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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

Fedora’s gaggle of desktops

There are 38 different desktops or window managers in Fedora 31. You could try a different one every day for a month, and still have some left over. Some have very few features. Some have so many features they are called a desktop environment. This article can’t go into detail on each, but it’s interesting to see the whole list in one place. To be on this list, the desktop must show up on the desktop manager’s selection list. If the desktop has more than one entry in the desktop manager list, they are counted just as that one desktop. An example is “GNOME”, “GNOME Classic” and “GNOME (Wayland).” These all show up on the desktop manager list, but they are still just GNOME. Read more

Programming: 'DevOps', Caddyfile, GCC 8.4 RC and Forth

  • A beginner's guide to everything DevOps

    While there is no single definition, I consider DevOps to be a process framework that ensures collaboration between development and operations teams to deploy code to production environments faster in a repeatable and automated way. We will spend the rest of this article unpacking that statement. The word "DevOps" is an amalgamation of the words "development" and "operations." DevOps helps increase the speed of delivering applications and services. It allows organizations to serve their customers efficiently and become more competitive in the market. In simple terms, DevOps is an alignment between development and IT operations with better communication and collaboration. DevOps assumes a culture where collaboration among the development, operations, and business teams is considered a critical aspect of the journey. It's not solely about the tools, as DevOps in an organization creates continuous value for customers. Tools are one of its pillars, alongside people and processes. DevOps increases organizations' capability to deliver high-quality solutions at a swift pace. It automates all processes, from build to deployment, of an application or a product.

  • How to solve the DevOps vs. ITSM culture clash

    Since its advent, DevOps has been pitted against IT service management (ITSM) and its ITIL framework. Some say "ITIL is under siege," some ask you to choose sides, while others frame them as complementary. What is true is that both DevOps and ITSM have fans and detractors, and each method can influence software delivery and overall corporate culture.

  • JFrog Launches JFrog Multi-Cloud Universal DevOps Platform

    DevOps technology company JFrog has announced its new hybrid, multi-cloud, universal DevOps platform called the JFrog Platform that drives continuous software releases from any source to any destination. By delivering tools in an all-in-one solution, the JFrog Platform aims to empower organizations, developers and DevOps engineers to meet increased delivery requirements. For the uninitiated, JFrog is the creator of Artifactory, the heart of the Universal DevOps platform for automating, managing, securing, distributing, and monitoring all types of technologies.

  • New Caddyfile and more

    The new Caddyfile enables experimental HTTP3 support. Also I’ve added a few redirects to my new domain. All www prefix requests get redirected to their version without www prefix. My old domain nullday.de redirects now to my new domain shibumi.dev. Also I had to add connect-src 'self' to my CSP, because Google Lighthouse seems to have problems with defalt-src 'none'. If just default-src 'none' is being set, Google Lighthouse can’t access your robot.txt. This seems to be an issue in the Google Lighthouse implementation, the Google Search Bot is not affected.

  • Content Addressed Vocabulary

    How can systems communicate and share meaning? Communication within systems is preceded by a form of meta-communication; we must have a sense that we mean the same things by the terms we use before we can even use them. This is challenging enough for humans who must share meaning, but we can resolve ambiguities with context clues from a surrounding narrative. Machines, in general, need a context more explicitly laid out for them, with as little ambiguity as possible. Standards authors of open-world systems have long struggled with such systems and have come up with some reasonable systems; unfortunately these also suffer from several pitfalls. With minimal (or sometimes none at all) adjustment to our tooling, I propose a change in how we manage ontologies.

  • GCC 8.4 Release Candidate available from gcc.gnu.org
    The first release candidate for GCC 8.4 is available from
    
     https://gcc.gnu.org/pub/gcc/snapshots/8.4.0-RC-20200226/
     ftp://gcc.gnu.org/pub/gcc/snapshots/8.4.0-RC-20200226/
    
    and shortly its mirrors.  It has been generated from git commit
    r8-10091-gf80c40f93f9e8781b14f1a8301467f117fd24051.
    
    I have so far bootstrapped and tested the release candidate on
    x86_64-linux and i686-linux.  Please test it and report any issues to
    bugzilla.
    
    If all goes well, I'd like to release 8.4 on Wednesday, March 4th.
    
  • GCC 8.4 RC Compiler Released For Testing

    GCC 8.4 will hopefully be released next week but for now a release candidate is available for testing the latest bug fixes in the mature GCC8 series. GCC 8.4 is aiming for release next week as potentially the last of the GCC8 series while GCC 9.3 is also coming soon. GCC 8.4 represents all of the relevant bug fixes over the past year for back-porting to users still on GCC 8. GCC 10 (in the form of version GCC 10.1) meanwhile as the next feature release should be out in the next month or two.

  • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Forth

    Forth is an imperative stack-based programming language, and a member of the class of extensible interactive languages. It was created by Charles Moore in 1970 to control telescopes in observatories using small computers. Because of its roots, Forth stresses efficiency, compactness, flexible and efficient hardware/software interaction. Forth has a number of properties that contrast it from many other programming languages. In particular, Forth has no inherent keywords and is extensible. It is both a low level and high level language. It has the interesting property of being able to compile itself into a new compiler, debug itself and to experiment in real time as the system is built. Forth is an extremely flexible language, with high portability, compact source and object code, and a language that is easy to learn, program and debug. It has an incremental compiler, an interpreter and a very fast edit-compile-test cycle. Forth uses a stack to pass data between words, and it uses the raw memory for more permanent storage. It also lets coders write their own control structures. Forth has often being deployed in embedded systems due to the compactness of object code. Forth is also used in boot loaders such as Open Firmware (developed by Sun Microsystems) as well as scientific fields such as astronomy, mathematics, oceanography and electrical engineering.

Python Programming

  • Adding Metadata to PDFs

    For both Django Crash Course and the forthcoming Two Scoops of Django 3.x, we're using a new process to render the PDFs. Unfortunately, until just a few days ago that process didn't include the cover. Instead, covers were inserted manually using Adobe Acrobat. [...] The lesson I learned writing this little utility is that as useful as Google and Stack Overflow might be, sometimes you need to explore reference manuals. Which, if you ask me, is a lot of fun. :-)

  • A Week At A Time - Building SaaS #46

    In this episode, we worked on a weekly view for the Django app. We made navigation that would let users click from one week to the next, then fixed up the view to pull time from that particular week. The first thing that I did was focus on the UI required to navigate to a new weekly view in the app. We mocked out the UI and talked briefly about the flexbox layout that is available to modern browsers. From the UI mock up, I changed the view code to include a previous_week_date and next_week_date in the view context so we could change the links to show real dates. From there, we needed a destination URL. I create a new path in the URLconf that connected the weekly URL to the existing app view that shows the week data. After wiring things together, I was able to extract the week date from the URL and make the view pull from the specified day and show that in the UI. Finally, we chatted about the tricky offset calculation that needs to happen to pull the right course tasks, but I ended the stream at that stage because the logic changes for that problem are tedious and very specific to my particular app.

  • Python 3.6.9 : Google give a new tool for python users.

    Today I discovered a real surprise gift made by the team from Google for the evolution of programmers. I say this because not everyone can afford hardware resources.

  • Learn Python Dictionary Data Structure – Part 3

    In this Part 3 of Python Data Structure series, we will be discussing what is a dictionary, how it differs from other data structure in python, how to create, delete dictionary objects and methods of dictionary objects.

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