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Reviews

Review: Samsung Chromebook Plus has a display and build worthy of Android apps [Video]

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Android
Reviews

Over the past year, Chrome OS has evolved in huge ways, but most drastically with the addition of Android apps. The matching hardware, conversely, hasn’t changed that much. We’ve had some Chromebooks like the Acer R13 which nailed the 2-in-1 form factor, but nothing we’d call revolutionary.

That changed as the calendar flipped over to 2017. At CES 2017 we got a couple of new Chromebooks including the ASUS C302A, and two new models from Samsung. In this review, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Samsung Chromebook Plus.

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Review: The Endless Mission One is a gorgeous Linux-powered desktop with a tempting price tag

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Linux
Reviews

Companies that exclusively manufacture Linux computers are few and far between. The few that exist tend to focus on the “prosumer” or developer market niche. Endless, however, has tread a different path. The San Francisco-based manufacturer is known for its quirky line of affordable machines, all running its own bespoke Linux-based operating system, Endless OS.

Announced at CES earlier this year, the Endless Mission One is the latest in the company’s burgeoning stable of computers. And compared to the rest of Endless’ lineup, it’s a bit of an aberration.

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Fatdog64 Linux review

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Do not be mislead by the use of "fat" in the name, Fatdog64 is a very lightweight Linux distribution. It is only "fat" compared to Puppy Linux, which Fatdog originally derived from. The first release of Fatdog was as an expansion package for Puppy Linux before becoming a distribution in its own right. As such, Fatdog releases ship with more pre-installed packages than Puppy Linux, so by comparison it is "fatter."

Fatter, of course, is a relative term, so Fatdog64 710, the latest release, is much, much smaller than many other distributions. The ISO is a meagre 377MB. Despite the small download size, it still comes with a decent selection of software packed into the image. It uses Openbox as the default desktop environment with JVM being an alternative option, so no weighty GNOME or KDE, which really helps trim the proverbial fat.

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Also: This Week In Solus - Install #41

LXQt usability review – We got a long way to go

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Reviews

LXQt feels like an experiment in thinking, tinkering and development, and there does not seem to be an ultimate goal with a clearly defined end state. The prolific and colorful origins, the co-existence of its root projects, and the multitude of technologies involved present an additional layer of complexity. Then, in between versions 0.10 and 0.11, there has been only a relatively small delta in terms of quality, functionality and user-friendliness.

Comparing the two, unfortunately, most of the visual bugs remain. Options are present in multiple locations, sometimes in more than one place. There isn’t a uniform method to control the system and its behavior, and some of the settings seem hard-coded in applications while others are ignored when you alter the defaults. Functionality, LXQt does not cooperate – or is not aware – well with non-LXQt software, if such a stack may or should be defined. The workflow is not very intuitive. There has been some progress, but not enough.

Like the old song goes, we got a long way to go and a short time to get there. At this point, I am not certain LXQt has enough oomph to weather the infancy problems and rise above the early development stage woes. This is a non-trivial effort, and mostly, it demands sharp focus and strict definitions on usability. Then again, I am not aware of any golden formulas or paradigms when it comes to UI design or user experience in Linux. Some practices are followed, but they are not enforced, definitely not across different desktop environments and applications, and some of the choices are purely development-driven. Which should not be.

It is worthy of an experiment and some rigorous testing, just to get the feel of what it does and how it works. However, LXQt is still not production ready, and it remains a niche offering for hardcore users and enthusiasts, who are interested in Qt first and foremost, rather than any wider populace of users, who just seek to fire and forget and enjoy their machines.

Well, I shall keep an eye and follow this project. I hope you enjoyed this long and possibly exhausting review. The quest for the Linux desktop perfection continues. See you.

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Zorin Desktop Is a Crowd Pleaser

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OS
Reviews

I am impressed with the Zorin OS 12.1 release. Zorin OS is not the same old GNOME distro retread. It has a well integrated and tweaked user interface that justifies the developer's moniker of "Zorin Desktop 2."

Zorin OS 12.1 is an ideal choice for large deployments in businesses, governments, schools and organizations. A key reason for its business and government suitability is the new release schedule. Major releases of Zorin OS happen only once every two years. Minor updates like version 12.1 come every few months as needed.

Users will be spared major disruptions without feeling that their operating system is aging or abandoned. The result is an efficient and healthy balance.

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DebianDog Is a Useful Pocket Pup

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Reviews

The earlier versions of DebianDog work flawlessly, but the latest release seems to suffer from some work-in-progress flaws.

I had very little trouble running the default software as-is. When I changed system settings or configured applications a certain way, those changes either did not work or were accompanied by a variety of glitches.

I also had some trouble getting the persistent memory options to work. A related problem was setting up the personal save storage file. These issues cropped up or did not appear at all, depending on the hardware I was using. I used the same boot CD and bootable DVD drive on all of my test computers.

DebianDog Linux is a good alternative for Linux users looking for something different. It is a very good OS choice if you work on multiple computers or travel around to various work locations and want all your work files on the same OS configuration that you carry in your pocket.

DebianDog can be a very workable alternative to lugging a laptop around.

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Bodhi Linux review

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Reviews

Bodhi Linux is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distro that appeared on the scene back in 2011. Its system requirements are among the lowest out there for any desktop Linux flavour. It can even run on a non-PAE CPU with 128MB of RAM and a 300MHz processor.

We didn’t have one of those lying around, but we did have a pretty old and dusty PC which we could test it on. The OS boasts a simple Ubiquity install process (just like you get on Ubuntu) and it’s a thoroughly usable, and not at all bad-looking, distro.

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Also: Best power user Linux distros in 2017: 5 reviewed and rated

Review: Google Pixel is Android at its best (if a little boring)

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Android
Google
Reviews

The Pixel’s designs have been divisive ever since the first batch of leaks hit the interwebs, but I’ve grown quite fond of it. Maybe it’s the fact that my ‘Really Blue’ (provided to us by Verizon, thanks folks) model is in fact so incredibly blue, but really I just think the two tone look stands out. It’s instantly recognizable if you’ve seen the phone before.

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LG Watch Sport review: Not the watch Android Wear needs right now

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Android
Reviews

The LG Watch Sport just looks and feels like a “gadget” and not a “watch.” It harkens back to the days of those old Microsoft Spot watches (remember those?). Instead of reaching as broad a market as possible with the first full-featured Android Wear 2.0 watch, LG and Google have given us something with almost impossibly narrow appeal. This watch is almost exclusively for large-wristed athletic types whose fashion sense leans toward calculator watches. I found myself wanting to put it on just before I left for the gym, and itching to take it off the moment I got home.

Android Wear 2.0 deserves a better showcase watch than this. With any luck, another manufacturer will step in with a more universally acceptable design that at least supports Android Pay and has a heart-rate monitor.

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Thoughts on Slackware 14.2

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Reviews
Slack

All in all I'm quite happy with slackware 14.2 on my quasi-modern computer. Old school linux and openbsd types will no doubt feel at home with slack. There's no systemd to worry about. A full install takes about 9 gigs of drive space. The slackware folks have obviously put a ton of work into this new release. A word of warning to linux newbies, this isn't the easiest distro to install and is probably best suited to linux intermediates or experts.

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Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

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    CoreOS and OpenStack have a somewhat intertwined history, which is why it's somewhat surprising it took until today for CoreOS's Tectonic Kubernetes distribution to provide an installer that targets OpenStack cloud deployments.
  • Docker and Core OS plan to donate their container technologies to CNCF
    Containers have become a critical component of modern cloud, and Docker Inc. controls the heart of containers, the container runtime. There has been a growing demand that this critical piece of technology should be under control of a neutral, third party so that the community can invest in it freely.
  • How Blockchain Is Helping China Go Greener
    Blockchain has near-universal applicability as a distributed transaction platform for securely authenticating exchanges of data, goods, and services. IBM and the Beijing-based Energy-Blockchain Labs are even using it to help reduce carbon emissions in air-polluted China.
  • An efficient approach to continuous documentation
  • The peril in counting source lines on an OSS project
    There seems to be a phase that OSS projects go through where as they mature and gain traction. As they do it becomes increasingly important for vendors to point to their contributions to credibly say they are the ‘xyz’ company. Heptio is one such vendor operating in the OSS space, and this isn’t lost on us. :) It helps during a sales cycle to be able to say “we are the a big contributor to this project, look at the percentage of code and PRs we submitted”. While transparency is important as is recognizing the contributions that key vendors, focus on a single metric in isolation (and LoC in particular) creates a perverse incentive structure. Taken to its extreme it becomes detrimental to project health.
  • An Open Source Unicycle Motor
    And something to ponder. The company that sells this electric unicycle could choose to use a motor with open firmware or one with closed firmware. To many consumers, that difference might not be so significant. To this consumer, though, that’s a vital difference. To me, I fully own the product I bought when the firmware is open. I explain to others that they ought to choose that level of full ownership whenever they get a chance. And if they join a local makerspace, they will likely meet others with similar values. If you don’t yet have a makerspace in your community, inquire around to see if anyone is in the process of forming one. Then find ways to offer them support. That’s how we do things in the FOSS community.
  • The A/V guy’s take on PyCon Pune
    “This is crazy!”, that was my reaction at some point in PyCon Pune. This is one of my first conference where I participated in a lot of things starting from the website to audio/video and of course being the speaker. I saw a lot of aspects of how a conference works and where what can go wrong. I met some amazing people, people who impacted my life , people who I will never forget. I received so much of love and affection that I can never express in words. So before writing anything else I want to thank each and everyone of you , “Thank you!”.
  • Azure Service Fabric takes first tentative steps toward open source [Ed: Microsoft Peter is openwashing a patent trap with back doors]
  • Simulate the Internet with Flashback, a New WebDev Test Tool from LinkedIn
  • Mashape Raises $18M for API Gateway Tech
    Casado sees Mashape's Kong API gateway in particular as being a particularly well positioned technology. Kong is an open-source API gateway and microservice management technology.
  • PrismTech to Demonstrate Open Source FACE 2.1 Transport Services Segment (TSS) Reference Implementation at Air Force FACE Technical Interchange Meeting
    PrismTech’s TSS reference implementation is being made available under GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) v3 open source license terms.
  • How Open-Source Robotics Hardware Is Accelerating Research and Innovation

    The latest issue of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine features a special report on open-source robotics hardware and its impact in the field.