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Reviews

What’s New in PeppermintOS 9

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

PeppermintOS 9 is the latest release of Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a desktop environment mashup of Xfce and LXDE components. The latest release nearly completes a process begun several upgrades ago, using more Xfce elements and fewer LXDE components.

Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Peppermint OS 9 is using the Linux 4.15 kernel and supports both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware architectures. Highlights of this release include a new default system theme based on the popular Arc GTK+ theme, support for both Snap and Flatpak universal binary packages via GNOME Software, which will now be displayed in the main menu.

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GNOME 3.30 Released – Here’s What’s New

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GNOME
Reviews

GNOME 3.30 is the latest version of GNOME 3, and is the result of 6 months’ hard work by the GNOME community. It contains major new features, as well as many smaller improvements and bug fixes. In total, the release incorporates 24845 changes, made by approximately 801 contributors.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Linux Mint 19

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Linux
Reviews

Well, there you have it. I have covered everything that I can think of in this review.

Installation is as straight forward as downloading an ISO image, copying it to a USB and then navigating a few installation screens.

The Cinnamon user interface is first class. It looks incredibly stylish and is very easy to use.

The default software with Linux Mint is perfect for most purposes although I would always go with Chrome over Firefox and Evolution over Thunderbird but they are personal preferences.

The software manager makes it easy to find new software and you can install either flatpak packages or debian format packages.

Steam is available for playing games and you can now play Windows games without installing WINE but it isn’t yet 100% perfect.

If you need Citrix then I have covered the fact that it works but there are a few pitfalls. These are not unique to Linux Mint and are generally the same on every distribution.

I have shown that it is possible to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine meaning you can use Linux Mint for most tasks and swap into a virtual machine for everything else. No need to waste disk space dual booting.

Timeshift is a great new tool for adding system restore points and there are various tools for keeping your system up to date, changing the look and feel of your system and for setting up hardware such as graphics cards and printers.

It is easy to see why Linux Mint is so popular. It is straight forward, easy to use and consistent.

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What’s New in Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS is the latest release of Ubuntu budgie. As part of Ubuntu 18.04 flavor this release ships with latest Budgie desktop 10.4 as default desktop environment. Powered by Linux 4.15 kernel and shipping with the same internals as Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), the Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS official flavor will be supported for 3 years, until April 2021.

Prominent new features include support for adding OpenVNC connections through the NetworkManager applet, better font handling for Chinese and Korean languages, improved keyboard shortcuts, color emoji support for GNOME Characters and other GNOME apps, as well as window-shuffler capability.

Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 LTS also ships with a new exciting GTK+ theme by default called Pocillo, support for dynamic workspaces, as well as a “minimal installation” option in the graphical installer that lets users install Ubuntu Budgie with only the Chromium web browser and a handful of basic system utilities.

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Review: Linux Mint 3 Debian Edition (LMDE 3)

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Reviews

On the whole, I liked running LMDE 3 a lot. The distribution was easy to set up, I liked the quick access to common tools in the welcome window. The change from ranked upgrades to having the system safeguarded by Timeshift snapshots may make things a little harder for newcomers (it's harder to recover a system than to not have it break in the first place), but the new approach probably offers better security in the long run.

One thing I appreciated about LMDE 3 is that it looks beautiful. I usually don't focus much on a theme, or icon style, but Mint looks incredible to me. Everything is high contrast and attractive. The fonts are a little thin for my taste, but this can be easily changed with a few clicks in the settings panel.

I was a little disappointed the system installer defaults to using ext4 instead of Btrfs. Since Mint recommends and relies on Timeshift for system recovery, and Btrfs snapshots are much more efficient than rsync snapshots, it makes sense to me to use Btrfs by default. On a related note, when Timeshift is set up to use rsync snapshots, the rsync command will drag down system performance for about 20 minutes at a time. Having the snapshots run as a lower priority in the background would have avoided slowing down the desktop once a day.

I would have preferred if LMDE had shipped with MATE instead of Cinnamon. I realize Cinnamon is an in-house desktop project and it makes sense for the Mint developers to focus on using and promoting Cinnamon. However, since I suspect many of the people who want to use the Debian branch over the Ubuntu branch will be doing so for performance reasons, I think MATE would make the sensible default. MATE is lighter than Cinnamon, does not require special video driver/hardware support and will run better in virtual environments. Cinnamon is a solid desktop and I think it looks and performs wonderfully on physical hardware, it just doesn't feel like the optimal choice for people who want to run the lighter, more conservative Debian branch of Mint.

Finally, I want to give credit to the Mint team for integrating Flatpak support into the software manager. It is easy to find Flatpaks without having them blend in with other packages, potentially confusing users. I think Flatpak support was handled well by the Mint team.

On the whole, the above points are minor style preferences for a distribution that I was impressed by. Mint's Debian edition performed smoothly, offered a lot of great software out of the box and was easy to use. I think the Debian branch might be slightly less appealing to beginners than the main, Ubuntu-based edition, but there are few practical differences and most people will probably find either branch works for them. I think LMDE will be a good fit for most people, whether beginners or more experienced users.

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A Summary of deepin 15.6 and 15.7

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Reviews

Both deepin 15.6 and 15.7 were released at June and August 2018. Here's a short summary of them showing the new features and improvements. You will find new Welcome Intro, new Dark Theme, new Power Saving Mode, reduced RAM usage and smaller ISO size, improvements in System Settings, and new ability of File Manager (renaming partition by right-click, for example). You will see them in this article with GIF animations and screenshots. This article also shows in brief why 15.7 is far better than 15.6 so you can choose it to start deepin for your first time. Enjoy!

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Review: Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling edition

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Netrunner Rolling is a distribution I thoroughly enjoyed using. There we a few minor issues, but overall everything worked great. The distribution came with enough software pre-installed that I really did not need to install any additional software to perform most basic tasks. Were I to use Netrunner Rolling long term, I might want to swap a few of the included programs for ones that were my own personal preference, but the software Netrunner Rolling ships with are good defaults. The only software oddity was being stuck on LibreOffice 5.4 for a while before finally upgrading to 6.0. Most of the other packages are up-to-date, often the absolutely newest possible version, but updates to LibreOffice packages are more conservative.

Users wanting the Arch Linux experience without the effort should give Netrunner Rolling a try. It provides a nice, polished KDE experience with a decent selection of software included by default. Netrunner's KDE customizations create a desktop experience that is simultaneously traditional and modern, providing a nice middle ground between the classic Windows-style desktop and GNOME 3 & Unity.

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The Slimbook Pro2 is here - Very, VERY nice

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KDE
Hardware
Reviews

The Slimbook started just fine. Everything seems to be in perfect order. The system firmware was up to date, and the BIOS/UEFI was already configured for VT-d. Furthermore, both TPM and Secure Boot were disabled, which actually suits me well. The internal disk is labeled ubuntu, though. And the reason is ...

The Slimbook team also installed Ubuntu on the disk (they mentioned it alongside hardware upgrades), to make sure everything worked fine. I had the option to use their installation with a generic root/slimbook account combo, or wipe everything and start fresh. I had ordered the machine without any OS, and intended to do the setup myself, primarily because I also wanted to use full-disk encryption. Another downside of having a preinstalled system is that there's no two-part OEM setup for Ubuntu, so the vendor must configure the user side for you too. No matter, it's going away anyway.

Now, the actual operating system choice - Linux. As I mentioned in the past, ever since my love-at-first-sight encounter with Kubuntu 17.04, I wanted to deploy Kubuntu in my production setup, and this purchase finally allowed me to do so. I grabbed the ISO, etched it to a thumb drive, and let the system boot. There were no issues. All the hardware was correctly initialized, including the Wireless.

I did a bunch of speed tests, and I get a full, flat 80 Mbps rate that matches the test line, in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. No issues whatsoever, and this is important. In comparison, my significantly cheaper, older and driver-problematic Lenovo G50 with the Realtek card only does about 40 Mbps under the same conditions.

I had been worried regarding the Wireless - but then I thought, the Slimbook guys wouldn't be selling this hardware if there were problems, now would they? Of course, if you type any which Wireless card into a search engine, and then add the string linux, you will get tons of forum posts, bug threads and whatnot detailing a neverending story of problems. With my Slimbook Pro2, it was smooth sailing.

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Also: KDE Connect on IRC and Matrix.org

Hands-on with MX Linux: A pleasant, easy-to-install Linux distribution

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Reviews

When I first started blogging about Linux, MEPIS was one of the first distributions that I wrote about. I always liked it, and enjoyed using it, so I was disappointed when it quietly died a few years ago.

When I first saw MX Linux, I was naturally anxious to try it -- but there were some problems with UEFI firmware and GPT partition tables, and in the method of creating bootable USB sticks. I didn't try it at that time.

After some prodding here (thanks!), I recently went back and had a good look at the latest release notes, and I was pleased to see that there is no longer any problem with UEFI and GPT, and USB media can be created very simply with dd, so it is time to take a fresh look.

First, what is MX Linux? It is a product of the combined efforts of a group of dedicated users from the MEPIS and antiX communities. The objective is to combine the best parts of both distributions, to produce a mid-weight easy-to-use Linux distribution.

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Review: Redcore Linux 1806

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Reviews

For the most part, my time with Redcore was disappointing and occasionally frustrating. Disappointing in that, apart from security enhancements, it does not seem as though Redcore has made any significant progress over the past year. Hardware support has not improved (if anything it has become worse for VirtualBox users) and I did not find any significant new features which would suggest the project is bringing new ideas to the community.

Another thing which bothered me was the appearance of the distribution. While I liked the darker theme, the grey background without clear window borders meant that all application windows blended together. If I had three windows all open and overlapping on the desktop there wasn't any way to tell where one ended and the next began. When combined with the smaller 9pt font that is used everywhere, it meant I had to tweak most visual aspects of the interface to make it suitable for my preferences and ageing eyes.

There were some other minor problems. For example, sometimes the application menu would open at the bottom of the screen (next to its button) and other times the application menu would appear at the top of the display, far away from the mouse pointer. This unusual menu placement would continue until I logged out and signed back into LXQt.

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FOSS, standard essential patents and FRAND in the European Union

As part of the research project on “The Interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND licensing in Standardisation”, a workshop was organised by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CONNECT) to present and discuss the intermediate results to date. The workshop took place in Brussels on September 18, 2018. I presented a set of observations from the research on the case studies performed as part of the project that are outlined below. Other speakers where Catharina Maracke on the issue of legal compliance between Open Source and FRAND licenses, Bruce Perens on “Community Dynamics in Open Source”, and Andy Updegrove on “Dynamics in Standardisation”. You may ask what the relevance of this debate is for the wider Free and Open Source Software community. The obvious answer is that to distribute software “without restriction”, the user needs all the usage rights associated with the program. While most FOSS contributors assume that this is naturally the central motivation for anybody to contribute in the first place, there is a long history of attempts to maintain some sort of exclusive control over a piece of FOSS code, possibly using other rights than copyright. Read more

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