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Review: Void 20191109

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Reviews

Void is a rolling release Linux distribution. The project offers a number of features which are uncommon in the Linux community, including a custom package manager (XBPS), two flavours of C library (the GNU C Library, glibc, and musl libc), and a custom init implementation called runit. If this were not enough to make the project interesting, the distribution can run on multiple architectures, including 32-bit (x86), 64-bit (x86_64), and several ARM boards, including the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone.

Void is also the future base for Project Trident, which is migrating from TrueOS to Void, partially for more up to date hardware support. The Void project is available in a minimal, command line edition and six desktop editions: Enlightenment, Cinnamon, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, and Xfce. This, along with each edition being available in two C library flavours and multiple CPU architectures means the hardest part when getting started with Void is picking which option to download. I went with the 64-bit Xfce edition with the musl library. This edition was 757MB in size.

Booting from the live media brings up a menu asking if we would like to load the live desktop or transfer the operating system into RAM for improved performance and then load the live desktop. Either way, in short order the Xfce 4.14 desktop appears. The desktop's panel with an application menu, task switcher, and system tray appears across the top edge of the screen. A quick-launch panel appears centred along the bottom of the screen. Immediately after the desktop loads a pop-up message appears letting us know "Xfce PolicyKit Agent" has encountered an error. No further information is provided and all we can do is close this window. This PolicyKit error appears every time we sign in, both when running the live environment and when the operating system has been installed on the hard drive.

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Solus 4.1 Budgie review - Me luck has run out

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OS
Reviews

Sometimes, I wonder if I should stop testing Linux distributions for good. The soul toll is immense. Not just the fact that things can fail, which can be okay now and then, but the whole unnecessary rollercoaster of pointless regressions and unpredictability. My expectation is that systems should be simple, reliable - and more than that, they should be a product. A complete box of functionality that allows the user to work and have fun. Alas, every year, we're getting farther and farther away from that. It's not even the question of the Year of the Linux, or anything like that. It's the question of basic stability without which there's no foundation for anything meaningful. It's depressing me, and it's self-inflicted.

Solus 4.1 has some really cool points. I liked what I saw last year. But in 2020, things are different. Clear fonts are no longer clear. Go figure. Some library or something got changed without any testing. The problems I raised back then remain. New problems abound. And then, it killed GRUB and left my machine unbootable. All in all, Solus 4.1 is pretty, and offers reasonable connectivity out of the box, and comes with some unique features against the vastness of mediocrity that grips the Linux desktop. But these are more than offset by glitches, bugs and the installation trouble. It's a no-go. Dedoimedo, sad and out.

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Freespire 6.0: A Return to GNOME2's Simpler Linux Days

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Linux
Reviews

Freespire Linux 6.0 is a solid performer. I have not used the MATE desktop in quite a few years, but checking it out for this review instantly returned me to simpler days of using the Linux OS . I was a dedicated fan of the GNOME 2 desktop years ago and followed along with MATE rather than put up with the unsettling changes in the early releases of GNOME 3.

I like the simple approach Freespire brings to using Linux, and I'm anticipating the release of the KDE version. Check back in upcoming weeks for an update when the KDE version of Freespire 6.0 is available.

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Plasma 5.18 LTS review - The good, the bad ... and yeah

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KDE
Reviews

Here we go. The KDE team has released the latest version of Plasma, numbered 5.18. This also happens to be a Long Term Support (LTS) release, which in Plasma parlance means two years of support. Since I'm an avid user, and even have Plasma deployed in my production setup via Kubuntu 18.04 running on a Slimbook Pro2, it's time to set scopes on the future, and see what gives.

I did my testing on Lenovo G50, which happens to be my hardware scapegoat de jour. Also, I have KDE neon installed there, Developer Edition (Stable), so I get to see all the little changes and fixes and whatnot almost as soon as they are introduced. This means I had a chance to sample Plasma 5.18 since the earliest build, and now that we have the official release, I must share me experience. Avanti.

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Linux distro review: Intel’s own Clear Linux OS

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OS
Linux
Reviews

Intel's Clear Linux distribution has been getting a lot of attention lately, due to its incongruously high benchmark performance. Although the distribution was created and is managed by Intel, even AMD recommends running benchmarks of its new CPUs under Clear Linux in order to get the highest scores.

Recently at Phoronix, Michael Larabel tested a Threadripper 3990X system using nine different Linux distros, one of which was Clear Linux—and Intel's distribution got three times as many first-place results as any other distro tested. When attempting to conglomerate all test results into a single geometric mean, Larabel found that the distribution's results were, on average, 14% faster than the slowest distributions tested (CentOS 8 and Ubuntu 18.04.3).

There's not much question that Clear Linux is your best bet if you want to turn in the best possible benchmark numbers. The question not addressed here is, what's it like to run Clear Linux as a daily driver? We were curious, so we took it for a spin.

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Calculate Linux 20

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Linux
Reviews

Calculate Linux released version 20 at the end of 2019 with major updates and is based off Gentoo. Calculate Linux Desktop (CLD) includes a wizard to configure a connection to Calculate Directory Server. According to their download page, "Calculate Linux Desktop is listed in the Russian Software Register." To sum that up, CLD is a distro from Russia, based off Gentoo, and designed to connect to a Calculate Directory Server. What is a Calculate Directory Server? Well according to their website, "Calculate Directory Server (CDS) is an advanced, LDAP-based authentication server designed to be a domain controller for business networks."

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Detailed tests of search engines: Google, Startpage, Bing, DuckDuckGo, metaGer, Ecosia, Swisscows, Searx, Qwant, Yandex, and Mojeek

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Google
Reviews
Web

Since my last in-depth comparison review of alternative search engines in 2014, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Google is appearing as a loan-verb in more and more languages due to its continued dominance in the search engine market. But at the same time, Google is being increasingly demonized by privacy focused users. An even more more interesting development is the trend of complaints that Google’s algorithm is producing results that are less relevant and more indicative of artificial stupidity than artificial intelligence. I belong in this latter camp, as I am more of a pragmatist than a privacy pundit. I simply want the best search results with minimal effort and no nonsense. Back in my 2014 article, I was hopeful that DuckDuckGo was quickly becoming a viable and attractive alternative to Google. While DuckDuckGo continues to be the darling of privacy conscious users and is enjoying more popularity than ever, I am concerned that its core search infrastructure and algorithms have largely stagnated. Since my last article, many other alternatives have cropped up, bringing some very interesting features and concepts, but it still remains to be seen if they offer acceptable results in the fundamentally important area of relevant search results. This comparison sets out to analyze and compare the current batch of alternatives in 2020.

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Simplicity Does More Than Simplify Linux

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Linux
Reviews

Simplicity Linux, even with its more modern retooling, maintains the distro's earlier goals of providing a simpler way to run a fully powered Linux desktop. The addition of the Gaming Edition makes it easy to get started with computer gaming.

This new offering no doubt could be merged with the Desktop Edition for a more compact selection. That might allow the developer to release a new X Edition offering in the next release cycle.

I am not sure if the Mini Edition needs a full-function heavyweight desktop the likes of Cinnamon. I would like to see a return to the Xfce desktop there.

Either way, I look forward to the next release of Simplicity Linux. This distro holds considerable promise.

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Open Broadcast Software Studio - Ready for the silver screen?

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Software
Movies
Reviews

Having recently tested Kdenlive 19.08 and then taken a brief but pleasant look at OpenShot, I decided to expand my cinematic horizons and explore some additional software on the media market. One program that came into the hazy spotlight is Open Broadcast Software (OBS), a free and open-source video editor, designed primarily for video recording and live streaming.

Well, here I am, with me unfunny collection of Youtube clips, and here it is, OBS, waiting for me to test and review it. Sounds like a plan, and proceed so we shall. Once again, I'm back on Linux, in Kubuntu, but that shouldn't really make much difference. Anyway, let's begin.

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EasyOS 2.2

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Reviews

EasyOS is an experimental Linux distribution which uses many of the technologies and package formats pioneered by Puppy Linux. The distribution features custom container technology called Easy Containers which can run applications, or the entire desktop environment, in a container.

The project's latest version is EasyOS 2.2 which is based on Debian 10 packages. I last tried EasyOS (version 1.0) about a year ago and I was curious to see how the distribution has evolved. EasyOS is available for 64-bit (x86_64) computers and its download is a compressed image file, 514MB in size. Once the file is unpacked, it expands to 1,281MB (about 1.2GB).

Once the image file is written to a thumb drive we can boot the distribution which brings up a text console. We are prompted to pick our keyboard from a list of abbreviated language options. Then we are asked to make up a password. The password is later used to unencrypt a filesystem - I suspect the area of the thumb drive which contains our data and settings. In other words, it is important to remember this password.

The desktop, a customized version of JWM, loads and shows us a setup screen where we can adjust language and desktop settings. We are then given a chance to enable a firewall and open any listed network ports we wish. The window manager then displays icons along the top of the screen for launching package managers, a virtual terminal, a web browser, and a program that helps us find installed applications. Towards the central-top area of the desktop we find specially marked icons which launch containers. Specifically there are containers for running a console, a web browser, and a fully contained desktop. I will come back to these a bit later.

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More in Tux Machines

Access an independent, uncensored version of Planet Debian

Please update your bookmarks and RSS subscriptions to use the new links / feeds below. A number of differences of opinion have emerged in the Debian Community recently. People have expressed concern about blogs silently being removed from Planet Debian and other Planet sites in the free software universe. These actions hide the great work that some Debian Developers are doing and undermines our mutual commitment to transparency in the Debian Social Contract. Read more

Red Hat: The Vision of Fedora Project and Corporate IBM/Red Hat News

  • The Fedora Project's One Sentence Vision

    Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller recently talked about his vision for the Fedora Project over the next decade and it to become an "operating system factory", among other advancements he hopes to see out of the project in the 2020s. A one-sentence vision for Fedora is now drafted as their vision statement.

  • Let’s keep writing a new vision statement for Fedora

    If you compare it to the first draft, you’ll notice we shortened it to one sentence. We kept the parts we felt were most important: everyone benefiting from free & open source software and the attributes of the communities that make it. The word benefit is important here. It’s not enough that the software is there, waiting to be used. It has to be accessible and usable. This was much longer in our first draft, so shortening it here seems right. We also cut out the sentence about Fedora being a reference for everyone who shares this vision. We still want to be that, but that’s implied by the fact that we have this vision in the first place. Why bother expressing a vision that we wouldn’t want to be an influential part of? And frankly, it’s hard to get the wording right, especially in a way that works across languages and cultures.

  • Enable Git Commit Message Syntax Highlighting in Vim on Fedora

    When setting up new machines, I’m often frustrated by lack of syntax highlighting for git commit messages in vim. On my main workstation, vim uses comforting yellow letters for the first line of my commit message to let me know I’m good on line length, or red background to let me know my first line is too long, and after the first line it automatically inserts a new line break whenever I’ve typed past 72 characters. It’s pretty nice. I can never remember how I get it working in the end, and I spent too long today trying to figure it out yet again. Eventually I realized there was another difference besides the missing syntax highlighting: I couldn’t see the current line or column number, and I couldn’t see the mode indicator either. Now you might be able to guess my mistake: git was not using /usr/bin/vim at all! Because Fedora doesn’t have a default $EDITOR, git defaults to using /usr/bin/vi, which is basically sad trap vim. Solution:

  • Executive Q&A: Stephen Leonard, GM of IBM’s Cognitive Systems

    There is no single path that business executives travel. The best managers have significant talent that is then honed to a fine edge by training, experience and a willingness to take up new challenges. Employers contribute hugely to the process, of course, and it is difficult to think of a company that does a better job of recognizing, training and advancing new leaders than IBM. I recently had a chance to interview Stephen Leonard, General Manager of IBM’s Cognitive Systems where he is responsible for the development, sales and marketing of the company’s Power Systems solutions, as well as offerings for cloud computing platforms and data centers. Our discussion covered a wide range of issues and events that have colored Leonard’s 30+ years with IBM.

  • IBM Sterling enables intelligent orchestration of customer transactions across back-end record systems

    A deep understanding of customers’ wants and needs are key to driving supply-chain efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences. An intelligent call center solution equips customer care representatives (CSRs) with deep insights in a natural language-based conversation interface to solve complex customer queries. On a typical day, a CSR opens multiple tabs/applications to address a single query, spending an enormous amount of time on a customer call, thereby impacting the customer experience. This is especially detrimental during peak business hours, when it is important to resolve issues quickly since there is typically a backlog of waiting calls. Wouldn’t it impress the customer if the CSR proactively asked, “Are you calling about the accessories that you bought yesterday?”, along with a warning that the order may be delayed. Informing the customer and providing a discount voucher or a different added benefit results in a much happier customer. The heart of this improved customer experience is the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant With Watson™, which infuses conversational AI capabilities into the IBM Sterling Call Center and enables intelligent orchestration of customer transactions across back-end record systems. It also surfaces recommendations and best next steps based to enable quick and easy decision-making for the CSRs. The Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant With Watson appears as a pop-up over the IBM Sterling Call Center application and can be embedded into any other application. Sample insights are shown below.

  • Scaling Persistent Volume Claims with Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage v4.2

    For choosing a storage solution for dynamic provisioning of persistent volume claims (PVC) in OpenShift Container Platform, the time it takes to bind and prepare a PVC for the use with application pods is a crucial factor. For Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage v4.2 we performed a series of tests investigating how OCP v4.2 behaves from a scalability point of view. We wanted to know how fast application pods are starting when PVCs are from different storage classes provided, and to get get numbers which can be used when making decisions when choosing storage solution for OCP application pods. The test results presented in this document are recommended values for OpenShift Container Storage v4.2 and do not show the real limits for Openshift Container Storage v4.2, which are higher. We will conduct more scalability tests for future OpenShift Container Storage releases. For future OpenShift Container Storage releases we plan to target configurations for cases when more pods are running on the OpenShift Container Platform cluster and are actively requesting PVCs originating from Openshift Container Storage. In this document we describe test processes and results gathered during PVC scale test execution with Openshift Container Storage v4.2 showing why OpenShift Container Storage is the supreme storage solution for use cases where pod density and PVC allocation speed are key, as e.g. in CI/CD environments.

  • Red Hat Extends Partner Offerings to Drive Open Hybrid Cloud Innovation

    Red Hat, Inc., the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced enhancements to its partner offerings centered around open hybrid cloud innovation and in support of the growing demand for cloud-native solutions within the Red Hat ecosystem. Using the proven innovations of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 and Red Hat OpenShift 4 as the foundation, Red Hat Partner Connect is expanding its certification programs and support services to better equip partners for an IT world built on hybrid and multicloud deployments. Red Hat Partner Connect provides many partnership opportunities, including certification offerings and enablement for software, hardware, services and cloud service providers that develop products and services for Red Hat hybrid cloud platforms. The program offers partners a set of tools and alignment opportunities to automate, accelerate and streamline modern application development for the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the industry’s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform, Red Hat OpenShift. Certified partner products deliver interoperable, supported solutions to customers. Marketing and sales related benefits are also available to partners completing certification programs.

  • Which container platforms are right for your cloud-native strategy?

Events: Linux Security Summit, SUSECON, Canonical and Ubuntu

  • Linux Security Summit North America 2020: CFP and Registration

    Note that the conference this year has moved from August to June (24-26). The location is Austin, TX, and we are co-located with the Open Source Summit as usual. We’ll be holding a 3-day event again, after the success of last year’s expansion, which provides time for tutorials and ad-hoc break out sessions. Please note that if you intend to submit a tutorial, you should be a core developer of the project or otherwise recognized leader in the field, per this guidance from the CFP...

  • Learn about Fulfilling Your Organization’s Business Needs at SUSECON 2020!

    SUSECON 2020 is a unique opportunity to educate yourself about all the most important developments in enterprise open source technology, in one location, during more than 160 sessions, over five days. Register now – you don’t want to miss this opportunity!

  • Prepare for the Future With Roadmap Presentations at SUSECON 2020

    SUSECON 2020 is one of the best opportunities of the year to immerse yourself in SUSE technologies and get answers your questions about open source and SUSE solutions. This is the one time each year that we bring all our technology superstars together to talk about the future. Click here to register – you don’t want to miss it! By attending SUSECON 2020, you will have the opportunity to learn about forthcoming SUSE solutions to help your organization accomplish its business goals.

  • Canonical at the 9th OSM Hackfest, Madrid

    To all telecommunications service providers, global system integrators, research institutions, OSM community members and innovators all over the world: heads-up! The 9th OSM Hackfest starts in two weeks and Canonical as always will be there. We will lead hackfest sessions, answer any questions you may have and help drive the evolution of the OSM project. The event will be hosted by Telefonica in Madrid, Spain from 9th to 13th of March. NOTE: seats are limited, so don’t wait for any longer and register today. OSM (open source MANO) is an open-source project that enables telcos with MANO (management and orchestration) capabilities for VNFs (virtual network functions). It is hosted by ETSI and supported by 14 global telecommunications service providers with 137 organisations involved in total. Starting from release SEVEN, OSM now supports the possibility of deploying CNF (container network function) workloads on Kubernetes.

  • BSides SF 2020 CTF: Infrastructure Engineering and Lessons Learned

    Last weekend, I had the pleasure of running the BSides San Francisco CTF along with friends and co-conspirators c0rg1, symmetric and iagox86. This is something like the 4th or 5th year in a row that I’ve been involved in this, and every year, we try to do a better job than the year before, but we also try to do new things and push the boundaries. I’m going to review some of the infrastructure we used, challenges we faced, and lessons we learned for next year.

Purges in Free Software

  • What is a safe space?

    When foreign people come along with a different, but no less valid, Code of Conduct, zealots start screaming out for the comfort of their safe space. That is how we get the hysteria that precipitated the Hanau shooting and the lynching of Polish workers in the UK in the name of Brexit. The Third Reich may have been the ultimate example of the search for a safe space: a safe space for the white Aryan race. Nazis really believed they were creating a safe space. Germans allowed the Nazis to rule, in the belief that they were supporting a safe space. The golden rule of a safe space is that it is only safe for some. As George Orwell puts it, All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Tolerance and safe spaces are mutually exclusive.

  • The right to be rude

    The historian Robert Conquest once wrote: “The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.” Today I learned that the Open Source Initiative has reached that point of bureaucratization. I was kicked off their lists for being too rhetorically forceful in opposing certain recent attempts to subvert OSD clauses 5 and 6. This despite the fact that I had vocal support from multiple list members who thanked me for being willing to speak out. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that there is an effort afoot to change – I would say corrupt – the fundamental premises of the open souce culture. Instead of meritocracy and “show me the code”, we are now urged tpo behave so that no-one will ever feel uncomfortable. The effect – the intended effect, I should say, is to diminish the prestige and autonomy of people who do the work – write the code – in favor of self-appointed tone-policers. In the process, the freedom to speak necessary truths even when the manner in which they are expressed is unpleasant is being gradually strangled. And that is bad for us. Very bad. Both directly – it damages our self-correction process – and in its second-order effects. The habit of institutional tone policing, even when well-intentioned, too easily slides into the active censorship of disfavored views.