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Reviews

Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary

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Linux
Reviews

The more I use the multitasking feature, the more I like its click-and-go navigational style. Getting rid of workspaces or running apps is simple. Hover the mouse pointer over the multitasking bar and click the icon's circled X.

Elementary OS is a very solid Linux distro. Its uncluttered design is encouraged by not being able to place app icons on the desktop. There are no desklet programs to create distractions.

So far, the only real obstacle I've encountered in using Elementary OS is the need to adapt to having fewer power-user features. While basic installation was smooth and event free, not having preinstalled text editors, word processors or an alternative Web browser was an inconvenience.

New users who do not know what software they need to fill this void are at a big disadvantage. Want to Suggest a Review? Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

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Audiocasts/Shows: Going Linux, Linux Thursday and More

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Reviews
  • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

    This month we have voice feedback from Paul, suggestions on alternatives for G+, a question on OpenVPN, feedback and problems moving to Linux. Troy provides a Going Linux story on software for Linux users.

  • Linux Thursday - Dec 6, 2018
  • Gnocchi: A Scalable Time Series Database For Your Metrics with Julien Danjou - Episode 189

    Do you know what your servers are doing? If you have a metrics system in place then the answer should be “yes”. One critical aspect of that platform is the timeseries database that allows you to store, aggregate, analyze, and query the various signals generated by your software and hardware. As the size and complexity of your systems scale, so does the volume of data that you need to manage which can put a strain on your metrics stack. Julien Danjou built Gnocchi during his time on the OpenStack project to provide a time oriented data store that would scale horizontally and still provide fast queries. In this episode he explains how the project got started, how it works, how it compares to the other options on the market, and how you can start using it today to get better visibility into your operations.

Review: openSUSE Tumbleweed (2018)

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Reviews
SUSE

My experiment with openSUSE's Tumbleweed was a mixed experience. On the positive side, Tumbleweed stays constantly up to date, providing the latest packages of software all the time. For people who regularly want to stay on the cutting edge, but who do not want to re-install or perform a major version-to-version upgrade every six months, Tumbleweed provides an attractive option. I also really like that file system snapshots are automated and we can revert most problems simply by restarting the computer and choosing an older snapshot from the boot menu.

On the negative side, a number of things didn't work during my time with the distribution. Media support was broken, the Discover software manager had a number of issues and some configuration modules caused me headaches. These rough edges sometimes get fixed, but may be traded out for other problems since the operating system is ever in flux.

In the long term, a bigger issue may be the amount of network bandwidth and disk space Tumbleweed consumes. Just to keep up with updates we need set aside around 1GB of downloads per month and (when Btrfs snapshots are used) even more disk space. In a few weeks Tumbleweed consumed more disk space with far fewer programs installed as my installation of MX Linux. Unless we keep on top of house cleaning and constantly remove old snapshots we need to be prepared to use significantly more storage space than most other distributions require.

Tumbleweed changes frequently and uses more resources to keep up with the latest software developments. I would not recommend it for newer Linux users or for people who want predictability in the lives. But for people who want to live on the cutting edge and don't mind a little trouble-shooting, Tumbleweed provides a way to keep up with new versions of applications while providing a safety net through Btrfs snapshots.

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What’s new in Lubuntu 18.10

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

Lubuntu 18.10 is the latest release of Lubuntu. this release officially uses the Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment (LXQt) version 0.13.0 as the main desktop environment.

Lubuntu 18.10 has switched to using the Calamares system installer in place of the Ubiquity installer that other flavors use. Calamares is a universal installer framework that aims to be easy, usable, beautiful, pragmatic, inclusive, and distribution-agnostic.

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Deepin Builds a Better Linux Desktop

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Reviews
Debian

Deepin 15.8, released last month, is loaded with more efficient layout tweaks that give the distribution greater functionality and maturity.

Deepin, based in China, shed its Ubuntu base when with the 2015 release of version 15, which favored Debian Linux. That brought numerous subtle changes in the code base and software roots. Ubuntu Linux itself is based on Debian.

The chief distinguishing factor that accounts for Deepin's growing popularity is its homegrown Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE). One of the more modern desktop environments, it is one of the first Linux distros to take advantage of HTML 5 technology.

Coinciding with the base affiliation change, the developers, Deepin Technology, slightly changed the distro's name. What was "Deepin Linux" is now "deepin." That subtle rebranding is an attempt to differentiate previous releases named "Deepin," "Linux Deepin" and "Hiweed GNU/Linux."

Regardless of whether the name is rendered as "deepin" or "Deepin Linux," this distro offers users an eloquent, modern-themed Linux OS. It is easy to use and comes with high-quality software developed in-house.

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A Journey on Budgie Desktop #3: Applets

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Continuing second part, here I will discuss about Applets which can be added to Budgie Desktop. I highlight several of more than 20 applets available today: NetSpeed, Clocks, Brightness, Alt+Tab, Global Menu, Workspace Wallpapers, Weather, and Screenshot applets. If you wonder what it is, an "applet" in Budgie is the same as "extension" on GNOME or "widget" on KDE Plasma. Now, for this article I make a journey in installing them and putting them around my desktop and I have much fun. I really love to see things that I didn't see on another desktop environments before and I find many here. Who know that we can still use global menu even in Budgie, considering Unity has been dropped and Budgie itself is still new? Who know tif here is a splendid screenshot tool (with more features than built-in GNOME Screenshot) created solely for Budgie? I won't know until I tried them. I hope it will be more interesting for you this time and you can go try them now. Enjoy!

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Review: GhostBSD 18.10 - Changing the base

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BSD

I was tentatively optimistic going into my experiment with GhostBSD. The shift from a stable FreeBSD base to a rolling TrueOS base was one which I had hoped would bring new features and hardware support, but I was also concerned the result might be rough around the edges. For the most part I was pleased with what GhostBSD 18.10 provided. In my opinion the MATE desktop performs well and looks good. One minor glitch aside, I had no complaints with the desktop experience.

I was very happy to find that GhostBSD would work with my desktop computer, a rare event for me when using FreeBSD or TrueOS. I'm hopeful this means future versions of FreeBSD will also work with this hardware. The only issue I ran into concerning hardware was GhostBSD was unable to work with a wireless network card I plugged into the machine during my trial.

I liked the default applications GhostBSD shipped with. The software included is mostly similar to what we would find in a mainstream Linux distribution and most of the extra applications I wanted could be found through the package manager. Speaking of package management, I think OctoPkg is capable, but not particularly user friendly. Even as a low level package manager, it takes some getting used to, compared to Muon or Synaptic. OctoPkg works, but I'm hoping future versions of GhostBSD are able to adopt a more beginner friendly software manager.

Unlike past versions of GhostBSD (and FreeBSD), this release unites managing the core operating system and third-party packages under one package manager. This is likely to be convenient for users as they no longer need to switch between pkg and freebsd-update to get all their security fixes. However, I think it is too soon to tell if this change brings any problems with it. I am curious to see how well upgrading end user applications mixes with core system security fixes. I am also curious to see how GhostBSD will handle future versions based on TrueOS's rolling release platform.

On the whole, I think GhostBSD is about as easy as it gets when setting up a BSD-based desktop system. Its installer is easy to use, the desktop is pre-configured, there are a small amount of useful applications available out of the box. It's a very positive experience, in my opinion. One of the few problems I think Linux users may face when trying GhostBSD is the lack of certain closed-source applications such as Steam and the Chrome web browser. These are not available on GhostBSD. For people who stick with open source applications, GhostBSD will probably provide everything they need, but people who want to watch Netflix or play big name games, this system may not be able to deliver those experiences. These restrictions aside, I'm very pleased with GhostBSD's latest offering and think it is a pleasant way to get the FreeBSD experience with a quick and easy set up process.

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Void Linux: Built From Scratch for Full Independence

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Void Linux is a bit out of the ordinary. It offers an unusually interesting alternative to many of the traditional Linux distros affiliated with a larger Linux family such as Debian or Ubuntu or Arch.

Void Linux is an independently developed, rolling-release, general-purpose operating system. That means that its software is either homegrown or plain-vanilla compiled.

Some of Void Linux's under-the-hood specifics include its own package management system, dubbed "XBPS," for X-binary Package System, an initialization system called "runit," and integration of LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL for Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

In fact, Void Linux was among the first distributions to switch to LibreSSL by default, replacing OpenSSL when developers forked from OpenSSL in 2014. Their goal was to modernize the code base, improve security, and apply best practice development processes.

The latest release, version 20181111, comes with an interesting selection of desktop environments: Base system, Enlightenment, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, LXDE and LXQt.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 2

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KDE
Reviews

I should probably call myself Mr. Bug ... finder. I always try to stress my systems to the limit, and make sure everything works perfectly, because it's the only way you can achieve quality and efficiency. Fighting these odd problems here and there is not fun, and ultimately, they degrade the experience. To be fair, these aren't big issues, but then, it's not about 'it can be worse' - it's about perfection. My Windows 7 systems don't have any day to day niggles when it comes to either ergonomics, applications, odd behavior, or anything of that sort.

That said, I am quite pleased with Kubuntu. Plasma is quite resilient, it's not boring, it's posh and it's slick, something you would not expect from a product with a really free price tag, no strings attached. You're not a product, you're not being anything, and you're fully in control of your machine. And it's not wrestling you, it's working with you. If you feel adventurous, you can explore the layers under the hood, and there's always something new and exciting to discover. This remains a highly positive experience, but I will never settle for anything less than perfect. Or as Vanilla Ice sings: anything less than the best is a felony. That should be every developer's motto. We shall continue. Take care.

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Review: Haiku R1 Beta1

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OS
Reviews

As you can probably tell by this point, I ran into a number of frustrating problems while using Haiku. The main ones were the network connection constantly dropping every few minutes, and the operating system failing to boot on my workstation. There were some other aspects that I wasn't thrilled about - the title bar being a tab at the top of windows looks weird and inefficient to me, but that is a matter of taste.

Having an operating system which only has one user account and doesn't require passwords is a non-starter for me. Some people may like the convenience and simplicity of having a completely open, one-user system (it does streamline things) but it wouldn't be suitable for any of my environments or devices, apart from my mobile phone.

In short, in my situation and in my environments, Haiku is not a practical option. However, there are several aspects of the operating system and its surrounding project that I think are great. Haiku has unusually clear and well organized documentation. Most open source projects could use Haiku as an example of how to make user guides. There are little details I like, for example the notes on how to set up wireless networks are available locally, on the install media. This is a minor detail, but it's unfortunate how many projects explain how to get on-line in resources which are only available on-line.

Haiku's desktop is clean, the look is consistent across applications and visual elements don't use up much space. It took me some time to get used to having the application menu and task switcher on the right side of the screen instead of the left, but I like the way the desktop is presented.

One of Haiku's best features is that it is fast and responsive. Whether the system is booting, launching programs, browsing the web or displaying a video, the desktop is highly responsive. Everything feels light and reacts almost instantly to input. This is behaviour I usually only see in super light (and minimal) Linux window managers and I really appreciated the how everything happens quickly on Haiku.

So while Haiku is not practical for me, and I'm guessing for many people, I do think there are aspects of the project which should be held up as a good way to do things in the open source community. I must also applaud Haiku's team for porting several applications, including LibreOffice, to their operating system. Haiku has a lot of its own applications, but I think many users will appreciate having ports of popular programs in the HaikuDepot.

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Radeon ROCm 1.9.1 vs. NVIDIA OpenCL Linux Plus RTX 2080 TensorFlow Benchmarks

Following the GeForce RTX 2080 Linux gaming benchmarks last week with now having that non-Ti variant, I carried out some fresh GPU compute benchmarks of the higher-end NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards. Here's a look at the OpenCL performance between the competing vendors plus some fresh CUDA benchmarks as well as NVIDIA GPU Cloud TensorFlow Docker benchmarks. This article provides a fresh look at the Linux GPU compute performance for NVIDIA and AMD. On the AMD side was the Linux 4.19 kernel paired with the ROCm 1.9.1 binary packages for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. ROCm continues happily running well on the mainline kernel with the latest releases, compared to previously relying upon the out-of-tree/DKMS kernel modules for compute support on the discrete Radeon GPUS. ROCm 2.0 is still supposed to be released before year's end so there will be some fresh benchmarks coming up with that OpenCL 2.0+ implementation when the time comes. The Radeon CPUs tested were the RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 as well as tossing in the R9 Fury for some historical context. Read more

KDE Applications 18.12 Are Waiting for You

It's that time of the year again. Everyone is in a festive mood and excited about all the new things they're going to get. It's only natural, since it's the season of the last KDE Applications release for this year! With more than 140 issues resolved and dozens of feature improvements, KDE Applications 18.12 are now on its way to your operating system of choice. We've highlighted some changes you can look forward to. Read more Also: KDE Applications 18.12 Released With File Manager Improvements, Konsole Emoji

Nvidia unveils cheaper 4GB version of its Jetson TX2 and begins shipping its next-gen Xavier module

Nvidia announced a lower-cost 4GB version of its Linux-driven Jetson TX2 module with half the RAM and eMMC and has begun shipping its next-gen Jetson AGX Xavier. Nvidia will soon have three variants of its hexa-core Arm Jetson TX2 module: the original Jetson TX2, the more embedded, industrial temperature Jetson TX2i , and now a new Jetson TX2 4GB model. The chip designer also announced availability of its next-gen, robotics focused Jetson AGX Xavier module (see farther below). Read more