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Reviews

Reviews: Elementary OS Loki and Solus-2017.01.01

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Reviews
  • It’s Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki

    Elementary OS isn’t your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn’t a distro at all. Elementary’s developers pitch their creation as a free and open alternative to Windows and macOS.

    That description is apt, and with the latest release, version 0.4 Loki, Elementary has blossomed into something beautiful. I love it, and I highly recommend it for new and experienced Linux users alike.

  • Solus-2017.01.01 — a review

    Solus is congenial system. I rather like the Budgie desktop. But you may find that you need to install additional software to meet your needs.

Min Browser Muffles the Web's Noise

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Web

Min is not a full-featured Web browser with bells and whistles galore. It is not designed for add-ons and many other features you typically use in well-established Web browsers. However, Min serves an important niche purpose by offering speed and distraction-free browsing.

The more I use the Min browser, the more productive it is for me -- but be wary when you first start to use it.

Min is not complicated or confusing -- it is just quirky. You have to play around with it to discover how it works.

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Blu Vivo 6 review: Affordable Android in a pretty shell

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Android
Reviews

Phone-maker Blu started making a name for itself in the States for being an affordable Android brand, but it's taken some time for the company to bring its wares to the UK.

In fact, the Vivo 6 is the company's first Blighty-bound device. Having launched in time for a crazy opening-day Amazon discount during Black Friday weekend in 2016, the phone is now back to its full price of £239. So is it worth the cash?

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Raspberry Pi: Hands on with SuSE and openSuSE Linux

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SUSE

At the end of November, the Raspberry Pi Blog announced the availability of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for the Raspberry Pi 3. As Eben Upton said at that time, this was a big deal for two reasons -- it was the first official 64-bit operating system for the Pi 3 (Raspbian and other currently available versions are 32-bit), and it was an official release from a major vendor.

The announcement in theSuSE Blog gives a lot more information about the what/why/how of the SLES port, and makes for an interesting read. From what I gather, SuSE and/or ARM gave out some spiffy packages (shown at right) which contained a Raspberry Pi 3 preloaded with SLES 12 SP2: I would have loved to have been there and been blessed with one...

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Carey Head: Ubuntu for Everyday Use, How It Worked For Me

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Before diving into the Ubuntu review, here’s a bit of backdrop — and a bonus review. I downloaded and installed Windows 8 Preview several weeks ago. It took me about two days to realize that Microsoft’s desktop OS had jumped the great white for me. I can see how the Metro UI would be really nice on a tablet, but the concept on a desktop screen baffles me. Coincidentally, my 8 year-old’s installation of Windows 7 got corrupted and he needed a reinstall.

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Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang - Aloha!

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Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang is a surprisingly and yet expectedly good Plasma system, using some of that Mint-like approach to home computing. It's what Kubuntu should have been or should be, and it delivers a practical, out-of-the-box experience with a fine blend of software, fun and stability. That's a very sensible approach.

Not everything was perfect. Plasma has its bugs, the printer and the web cam issues need to be looked into, and on the aesthetics side, a few things can be polished and improved. The installer can benefit from having some extra safety mechanisms. But I guess that is the sum of my complaints. On the happy side, you get all the goodies from the start, the application collection is rich, the distro did not crash, and the performance is really decent for a Plasma beastling. A fine formula, and probably the best one we've seen in the last eighteen months or so. Good news if you like KDE. And indeed, this is definitely one of the distros you should try. 9/10. I'm quite pleased. Have a maui day.

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What's New in BlankOn X Tambora

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BlankOn X operating system finally launched at January 1st 2017 as the 10th release codenamed "Tambora". BlankOn is a GNU/Linux distribution from Indonesia, a low-resource operating system with ultimate aim for desktop end-users. In this Tambora release, BlankOn brings the latest Manokwari desktop with improvements, along with its own BlankOn system installer, and some other stuffs. This Tambora release is a continuation of the BlankOn 9 release in 2014 named Suroboyo. This article sums up what's new for BlankOn in this Tambora version.

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Absolute Linux Caters to the Slackware Crowd

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Slack

Absolute Linux is a distro that raises the question: Is it really worth the bother?

Any version of this Slackware-based Linux OS is just that -- a really big bother -- unless you love Unix-like systems that give you total control. It likely would be especially bothersome for less experienced users and for folks comfortable with Debian distros such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and such.

Some Slackware-based distros are easier than others to use -- but the text-based installation and mostly manual operating routine makes using Absolute Linux a challenge. Once you get beyond the configuration steps, you still face a considerable learning curve to keep it running smoothly.

Clearly, I am not overly impressed with the Absolute flavor of Slackware Linux. I see it as the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism instead of an automatic model with keyless ignition. That said, once you have the engine purring, it drives fast and furious along the highway.

I like to offer unique computing options in these weekly Linux Picks and Pans reviews, so I set my comfort zone aside and rolled up my sleeves to get my hands a little scraped reaching under Absolute Linux's hood.

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OpenMandriva Lx 3.0: a faint shadow of name

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MDV
Reviews

The general feel of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 was fast and solid.

However, that was only on the surface. As soon as you start to look just a little bit deeper, issues go out here and there. High memory usage, keyboard layout glitch, inadequate size of notification area icons, problems with updates - all of that leave a bad taste after the Live Run of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0.

Will it ever gain the popularity its parent had just few years ago? I have a very big doubt.

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Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable

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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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More in Tux Machines

Artificial intelligence/Machine learning

  • Is your AI being handed to you by Google? Try Apache open source – Amazon's AWS did
    Surprisingly, the MXNet Machine Learning project was this month accepted by the Apache Software Foundation as an open-source project. What's surprising about the announcement isn't so much that the ASF is accepting this face in the crowd to its ranks – it's hard to turn around in the software world these days without tripping over ML tools – but rather that MXNet developers, most of whom are from Amazon, believe ASF is relevant.
  • Current Trends in Tools for Large-Scale Machine Learning
    During the past decade, enterprises have begun using machine learning (ML) to collect and analyze large amounts of data to obtain a competitive advantage. Now some are looking to go even deeper – using a subset of machine learning techniques called deep learning (DL), they are seeking to delve into the more esoteric properties hidden in the data. The goal is to create predictive applications for such areas as fraud detection, demand forecasting, click prediction, and other data-intensive analyses.
  • Your IDE won't change, but YOU will: HELLO! Machine learning
    Machine learning has become a buzzword. A branch of Artificial Intelligence, it adds marketing sparkle to everything from intrusion detection tools to business analytics. What is it, exactly, and how can you code it?
  • Artificial intelligence: Understanding how machines learn
    Learning the inner workings of artificial intelligence is an antidote to these worries. And this knowledge can facilitate both responsible and carefree engagement.
  • Your future boss? An employee-interrogating bot – it's an open-source gift from Dropbox
    Dropbox has released the code for the chatbot it uses to question employees about interactions with corporate systems, in the hope that it can help other organizations automate security processes and improve employee awareness of security concerns. "One of the hardest, most time-consuming parts of security monitoring is manually reaching out to employees to confirm their actions," said Alex Bertsch, formerly a Dropbox intern and now a teaching assistant at Brown University, in a blog post. "Despite already spending a significant amount of time on reach-outs, there were still alerts that we didn't have time to follow up on."

Red Hat News

Container-friendly Alpine Linux may get Java port

Alpine Linux, a security-focused lightweight distribution of the platform, may get its own Java port. Alpine is popular with the Docker container developers, so a Java port could pave the way to making Java containers very small. A proposal floated this week on an OpenJDK mailing list calls for porting the JDK (Java Development Kit), including the Java Runtime Environment, Java compiler and APIs, to both the distribution and the musl C standard library, which is supported by Alpine Linux. The key focus here is musl; Java has previously been ported to the standard glibc library, which you can install in Alpine, but the standard Alpine release switched two years ago to musl because it’s much faster and more compact Read more

OSS and Linux Foundation Work

  • Using Open Source Software to Speed Development and Gain Business Advantage
    Last week, we started by defining “Open Source” in common terms -- the first step for any organization that wants to realize, and optimize, the advantages of using open source software (OSS) in their products or services. In the next few articles, we will provide more details about each of the ways OSS adds up to a business advantage for organizations that use and contribute to open source. First, we’ll discuss why many organizations use OSS to speed up the delivery of software and hardware solutions.
  • Linux Foundation Creates New Platform for Network Automation
  • Tying together the many open source projects in networking
    There are a lot of pieces to the ongoing network transformation going up and down the stack. There's the shift away from proprietary hardware. There's the to need to manage complex network configurations. Add subscriber management and a wide range of other necessary functions. Add customer-facing services. All of those pieces need to fit together, integrate with each other, and interoperate. This was the topic of my conversation with Heather Kirksey, who heads up the Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) project when we caught up at the Open Source Leadership Summit in mid-February. OPNFV is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project which focuses on the system integration effort needed to tie together the many other open source projects in this space, such as OpenDaylight. As Heather puts it: "Telecom operators are looking to rethink, reimagine, and transform their networks from things being built on proprietary boxes to dynamic cloud applications with a lot more being in software. [This lets them] provision services more quickly, allocate bandwidth more dynamically, and scale out and scale in more effectively."
  • Master the Open Cloud with Free, Community-Driven Guides
    One of the common criticisms of open source in general, especially when it comes to open cloud platforms such as OpenStack and ownCloud, is lack of truly top-notch documentation and training resources. The criticism is partly deserved, but there are some free documentation resources that benefit from lots of contributors. Community documentation and training contributors really can make a difference. In fact, in a recent interview, ClusterHQ’s Mohit Bhatnagar said: “Documentation is a classic example of where crowdsourcing wins. You just can’t beat the enthusiasm of hobbyist developers fixing a set of documentation resources because they are passionate about the topic.”
  • OpenStack Ocata Nova Cells Set to Improve Cloud Scalability
    Among the biggest things to land in the OpenStack Ocata cloud platform release this week is the Cells v2 code, which will help enable more scale and manageability in the core Nova compute project. Nova is one of the two original projects (along with Swift storage) that helped launch OpenStack in June 2010. The original Nova code, which was written by NASA, enables the management of virtualized server resources.