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Reviews

Reviews: Elementary OS Loki and Solus-2017.01.01

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Reviews
  • It’s Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki

    Elementary OS isn’t your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn’t a distro at all. Elementary’s developers pitch their creation as a free and open alternative to Windows and macOS.

    That description is apt, and with the latest release, version 0.4 Loki, Elementary has blossomed into something beautiful. I love it, and I highly recommend it for new and experienced Linux users alike.

  • Solus-2017.01.01 — a review

    Solus is congenial system. I rather like the Budgie desktop. But you may find that you need to install additional software to meet your needs.

Min Browser Muffles the Web's Noise

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Web

Min is not a full-featured Web browser with bells and whistles galore. It is not designed for add-ons and many other features you typically use in well-established Web browsers. However, Min serves an important niche purpose by offering speed and distraction-free browsing.

The more I use the Min browser, the more productive it is for me -- but be wary when you first start to use it.

Min is not complicated or confusing -- it is just quirky. You have to play around with it to discover how it works.

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Blu Vivo 6 review: Affordable Android in a pretty shell

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Android
Reviews

Phone-maker Blu started making a name for itself in the States for being an affordable Android brand, but it's taken some time for the company to bring its wares to the UK.

In fact, the Vivo 6 is the company's first Blighty-bound device. Having launched in time for a crazy opening-day Amazon discount during Black Friday weekend in 2016, the phone is now back to its full price of £239. So is it worth the cash?

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Raspberry Pi: Hands on with SuSE and openSuSE Linux

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SUSE

At the end of November, the Raspberry Pi Blog announced the availability of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for the Raspberry Pi 3. As Eben Upton said at that time, this was a big deal for two reasons -- it was the first official 64-bit operating system for the Pi 3 (Raspbian and other currently available versions are 32-bit), and it was an official release from a major vendor.

The announcement in theSuSE Blog gives a lot more information about the what/why/how of the SLES port, and makes for an interesting read. From what I gather, SuSE and/or ARM gave out some spiffy packages (shown at right) which contained a Raspberry Pi 3 preloaded with SLES 12 SP2: I would have loved to have been there and been blessed with one...

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Carey Head: Ubuntu for Everyday Use, How It Worked For Me

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Before diving into the Ubuntu review, here’s a bit of backdrop — and a bonus review. I downloaded and installed Windows 8 Preview several weeks ago. It took me about two days to realize that Microsoft’s desktop OS had jumped the great white for me. I can see how the Metro UI would be really nice on a tablet, but the concept on a desktop screen baffles me. Coincidentally, my 8 year-old’s installation of Windows 7 got corrupted and he needed a reinstall.

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Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang - Aloha!

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Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang is a surprisingly and yet expectedly good Plasma system, using some of that Mint-like approach to home computing. It's what Kubuntu should have been or should be, and it delivers a practical, out-of-the-box experience with a fine blend of software, fun and stability. That's a very sensible approach.

Not everything was perfect. Plasma has its bugs, the printer and the web cam issues need to be looked into, and on the aesthetics side, a few things can be polished and improved. The installer can benefit from having some extra safety mechanisms. But I guess that is the sum of my complaints. On the happy side, you get all the goodies from the start, the application collection is rich, the distro did not crash, and the performance is really decent for a Plasma beastling. A fine formula, and probably the best one we've seen in the last eighteen months or so. Good news if you like KDE. And indeed, this is definitely one of the distros you should try. 9/10. I'm quite pleased. Have a maui day.

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What's New in BlankOn X Tambora

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BlankOn X operating system finally launched at January 1st 2017 as the 10th release codenamed "Tambora". BlankOn is a GNU/Linux distribution from Indonesia, a low-resource operating system with ultimate aim for desktop end-users. In this Tambora release, BlankOn brings the latest Manokwari desktop with improvements, along with its own BlankOn system installer, and some other stuffs. This Tambora release is a continuation of the BlankOn 9 release in 2014 named Suroboyo. This article sums up what's new for BlankOn in this Tambora version.

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Absolute Linux Caters to the Slackware Crowd

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Slack

Absolute Linux is a distro that raises the question: Is it really worth the bother?

Any version of this Slackware-based Linux OS is just that -- a really big bother -- unless you love Unix-like systems that give you total control. It likely would be especially bothersome for less experienced users and for folks comfortable with Debian distros such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and such.

Some Slackware-based distros are easier than others to use -- but the text-based installation and mostly manual operating routine makes using Absolute Linux a challenge. Once you get beyond the configuration steps, you still face a considerable learning curve to keep it running smoothly.

Clearly, I am not overly impressed with the Absolute flavor of Slackware Linux. I see it as the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism instead of an automatic model with keyless ignition. That said, once you have the engine purring, it drives fast and furious along the highway.

I like to offer unique computing options in these weekly Linux Picks and Pans reviews, so I set my comfort zone aside and rolled up my sleeves to get my hands a little scraped reaching under Absolute Linux's hood.

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OpenMandriva Lx 3.0: a faint shadow of name

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MDV
Reviews

The general feel of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 was fast and solid.

However, that was only on the surface. As soon as you start to look just a little bit deeper, issues go out here and there. High memory usage, keyboard layout glitch, inadequate size of notification area icons, problems with updates - all of that leave a bad taste after the Live Run of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0.

Will it ever gain the popularity its parent had just few years ago? I have a very big doubt.

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Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable

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Last week I mentioned that I liked Bluestar Linux very much and was probably going to go ahead and take the leap to it and Plasma 5. I had been testing Plasma 5 on various distributions in 2016 with poor results until I tested Arch-based Bluestar 4.8.13. Preliminary tests indicated it might be possible to migrate. So, I learned a bit more about Bluestar this passed weekend and thought I'd share. I've also rounded up the best Linux tidbits from today's headlines as well.

First up, yes there is a graphical package manager. PacmanXG to be exact. I'd run into PacmanXG a few times over the years, but it appears it too has matured and seems to work rather well. The sort by groups could be better, but otherwise it's quite capable complete with history, log, and the command-line outputs. Updates come fairly routinely in Bluestar, although most are from Arch. I've been applying the recommended updates without any negative side-effects as of yet.

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More in Tux Machines

Security Leftovers

  • Security updates for Thursday
  • Security Tips for Installing Linux on Your SysAdmin Workstation
    Once you’ve chosen a Linux distro that meets all the security guidelines set out in our last article, you’ll need to install the distro on your workstation.
  • Fedora 26 crypto policy Test Day today (2017-03-30)!
  • Open-source developers targeted in sophisticated malware attack
    For the past few months, developers who publish their code on GitHub have been targeted in an attack campaign that uses a little-known but potent cyberespionage malware. The attacks started in January and consisted of malicious emails specifically crafted to attract the attention of developers, such as requests for help with development projects and offers of payment for custom programming jobs. The emails had .gz attachments that contained Word documents with malicious macro code attached. If allowed to execute, the macro code executed a PowerShell script that reached out to a remote server and downloaded a malware program known as Dimnie.
  • A scramble at Cisco exposes uncomfortable truths about U.S. cyber defense
    When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disclosed earlier this month that his anti-secrecy group had obtained CIA tools for hacking into technology products made by U.S. companies, security engineers at Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) swung into action. The Wikileaks documents described how the Central Intelligence Agency had learned more than a year ago how to exploit flaws in Cisco's widely used Internet switches, which direct electronic traffic, to enable eavesdropping. Senior Cisco managers immediately reassigned staff from other projects to figure out how the CIA hacking tricks worked, so they could help customers patch their systems and prevent criminal hackers or spies from using the same methods, three employees told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
  • NTPsec: a Secure, Hardened NTP Implementation
    Network time synchronization—aligning your computer's clock to the same Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) that everyone else is using—is both necessary and a hard problem. Many internet protocols rely on being able to exchange UTC timestamps accurate to small tolerances, but the clock crystal in your computer drifts (its frequency varies by temperature), so it needs occasional adjustments. That's where life gets complicated. Sure, you can get another computer to tell you what time it thinks it is, but if you don't know how long that packet took to get to you, the report isn't very useful. On top of that, its clock might be broken—or lying. To get anywhere, you need to exchange packets with several computers that allow you to compare your notion of UTC with theirs, estimate network delays, apply statistical cluster analysis to the resulting inputs to get a plausible approximation of real UTC, and then adjust your local clock to it. Generally speaking, you can get sustained accuracy to on the close order of 10 milliseconds this way, although asymmetrical routing delays can make it much worse if you're in a bad neighborhood of the internet.
  • Zelda Coatings
    I assume that every permutation of scams will eventually be tried; it is interesting that the initial ones preyed on people's avarice and dishonesty: "I will transfer millions to your bank account, then you share with me" - with subsequent scams appealing to another demographic: "I want to donate a large sum to your religious charity" - to perhaps capture a more virtuous but still credulous lot. Where will it end ?

Tizen and Android

Linux and Linux Foundation

Mesa and Intel Graphics