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Reviews

Kanguru Defender Bio-Elite30 fingerprint-encrypted USB flash drive — great for storage, perfect for Tails Linux [Review]

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Reviews

As I expected, this went wonderfully. I again decrypted the drive, but this time, I wrote the Tails image file to the Bio-Elite30. I then plugged it into a computer and didn't touch my finger to the reader. Guess what? The drive was not bootable. Next, I rebooted the computer and decrypted it immediately with my finger. This time, Tails was recognized and booted right up! It is almost like the Bio-Elite30 was designed for Tails -- it is a match made in heaven.

Do I recommend the Kanguru Defender Bio-Elite30 fingerprint encrypted flash drive? Absolutely. True, it is disappointing that the initial set up cannot be done on Linux, but as long as you can temporarily borrow someone's Windows PC or Mac, that shouldn't be a deal-breaker. The Tails aspect is wonderful, making an already privacy-focused operating system even more secure. I do wish that the drive was a bit faster though.

If you want to buy your own, it can be had using the below links in your choice of three capacities -- 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. We used the 16GB variant in this review.

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Elive Beta With Enlightenment Is Brilliant, but Don't Get Lost in the Maze

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Linux
Reviews

If you take the time to fiddle with Elive's design controls, you can finesse its desktop appearance and functionality like a painter creating a scene on a canvas. Do not get too involved with configuring all of the settings, though, or you will find yourself in a timeless void.

The default settings work fine. Take your time to get used to the default settings. Then investigate all that you can do to modify the appearance and functionality as you become more "enlightened."

If you have lots of time to devote to learning something new within something old, check out Enlightenment -- but do it through a distro built around it. Do not try to do your own Enlightenment integration by manually adding Enlightenment packages to your current Linux distro.

Baggen includes several self-help displays and clear documentation to teach you the basics, along with some advanced tips.

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Peppermint 10 - Too spicy for my desktop

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Linux
Reviews

Peppermint 10 is a weird distro. It's got some rather amazing points, but it's also rather precariously built, and any change from the baseline unfrays the whole deal. On the bright side, you get reasonable connectivity on all fronts, network, media and phone, the installation is simple, and there are a lot of goodies available, even if the default set of apps is slim. Speed, another killer feature.

Alas, Peppermint simply tries too hard, and there are way too many visual glitches and oddities to make for a pleasant user experience. It's distracting, with an awful choice of theme and decorations. Then, you have Xfce resisting you all the way as you try to make it budge away from its 2005 nostalgia. There are also actual bugs all over the place, all of which detract and reduce the efficiency and fun factors. It can be tamed, but it's a chore, and you can have the same just by choosing a different distro in the family. Shame, because the jumbled effort thrown almost casually at the presentation layer undoes the really cool features included in the system, like Ice, the non-default (Aladeen) package manager, and the sprinkling of unique utilities and options. All in all, Peppermint 10 deserves 6/10, but it could easily get so much more if it manages to provide more consistency. On the cusp between hale and bitter. We're done.

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Netrunner Linux Still Goes Its Own Way at 'Twenty'

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Linux
Reviews

The Netrunner distro used to be a bleeding-edge choice among KDE options. With little that's new and must-have, this release takes the edge off the bleeding.

I wasn't nudged away from my preferred competing KDE distro -- the new Feren OS Plasma edition.

While Netrunner 20.01 provides a fairly solid integration of classic KDE desktop performance, this release is a departure, in that it is not a step or two ahead of most other KDE-integrated Linux OSes. I

Netrunner attracts two types of typical users. One fancies a more friendly desktop environment. The second wants the freedom to tweak more extensively than other desktop environments allow.

Hardware requirements include a minimum CPU of 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 or greater and at least 1 GB of RAM with at least 10 GB hard drive space. Also, the computer should have Intel GMA 945 graphics card support with 128+ MB of video memory.

Netrunner is a unique distro with its own spin on the K Plasma desktop environment. Seasoned Linux users who like to fiddle and tweak an OS into their own platform will love how this distro integrates the KDE Plasma desktop. Newcomers can be quite content using the out-of-the-box settings.

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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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How to Install Latest Java 14 in Ubuntu 18.04, 20.04, Linux Mint

Oracle Java 14 is released. And here's how you can download and install in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, 19.10 and Linux Mint 18.x, 19.x. Read more

IBM/Red Hat Leveraging COVID-19 for Marketing

  • Automation against the COVID-19 crisis: 4 suggestions to get started

    Without public cloud computing, we wouldn't be able to face the pandemic in the way we are. On-premise data centers have never scaled this fast, and not even the most rigorous capacity planning in the world would have forecasted the resource consumption we face today. News outlets covering the outbreaks would have not been able to cope with an entire planet constantly refreshing the home page in the hope of reading good news (that’s what I do). Hospitals and research facilities publishing dashboards full of virus spread statistics would not have been able to acquire the massive datasets they have as fast as they did. Videoconferencing and streaming platforms wouldn’t be able to serve, exceptionally so far, the enormous amount of the human workforce suddenly forced to work from home. And what is public cloud computing in the end? An astonishing, unprecedented, disciplined, methodical, pervasive amount of automation (and a few other, equally critical things). Automation doesn’t just allow us to cope with the urgency and scale of the demand in the public cloud and inside our data centers. Automation is helping organizations around the world to transition to a work-from-home productivity model. Without automation, the security teams would be hard pressed to install VPN clients across millions of laptops, tablets and smartphones all around the world.

  • UNESCO CodeTheCurve global virtual hackathon: Build your skills and help make a difference

    At least 1.5 billion young people are currently at home due to school closures relating to the global COVID-19 pandemic. One hundred eighty-three countries have been disrupted. Students, parents, and communities continue to cope with social isolation, while exploring how to maintain a sense of normalcy with the sea of online learning content, collaboration tools, and social media platforms available for the world to consume. Conversations that once took place face-to-face have now moved virtual. For students, parents, teachers, educators, and others, home confinement has brought the additional attention and need for an innovative learning paradigm, one centered on practical and real-world digital skills. This is a time that’s especially challenging for the 49% of the global population who lack access to broadband internet. For those who are online, the spread of misinformation and disinformation relating to COVID-19 complicates the situation even further by diminishing confidence in public health guidance by authorities, and has given rise to panic and uncertainty.

i.MX8M Mini Pico-ITX board has a DSP for voice control plus optional AI

Estone’s “EMB-2237-AI” Pico-ITX SBC integrates a “SOM-2237” module that runs Linux on an i.MX8M Mini and adds a DSP for audio. The carrier adds LAN with PoE, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, mics and speakers, and an M.2 slot with Edge TPU AI support. Estone Technology’s EMB-2237-AI is the first SBC we’ve seen to combine the 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX form-factor with an NXP i.MX8M Mini SoC. Other Mini-based SBCs include Seco’s SBC-C61, Boardcon’s sandwich-style EM-IMX8M-MINI, and Garz & Fricke’s recent Tanaro, among others. Read more

Python Programming

  • Python 2.7.18rc1

    Python 2.7.18 release candidate 1 is a testing release for Python 2.7.18, the last release of Python 2.

  • Python 2.7.18 release candidate 1 available

    A first release candidate for Python 2.7.18 is now available for download. Python 2.7.18 will be the last release of the Python 2.7 series, and thus Python 2.

  • Python Software Foundation: Python Software Foundation Fellow Members for Q1 2020

    Congratulations! Thank you for your continued contributions. We have added you to our Fellow roster online. The above members have contributed to the Python ecosystem by teaching Python, creating education material, contributing to circuitpython, contributing to and maintaining packaging, organizing Python events and conferences, starting Python communities in their home countries, and overall being great mentors in our community. Each of them continues to help make Python more accessible around the world. To learn more about the new Fellow members, check out their links above. Let's continue to recognize Pythonistas all over the world for their impact on our community. The criteria for Fellow members is available online: https://www.python.org/psf/fellows/. If you would like to nominate someone to be a PSF Fellow, please send a description of their Python accomplishments and their email address to psf-fellow at python.org. We are accepting nominations for quarter 2 through May 20, 2020.

  • How to Make an Instagram Bot With Python and InstaPy

    What do SocialCaptain, Kicksta, Instavast, and many other companies have in common? They all help you reach a greater audience, gain more followers, and get more likes on Instagram while you hardly lift a finger. They do it all through automation, and people pay them a good deal of money for it. But you can do the same thing—for free—using InstaPy! In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to build a bot with Python and InstaPy, which automates your Instagram activities so that you gain more followers and likes with minimal manual input. Along the way, you’ll learn about browser automation with Selenium and the Page Object Pattern, which together serve as the basis for InstaPy.

  • Sending Encrypted Messages from JavaScript to Python via Blockchain

    Last year, I worked with the Capacity team on the Crypto stamp project, the first physical postage stamp with a unique digital twin, issued by the Austrian Postal Service (Österreichische Post AG). Those stamps are mainly intended as collectibles, but their physical "half" can be used as valid postage on packages or letters, and a QR code on that physical stamp links to a website presenting the digital collectible. Our job (at Capacity Blockchain Solutions) was to build that digital collectible, the website at crypto.post.at, and the back-end service delivering both public meta data and the back end for the website. I specifically did most of the work on the Ethereum Smart Contract for the digital collectible, a "non-fungible token" (NFT) using the ERC-721 standard (publicly visible), as well as the back-end REST service, which I implemented in Python (based on Flask and Web3.py). The coding for the website was done by colleagues, of course using JavaScript for the dynamic elements.

  • Unpacking in Python: Beyond Parallel Assignment

    Unpacking in Python refers to an operation that consists of assigning an iterable of values to a tuple (or list) of variables in a single assignment statement. As a complement, the term packing can be used when we collect several values in a single variable using the iterable unpacking operator, *. Historically, Python developers have generically referred to this kind of operation as tuple unpacking. However, since this Python feature has turned out to be quite useful and popular, it's been generalized to all kinds of iterables. Nowadays, a more modern and accurate term would be iterable unpacking. In this tutorial, we'll learn what iterable unpacking is and how we can take advantage of this Python feature to make our code more readable, maintainable, and pythonic. Additionally, we'll also cover some practical examples of how to use the iterable unpacking feature in the context of assignments operations, for loops, function definitions, and function calls.

  • Spin the table: Solution!