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Reviews

Solus Shines With Plasma Desktop Options

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Solus is one of the leading alternative distros to other more mainstream Linux OSes. The 4.1 upgrade, especially the Plasma edition, clearly set the standard that other Linux distributions should follow.

If you are a gamer, take note of this: Solus 4.1 just made gaming simpler. Solus 4.1 ships with increased file limits to enable ESync support. This release also raises the file limits in the PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) package to Lutris' suggested value. This lets you spend less time configuring your system and more time playing games.

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FerenOS (2020) | Review from an openSUSE User

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Reviews

FerenOS undoubtedly focuses on visual aesthetics, user interface and user experience. The last time I looked at FerenOS, it was built on the Cinnamon Desktop Environment. At the time, the Plasma version was called “Feren Next” and and initially I was disappointed I didn’t use the Plasma version, but now I am very glad I did as I can compare this experience with my last FerenOS experience.

This is my review as an openSUSE User. To say this will be completely objective would essentially be a big giant lie. This will be quite biased as I enjoy openSUSE Tumbleweed with the Plasma desktop, day in and day out on multiple machines, including my daily driver, low end laptops and more powerful workstations and servers. I am happily entrenched but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to look over the fences from time to time to see what other parts of the community are doing. Plus, you can’t go anywhere without bumping in to “FerenOS Dev” on some YouTube chat, Telegram or Discord announcing his enhancements.

Bottom Line Up Front: FerenOS (2020) is simply fantastic. The way you are greeted and guided through your setup is brilliant. I am not keen on every design decision but that matters not as I am never keen on every design decision presented in any other distribution, to include my own. FerenOS is going for a look that is uniquely its own and is not afraid to experiment, cross toolkit boundaries and stray from the normal. I appreciate the design decisions, more than any other “boutique” distribution I have seen in a long while. Do I like all of them? No. Would I choose many of these? Also, No. But I think they do look great make for an enjoyable experience, just not one I would prefer.

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Linux on laptops: Ubuntu 19.10 on the HP Dragonfly Elite G1

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Linux
Reviews
Ubuntu

If you're looking for the easiest possible experience in procuring a Linux laptop, you just can't argue with an OEM experience like Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition, or System76's Galago Pro. But it's nice having the option to retrofit Linux onto a laptop you just plain like rather than being limited to the ones sold with it—and if you like the Dragonfly Elite, it makes a great Linux laptop. We didn't face any significant hurdles getting Ubuntu 19.10 installed (we were completely done in well under ten minutes), and the laptop was completely and immediately functional, without the need to mess around with anything.

The Dragonfly Elite is a great performer. Everything from booting to opening applications to running them felt quick and crisp; for more detail, refer to Valentina's original review. The important thing from our perspective is that changing operating systems didn't slow the system down or make anything get perceptibly clunky—it's still a well-behaved eighth generation i7 system with 16GB of RAM and fast solid state storage, and it behaves just as you'd expect such a system to.

The battery life is also excellent, with a solid six to seven hours of full-screen, online 720P YouTube watching at full screen brightness. If you're watching offline media and willing to drop the screen brightness down to 50%, you could almost certainly watch movies on the Dragonfly Elite for a full ten-hour plane ride across the Atlantic.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat report 12

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KDE
Reviews

There we go. My Slimbook brings all the boys to the yard. And the thing is, it's a very decent laptop. The overall feel has become more refined, part due to my tweaking and fine polishing touches, part due to updates and fixes introduced in the Kubuntu desktop. All in all, it's fairly invisible, sitting in the background and doing its job.

Now, technically, this could be a machine for everyone, but the problem is - applications. A generic Linux issue. There are some key programs that people expect and need, and are not available. Games, another big one. No matter how advanced and slick the operating system is, you can't just plop a random Windowser, and expect them to have a transparent experience. But it's pretty close. I'm quite pleased with how elegant Slimbook and Kubuntu are. Well, I guess that's all for now. Bottom line: me happy. Annoyances? Yes, here and there. I hope they get sorted. Until the next report.

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Deepin Music – a beautiful and simple music player

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Software
Reviews
HowTos

I’ve reviewed a smorgasbord of open source music players. But there’s still quite a few I’ve yet to put through their paces. For this review, I’m looking at Deepin Music. The software bills itself as a “beautiful and simple music player that plays local audio. It supports viewing lyrics during playback, playing lossless audio, and playlist customization”.

While the music player is designed for the Deepin Desktop Environment, it’s not tied to that environment. If you’re curious about Deepin Desktop Environment, it was featured in the survey of Best Linux Desktop Environments: Strong and Stable.

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VirtualBox 6 review - Not bad, not bad at all

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Software
Reviews

When it comes to virtualization - mostly semi-pro or casual usage you'd find in a typical nerd setting, VirtualBox offers an excellent bundle of goodies; a friendly UI, lots of features, reasonable performance, simple and advanced options to suit every skill and mood. I've written about VirtualBox many times in the past, reviewing a whole range of topics, from the Guest Additions configuration to sharing & port-forwarding and then some. Several dozen articles to be more precise. Including major release reviews among them, of course.

Recently, VirtualBox 6.X has been released, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look at what's new, check some of the improvements and fixes, and see whether you should move off the 5.X branch onto the latest edition. Come along, let's see what gives.

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Patriot OS Provides Revolutionary Computing Convenience

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OS
Reviews

Peach OSI's Patriot OS is a "peach" of a Linux distro for any user skill level. It is a great choice for Linux newcomers. It is an even better choice for Linux vets who want something a little different.

The only thing about this distro that quickly wore thin for me was the Fireworks sound that plays as the system starts. That is easy to turn off, however. Go to Settings -> Session ->Startup -> Application Autostart. Uncheck the box next to Autostart Patriot System Sounds.

The ample inventory of background images is filled with patriotic scenes. Adding other images is a bit more involved.

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Librem 5 phone hands-on—Open source phone shows the cost of being different

Filed under
Linux
OSS
Reviews

From a distance, this Chestnut model isn't terrible. It's a solid-feeling, plastic-backed smartphone with an old-school smartphone design thanks probably to the peel-off plastic back and the absolute brick of a body. Look closer and you'll see that the Librem 5 does not have the usual fit and finish from a seasoned Chinese smartphone builder, though, and there's no shortage of nits to pick. There are uneven glue blobs that have squished out from around the display. The earpiece speaker has some of the display glue on it. The front camera is off-center, and there is uneven, visible glue around that, too. One section of the removable back doesn't connect to the case correctly, so the seam is uneven.

The most frustrating part of the Librem 5 right now is easily the power management, which isn't nearly complete. The phone is dead nearly all the time, because so many basic charging features we normally take for granted don't work. First, the phone doesn't seem like it has any kind of idle power mode. It is hot from the minute you power on until the battery dies, even with the screen off. You can't leave the phone on the charger overnight to charge it—you'll wake up to a dead phone. I think what is happening is that there's no trickle charge, so the phone charges to full, then stops charging, then the battery dies.

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The Rock Pi S Review

Filed under
Development
GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

When writing articles like these, there is an inevitable comparison to the Raspberry Pi series. There is no way to fight this, and for good reason. The first Raspberry Pi ushered in a slew of Single Board Computers (SBCs), and one of them is the Rock Pi S, a new board from Seeed Studio.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Rock Pi S was provided by Seeed Studio for this review. Specifically, it?s the model with 512MB of RAM and 4Gb of built-in flash.

The Rock Pi S competes in the same segment as the Raspberry Pi Zero, particularly the Zero W with built-in WiFi. Its form factor is different; where the Zero is shaped like a stick of gum, the Rock Pi S is closer to a square. The Rock also has USB-C for power, an ethernet jack, and a USB-A port. Depending on the project, it can end up being cheaper than the Zero, since you don?t have to buy a micro-USB to USB-A adapter to hook up most other devices.

You do still need a micro SD card. While there are versions of the Rock with built-in flash, it?s small and not meant for booting an OS. Note that the size of the built-in flash is listed in gigabits. The 4Gb version is actually 512 megabytes. So get an SD card.

Which leaves us the question of which SD card. Some people automatically reach for a class 10 or UHS-I card, since those have the highest performance on the box. Trouble is, the traditional class ratings on SD cards only tell you the sequential read and write performance. That?s fine for cameras, but running an operating system means lots of random reads. Testing often showed that a good class 4 card was better than a lot of the class 10 cards out there.

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Orange Pi 4B Review: Raspberry Pi Competitor Has Built-in A.I.

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Linux
Reviews

There’s a lot of buzz around deep learning and machine intelligence these days, and almost every processor manufacturer claims it has the answer for accelerating the computationally-heavy workloads of building your own artificial intelligence. Intel is working on neuromorphic computing, inspired by the human brain, with its recently-scaled Loihi research processor; Nvidia, meanwhile, has products like the Jetson Nano which leverage its graphics processing technology as a general-purpose accelerator; Google has its in-house Tensor Processing Units (TPUs), launched for the enthusiast market in March last year and due a refresh early this year.

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More in Tux Machines

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!