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Reviews

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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RockPro64 Review

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

Since there are so many options available for Operating System images the RockPro64 is a great board. The benchmarks show it has quite the processor to run applications without breaking the bank. It currently sells for around $60 depending on the options. For gamers this is a nice board if you use Recalbox.

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Plasma hidden gems: removable media

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KDE
Reviews

There we go. Another gem unhidden. If you don't care about this kind of thing, no harm done, ignore the options, and they won't bother you. However, if you do like the ability to control and tweak the behavior of your system, you will be pleasantly surprised by all the layers of excellence lurking in the dark and not-so-dark corners of the Plasma desktop.

Whether it's security, productivity or noise management you're after, the Removable Storage component of the Plasma Settings lets you govern these with fun and efficacy. I am amazed, given the fact I'm using this desktop daily, how many cool and useful things I'm still able to discover and like. Well, that brings us to the end of this article. I'm gonna go do some more hunting, who knows what other nice software I might find. In this modern age of cheap gimmicks, every little gem is precious.

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Zidoo M9 Mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing & Teardown

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Android
Hardware
Reviews

Over the years, Zidoo has made TV boxes for the consumer market, and digital signage players for businesses.

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NomadBSD 1.3

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Reviews
BSD

I was pleasantly taken with how well NomadBSD performs and how easy it is to use. There are not a lot of "plug it in and go" solutions in the BSD communities and NomadBSD is providing a great live environment, with lots of useful desktop software, and polished configuration tools. The operating system runs quickly, it has enough included software to be useful in several scenarios without cluttering the application menu, and it supports a wide range of languages.

The best feature though is easily the persistence built into Nomad's live mode, which allows us to install new software, create files, and change settings which will survive across reboots.

Also, I don't get to say this enough, but it is very nice to see an operating system ship with both on-line and off-line copies of its documentation. The Nomad handbook covers some basic tips on getting on-line, installing the operating system, and performing a few other common tasks.

I encountered only two serious issues while using NomadBSD. The first was the operating system could not use my laptop's wireless card. Everything else worked beautifully, but FreeBSD's support for wireless networking is not up to par yet with Linux. I also found some settings, like my username and which filesystem to use, did not take effect when I installed the operating system locally. When run from the thumb drive everything went smoothly, but a few things went wrong when getting the operating system on my hard drive.

In general, I liked NomadBSD a lot. The project makes it very easy to test drive FreeBSD with new hardware. It has defaults I like and some good documentation. I'm hoping future releases will polish the installer a little more and maybe include more wireless drivers and firmware. Otherwise I have no complaints. This is a great tool for testing a computer for FreeBSD compatibility and browsing or rescuing data.

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My impressions using the System76 Oryx Pro

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

I recently switched to using Linux for my desktop workstation again, in the form of a System76 Oryx Pro. I'd previously used an iMac primarily with Windows bootcamped onto it (for game compatibility). It took me a while to realize, but at that point, I might as well have used a Windows laptop. The iMac, for how nice and quiet it is, is pretty useless as an iMac when you just run Windows on it, so I decided to sell it and get something else, maybe even something that's portable. After a while, I settled on the Oryx Pro.

[...]

The primary reason I've been running Windows and/or MacOS is to play Final Fantasy XIV, a MMO that unfortunately only really runs well on Windows (the official MacOS version is nothing more than a Wine wrapper). However, after a couple hours of fiddling around with Wine and Lutris, I managed to actually get the game to run, and with about 90% of the performance I'd have on Windows! This is mainly due to DXVK, a Wine tool that translates DirectX system calls to Vulkan system calls (I believe), which makes it possible to play many AAA video games on Linux. The only downside to this is that while playing the game, the fans on this laptop run at maximum speed, even though it doesn't really get hot, just warm, but I'm willing to chalk that up to Wine or something.

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Elementary OS | Review From an openSUSE User

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Reviews

There are some Linux distributions that have a wide audience and there are others that focus in on a specific customer or user. If I were asked to describe who I think ElementaryOS is targeting, I would certainly say, not me. The reason being, ElementaryOS goes for a particular look and they have a specific design for how they intend that you use the interface. Straying from the interface guideline is not recommended. I reviewed this distribution as a part of the BigDaddyLinux Live Challenge.

This is my biased review as an openSUSE Tumbleweed, Plasma Desktop user that values shaping his environment to suit his needs. Bottom Line Up Front, ElementaryOS has a clear design intent with a goal on user experience. It is a principled project that has a vision of what a human to machine interface should be and how applications should also interact and present information to the user. These guidelines, however clean they may be, are not to my liking. Although I do appreciate the work and the stubborn adherence to an ideal it does not agree with me. I prefer an interface that I can make my own and shape to my needs as they change. ElementaryOS is far too rigid and the lack of system tray makes it a non-starter and a lack of minimize button makes it annoying. There is not dark theme (but it is coming) and no option for double-click. It is almost as if Qt based applications were not even a secondary or tertiary consideration so applications that I must use are encumbered. All that said, this is me, I would never steer you away from trying ElementaryOS. I have my requirements and they may not be the same as yours.

[...]

Although I have a long list of things I do not like about ElementaryOS, it is really not a bad experience. There just happen to be a lot of paper cuts and the lack of built in ability to tweak the issues. Many, many desktop environments may have these small paper cut issues that gnaw at you but they also give you the ability to smooth them out by giving you access to tools to do it. I am sure, with enough time and effort, installing the right tools and tweak packages, I could have fixed all the irritations that I had with the interface. However, it is quite clear, that is not what the designers want you to do. They want you to not have certain features to fit their vision. The issue is, as I see it, ElementaryOS is targeted for those that like a specific way to work with their computer. Since I am unwilling to give up the efficiencies provided by Plasma, Elementary OS does not fit. It is too far of a step back in time for me to be comfortable here.

Keep in mind, this is my opinion. These are my irritations and they may all be nonsense to you. I would never discourage you from trying ElementaryOS. It is unique in its style and flair with an incredibly stubborn design intent and I don’t think that should change their course at all. Whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, I hope that they achieve those goals. Computers are supposed to be personal and developers are making it personal, as they see fit.

I do think you should give ElementaryOS a spin, at least in a VM, maybe on a spare laptop you have laying around. See what you like about it or don’t like about it. If you think my observations and impressions are wrong, feel free to leave a comment or send an email. I only spent a couple weeks on ElementaryOS so there is a lot I don’t know. I will not continue to run it, for the time being. I will certainly give it a try again in the future.

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Remix Could Bring Some Cinnamon Lovers Back to Ubuntu

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Since I am an avid Cinnamon user, I was a bit disappointed in the performance of this initial stable release. The critical stuff worked fine. The Ubuntu base is very forgiving. What did not work was an annoying list of small stuff. I am a lot less forgiving of those glitches.

I am sympathetic to the challenges a small developer team faces in swapping a heavyweight desktop design the likes of Cinnamon into a powerhouse operating system such as Ubuntu. Given that it has come this far in the last five years or so, I hope it will be a short time before the next stable remix release is ready.

Planned improvements for the 20.04 release include a new GRUB, a Plymouth theme, an improved layout application, and a Welcome screen. Also planned is a slideshow presentation during installation.

I want to see a better installed base of applications that rises to the volume of what Ubuntu now offers in its desktop offerings. I am not in favor of application bloat, but I think the current installed software inventory is far too minimal.

I look forward to seeing the Cinnamon desktop spice up Ubuntu as an official competitive desktop option. Hopefully, this new remix distro will improve and become part of the official Ubuntu Linux lineup. I can not help but wonder why Canonical has not already done this, without waiting for a third-party distro to join the Ubuntu spice rack.

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IBM/Red Hat Leveraging COVID-19 for Marketing

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i.MX8M Mini Pico-ITX board has a DSP for voice control plus optional AI

Estone’s “EMB-2237-AI” Pico-ITX SBC integrates a “SOM-2237” module that runs Linux on an i.MX8M Mini and adds a DSP for audio. The carrier adds LAN with PoE, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, mics and speakers, and an M.2 slot with Edge TPU AI support. Estone Technology’s EMB-2237-AI is the first SBC we’ve seen to combine the 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX form-factor with an NXP i.MX8M Mini SoC. Other Mini-based SBCs include Seco’s SBC-C61, Boardcon’s sandwich-style EM-IMX8M-MINI, and Garz & Fricke’s recent Tanaro, among others. Read more

Python Programming

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  • Python Software Foundation: Python Software Foundation Fellow Members for Q1 2020

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