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Reviews

LibreOffice 7.1 review - The Uncertainty Principle

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LibO
Reviews

I feel that LibreOffice has lost its momentum, just like the Linux desktop. The domain has been idle for a while, the world is changing, and there simply isn't enough energy - or money - to sustain the project in a good, vibrant way. After all, many open-source projects kick off with gusto, but then a decade later, they are pretty much in the same position they've always been, and that's not very inspiring - or whatever word you want to use for where people source their drive and creativity.

LibreOffice 7.1 feels worse than its predecessors. It doesn't introduce anything super cool or useful, but it does bring in more bugs. The speed is also an issue, and the Microsoft compatibility remains tricky. Then, the interface doesn't need a billion choices, just one or two but polished to perfection. And I'm not even going to talk about the whole Community Edition thing. I will gladly pay for LibreOffice, but I expect pro results in return. In fact, the healthiest thing that can happen to this fine suite is to become costware, because otherwise, I can't see where the needed investment and resources will come to ramp up on the much needed features and tools. Free is good, free is fun, but tools that don't tool aren't very useful. And thus, another layer of hope is chipped away from me soul.

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Quark 20.04 review

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OS
Reviews

Quark is a fairly new project and this is its first stable release. We don’t usually review such young projects, but we were lured in by its polished Windows 10 desktop replica.

In a nutshell, think of Quark as Q4OS working on top of Ubuntu LTS, or more accurately Kubuntu. The developers tell us that their objective with Quark is to bring Q4OS goodness to Ubuntu users. Because Q4OS is based on Debian, it didn’t take the developers much effort to compile the Q4OS tools for Ubuntu.

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Trisquel 9.0 review

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Reviews

The world is full of people shouting and clamoring for the latest thing (and the last review pages because we go to press today – Ed). So it’s always reassuring to discover places where things still move slowly.

Nowhere is this more true than Trisquel, the freedom (as in speechdom)-loving, Ubuntu-based distro endorsed by the Free Software Foundation.

Trisquel used to push out one release a year (based on the corresponding Ubuntu LTS release), but it’s been over 18 months since the previous release. And that one took over three years to come into fruition. This new release is based on Ubuntu 18.04, the second-to-last LTS release, which is supported until 2023.

[...]

With this release Trisquel moves from Xfce to the MATE desktop, so if you long for those Gnome 2 vibes then this might be for you. ISOs are getting bigger and Trisquel’s weighs in at 2.6GB. A 1.2GB mini-image is available that runs LXDE – ideal for older machines.

There’s also Triskel, a KDE spin, and Trisquel Sugar Toast which is an educational release. Oh and there’s a tiny Net Install image too if you want to build a minimal but freedom-loving OS from the ground up.

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Ubuntu 20.10 review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

We really enjoyed the last Ubuntu release, and indeed the slew of Ubuntu-derivatives (such as Mint and Pop!_OS) that have been rebased on 20.04. We’re still waiting patiently for elementary OS 6 though...

For those unfamiliar with Ubuntu’s release cycle, this is the first of three interim, short-term release (STR) versions that Canonical and the community will use to shape the next LTS (long-term support) release in 2022. If you’re looking for stability and would rather nothing broke, we’d strongly advise you to stick with the LTS.

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FossaPup64 9.5 review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Puppy’s Ubuntu-based release has had a major update and is now based on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. This means that FossaPup64 9.5 (which also goes by the much easier nomenclature, Puppy Linux 9.5) is binary compatible with the latest Ubuntu LTS release and can pull applications from its repositories without any issues.

This release is the fourth official release of an Ubuntu-based 64-bit Puppy. Like all Puppy distros, FossaPup64 is built using the Woof-CE build system that’s designed to assemble Puppy variants from the binary packages of any other distro.

A key feature of the official Puppy releases is that they’re modular. You can easily swap out components including the kernel and various programs to create a streamlined Puppy.

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GhostBSD Review: Simple and Lightweight

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Reviews
BSD

Because there are so many different options out there for your free and open-source operating system, it can be hard to figure out what the best option is for you. Sifting between Linux distros is difficult – Debian and its derivatives, Ubuntu and its derivatives, Fedora, Arch, openSUSE, the list goes on. However, what if the best choice for you isn’t actually technically Linux? Here we review GhostBSD, a FreeBSD-based Unix OS designed for a simple desktop experience, to see if it’s the right fit for you.

[...]

The applications that are installed are all necessary. It’s exactly what you might expect to find in your typical lean open-source desktop OS configuration, with no frills and just the essential applications.

There is not much to remark on with the user experience – it is a very simple and friendly version of the MATE desktop that’s designed to be light on system resources and simple to use. Overall, I think there is no way you could go wrong.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Linux Edition)

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Hardware
Reviews

FOR MOST OF eternity, if you wanted to run Linux on your laptop you bought a Windows laptop, wiped Windows, and installed Linux. This was known as the "Windows tax," the extra money you paid for an operating system you didn't need.

About 15 years ago, pioneering companies like System76 began selling white-label hardware with Linux preinstalled, along with all the necessary drivers to ensure hardware compatibility. Linux worked out of the box. They were seldom what you'd call svelte laptops, but they were solid machines, and hey, no Windows tax. Today, System76 builds its own Linux-based desktop hardware at a factory in Colorado, and even big brands like Dell sell laptops with Linux.

Lenovo is the latest manufacturer to want in on the fun, releasing its first Linux laptop in the form of an eighth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon. There are some quirks, but it's one of the best laptops around for Linux.

[...]

It's worth asking then, what does the X1 Carbon bring to the table? The answer is support. The main advantage of preinstalled Linux is both hardware support and customer support from Lenovo. If you run into an issue, you can take to the forums or even call Lenovo support.

That hardware support shows immediately when you boot up the X1 Carbon—the fingerprint reader works out of the box. This is one thing I've never managed to get working when I installed Linux myself, so it's really nice to have it working immediately. Except, well, we'll get to the except.

I opted to test the Fedora-based version of the X1 Carbon. There's also an Ubuntu-based option. If you're unfamiliar, Fedora and Ubuntu are the names of two Linux "distributions." A Linux distribution, usually shortened to "distro," is a collection of software that contains everything you need to run Linux on your PC.

If this is confusing, think of it in terms of Windows or macOS. Apple and Microsoft combine all the little pieces of software that make up macOS and Windows and distribute the result as a single package. Fedora, Ubuntu, and hundreds of others do the same for Linux.

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Review: Septor 2021

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Reviews

Septor is a Linux distribution which provides users with a pre-configured computing environment for surfing the Internet anonymously. It is based on Debian's Testing branch and it uses Privoxy, a privacy-enhancing proxy, together with the Tor anonymity network to modify web page data and HTTP headers before the page is rendered by the browser. The distribution uses KDE Plasma as the preferred desktop environment and it also includes the Tor Browser for anonymous web browsing and OnionShare for file sharing.

Septor is in the same family of distributions as Tails, which we talked about last year. Tails is also Debian-based and is intended to be used for anonymous web browsing and file sharing. One of the big differences between the two projects is Tails uses the GNOME desktop while Septor uses KDE Plasma. Another difference is Tails is typically run as a live distribution from a USB thumb drive, often with persistent storage. Septor, on the other hand, can either be used as a standard live disc or installed to a hard drive via Debian's system installer.

Septor is available in one edition for 64-bit (x86_64) computers. The ISO file we download is 1.8GB in size. Booting from this media brings up a menu asking if we would like to run the live desktop or launch the installer. When running in UEFI mode just one install option was visible, but in Legacy BIOS mode I could select either a graphical installer or a text installer.

Taking the live option brings up a graphical login screen. We are shown a mostly empty screen that tells us we can sign in to the live desktop using the password "live". There are drop-down menus for choosing our session type (only KDE Plasma is available) and our keyboard layout (only US is available). Signing into the default user account brings up the Plasma desktop with a blue background. A panel sits at the bottom of the display. The desktop is fairly quiet and empty, though browsing through the application menu presents us with several useful tools I will talk about later. We are automatically connected to the Tor network when we open a web browser or other tool, allowing us to browse the web with a degree of anonymity.

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An early look at VLC 4.0 - Hello darkness, my old friend

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Movies
Reviews

I first tried VLC around 2003 or so. It wasn't a good experience. The player's interface showed me a garbled view of the video file I was trying to play. Then, in 2006 or so, I tried it again. Since, it's become my staple media player on every single platform and operating system, including the mobile. The reasons are many: the king of codecs, tons of features, a simple no-frills interface.

Recently, the VLC team has started working on a visual revamp of the UI, which should come live in version 4.0. This marks a significant departure from the established look & feel of the player, which really hasn't seen any big visual updates throughout its history. So I thought, let's have a look at the early work and see what the future has in store for us. Early impressions, don't get too excited, things may rapidly evolve and change and whatnot. Follow me.

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Hands-On with Ubuntu Unity 20.10 on the Raspberry Pi 4

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Reviews

If you are one of those die-hard Unity desktop users and own a Raspberry Pi 4 computer, the Ubuntu Unity distribution comes with a Raspberry Pi flavor optimized for the Raspberry Pi 4 model (and probably the newer Raspberry Pi 400 too), but also reported to “work” on older models like the Raspberry Pi 3 and 3+.

Being based on Ubuntu’s Raspberry Pi flavor, Ubuntu Unity features the same first-time installation/configuration wizard, which asks the user to choose a language for the system, a keyboard layout, connect to a Wi-Fi network, choose a location, and set up a default user.

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More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • Snapcraft Clinic Successes

    On Thursday I mentioned we were restarting the Snapcraft Clinic. Basically we stand up a regular video call with engineers from the snap and snapcraft team & us from Snap Advocacy. Developers of applications and publishers of snaps are invited to join to troubleshoot. There was nothing especially secret or private discussed, but as we don’t record or stream the calls, and I don’t have direct permission to mention the applications or people involved, so I’ll keep this a little vague. In future I think we should ask permission and record the outcomes of the calls. We had a few productive discussions. One developer brought an application which they’d requested classic confinement for, and wished to discuss the options for confinement. We had a rather lengthy open discussion about the appropriateness of the available options. The developer was offered some choices, including making changes to their application to accomodate confinement, and another was (as always) not to snap the application. They appreciated our openness in terms of accepting that there are limitations with all software, and not everything always makes sense to be packaged as a snap, at the moment. We also had a productive discusison with a representative of a group responsible for publishing multiple snaps. They had difficulties with a graphical snapped application once it had been updated to use core20. The application would launch and almost immediately segfault. As the application was already published in the Snap Store, in a non-stable channel, we were all able to install it to test on our own systems.

  • Kraft Version 0.96

    Ich freue mich, heute das Release Version 0.96 von Kraft herauszugeben. Die neue Version kann über die Homepage heruntergeladen werden.

  • A new data format has landed in the upcoming GTG 0.5

    Diego’s changes are major, invasive technological changes, and they would benefit from extensive testing by everybody with “real data” before 0.5 happens (very soon). I’ve done some pretty extensive testing & bug reporting in the last few months; Diego fixed all the issues I’ve reported so far, so I’ve pretty much run out of serious bugs now, as only a few remain targetted to the 0.5 milestone… But I’m only human, and it is possible that issues might remain, even after my troll-testing. Grab GTG’s git version ASAP, with a copy of your real data (for extra caution, and also because we want you to test with real data); see the instructions in the README, including the “Where is my user data and config stored?” section. Please torture-test it to make sure everything is working properly, and report issues you may find (if any). Look for anything that might seem broken “compared to 0.4”, incorrect task parenting/associations, incorrect tagging, broken content, etc.

  • MAS ‘Ocean strainer’ technology to be open source

    Inspired by the success of its ‘Ocean Strainer’ floating trash trap, a pilot project launched in the Dehiwala Canal last year, MAS Holdings will make the ‘Ocean Strainer’ technology available to interested parties, to replicate and scale up the solution.

  • Notes on Addressing Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

    One of the unsung achievements of modern software development is the degree to which it has become componentized: not that long ago, when you wanted to write a piece of software you had to write pretty much the whole thing using whatever tools were provided by the language you were writing in, maybe with a few specialized libraries like OpenSSL. No longer. The combination of newer languages, Open Source development and easy-to-use package management systems like JavaScript’s npm or Rust’s Cargo/crates.io has revolutionized how people write software, making it standard practice to pull in third party libraries even for the simplest tasks; it’s not at all uncommon for programs to depend on hundreds or thousands of third party packages. [...] Even packages which are well maintained and have good development practices routinely have vulnerabilities. For example, Firefox recently released a new version that fixed a vulnerability in the popular ANGLE graphics engine, which is maintained by Google. Both Mozilla and Google follow the practices that this blog post recommends, but it’s just the case that people make mistakes. To (possibly mis)quote Steve Bellovin, “Software has bugs. Security-relevant software has security-relevant bugs”. So, while these practices are important to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities, we know they can’t eliminate them. Of course this applies to inadvertant vulnerabilities, but what about malicious actors (though note that Brewer et al. observe that “Taking a step back, although supply-chain attacks are a risk, the vast majority of vulnerabilities are mundane and unintentional—honest errors made by well-intentioned developers.”)? It’s possible that some of their proposed changes (in particular forbidding anonymous authors) might have an impact here, but it’s really hard to see how this is actionable. What’s the standard for not being anonymous? That you have an e-mail address? A Web page? A DUNS number?[3] None of these seem particularly difficult for a dedicated attacker to fake and of course the more strict you make the requirements the more it’s a burden for the (vast majority) of legitimate developers. I do want to acknowledge at this point that Brewer et al. clearly state that multiple layers of protection needed and that it’s necessary to have robust mechanisms for handling vulnerability defenses. I agree with all that, I’m just less certain about this particular piece.

  • 26 Firefox Quantum About:Config Tricks You Need to Learn - Make Tech Easier

    “Here be dragons,” reads the ominous disclaimer when you type about:config into Firefox’s URL bar, warning you that tweaking things in this area is largely experimental and can cause instability to your browser. Sounds exciting, right? And even though it sounds a little scary, the fact is you will almost certainly be okay when you start playing around in this area and can actually use the features here to improve and speed up your browser. These are Make Tech Easier’s favorite Firefox about:config tricks, freshly updated for Firefox Quantum.

  • Attackers collaborate to exploit CVE-2021-21972 and CVE-2021-21973 - Blueliv

Programming Leftovers

  • The HTTP Referer header is fading away (at least as a useful thing)

    The HTTP Referer header on requests is famously misspelled (it should be Referrer), and also famously not liked because of privacy and security concerns. The privacy and security concerns are especially strong with external ('cross-origin') Referers, which is also the ones that many people find most useful because they tell you where visitors to your pages are coming from and let you find places where people have linked to you or are mentioning you.

  • Top 10 Natural Language Processing (NLP) Trends To Look Forward

    AI and Machine Learning have gifted us marvelous things. NLP or Natural Language Processing is one of them. It is one of the most prominent applications of AI. We are using this technology in our day-to-day life without even knowing. Translators, speech recognition apps, chatbots are actually NLP-powered products. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are making new developments in NLP every year. If you are an AI enthusiast, you should go deep inside NLP. Chill! We got you covered. Just go through the article, and know about the top NLP trends that most data scientists are talking about.

  • Russ Allbery: DocKnot 4.01

    DocKnot is my software documentation and release management tool. This release adds support for a global user configuration file separate from the metadata for any given project and adds support for signing generated distribution tarballs with GnuPG. Currently, the only configuration options for the global configuration file are to set the destination location of generated distributions and the PGP key to use when signing them.

  • horizonator: terrain renderer based on SRTM DEMs

    I just resurrected and cleaned up an old tool I had lying around. It's now nice and usable by others. This tool loads terrain data, and renders it from the ground, simulating what a human or a camera would see. This is useful for armchair exploring or for identifying peaks. This was relatively novel when I wrote it >10 years ago, but there are a number of similar tools in existence now. This implementation is still useful in that it's freely licensed and contains APIs, so fancier processing can be performed on its output.

  • Happy birthday, Python, you're 30 years old this week: Easy to learn, and the right tool at the right time

    The 30th anniversary of Python this week finds the programming language at the top of its game, but not without challenges. "I do believe that Python just doesn’t have the right priorities these days," said Armin Ronacher, director of engineering at software monitoring biz Sentry and creator of Flask, the popular Python web app framework, in an email interview with The Register. Ronacher, a prolific Python contributor, remains a fan of the language. He credits Python's success to being both easy to learn and having an implementation that was easy to hack. And in its early years, Python didn't have a lot of competitors with those same characteristics, he said.

  • Google fires 150 game developers hired for Stadia: Report

    In about two years, Google has announced to shut down the in-house Stadia game development division, as it sees a great adoption of its technology by third-party developers and publishers to create world-class games.

    Google has said that it will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from its internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.

Benchmarks at Phoronix and Phoronix Test Suite

  • Vulkan Ray-Tracing Along With Other New/Updated Benchmarks For February - Phoronix

    Below is a look at all of the updates now available via OpenBenchmarking.org for Phoronix Test Suite users or if simply wanting to go to the test profile pages to gauge the CPU/GPU performance in the different real-world workloads. All these updates are available to Phoronix Test Suite users automatically if on an Internet connection when the metadata automatically updates or by running phoronix-test-suite openbenchmarking-refresh to force refresh.

  • The Phoronix Test Suite Gains Vulkan Ray-Tracing Benchmarks

    The versatile Phoronix Test Suite, developed and used by the Linux news website Phoronix, has gained profiles for benchmarking Vulkan ray-tracing performance using two different benchmarks as well as the JPEG XL benchmarks. There's also updates to many of the existing tests as well as a new 10.2.2 release of the Phoronix Test Suite software. [...] Michael Larabel has also updated many existing benchmarks, including the ones for the commercial closed-source games Portal 2, Insurgency and Civilization VI, blender, the libavif AVIF image encoder, the dav1d AV1 video encoder, GROMACS (GROningen MAchine for Chemical Simulations), ParaView, V-RAY (commercial), Pennant (OpenMP benchmark), NWChem and the free software platform game DDraceNetwork.

today's howtos

  • How To Use chmod and chown Command in Linux

    How do I use chmod and chown command under Linux / Unix operating systems? Use the chown command to change file owner and group information. we run the chmod command command to change file access permissions such as read, write, and access. This page explains how to use chmod and chown command on Linux or Unix-like systems.

  • How To Add Route on Linux – devconnected

    As a network engineer, you probably spend a lot of time thinking and planning your network infrastructure. You plan how computers will be linked, physically using specific cables but also logically using routing tables. When your network plan is built, you will have to implement every single link that you theorized on paper. In some cases, if you are using Linux computers, you may have to add some routes in order to link it to other networks in your company. Adding routes on Linux is extremely simple and costless : you can use the Network Manager daemon (if you are running a recent distribution) or the ifconfig one. In this tutorial, you will learn how you can easily add new routes on a Linux machine in order to link it to your physical network.

  • syncing subtitles in freedom

    The topic of creating subtitles with Free Software has often come up in my circles of Emacs-oriented users, and I haven't had a good recommendation to share, until this idea hit me the other day. Subtitle files are largely blocks of start/end time associated with blocks of text. I figured, once you got a transcript, existing Emacs Org Mode features could be used, perhaps along with keyboard macros, to turn the transcript into a synced subtitle file.

  • How To Install Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS [Ed: Proprietary and Microsoft; not an attractive option as Free/libre alternatives exist]

    In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Minecraft is the most popular sandbox video game developed by Mojang studios but later purchased by Microsoft. It can be used with all major platforms like Linux, macOS, and Windows. Most Minecraft players would agree that the secrete to the game’s success lies in its creativity-inspiring design. Players are free to explore a large, procedurally generated world made of blocks, each of which can be interacted with, moved, or transformed into resources for crafting. This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of Minecraft on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

  • Ubuntu: format SD card [Guide]

    Are you new to Ubuntu? Do you need to format your SD card but can’t figure out how to do it? If so, this guide is for you! Follow along as we go over a few ways you can format SD cards on Linux.

  • How to remove a remove apt repository from Debian

    Do you have an Apt repository on your Debian Linux PC that you want to delete? Can’t figure out how to do it? We can help! Follow along as we go over two ways you can remove Apt repositories from Debian!

  • The Raspberry PI Cheat Sheet – Raspberry PI User

    The Raspberry PI cheat sheet gives a quick overview of common commands, installation tips and links to guides to help you set up your Raspberry PI as a desktop computer.

  • Do a Kernel Upgrade the Easy Way in Linux Mint

    Upgrading the Linux kernel can be difficult, especially for new Linux users. In Linux Mint, however, it's possible to upgrade to a newer kernel with zero hassle. Today we'll find out how to do it, and what to do if you experience problems.