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Mint 18 review: “Just works” Linux doesn’t get any better than this

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Linux Mint 18 is a solid update and continues the slow but steady evolution of what may be the most popular Linux desktop out there. If you're an existing Mint user, it's definitely worth upgrading, though do bear in mind that this upgrade may be a bit more difficult compared to the very simple upgrade process for 17.x updates. As of this writing, Linux Mint has not published its usual upgrade guide, and I installed a clean copy, so I can't comment on the upgrade process.

Mint 18 remains my recommendation both for anyone who's new to Linux as well as seasoned Linux users who want a desktop that just works and gets out of the way. Thanks to its incremental development approach, its dedication to evolving features slowly, and its development of power user features and configuration options, Mint manages to serve both newcomers and Linux power users well.

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BQ's Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is an underwhelming tablet [Review]

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Reviews
Ubuntu

The Aquaris M10 is very much a first attempt for BQ and you would expect future iterations to have some significant improvements. It’s also hard to find compelling reasons why iOS or Android fans would want to switch over to an Ubuntu tablet, but those familiar with the operating system should be excited to finally have their needs met in the tablet market.

One positive factor is that switching between tablet and desktop mode works very well for the most part, so can definitely fulfill professional needs as much as casual ones. This could be a viable option for someone who wants that flexibility and isn’t too fussed about some of the more superficial features.

Aspects such as the cameras, display and build quality could all be improved, but are about right for the price point in this unspectacular but solid device.

With the HD version costing €229.90 (£187) and the full HD tablet coming in at €279.90 (£227), the M10 offers decent value for money and provides a solid platform for BQ to build on in the future.

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Review: Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" MATE

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Linux
Reviews

That is where my time with Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" MATE ended. Overall, I can still give this a good recommendation for people who have at least a tiny bit of experience with Linux and may be looking for a stable, easy-to-use system. However, the usability issues I encountered, while each fairly minor, added up to the extent that I don't feel as confident recommending this to total newbies (because while I would be able to work through these issues easily by myself, I don't expect the same of a newbie), unless they have a more experienced friend helping them to install this (though after that, they should be OK on their own). To be able to retake the newbie demographic, I think this distribution needs just a bit more polish; I'd be excited to see what the future point releases hold, and I hope that these issues do get addressed.

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PocketCHIP quick review

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Linux
Reviews

PocketCHIP is the pocket sized Linux terminal I always used to want. Which is to say, it runs (nearly) stock Debian, X, etc, it has a physical keyboard, and the hardware and software is (nearly) non-proprietary and very hackable. Best of all, it's fun and it encourages playful learning.

It's also clunky and flawed and constructed out of cheap components. This keeps it from being something I'd actually carry around in my pocket and use regularly. The smart thing they've done though is embrace these limitations, targeting it at the hobbiest, and not trying to compete with smart phones. The PocketCHIP is its own little device in its own little niche.

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Ubuntu Phone - The Meizu Pro 5

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Reviews
Ubuntu

In many ways, for me, smart phones are the realization of a childhood fantasy: computers small enough to fit in a pocket and powerful enough to perform common computing tasks. There is a certain amount of wonder I feel when I look up trivia, get directions or play chess on a device that can sit in my pocket and only needs to be recharged once every day or two. However, while I greatly admire the technology that goes into a smart phone, the experience often suffers from dozens of small issues.

Over the years I have tried most of the major smart phone platforms. While each had their strengths, they also introduced frustrations which sent me on to another platform. Early Blackberry phones I found bulky and difficult to navigate. While I found more modern Blackberries much more comfortable and I enjoyed their physical keyboards, the Blackberry company seems to be killing off their classic phones in favour of touch screens and giant square devices that won't fit in my pocket. I briefly tried a few generations of the iPhone, but never felt comfortable with the interface (iOS seems to interpret my touch gestures as vague suggestions) and I found it difficult to find ways to perform common tasks. The iPhone also feels uncomfortably locked into the Apple ecosystem, making it a poor fit for me. Android is the platform I have used the longest. My first Android regularly crashed and lost its wi-fi connection. My most recent Android is much more stable, but still loses its network connection and is bundled with software I cannot remove which insists on nagging me on a regular basis. I very briefly tried a Windows phone and while I found the interface sometimes had the familiar feel of a desktop computer, the illusion of familiarity did not hold up. The Windows phone felt like a Barbie doll - a recognizable imitation of a familiar concept, but warped and stiff, ultimately something I'd be embarrassed being seen with on a date.

For the past few years I, like many other Linux enthusiasts, have been looking forward to a more pure mobile GNU/Linux experience. Ubuntu phones started appearing in Europe last year, but the models from Bq appear to work on frequencies not compatible with (or not ideal for) North American mobile networks. Meizu has launched the Meizu Pro 5 which is available in Android and Ubuntu flavours. The Meizu phone appears to offer complete compatibly with mobile networks in Canada and the United States of America and I was eager to try it. Upon request, Canonical was kind enough to send me a Pro 5 model to explore and what follows are my impressions of the device.

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Tablet review: BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition

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Reviews
Ubuntu

The Aquaris M10 is very much a first attempt for BQ and you would expect future iterations to have some significant improvements. It’s also hard to find compelling reasons why iOS or Android fans would want to switch over to an Ubuntu tablet, but those familiar with the operating system should be excited to finally have their needs met in the tablet market.

One positive factor is that switching between tablet and desktop mode works very well for the most part, so can definitely fulfill professional needs as much as casual ones. This could be a viable option for someone who wants that flexibility and isn’t too fussed about some of the more superficial features.

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Homegrown Budgie Desktop Shows Off the Beauty - and Beastliness - of Solus Simplicity

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OS
Reviews

The Budgie desktop -- and thus Solus itself -- lacks the glitz and glitter found in more seasoned desktop environments. Animation is nonexistent. It also lacks any right-click menu finesse other than the ability to change background or settings.

The Solus Project's distro is very user-friendly, but experienced Linux users will need more optimized software and desktop functionality in the next release to be tempted to give up more advanced desktop flavors.

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Another Linux Terminal App Guake

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Linux
Reviews

Linux users have a lot of terminal emulators to choose. Recently I mentioned one terminal app i.e. Terminator. Here is another one of the most interesting Quake-style drop-down terminal named Guake. It is a terminal app for GNOME which can be used quickly using shortcut keys. ​

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Point Linux 3.2

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Reviews

Point Linux released their newest version, 3.2, in June 2016. Their goal is, "To combine the power of Debian GNU/Linux with the productivity of MATE, the GNOME 2 desktop environment fork. Point Linux provides an easy-to-set-up-and-use distribution for users looking for a fast, stable and predictable desktop."

Point Linux aims to use MATE as their primary desktop environment, but also offers Xfce as an option. The Point Linux website is simple and professional. The download page is full of fresh and very nice options that allow the user to download the exact distro they require to fit their needs. Some of the options include 32- or 64-bit, torrent or direct download, and the location of the download server. I found using the website was effortless and the options available cut down on the download time (by giving the option to torrent or the location of the server) and lowered the install time by giving the consumer options before retrieving the whole file.

The MATE desktop environment (DE) is available in the standard Debian installation media, but the full Debian installer image is 4.7GB, overwhelmingly large, and has too many DE options to make the disc any smaller. This is the small void that Point Linux fills. They provide the MATE desktop environment (or Xfce) and a significantly smaller live OS / installation media. Even when selecting the full featured desktop from the options on their website, the Point Linux installer is only 1.00GB. The "Desktop with core components" option lowers this installation media size further to 772MB.

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Android Leftovers

  • Google could be about to reveal its Android and Chrome OS merger
    If you've been following Google for a while you'll know that speculation around the company merging Android and Chrome OS into one single whole isn't anything new, but the rumours have gained fresh impetus over the weekend. Sources speaking to the usually reliable Android Police say Google is preparing to combine the two OSes into something codenamed Andromeda inside the company - that's also the name of the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way or the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, depending on which meaning you want to take.
  • Google’s Oct. 4th Event May Reveal Merged Android/Chrome OS
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  • Android Users Replace Phones Faster Than iPhone Fans
    Every time a new Apple iPhone gets released, it seems like everyone who has chosen iOS over Alphabet 's Android immediately orders one. In reality, however, not every consumer trades in his or her phone just because a new model comes out. They may want to, but leasing cycles, payment plans and other factors influence whether people swap out their iPhone or Android phone after a new model is released. On the Apple side, consumers are actually holding onto their phones slightly longer, while with Android, the replacement cycle has been steady for the past three years, according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).
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  • Leaked Presentation Slide Reveals Sony’s Android 7.0 Roadmap
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digiKam 5.2.0 Linux RAW Image Editor Introduces a New Red Eyes Tool, Bug Fixes

The digiKam developers were proud to announce the release of the second maintenance update to the digiKam 5 latest stable series of the free and open source RAW image editor for GNU/Linux operating systems. Read more

wattOS 10 Microwatt Edition Comes with Less of Everything, Based on Ubuntu 16.04

After releasing the LXDE edition of wattOS 10 at the beginning of the month, developer Ronald Ropp now announced the availability of the Microwatt Edition, which includes less of everything when compared to its bigger brother. Read more

How to throw a tarball over the wall

It costs a lot of money to open source a mature piece of commercial software, even if all you are doing is "throwing a tarball over the wall." That's why companies abandoning software they no longer care about so rarely make it open source, and those abandoning open source projects rarely move them to new homes that benefit others. If all you have thought about is the eventual outcome, you may be surprised how expensive it is to get there. Read more