15.1, which was a good enough reason to give the distro a proper spin.

The distro hardly needs an introduction. It is a community project sponsored by SUSE, one of the larger commercial Linux vendors. openSUSE maintains two distros: Tumbleweed is a rolling release distro and upstream to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE). Leap is a stable (non-rolling) distro that is downstream to SLE. A new version of Leap is released roughly once a year, and each version is supported for 18 months. The Leap 15.x series as a whole is supported for three years.

openSUSE is probably best known for the Btrfs file system, Snapper and YaST. As Leap 15.1 is a relatively small, conservative upgrade from 15.0 I will mainly focus on these features. I will also have a look at where things may be heading.

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StreamTuner2 – internet radio station and video browser

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Software
Reviews

I’ve put a few internet radio station players through their paces in recent weeks.

I was fairly positive about odio, even though it’s not released under an open source license and consumes massive globs of memory. But the developer is beavering away on a new release and intends to open source the code. I’ll definitely write an updated review when/if that happens. I’ve also covered Shortwave, a GTK3 based radio player written in Rust. My favorites to date are Radiotray-NG and PyRadio.

This time, I’m putting StreamTuner2 under the microscope. StreamTuner2 is a GUI for browsing internet radio directories, music collections, and video services – grouped by genres or categories. It runs your preferred audio player or streamripper for recording.

StreamTuner2 is an independent rewrite of StreamTuner1. Whereas the original was developed in C, the rewrite is coded in Python. If you ever used the original StreamTuner 0.99 software, you’ll be familiar with StreamTuner2’s interface, as both share many similarities. The software is released into the public domain, so you can do anything you like with the source code.

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MX Linux Reinvents Computer Use

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Linux
Reviews

MX Linux makes transitioning from any desktop operating system simple. It provides a computing platform that is a bit different and very reliable.

MX Linux is a powerful, easy-to-use computing platform that goes beyond lightweight performance without filling your computer with software bloat.

The latest MX Linux 18.3 ISO is a "refresh" release, not a major upgrade. It has all the recent updates, bug fixes and system updates. This distro does not offer rolling releases, however.

You can perform a system upgrade from an existing MX Linux installation when new refresh releases are issued to get all the updates since the original MX-18 version release. There is no need to do a re-installation with each new release.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 8

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KDE
Reviews

This eighth report is a summary of my worst overall Slimbook & Kubuntu session yet. On one hand, I've witnessed many useful, important, visible improvements in the system over the past six months, and we had hit a plateau of good, sweet stability. The latest wave of updates seems to upset that ever so slightly. Enough to make me miffed, because I really don't want to need any of those crashes or annoyances.

I'm still very happy with my choice, and occasional crashes happen everywhere. This isn't Linux-specific, but that doesn't mean we should settle for comfortable mediocrity. The one outstanding issue is the CPU temperature event, which to me looks like something in the firmware. I will keep an eye, because apart from that, the hardware has been rock solid, there were no other events of this type at all, and no visible problems as a result in any shape or form. Anyway, I think we've had enough excitement for one report. We shall soon convene for yet more thrill, uncertainty, fun, and adventure. Stay cool.

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More in Tux Machines

AMD Releases Firmware Update To Address SEV Vulnerability

A new security vulnerability has been made public over AMD's Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) having insecure cryptographic implementations. Fortunately, this AMD SEV issue is addressed by a firmware update. CVE-2019-9836 has been made pulic as the AMD Secure Processor / Secure Encrypted Virtualization having an insecure cryptographic implementation. Read more

today's howtos and programming bits

  • How to get the latest Wine on Linux Mint 19
  • How to Install KDE Plasma in Arch Linux (Guide)
  • 0 bytes left

    Around 2003–2004, a friend and I wrote a softsynth that was used in a 64 kB intro. Now, 14 years later, cTrix and Pselodux picked it up and made a really cool 32 kB tune with it! Who would have thought.

  • A month full of learning with Gnome-GSoC

    In this month I was able to work with Libgit2-glib where Albfan mentored me on how to port functions from Libgit2 to Libgit2-glib. Libgit2-glib now has functionality to compare two-buffers. This feature I think can now benefit other projects also which requires diff from buffers, for example Builder for it’s diff-view and gedit.

  • Google Developers Are Looking At Creating A New libc For LLVM

    As part of Google's consolidating their different toolchains around LLVM, they are exploring the possibility of writing a new C library "libc" implementation.  Google is looking to develop a new C standard library within LLVM that will better suit their use-cases and likely others within the community too. 

  • How We Made Conda Faster in 4.7

    We’ve witnessed a lot of community grumbling about Conda’s speed, and we’ve experienced it ourselves. Thanks to a contract from NASA via the SBIR program, we’ve been able to dedicate a lot of time recently to optimizing Conda.  We’d like to take this opportunity to discuss what we did, and what we think is left to do.

  • TensorFlow CPU optimizations in Anaconda

    By Stan Seibert, Anaconda, Inc. & Nathan Greeneltch, Intel Corporation TensorFlow is one of the most commonly used frameworks for large-scale machine learning, especially deep learning (we’ll call it “DL” for short). This popular framework has been increasingly used to solve a variety of complex research, business and social problems. Since 2016, Intel and Google have worked together to optimize TensorFlow for DL training and inference speed performance on CPUs. The Anaconda Distribution has included this CPU-optimized TensorFlow as the default for the past several TensorFlow releases. Performance optimizations for CPUs are provided by both software-layer graph optimizations and hardware-specific code paths. In particular, the software-layer graph optimizations use the Intel Math Kernel Library for Deep Neural Networks (Intel MKL-DNN), an open source performance library for DL applications on Intel architecture. Hardware specific code paths are further accelerated with advanced x86 processor instruction set, specifically, Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512) and new instructions found in the Intel Deep Learning Boost (Intel DL Boost) feature on 2nd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Let’s take a closer look at both optimization approaches and how to get these accelerations from Anaconda.

  • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #374 (June 25, 2019)

VIdeo/Audio: Linux in the Ham Shack, How to install OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 and "Debian Package of the Day"

  • LHS Episode #290: Where the Wild Things Are

    Welcome to Episode 290 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this short format show, the hosts discuss the recent ARRL Field Day, LIDs getting theirs, vandalism in Oregon, a Canonical flip-flop, satellite reception with SDR and much more. Thank you for tuning in and we hope you have a wonderful week.

  • How to install OpenMandriva Lx 4.0

    In this video, I am going to show how to Install OpenMandriva Lx 4.0.

  • Jonathan Carter: PeerTube and LBRY

    I have many problems with YouTube, who doesn’t these days, right? I’m not going to go into all the nitty gritty of it in this post, but here’s a video from a LBRY advocate that does a good job of summarizing some of the issues by using clips from YouTube creators: I have a channel on YouTube for which I have lots of plans for. I started making videos last year and created 59 episodes for Debian Package of the Day. I’m proud that I got so far because I tend to lose interest in things after I figure out how it works or how to do it. I suppose some people have assumed that my video channel is dead because I haven’t uploaded recently, but I’ve just been really busy and in recent weeks, also a bit tired as a result. Things should pick up again soon.

Games: Steam Summer Sale, Last Moon, Ubuntu-Valve-Canonical Faceoff

  • Steam Summer Sale 2019 is live, here’s what to look out for Linux fans

    Another year, another massive sale is now live on Steam. Let’s take a look at what Valve are doing this year and what you should be looking out for. This time around, Valve aren’t doing any special trading cards. They’re trying something a little different! You will be entering the "Steam Grand Prix" by joining a team (go team Hare!), earning points for rewards and having a shot at winning some free games in the process. Sounds like a good bit of fun, the specific-game challenges are a nice touch.

  • Last Moon, a 2D action-RPG with a gorgeous vibrant style will be coming to Linux next year

    Sköll Studio managed to capture my attention recently, with some early footage of their action-RPG 'Last Moon' popping up in my feed and it looks gorgeous. Taking inspiration from classics like Legend of Zelda: A link to the past, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and a ton more you can see it quite clearly. Last Moon takes in place in a once peaceful kingdom, where an ancient and powerful mage put a curse on the moon, as Lunar Knight you need to stop all this insanity and bring back peace.

  • Ubuntu Takes A U-Turn with 32-Bit Support

    Canonical will continue to support legacy applications and libraries. Canonical, the maker of the world’s most popular Linux-based distribution Ubuntu, has revived support for 32-bit libraries after feedback from WINE, Ubuntu Studio and Steam communities. Last week Canonical announced that its engineering teams decided that Ubuntu should not continue to carry i386 forward as an architecture. “Consequently, i386 will not be included as an architecture for the 19.10 release, and we will shortly begin the process of disabling it for the eoan series across Ubuntu infrastructure,” wrote Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

  • Steam and Ubuntu clash over 32-bit libs

    It has been a tumultuous week for gaming on Linux. Last Tuesday afternoon, Canonical's Steve Langasek announced that 32-bit libs would be frozen (kept as-is, with no new builds or updates) as of this October's interim 19.10 release, codenamed "Eoan Ermine." Langasek was pretty clear that this did not mean abandoning support for running 32-bit applications, however.

  • Linux gamers take note: Steam won’t support the next version of Ubuntu

    Valve has announced that from the next version of Ubuntu (19.10), it will no longer support Steam on Ubuntu, the most popular flavor of Linux, due to the distro dropping support for 32-bit packages, This all kicked off when Canonical, developer of Ubuntu, announced that it was seemingly completely dropping support for 32-bit in Ubuntu 19.10. However, following a major outcry, a further clarification (or indeed, change of heart) came from the firm stating that there will actually be limited support for 32-bit going forward (although updates for 32-bit libraries will no longer be delivered, effectively leaving them in a frozen state).

  • Valve killing Steam Support for some Ubuntu users

    A few years ago the announcement that Steam would begin supporting Linux was a big deal: it meant that anyone who preferred to rock an open-source operating system over Mac OS or Windows 10 would have instant buy-it-and-play-it access to a large catalog of game titles that would have otherwise taken a whole lot of tweaking to get up and running or wouldn't have worked for them at all. For some, at least, the party may be coming to an end.

  • Steam is dropping support for Ubuntu, but not Linux entirely

    The availability of Steam on Linux has been a boom for gaming on the platform, especially with the recent addition of the Steam Play compatibility layer for running Windows-only games. Valve has always recommended that gamers run Ubuntu Linux, the most popular desktop Linux distribution, but that's now changing.

  • Canonical (sort of) backtracks: Ubuntu will continue to support (some) 32-bit software

    A few days after announcing it would effectively drop support for 32-bit software in future versions of the Ubuntu operating system, Canonical has decided to “change our plan and build selected 32-bit i386 packages.” The company’s original decision sparked some backlash when it became clear that some existing apps and games would no longer run on Ubuntu 19.10 if the change were to proceed as planned. Valve, for example, announced it would continue to support older versions of Ubuntu, allowing users to continue running its popular Steam game client. But moving forward, the company said it would be focusing its Steam for Linux efforts on a different GNU/Linux distribution.

  • Just kidding? Ubuntu 32-bit moving forward, no word yet from Valve

    Due in part to the feedback given to the group over the weekend and because of their connections with Valve, Canonical did an about-face today. They’ve suggested that feedback from gamers, Ubuntu Studio, and the WINE community led them to change their plan and will “build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS. Whether this will change Valve’s future with Ubuntu Steam, we’ll see.

  • Canonical backtracks on 32-bit Ubuntu cull, but warns that on your head be it

    CANONICAL HAS CONFIRMED a U-Turn on the controversial decision to drop 32-bit support for Ubuntu users later this year. The company has faced criticism from users who aren't happy with the plan to make Ubuntu purely 64-bit, which culminated at the weekend with Steam announcing it would pull support for Ubuntu. Many Steam games were never made in 64-bit and it would, therefore, devalue the offer. However, Canonical confirmed on Monday that following feedback from the community, it was clear that there is still a demand, and indeed a need for 32-bit binaries, and as such, it will provide "selected" builds for both Ubuntu 19.10 and the forthcoming Ubuntu 20.04. Canonical's announcement spoke of the highly passionate arguments from those who are in favour of maintaining both versions, thus forcing the team to take notice. However, it has made it clear that it's doing so under the weight of expectation, not because it agrees. "There is a real risk to anybody who is running a body of software that gets little testing. The facts are that most 32-bit x86 packages are hardly used at all," the firm said.