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Reviews

Nubia Z11 review

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Android
Reviews

The Nubia Z11 may not have the most eye catching or original design, but it’s still a good looking phone that features a solid build quality. The device basically features a rectangular slab design, with a full metal unibody construction that puts its build quality at par with a lot of current generation flagships.

The rounded corners and slight tapers around the back and sides make it more comfortable to hold, but because the metal body doesn’t have any sharp or flat edges to help with the grip, the phone can be a little slippery and difficult to hold onto at times.

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Ubuntu 16.04, re-tested six months later

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Six months in between releases is just too short of a period for meaningful, well-tested releases. As soon as issues are polished in one edition with a cumulative fix edition, there's a new version of Ubuntu and the headless chicken race starts again. We will soon have 16.10, and it will most likely suck, because there will be a million little problems that could not have been fully checked in time, but schedule be schedule, release we must. Woe any delays!

Ubuntu 16.04.1 Xenial Xerus is a better release than the GA flop, but it is still not good enough to recommend. The networking stack sucks more than what Trusty does, and overall, it is slower, less responsive, less mature, less complete. It is also not as good as Fedora, and there are some big regressions slash sad neglect in the software stack that tells me the whole idea of the Linux desktop is slowly dying. People did not like the Amazon store and the payware options in USC, but it was a first sane step to offering a mature version of Ubuntu to serious people. Alas, zealots shot it down, because they value pride over progress. And now what is left is a semi-functional distro that is a pale shadow of its former self.

So yes, it works better than before. 6/10 or so. Not even remotely close to the glory of the Trusty release, which heaped accolade upon accolade, accomplishment after another. Trusty just did everything. It was and still is awesome. Xerus is just weak. And even the post-fiasco release is still somewhat lame. Not worth upgrading. Xenial is in denial. I shall now patiently wait to see what doom the Yakety Sax is going to bring us. Ought to happen very very soon, and the timing of this article couldn't have been any more perfect. Stay tuned.

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Elementary OS 0.4 'Loki' Review | An Easy To Use Linux Distribution

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Reviews

Elementary OS is one of the most beautiful Linux distros that I have ever tried. It is based on Ubuntu and the version 0.4 of Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. This review has been written after using the operating system for a complete week.

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Ubuntu tablet, Oct 2016 - We need more!

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Reviews
Ubuntu

My October adventure is one of mixed emotions, again. One step forward, one step back, two to the side, a quick hopscotch through a minefield, and then you land your foot in dung but also find Cinderella's ever-so-smelly shoe amidst all that dross. That's the best way to describe the latest update and what it offers to the user.

Frankly, people would be far more inclined to ignore the stability bugs and the early release problems if they had proper apps to play with. They did it with Android. But when you have nothing meaningful to do, you start picking scabs and your nose, and one thing leads to another. In the desktop mode, there's more to do, yes. But the Store is just crippled at this point. Horrible. It causes serious damage to the Ubuntu Touch reputation. There has to be more there. More! Otherwise, it's just a sad graveyard of enthusiasm and dashed hopes. The touch side needs to shine, hook users in, make them feel that Ubuntu is all about fun and joy but also serious work.
Anyhow, nothing to be too excited about. There's more progress on the phone than the tablet, but that's understandable, the phone has been around for much longer. Still, I do hope Canonical will soon unleash dozens if not hundreds of modern and relevant apps to compensate for its other failings, and give the tablet the needed breathing space until the functional bugs can be ironed out. If not, all that users will have to play with will be issues, boredom and resentment. C'mon. Just do it!

If you'd still like a chance to win a tablet for your own games and entertainment, then take a look at my contest, link in the second paragraph of this article. There's still enough time, and plenty of opportunity. Worst case, just load it with Android. But let's hope we must never do that. Off you go reading, gents and ladies.

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Apricity: Slip Into Something More Comfortable

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Reviews

Apricity OS is a great, two-pronged Linux distro that recently reached a milestone that will ensure its continued success.

Apricity's first public beta, which was GNOME-only, was released more than a year ago. A choice of either the GNOME or Cinnamon desktops later became available in the monthly development snapshot releases.

This rolling release delivery method already provided a pleasant computing experience. Both desktop versions performed well. Each monthly build brought more functionality. I have not experienced any stability issues with the continuing stream of beta releases.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Kubuntu 16.04

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Reviews
Ubuntu

My experience with Kubuntu has done nothing to convince me that I want to use KDE in the long term. If I did want to use KDE long term then my experience with Manjaro would definitely make me lean in that direction.

This is an LTS release yet there are so many little niggles. New users to Linux will not be enamoured with having to find solutions to simple things like installing software.

The problems are worse than those that I experienced with Ubuntu. At least with Ubuntu I could install a separate application for installing the good stuff like Chrome. With Kubuntu it is command line all the way and searching forums for solutions.

With Linux Mint being so good it is hard for me to recommend Kubuntu 16.04.

I am not the only person to have issues with Kubuntu, read this review by Dedoimedo, he runs into many of the same issues as I did.

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OpenBSD 6.0 - an exercise in precision

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Reviews
BSD

The OpenBSD project is well known for its strong focus on security and for its precise documentation. The OpenBSD operating system generally gives preference to security and properly behaving software over features. OpenBSD is lightweight, sparse and relatively locked down by default. This makes the platform particularly popular among administrators who need a firewall or other minimal and stable platform.

OpenBSD 6.0 introduces many small changes and a handful of important ones. Looking through the release notes we find support for the VAX platform has been dropped. There have been several security updates to the OpenSSH secure shell service. Perhaps one of the more interesting security features in the operating system is strict enforcement of W^X: "W^X is now strictly enforced by default; a program can only violate it if the executable is marked with PT_OPENBSD_WXNEEDED and is located on a file system mounted with the wxallowed mount option. Because there are still too many ports which violate W^X, the installer mounts the /usr/local file system with wxallowed. This allows the base system to be more secure as long as /usr/local is a separate file system. If you use no W^X violating programs, consider manually revoking that option."

I decided to play with the 64-bit x86 build of OpenBSD which is 226MB in size. Booting from this ISO presents us with a text console where we are asked if we would like to install OpenBSD, upgrade an existing copy of the operating system or perform an auto-install. I chose to perform a normal installation.

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Also: OpenBSD and NetBSD machines at Open Source Conference 2016 Nagaoka

Sabayon Bizarre But Useful

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Reviews

Sabayon, which gets its name from the the Italian egg-derived dessert known as zabaione, is a distribution that we don’t hear too much about these days, although the British Linux press gave it some love a few years ago. It was unassuming…with a hint of mystery. I tried it back then, when I was still fairly new to actually using Linux and thought it was a nice effort, but a little too weird. That wasn’t their fault; that was mine. I was still clinging sharply to Ubuntu at the time. Plus, I was a bit more shallow in those days because I was really set on the idea that an operating system had to look good before I would really put some hours into using it. I still am in many respects. I’m just not crazy about boring.

So when I approached Matt with the idea of documenting a revisitation to Sabayon, he greenlighted it immediately. Team Sabayon has been very busy. It still has a hint of mystique that I find very attractive. It’s got a lot of applications at default and offers you a lot of decision-making power as well. More on that later.

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Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

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Android
Reviews

Sony's Xperia X Compact is basically the newest version of the Z5 Compact that hit the US earlier this year. But just because it's a newer version of the (comparatively) tiny handset doesn't mean it's an upgrade in every way. Sony is pushing the camera sensors in the X Compact and the flagship-level XZ, as well as new features like five-axis image stabilization and HDR photo mode. Sony knows cameras, so we know the shooter in the X Compact will at least be competent. However, it has to be good enough to encourage photography buffs to shell out $499 for this unlocked handset while delivering solid performance across the board as well.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • grep-2.27 released
    There have been 40 commits by 4 people in the 9 weeks since 2.26. Note that there were many additional important changes via gnulib.
  • GCC 6.3 Should Be Here By Christmas
    For those looking toward the next maintenance release of GCC 6, the GNU Compiler Collection 6.3 is aiming to be out by Christmas.
  • Yum! GNOME Recipes is a New Cooking App for Linux
    Do you like to cook? No, me neither. And that’s largely because I don’t know how to cook. Could a desktop cooking app help? GNOME’s Matthias Clasen is hoping so, and has started work on a brand-new desktop recipe app that you — and anyone you know — can help contribute to.
  • Heron Animation, Free Stop Motion Software for Linux
    Looking for free stop motion animation software? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out Heron Animation. A free program, Heron Animation lets you take a series of pictures from a connected webcam and assemble each shot into a real moving animation. The tool, which is written in web technologies, pitches itself as ‘perfect for beginners and more experienced animators alike’. That sort of balance is notoriously hard to achieve.
  • EasyTAG 2.4.3 Audio Tag Editor Supports MP4 Files with the .aac File Extension
    EasyTAG, an open-source, simple, free, and cross-platform application for viewing and editing tags in audio files, supporting MP3, MP4, FLAC, Ogg, MusePack, Monkey's Audio, and WavPack files, was updated to version 2.4.3. It's been more than nine months since EasyTAG 2.4.2 was released, and we're now finally able to update the software on our GNU/Linux or Windows operating systems. Version 2.4.3 is out as of December 5, 2016, bringing support for MP4 files that use the .aac file extension, as well as Adwaita-style artist and album icons.
  • FSF Blogs: Seventeen new GNU releases in November
  • IceCat 45.5.1 release
    GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.
  • Permabit Hits New Milestone in 2016 by Delivering the First Complete Data Reduction for Linux
  • FOSS DOS for 21st Century Hardware
    The founder and coordinator of the FreeDOS Project writes about FreeDOS 1.2, which is scheduled for a Christmas Day release. There is good news for classic gamers and nostalgia buffs: this one’s got games.
  • A Look At Async/Await JavaScript For Firefox 52
    While Chrome 55 has JavaScript async/await support, the Firefox support isn't coming until the Firefox 52.0 stable release in March while currently it's available in the latest Firefox Developer Edition and early alpha builds. Mozilla developer Dan Callahan wrote a post today on hacks.mozilla.org for the async/await support in Firefox and can be used if you are running the latest Firefox Developer Edition. Check it out if you're interested in JavaScript async await support for more asynchronous programming for the web.
  • Chrome bug triggered errors on websites using Symantec SSL certificates
  • Announcing openSUSE’s GPG Key Server – keyserver.opensuse.org
    Does it happen to you, too, that there are moments where you ask yourself why others want something from you that is there already since a while? Exactly this happened with https://keyserver.opensuse.org/: the original machine was set up a long time ago to make it easier for people attending the openSUSE GPG key-signing parties, but it looks like nobody officially announced this “new service” for our users… …and so here we are: the openSUSE Heroes team is pleased to announce that keyserver.opensuse.org is up and running as public GPG keyserver. We are of course also part of the official keyserver pool, which means that some people might already noticed us, as they got redirected to our server with their requests. (And for those who are interested to setup their own SKS keyserver: we have also written a nice monitoring plugin that helps you keeping an eye on the pool status of your machine and the ones of your peers.)

Office Suites

  • Microsoft Office, Google Docs beware: This open-source startup is after your users
    "That was one of the reasons why we chose an open-source model. We want be open, want people to trust us, want to overcome that barrier they have in mind, those strong beliefs that there's nothing but Microsoft Office, that nothing better could be created. We won't change our mind about open source." Bannov says he ultimately sees OnlyOffice becoming a firm that provides consulting, technical support and remote managed services to companies using its open-source products.
  • Collabora Online 2.0 Puts LibreOffice In the Cloud, Adds Collaborative Editing
    Today, December 7, 2016, Collabora Productivity, through Michael Meeks, is proud to inform Softpedia about the general availability of the long anticipated Collabora Online 2.0 office suite based on the LibreOffice, Nextcloud, and ownCloud technologies. After being in development for the past six months, Collabora Online 2.0 is finally here as the powerful cloud-based office suite that promises to protect users' privacy and freedom of expression while editing various documents formats online. Collabora Online is mainly targeted at the enterprise world, hosting and cloud businesses.

Leftovers: Ubuntu

Kernel Space/Linux

  • Why Is Microsoft Showing So Much Interest In Linux? [Ed: Someone needs to explain to Mathew Lodge what EEE is and how it works. Is the Linux Foundation (including Rorvalds as well) still permitted to criticise Microsoft or is it frowned upon internally?]
  • Linux on the Mac — state of the union
    The MacBook Pro introduction in October caused unusually negative reactions among professional users due to the realization that Apple no longer caters equally to casual and professional customers as it had in the past [YouTube video]. Instead, the company appears to be following an iOS-focused, margin-driven strategy that essentially relegates professionals to a fringe group. This has well-known developers such as Salvatore Sanfilippo (of the Redis project) consider a move back to Linux. Perhaps that's a good moment to look at the current state of Mac hardware support in the kernel. While Macs are x86 systems, they possess various custom chips and undocumented quirks that the community needs to painstakingly reverse-engineer.
  • How well does the Linux kernel support Mac hardware?
    There is an interesting subset of Linux users that prefer to run it on a Mac. Yes, a Mac. That might seem odd given how Apple is known for its closed ecosystems and high cost hardware, but the Linux on Mac folks really do exist out there. But how well does the Linux kernel support Mac hardware? LWN.net has a “state of the union” article for Linux on the Mac that could be quite helpful if you are thinking about installing Linux on your Mac.
  • New Kernel Vulnerability Allows Local Root For Unprivileged Processes
    There is yet another new Linux kernel vulnerability being disclosed today that allows for unprivileged processes to gain kernel code execution abilities. This new vulnerability is CVE-2016-8655 but it doesn't seem to be getting too much attention yet. CVE-2016-8655 comes down to a race condition within the af_packet.c code for gaining local root access. The researcher that found it was able to write an exploit to gain root shell on an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS system and defeats SMEP/SMAP protection too.
  • Avoiding CVE-2016-8655 with systemd
    Just a quick note: on recent versions of systemd it is relatively easy to block the vulnerability described in CVE-2016-8655 for individual services. Since systemd release v211 there's an option RestrictAddressFamilies= for service unit files which takes away the right to create sockets of specific address families for processes of the service. In your unit file, add RestrictAddressFamilies=~AF_PACKET to the [Service] section to make AF_PACKET unavailable to it (i.e. a blacklist), which is sufficient to close the attack path. Safer of course is a whitelist of address families whch you can define by dropping the ~ character from the assignment. Here's a trivial example:
  • The Best Features Of The Linux 4.9 Kernel