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Reviews

Nexus 6P and Galaxy S5 Mini

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Android
Reviews

In recent times there hasn’t been much potential for new features in phones. All phones have enough RAM and screen space for all common apps. While the S5 Mini has a small screen it’s not that small, I spent many years with desktop PCs that had a similar resolution. So while the S5 Mini was released a couple of years ago that doesn’t matter much for most common use. I wouldn’t want it for my main phone but for a secondary phone it’s quite good.

The Nexus 6P is a very nice phone, but apart from USB-C, the fingerprint reader, and the lack of a stylus there’s not much noticeable difference between that and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 I was using before.

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Mint 18 - Forgetting Sarah Linux

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Reviews

Linux Mint. Version 18. Sarah. Cinnamon Edition. This was supposed to be the sweetest LTS yet. Only it's very buggy, it's worse than the previous edition and the three before, or maybe all of them. It's even buggier than Ubuntu, and it's been released a good two months after its parent. There are so many regressions in the system. And I know I'm trying every trick in the English language and scientific method to explain and convince you that this has nothing to do with my hardware, because with the same nuts and bolts in place, you can still baseline, calibrate, evaluate, and compare over time.

With none of the other parameters changed - my box and me - Mint 18 Sarah is just not a very good release. The live session is awful. I don't have any smartphone support, at all. Quite a few other aspects of the desktop experience are missing or lacking, and they are just not as refined as they used to be. I don't know how, I don't know why, yesterday you told me about the blue blue distro. This season is bad. There's no other way of putting it. And my experience was so unrewarding, there are many other aspects of this system that I just did not evaluate in any depth, like the x applications and such. What's the point?

I wish I could tell a different story. But the simple reality is, I can't. It defies logic that the previous releases of Mint or perhaps Xubuntu 15.04 or whatever give me everything I need, but this new LTS struggles in roughly 6 out of 10 critical areas. Read it any way you will, think what you want of me, seek flaws in my methods, seek affirmation in my words, there's no escaping the awful and painful conclusion. One, I'm shattered. Two, this season is absolutely terrible. Three, Sarah Cinnamon deserves only about 3/10. Please stick with the R-releases, and do not upgrade.

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Slackware 14.2

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Reviews
Slack

Slackware was familiar. I could easily go back to using it. However, I have been spoiled by my experience with opensuse. With slackware, there are no configured repos. Any install of addition software takes additional effort, though perhaps just unpacking a tar file. And security updates require periodic checking for announcements and then manual installing.

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Fedora 24 - It isn't for everybody, but then, it doesn't try to be

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Red Hat
Reviews

On June 23, after installing Fedora for my first ever look at the distro for this review of Fedora 24, I pinged a friend who writes about Linux seeking help for a pesky configuration problem. I was trying to get GNOME to quit demanding a password every time I walked away from the computer for five minutes or so, which I thought should be easy, but wasn't. After finding sort of a solution for the problem, I sent him another email.

"I would expect Fedora to have an easy way to deal with this," I wrote. "Actually, I find very few configuration tools in this installation of Fedora, which surprises me. This must be what you get when you have server people supervising the development of a desktop OS."

"Exactly," he pinged back with record speed. "I've never cared much for it myself. Never really found it that compelling. Arch/etc I get; Ubuntu/Mint, I also see the appeal. But Fedora and SuSE always lost me. Nothing negative about them, rather, I fail to see the appeal unless you're someone who uses these at work."

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Also: Nvidia Drivers Install Fedora 24

Lenovo G50 & CentOS 7.2 KDE - Really nice and cool

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Red Hat
Reviews

CentOS 7 is an excellent choice for home use, even on a laptop that's not Linux friendly, and it does its work well despite the challenges, the likes of Realtek, UEFI and other buzz words. Now, if only different distros could blend the good elements from their peers. In this case, Ubuntu and friends are more media friendly, and you have better smartphone support. But CentOS does the basics much better, and this means stability, consistency, and weirdly, hardware support.

It's like being asked whether you want to lose an arm or a leg, and you can't have both. In theory, Ubuntu is supposed to give you that LTS fun plus the latest and greatest software, but in reality, this is not happening with Xerus. Yes, Trusty is there, and it's still the best overall candidate for desktops, in whatever guise. CentOS comes rather close. Yes, it does have its antiquities and enterprise idiosyncrasies, but the problems are solvable. That's a really nice thing. You can actually fix issues, and there are no surprises waiting for you the next day.

I did invest a significant amount of energy in making CentOS 7 work on the G50 machine. We can't ignore that. But the yield is highly positive. The outcome is worth the effort. You need the right network support and some extra repos, but after that, you can add new software, codecs, bells and whistles, drivers for other filesystems and protocols, and anything else you fancy. Well, almost. All considered, this is far more than you'd ever expect. There's still more work to be done. I will address all sorts of issues in follow up articles, including stuff like MTP, Flash performance, adblocking, volume control, and more. And I think you will be amazed how far you can take CentOS if you set your mind to it. Hint, Gnome edition perhaps?

Which makes it a darn good candidate for your systems. For one reason only. It needs fixing only once. It does not regress. For me, this is a hugely important attribute for anything I may consider for my production setup. CentOS 7, the biggest and most pleasant surprise this awful spring testing season. Modern hardware, here you go. Off to you guys. Do it. Do it.

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GeckoLinux 421.160527.0

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Reviews
SUSE

GeckoLinux is one of the more recent distributions to land in the DistroWatch database. GeckoLinux (or Gecko, as I will refer to the distribution) is based on openSUSE. Gecko offers two key features above and beyond what its parent provides: patent encumbered software installed by default and live desktop editions. The openSUSE project avoids shipping software with licensing or patent restrictions and offers just two editions of Leap (a full DVD and a net-install disc). The Gecko distribution provides some extra packages, including multimedia support, and provides live discs for seven different desktop environments: Budgie, Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. For people who want something lighter, Gecko offers an eighth "Barebones" edition.

I decided to try Gecko's MATE edition which is available as a 966MB download. While I was downloading the ISO file, I looked into why Gecko uses such long version numbers, such as 421.160527.0. I learned the first part indicates which version of openSUSE Gecko uses as a base, in this case openSUSE 42.1. The second number is the date the ISO was created, 27th of May, 2016. The final number is reserved for revisions or re-builds. In this case the trailing zero indicates no rebuilds were necessary.

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User’s Review On Linux Lite 3.0 – Simple, Fast & Free Linux Desktop

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Reviews

Linux Lite 3.0 is the recently released free operating system based on the Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) and hence you can be assured that you’ll get support for the next 5 years. Linux Lite 3.0 offers a complete out of the box experience and it is lightweight, easy and simple to install. One of the main aspects that is being lauded by experts and everyday Linux users is the compactness with which Linux Lite 3.0 has been released. This means you can install Linux Lite and start working with it in less than few minutes.

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Review: Linux Mint 18 (Sarah)

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Linux
Reviews

If you were looking to jump the Ubuntu ship completely, then we recommend taking a look at our recent Review of Fedora 24. It’s equally as good as Mint 18 and equally worthy of your consideration.

Between Linux Mint 18 and Fedora 24, we reckon it’s exciting times in the Linux world. With the exception and onset of the boring world of vanilla Ubuntu releases, Linux feels reinvigorated and fresh once again. Jump on board, because it can only get better from here.

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GeckoLinux 421 Plasma and SUSE Hack Week

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Reviews
SUSE
  • GeckoLinux 421 Plasma review - It ain't no dragon

    I heard a lot of good praise about this little distro. My inbox is flooded with requests to take it for a spin, so I decided, hey, so many people are asking. Let us. The thing is, openSUSE derivatives are far and few in between, but the potential and the appeal are definitely there. Something like CentOS on steroids, the way Stella did once, the same noble way Fuduntu tried to emancipate Fedora. Take a somewhat somber distro and pimpify it into submission.

    GeckoLinux is based on openSUSE Leap, and I chose the Plasma Static edition. There's also a Rolling version, based on Tumbleweed, but that one never worked for me. The test box for this review is Lenovo G50. But wait! Dedoimedo, did you not recently write in your second rejection report that GeckoLinux had failed to boot? Indeed I did. But the combo of yet another firmware update on the laptop and a fresh new download fixed it, allowing for a DVD boot. Somewhat like the painful but successful Fedora exercise back in the day. Tough start, but let's see what gives.

  • La Mapería

    It is Hack Week at SUSE, and I am working on La Mapería (the map store), a little program to generate beautiful printed maps from OpenStreetMap data.

  • HackWeek XIV @SUSE: Tuesday

Makulu's LinDoz Is a Smooth Windows-Cinnamon Blend

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Reviews

That technical issue aside, The MakuluLinux line is one of my favorites. Unlike typical distros, Makulu strays from some of the mainstream primary applications.

It also has a set of the most commonly used software preinstalled regardless of the desktop flavor selected. For example, it uses the WPS office suite.

If you fancy the Cinnamon desktop, you will feel right at home with MakuluLinux. If you cut your computing teeth on Microsoft Windows, you will be particularly enamored with the LinDoz Edition.

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5 Best Linux Distros for Security

Security is nothing new to Linux distributions. Linux distros have always emphasized security and related matters like firewalls, penetration testing, anonymity, and privacy. So it is hardly surprising that security conscious distributions are common place. For instance, Distrowatch lists sixteen distros that specialize in firewalls, and four for privacy. Most of these specialty security distributions, however, share the same drawback: they are tools for experts, not average users. Only recently have security distributions tried to make security features generally accessible for desktop users. Read more

Linux Foundation and Linux

  • How IoTivity and AllJoyn Could Combine
    At the Embedded Linux Conference in April, Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) Executive Director Mike Richmond concluded his keynote on the potential for interoperability between the OCF’s IoTivity IoT framework and the AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn spec by inviting to the stage Greg Burns, the chief architect of AllJoyn. Burns briefly shared his opinion that not only was there no major technical obstacle to combining these two major open source IoT specs, but that by taking the best of both standards, a hybrid could emerge that improves upon both. Later in the day, Burns gave a technical overview of how such a hybrid could be crafted in “Evolving a Best-of-Breed IoT Framework.” (See video below.) Burns stated in both talks that his opinions in no way reflect the official position of OCF or the AllSeen Alliance. At the time of the ELC talk in April, Burns had recently left his job as VP of Engineering at Qualcomm and Chair of the Technical Steering Committee at the AllSeen Alliance to take on the position of Chief IoT Software Technologist in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corp.
  • ​Linus Torvalds' love-hate relationship with the GPL
    Linux's founder appreciates what the GNU General Public License has given Linux, but he doesn't appreciate how some open-source lawyers are trying to enforce it in court.
  • Linus Torvalds reflects on 25 years of Linux
    LinuxCon North America concluded in Toronto, Canada on August 25th, the day Linux was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, and Dirk Hohndel, VP and chief of open source at VMware, sat down for a conversation at the event and reflected upon the past 25 years. Here are some of the highlights of that conversation.
  • 6 things you should know from Linux's first 25 years
    Red Hat was founded in 1993, two years after Linux was announced and the company has been one of the top contributors to Linux. There is a symbiotic relationship between the company and the project. Whitehurst pointed out that it’s hard to talk about the history of Red Hat without talking about Linux and vice versa.
  • There Is Talk Of Resuming OpenChrome VIA KMS/DRM Driver Development
    Two or so years back or so it was looking hopeful that the mainline Linux kernel would finally have a proper VIA DRM/KMS driver for the unfortunate ones still have VIA x86 hardware and using the integrated graphics. However, that work was ultimately abandoned but there is talk of it being restored.

Security News

  • New FairWare Ransomware targeting Linux Computers [Ed: probably just a side effect of keeping servers unpatched]
    A new attack called FaireWare Ransomware is targeting Linux users where the attackers hack a Linux server, delete the web folder, and then demand a ransom payment of two bitcoins to get their files back. In this attack, the attackers most likely do not encrypt the files, and if they do retain the files, probably just upload it to a server under their control.
  • How do we explain email to an "expert"?
    This has been a pretty wild week, more wild than usual I think we can all agree. The topic I found the most interesting wasn't about one of the countless 0day flaws, it was a story from Slate titled: In Praise of the Private Email Server The TL;DR says running your own email server is a great idea. Almost everyone came out proclaiming it a terrible idea. I agree it's a terrible idea, but this also got me thinking. How do you explain this to someone who doesn't really understand what's going on? There are three primary groups of people. 1) People who know they know nothing 2) People who think they're experts 3) People who are actually experts
  • Why the term “zero day” needs to be in your brand’s cybersecurity vocabulary
    Linux is “open source” which means anyone can look at the code and point out flaws. In that sense, I’d say Linus Torvalds doesn’t have to be as omniscient as Tim Cook. Linux source code isn’t hidden behind closed doors. My understanding is, all the Linux code is out there for anyone to see, naked for anyone to scrutinize, which is why certain countries feel safer using it–there’s no hidden agenda or secret “back door” lurking in the shadows. Does that mean Android phones are safer? That’s up for debate.