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Reviews

Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable

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Reviews

Last week I mentioned that I liked Bluestar Linux very much and was probably going to go ahead and take the leap to it and Plasma 5. I had been testing Plasma 5 on various distributions in 2016 with poor results until I tested Arch-based Bluestar 4.8.13. Preliminary tests indicated it might be possible to migrate. So, I learned a bit more about Bluestar this passed weekend and thought I'd share. I've also rounded up the best Linux tidbits from today's headlines as well.

First up, yes there is a graphical package manager. PacmanXG to be exact. I'd run into PacmanXG a few times over the years, but it appears it too has matured and seems to work rather well. The sort by groups could be better, but otherwise it's quite capable complete with history, log, and the command-line outputs. Updates come fairly routinely in Bluestar, although most are from Arch. I've been applying the recommended updates without any negative side-effects as of yet.

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OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 review

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MDV
Reviews

OpenMandriva is a Linux distribution whose roots and traditions date back to the Mandrake/Mandriva Linux era, what it has in common with with ROSA Linux and Mageia. The latest edition of the desktop distribution – OpenMandriva Lx 3.01, was released on December 25 2016, so it was a nice Christmas present to OpenMandriva fans.

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2016 in review: The year in Android

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Android
Reviews

Android is in a very different place than it was when 2016 began. While the last 12 months were filled with much of the usual pomp and circumstance surrounding the release of new handsets, connected gadgets, and OS refreshes, the state of Android has never been more promising or less predictable. Google stepped out from behind the curtain and into the spotlight. Headsets took over smartwatches as the trend of the moment. And Samsung’s phablet woes opened the door for smaller players to make big gains.

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Best Gnome distro of 2016

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GNOME
Reviews

Ever since Gnome 3 came to life, I struggled with how it was realized and what it did, a far cry (but not Far Cry, hi hi) from its predecessor. It was functionally inferior to its rival, and it is the chief reason why MATE and Cinnamon came to life. Then, over the years, it slowly evolved, and now, at last, the combination of its core elements and a thick layer of necessary extensions allows for a decent compromise. Throughout 2016, I tested more Gnome releases than ever before, I was quite pleased with the results, and now we will select the best candidate for this year.

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Happy Holidays: Linux Mint get a major upgrade

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Reviews

With this long-term support Linux desktop, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint is better than ever. Since I've already found Linux Mint 18 to be the best desktop out there of any sort, that's saying something.

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Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 review

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Reviews

For users with older computers, some of the modern Linux distributions can be too resource intensive. Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 is a lightweight distribution designed for those users. The minimum system requirements are a 500MHz processor, 128MB of RAM, and 4GB of disk space. The recommended requirements are a 1.0GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 10GB of disk space. Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as well as a "Legacy" release for really old 32-bit systems, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 can easily bring new life to older computers.

Bodhi Linux offers a couple of download options beyond the 32-bit/64-bit choice. There is a Standard release and an AppPack version. The Standard release is very bare-bones with only a minimal set of pre-installed options, while the AppPack version comes with a larger number of bundled applications. The ISO for the 64-bit Standard version is 647MB and the 64-bit AppPack version is 1.21GB (about twice the size). For the purposes of this review, I opted for the Standard version, so I could customize my system as I wished. However, I will be mentioning some of the AppPack version's additional software throughout this review.

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Fedora 25 Gnome review - A way to land

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Red Hat
Reviews

All right. Brace yourselves. It's Fedora time. Throughout 2016, a gloomy year for the likes of us, Linux users, Fedora has been a friendly companion. It made me like and use Gnome again, plus it offered a pleasant, vibrant, practical desktop experience that nicely filled the gap left by Ubuntu. Almost like a dental crown.

We also learned how to pimp it, and I have a whole bunch of surprises laid out ahead of us, including yet more elegant tweaking and taming, reviews on other hardware, some revolutionary usability tricks, and still more. But all that will happen in the future. Now, we should focus on Fedora 25, and see how it stacks against its predecessor, as well as the entire Linux ecosystem. No pressure.

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Fedora 25: With Wayland, Linux has never been easier (or more handsome)

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For the past several releases, the Fedora Project has been pursuing what it calls Fedora Next. Essentially, Fedora Next took a step back and looked at how the distro is used and came up with editions specifically tailored to those use cases. The most notable of these are Fedora WorkStation and Fedora Server (the desktop/laptop and server versions respectively).

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Best Xfce distro of 2016

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Reviews

Let us continue where we started with the KDE/Plasma nominations. It is time to vector our all-seeing eye toward another desktop environment – Xfce. Once upon a time, it used to be a bland, boring offering that could not stand up to the likes of Gnome 2 and KDE 3.5. But then, slowly, it emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix, and persistently, steadily earned its place among the big ones, standing tall, stable, sturdy, and just plain good.

In a way, Xfce now fills the void that was created when Gnome 3 came to life, and many years later, it is still there. But then, Xfce has also left its austerity behind, and it is trying to cater to the modern-era users with all the goodies people expect, without sacrificing its simple approach to fast, no-nonsense computing. So let us see what Year 2016 has blessed us with. To wit, our candidates.

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Review: MX Linux MX-15

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Reviews

Originally, this review was going to be of Bodhi Linux, based on a suggestion from a comment in a recent review. However, when I tried it, while it was able to connect to the Internet, it could not connect to its package repositories for me to install any packages, and I figured that there wouldn't be much point in writing a review given that. Then, I thought of trying the latest version openSUSE on the recommendation of a friend of mine, especially given that I haven't tried openSUSE in quite a while; that turned out to only be available in the form of an installation DVD, as no live image is available yet (though I hope to try it when that does become available). After that, I saw some reviews of MX Linux, and thought it might be interesting to try. (Spoiler alert: this review exists because there's enough material for me to write about it.)

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today's howtos

Leftovers: Software

  • HandBrake 1.0.2 Open-Source Video Transcoder Released for Linux, Mac and Windows
    After more than 13 years of development, the HandBrake open-source video transcoding app reached 1.0 milestone on Christmas Eve last year, and the second bugfix release is already available. HandBrake 1.0.2 is full of improvements and bug fixes enhancing the out-of-the-box video, audio, and subtitles support, but also adds various platform specific changes for all supported operating systems, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.
  • SMPlayer 17.1 Open-Source Video Player Introduces Chromecast Support, More
    It's been two and a half months since you last updated your SMPlayer open-source video player, and a new stable release is now available, versioned 17.1, with some exciting features. Sporting initial Chromecast support, SMPlayer 17.1 will let you send video files from your personal computer to your Chromecast device to watch them on your big-screen TV, or your friends for that matter. The feature supports both online and local sources, including those from popular video hosting services like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Firefox 51 Released with FLAC Support, Better CPU Usage
    A new month means a new release of the venerable Mozilla Firefox web browser. Firefox 51 ships with FLAC support, WebGL 2, and a whole heap more — come see!
  • Mozilla Firefox 51.0 Now Available for Download, Supports FLAC Playback, WebGL 2
    It's not yet official, but the binary and source packages of the Firefox 51.0 web browser are now available for download on your GNU/Linux, macOS, or Microsoft Windows operating system. Mozilla will have the pleasure of unveiling the Firefox 51.0 release tomorrow, January 24, according to the official schedule, but you can already get your hands on the final version of the web browser by downloading the installers for your favorite OS right now from our website (links are at the end of the article).

OSS Leftovers

  • Berkeley launches RISELab, enabling computers to make intelligent real-time decisions
  • Amazon, Google, Huawei, and Microsoft sponsor UC Berkeley RISELab, AMPLab's successor
  • Brotli: A new compression algorithm for faster Internet
    Brotli is a new open source compression algorithm designed to enable an Internet that's faster for users. Modern web pages can often be made up of dozens of megabytes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and that's before accounting for images, videos, or other large file content, which all makes for hefty downloads. Such loads are why pages are transferred in compressed formats; they significantly reduce the time required between a website visitor requesting a web page and that page appearing fully loaded on the screen and ready for use. While the Brotli algorithm was announced by Google in September 2015, only recently have the majority of web browsers have adopted it. The HTTP servers Apache and nginx now offer Brotli compression as an option. Besides Google, other commercial vendors (such as Cloudflare and DreamHost) have begun to deploy support for Brotli as well.
  • New Year’s resolution: Donate to 1 free software project every month
    Free and open source software is an absolutely critical part of our world—and the future of technology and computing. One problem that consistently plagues many free software projects, though, is the challenge of funding ongoing development (and support and documentation). With that in mind, I have finally settled on a New Year’s resolution for 2017: to donate to one free software project (or group) every month—or the whole year. After all, these projects are saving me a boatload of money because I don’t need to buy expensive, proprietary packages to accomplish the same things.
  • Toyota and Ford Promote Open Source Smartphone Interfaces
    Ford and Toyota have formed a four-automaker consortium to speed up the deployment of open source software for connected in-car systems, according to a report by Bloomberg. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, which includes Mazda, PSA Group, Fuji, and Suzuki, aims to prevent Apple and Google from controlling how drivers connect smartphones to their vehicles. Suppliers Elektrobit, Harma, Luxoft, QNX, and Xevo have also joined the organization, which is named after an open source version of Ford’s AppLink connectivity interface, a system used in over 5 million vehicles globally.
  • What your code repository says about you
    "You only get one chance to make a first impression," the old saying goes. It's cliche, but nevertheless sound, practical advice. In the realm of open source, it can make the difference between a project that succeeds and a project that fails. That's why making a positive first impression when you release a repo to the world is essential—at least if your motivations involve gaining users, building a community of contributors, and attracting valuable feedback.
  • The Open Source Way of Reaching Across Languages
    I don’t speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn some important things from this video. The visuals alone are quite instructive. At my public library job, I mentor a number of wonderful Latino youth. One of them might ask me about open source CAD software — and I’ll direct them right to this FOSS Force article. Of course, I subscribed to the YouTube channel of the creator of this video, and also clicked on its like button. If the screencast creator comes back to look at this video in February, they’ll find that they have a number of new subscribers, a number of likes for the video and the video view count might be more than 100. All those indicators will be encouragement for them to make their next open source screencast. And so it goes. That’s how we support each other in the open source world.
  • School systems desperate for standards-aligned curricula find hope
    Open Up Resources is a nonprofit collaborative formed by 13 U.S. states that creates high-quality, standards-aligned open educational resources (OERs) that are openly licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Unlike other providers, Open Up Resources provides curriculum-scale OER options; they believe that while many people seem to know where to find supplemental materials, most curriculum directors would not know where to look if they were planning a textbook adoption next year.
  • Visual Studio Test joins Microsoft's open source push [Ed: More openwashing of proprietary software from Microsoft, which interjects surveillance into compiled code]
  • Microsoft Open-Sources DirectX Shader Compiler [Ed: Windows lock-in.]

Red Hat's Survey in India