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Reviews

Reviews of Kubuntu Focus Laptop Coming Out Today

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews
  • Kubuntu Focus Offers The Most Polished KDE Laptop Experience We've Seen Yet

    As we mentioned back in December, a Kubuntu-powered laptop is launching with the blessing of Canonical and the Kubuntu Community Council. That laptop, the Kubuntu Focus, will begin shipping at the beginning of February while the pre-orders opened today as well as the embargo lift. We've been testing out the Kubuntu Focus the last several weeks and it's quite a polished KDE laptop experience for those wanting to enjoy KDE Plasma for a portable computing experience without having to tweak the laptop for optimal efficiency or other constraints.

  • Kubuntu Focus Linux Laptop Is Now Available for Pre-Order, Ships Early February

    The previously announced Kubuntu Focus Linux laptop is now available for pre-order and has a shipping date and a price tag for those who want a premium computer.

    Unveiled last month during the Christmas holidays, the Kubuntu Focus laptop is a collaboration between Kubuntu, Tuxedo Computers, and MindShareManagement Inc., and it aims to be the first-ever officially recognized Kubuntu Linux laptop targeted mainly at gamers, power users, and developers.

    Kubuntu Focus is a premium and very powerful device that comes pre-installed with the latest Kubuntu release, an official Ubuntu flavor featuring the KDE Plasma Desktop environment, some of the most popular Open Source software, and astonishing hardware components.

    Today, Kubuntu announced on Twitter that the Kubuntu Focus laptop is now available for pre-order with a price tag starting at $2,395.00 USD for the base model, which features 32GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, and one power supply, but the laptop can go for up to $3,665.00 USD.

  • Unboxing of the Kubuntu Focus Laptop

    I got a chance to review the Kubuntu Focus laptop and this is the Unboxing and First Impressions video for it.

Fedora 31 | Review from an openSUSE User

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Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora is a Linux distribution that has been around since the beginning of my Linux adventure and for which I have incredible respect. I have reviewed Fedora before, and it was a good experience. Last time I used Fedora, I used Gnome and since I am kind of Gnome fatigued right now, I thought it better to use a different desktop, one that I can easily shape my experience to my needs, clearly, there are only two options but I chose to go with the primer, most easily customized desktop, KDE Plasma, ultimately, I want to compare my Fedora Plasma experience with my openSUSE Tumbleweed Plasma experience. I have no intention of switching distros but I do like to, from time to time, see how other distributions compare. Of all the distributions available outside of openSUSE, Fedora and Debian are the two that interest me the most but for different reasons.

This is my review as a biased openSUSE Tumbleweed user. Bottom Line Up Front. Fedora is a nearly perfect [for me] distribution that is architecturally and fundamentally sound from the base upward. It is themed just enough, out of the box, to not annoy me with any irritating impositions. It really feels like I have been given keys to a fantastic house, albeit a bit spartan, waiting for me to make it my own. Technically speaking, there is nothing I dislike about Fedora. I could get along just fine in Fedora Land but openSUSE Land edges out for me with the Tumbleweed convenience and the broader hardware support.

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Review: elementary OS 5.1

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Reviews

There is a lot to like about elementary, but it is not perfect. The Parental Controls are advertised as a key feature on the distributions website, but it just does not work. There are open bugs about it, but open bugs about a non-working feature still means that the feature does not work. Until it does, it should not be a selling point for the distribution. Aside from that, elementary is wonderfully polished. I personally find the use of the Command symbol in the Keyboard Shortcuts window to be a little odd, and think that the non-curated software warning should be toned down or rephrased for packages that are supported by Canonical (i.e. these packages are not directly supported by elementary, but do receive fixes), but other than a few odds and ends like those examples, elementary OS 5.1 is very well put together. If you are looking for a solid distribution for yourself, or are searching for a distribution to recommend for users coming from macOS, this distribution is an excellent choice.

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AppImageLauncher | AppImage Manager on openSUSE

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Software
Reviews
SUSE

Right of the cuff, I should note that this will work on other Linux distros too, I am just focusing on openSUSE because, that is my jam. I have been using this on openSUSE Tumbleweed as of Snapshot 20200103. It should also work on Leap as of 42 and newer (that means Leap 15.x is good to go, in case there was any question).

The reason this application excites me so is that I use several AppImages on my system. Which ones you may ask? I’ll tell you, xLights, which I use for my Christmas Light display, VirtScreen that I use when I am remote and need to turn my laptop or phone into a second display. This is super handy as it will not only create links in my menu to the AppImages, it will also copy the *.AppImage file into a designated folder, in my case ~/Applicaitons which is the default. At first, I wasn’t sure about it but after noodling it around a bit, I am totally good with it.

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Kdenlive 19.12 on openSUSE | Review

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Software
Reviews
SUSE

Making videos is not exactly my strong suit but it doesn’t have to be to enjoy it. Lately, I have been dipping my toes into the world of video content creation. Yes, most of it is into making videos as I haven’t really had the need. Recently, a need popped up for doing some video editing and I decided to give Kdenlive a try. You have to start somewhere and since many of the independently created shows out there use it, it is part of the KDE project and there are a LOT of tutorials on YouTube.

Keep in mind, I have some very basic needs, simply, chaining clips together, title screen and a little background music. These are extremely minimal requirements. The nice thing about Kdenlive is, it is easy enough to get going with it, but brimming with features to keep you dinking around with it continually and even if you have come to learn every feature the Kdenlive Project will come along and bring you an update.

[...]

Kdenlive is a great application with a lot more features than I know how to even use. I don’t do any complex video editing. I don’t have good video equipment so I don’t have a real high level of motivation to create a lot of video content at this time. You can only polish a turd so much and I am often not happy with the video I shoot. I am happy, however, with what I can do with the video in Kdenlive. It does make turning the lack-luster video into barely acceptable video content. Editing with Kdenlive is easy to use and is enjoyable to turn the mess I start with into something more usable. I would like to make more excuses to do more video content because the great user experience Kdenlive provides.

I have heard of people complain that Kdenlive isn’t stable, well, that is a bunch of hooey. Kdenlive on openSUSE Tumbleweed works fantastically well without any crashing. I am very thankful for fantastic packaging and QA process from the openSUSE Project and I am very grateful for every programmer that has had a hand in every piece of this, from the Linux kernel to the Plasma desktop to the application itself. Thank you for all your time and efforts.

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Emby Media Server on openSUSE Linux | Review

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Reviews
SUSE

One of the main reasons I build a computer was for the purposes of hosting my video content on my system and serve it to other machines. I had heard about having something like Netflix or Hulu in the form of Plex. I have known others that have done this and have always been impressed by it. My first stop in exploring media servers in Linux was Emby. I chose it largely because I heard of Plex and wanted to try something that was open source based, more on that later. At the very beginning of this exercise, I decided I want to try out three different server products, Plex, Emby and Jellyfin.

This is my review, with no real expectations, other than to easily have access to my movies and TV shows from any device in the house. This is a review of only the free services, not the paid features. Bottom line up front. I like it and it has few issues.

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New Feren OS Does Plasma Better

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OS
Reviews

Overall, Feren OS' Plasma patches do a fanciful job of going beyond a Cinnamon desktop-like appearance and functionality. Or the patches do a workable job of bringing most -- but not all -- of the Cinnamon features and applications to the KDE environment.

Feren OS Classic and the new Feren OS install with only the Vivaldi Web browser. A handy Web tool lets you automatically install other browsers. It also lets you remove Vivaldi if you wish.

In almost any Cinnamon desktop-running distro, numerous panel applets and desktop desklets failed to install and run. The desktop cube almost never was compatible.

Not so with Feren OS with the KDE desktop. The cube task switcher actually works. Widgets, AKA applets and desklets install and work on both the screen and the panel. Those successes are rare with the Cinnamon desktop.

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Android road test - Touch me, touch me now

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Android
Reviews

Thus endeth my Android road test. Was it perfect? No. But hey, was my Lumia 950 experience always perfect? Equally no. In most cases, for my needs, the Lumia does/did better, task by task. But the Android isn't too far behind, and it offers a reasonably flexible experience. You just have to get past the low-IQ features that are enabled by default and used to entertain the hordes of morons out there, and then you're fine.

The combination of Moto G6 and Android (Pie) is decent. I had reliable results, consistent behavior, low network usage, excellent performance and battery life, solid navigation, and then some. That said, many apps, including the default set, are fairly basic and they lack some of the sharpness and finesse that I'd like to have. But since I'm not a heavy smartphone consumer anyway, I can sort of let that slide. In a way, I feel more confident, or rather, less sad migrating to Android in the coming weeks.

It will probably never be as beautiful as Windows Phone, and the applications will probably never match the Nokia bundle, but the vastness and accessibility of the Android ecosystem compensate for that, allowing even a tech orphan like me to find a cozy home for their weird, non-mainstream needs. At the end of the day, I had a quiet mobile experience, with little to no nonsense, I had Firefox with adblocking, and I could do my other tasks fine. So there's some light at the end of tunnel. Anyway, I hope you can appreciate this expose. See you around, and stay tuned for my Lumia succession diatribes.

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Review: Android-x86 9.0

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Android
Reviews

I want to say that I'm impressed that the Android-x86 team has been able to port Android to the x86 family of processors. The operating system is stable, works with my physical hardware (though not in VirtualBox) and runs quickly. This is quite a feat and the fact than many applications run on this ported platform is also impressive.

However, Android-x86 is not at all practical as a desktop operating system. Its interface is unsuited to keyboard and mouse navigation, the desktop and apps have inconsistent interfaces, the desktop layout will keep changing if we don't lock it into one form or the other. Most programs do not look right in windowed mode.

While Android provides a huge amount of software in its Play Store, we are flooded with choices, many of which will not run well on the ported operating system. This makes trying to get the functionality we want very difficult and involves a good deal of trial and error.

Technologically, Android-x86 is very interesting and I could see it being useful for people who want to test their Android apps without having a mobile device. However, while this project is very interesting, I don't think it is nearly as polished or practical as most GNU/Linux distributions. Other than developers and very keen Android fans, I don't think there is much of an audience for this operating system.

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Trisquel 9.0 Beta Review from January 2020

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Reviews
Ubuntu

In my last 2018 review, I said Trisquel 8.0 was successful freedom because it is the only one oldest desktop-oriented free distro with latest basis (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS at that time) and active community (Trisquel Forum). Limited to this beta of 9.0 LiveCD, I feel it is smooth already to use and I don't find problems. I see that the desktop operations are functional, we can do things we do everyday like accessing files, writing documents, web browsing, mailing, playing video & audio, and many more. I can say that this new version would benefits all users because it keeps the user experience by its Redmond-like user interface (unlike radical changes between Ubuntu's Unity and GNOME) so no user --either existing or new-- would need to re-learn to use it. I wish the development goes well and quickly releases the final version. I wish I contribute to the whole community by publishing this review. Thank you all Trisquel Developers!

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Android Leftovers

Widora TINY200 Allwinner F1C200s ARM9 Development Board Support DVP Camera, Up to 512MB SD NAND Flash

Widora TINY200 is a tiny ARM9 development board equipped with Allwinner F1C200s with a DVP camera interface compatible with OV2640 / 5640 sensor, an audio amplifier, and various storage options from a 16MB SPI flash to a 512MB SD NAND flash. I first heard about the processor when I wrote about Microchip SAM9X60 ARM9 SoC last month, and some people noted there were other fairly new ARM9 SoCs around such as Allwinner F1C200s that also includes 64MB RAM so you can run Linux without having to connect external memory chips. Read more

Open Hardware and Devices With GNU/Linux

  • Instaclock | The Magpi 92
  • [Old] BrailleBox: Android Things Braille news display

    To create the six nubs necessary to form Braille symbols, Joe topped solenoids with wooden balls. He then wired them up to GPIO pins of the Pi 3 via a breadboard.

  • Sending my alerts directly to the keyboard

    As I learned while making this blog post, custom drivers are not always the best way to add custom functionality to USB devices on Linux, sometimes there are pre existing APIs that can make adding functionality a lot easier.

    Despite me ending up not using a custom USB driver in the final version, it was still quite interesting to play around with, if for no other reason than I now have another trick up my sleeve for future projects.

    And now thanks to my keyboard, I will never miss alerts again.

  • Onlykey review

    There’s a sort of soft rubber case around the key, you can get all kinds of colors (I just stuck with black). It also comes with the handy little carribeener to attach it to your keychain or whatever. So, once you have the firmware somewhat up to date, you can run the app. It will also update firmware as long as it’s not too old. The firmware is open source: https://github.com/trustcrypto/OnlyKey-Firmware On your first run (or if you factory wipe it), you have to do a bit of setup. You can enter 2 profile pins (sequences of buttons). They suggest that this might be ‘work’ and ‘home’, but you could use them for whatever you like. You can also enter a ‘self destruct’ profile pin, which wipes back to factory settings if you enter it. You can also tell it to do this if someone enters the wrong pin 10 times, but it will flash red and stop taking input after 3 failed pins. So to wipe it this way you have to enter 3 wrong pins, remove, insert, 3 more wrong pins, remove, insert 3 more wrong pins, remove, insert, 1 more wrong pin. You can also load a firmware called the “International Travel Edition” that has no encryption at all (it’s only protected by the pin).

  • Widora TINY200 Allwinner F1C200s ARM9 Development Board Support DVP Camera, Up to 512MB SD NAND Flash

    Widora TINY200 is a tiny ARM9 development board equipped with Allwinner F1C200s with a DVP camera interface compatible with OV2640 / 5640 sensor, an audio amplifier, and various storage options from a 16MB SPI flash to a 512MB SD NAND flash. I first heard about the processor when I wrote about Microchip SAM9X60 ARM9 SoC last month, and some people noted there were other fairly new ARM9 SoCs around such as Allwinner F1C200s that also includes 64MB RAM so you can run Linux without having to connect external memory chips.

  • Librem 5 January 2020 Software Update

    January saw development take off again after the end-of-year break, and following on from the Chestnut shipment of the Librem 5. Some of the activities below were already mentioned in their own articles in Purism’s news archive; others will be covered in more depth in future articles. This is just a taste of all the work that goes into making the Librem 5 software stack. You can follow development more closely at source.puri.sm.

  • ESP32-S2-Saola-1 Development Board is Now Available for $8

    Espressif ESP32-S2 WiFi SoC mass production started at the end of February 2020, and soon enough we started to find ESP32-S2 SoC and modules for $1 to $2 on sites like Digikey, but so far we had not seen ESP32-S2 development boards for sale. The good news is the breadboard-friendly ESP32-S2-Saola-1 development board has started to show up for $8 on resellers such as Mouser and Digikey albeit with a lead time of 8 to 12 weeks.

Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: This Month in Mutter & GNOME Shell | March 2020

During March, GNOME Shell and Mutter saw their 3.36.0 and 3.36.1 releases, and the beginning of the 3.38 development cycle. We’ve focused most of the development efforts on fixing bugs before starting the new development cycle. From the development perspective, the 3.36.0 release was fantastic, and the number of regressions relative to the massive amount of changes that happened during the last cycle was remarkably small. Read more