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Reviews

OnePlus 3T review

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Android
Reviews

So, there you have it for this in-depth look at the OnePlus 3T review! If you already have the OnePlus 3, the 3T isn’t compelling enough to justify an upgrade. The improvements are nice, but the overall experience isn’t significantly different between the two, and if software updates are a concern, the good news is that both devices will receive them at the same time.

On the other hand, those who have been waiting to see what Google had to offer with their smartphones and were holding off on buying the OnePlus 3 will certainly be elated. Given the upgrades, the $40 and $80 difference in price from the OnePlus 3 is completely understandable, and still undercuts a lot of other flagships. What you get for the money does make the OnePlus 3T one of the best deals you can get for an Android flagship, and is a smart move by the company.

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Kubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak - Cautiously good?

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KDE
Reviews

Let us draw the verdict. It's a strange one. Oddly, this is probably the best Kubuntu that I've tested in a long time. Sadly, that's like saying losing one finger in a freak chainsaw accident is better than losing two fingers. Not the best measure stick. Not something to be proud of. There are many, many problems in Yakkety Yak Plasma, including but not limited to the application stack, stability, performance, package management, and the ability to customize. That's not a happy list.

Brave face on, we also have a lot of goodies to focus on. A very decent - and FIRST for Plasma - smartphone support stack and multimedia playback as they should be. Lots of old bugs have been fixed. If only we had Samba printing support out of the box, and the network card driver was given a little bit of love, this might be a reasonable distro.

Kubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak is nothing to be proud of, but it is an okay Plasma release that has redeemed a whole generation of failed distributions in the past year or so. It's funny how it's gone from being my favorite to a pariah, and now it's slowly recovering. Such a waste of effort. And why? There was really no need for this whole regression saga. Anyhow, the road to success is still a long and perilous one. It will take a lot more before Kubuntu becomes a recommended household item again. But at the very least, 16.10 is showing a little of that promise. 7/10, if I'm being generous, more like 6/10, but you might want to give it a spin and see what gives. QED.

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OpenSUSE 42.2 Merges Best Features of Enterprise, Community Models

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Reviews
SUSE

In the world of Linux distributions, users are often faced with the option of choosing an enterprise-grade distribution or a community distribution. With the openSUSE Leap approach, SUSE is attempting to merge the best of both the enterprise and community models into a new type of Linux distribution. In the pure community-first model the upstream open-source code is packaged in a distribution, which can then be further hardened to eventually produce an enterprise-grade Linux product. The open-source openSUSE Leap 42.2 Linux distribution became generally available on Nov. 16 and takes a different approach. Code from the SUSE Linux Enterprise Service Pack 2 release, which debuted on Nov. 8, is now in the freely available openSUSE Leap 42.2 update. As part of its enterprise community stability focus, openSUSE Leap benefits from the Linux 4.4 Long Term Support Kernel (LTS). SUSE expects to support openSUSE Leap releases for 36 months. The new release also includes the latest in open-source application packages with LibreOffice and Firefox as well as developer and graphics tools. This slide show eWEEK takes a look at some of the features in the new openSUSE 42.2 Linux operating system release.

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OnePlus 3 long-term review: A true testament to the affordable flagship market

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Android
Reviews

There is no such thing as a perfect phone, regardless of how much we argue amongst ourselves. But there are definitely phones that are better than others. The OnePlus 3 is one of those. The compromises and cut corners are not as noticeable as in years past or when compared to other devices in this price bracket. Without a doubt, OnePlus struck a fantastic balance this year.

Whether we are talking hardware, software, or camera, it can hold its own with the big boys. Some might argue that it runs neck and neck with the ZTE Axon 7, and I don't disagree. At $399, it is very difficult to beat this phone, even this late into 2016. Since Nougat is promised by the end of the year on the stable channel, I have no qualms with giving this phone a high recommendation, even in late 2016. If you are on a tighter budget and want great bang for your buck, this is a phone you should consider... at least right now. You never know when a better phone will suddenly appear.

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wattOS Energizes Aging Hardware

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OS
Reviews

I found the wattOS to be a reliable and useful alternative to other lightweight Linux choices available. It is much less bothersome to configure compared to Puppy Linux and the many variants in PuppyLand, for instance.

It's chief advantage is an ability to run on older hardware with a clean and familiar user experience. It might fall short of expectations, however, when you push it to the limit beyond basic computing functions like Web surfing, word processing, email and playing music. Its performance will be spotty for heavy video viewing and editing.

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Ubuntu 16.10 & Unity 8 overview

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Reviews
Ubuntu

The one thing that made me not try to blowtorch my laptop in anger after I was done reviewing the terrible Yakkety Yak was the inclusion of the Unity 8 desktop environment in the distro, allowing for some fresh testing. The word desktop is probably not the best vocabulary choice here, as this hybrid-like environment already blithely powers touch devices like the Ubuntu Phone and the M10 tablet. But we're on a laptop, so.

Anyhow, I wanted to explore Unity 8 some more, but I did not want to do it as part of the distro review. This is why we have this article here, to explore the merits and failings of Unity 8, and see whether we should be really afraid this may become the default and only choice for our desktops one day. Which it might. So read carefully.

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elementary OS 0.4 Loki

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OS
Reviews

elementary OS is a Linux desktop distribution that’s based on Ubuntu. The project’s goal is crafting a “fast and open replacement for Windows and macOS”.

The latest, stable edition, with a core that’s based on Ubuntu 16.04, is elementary OS 0.4, code-named Loki.

This article provides a walk-through of the distribution’s most important features.

The distribution’s login screen. By default, a guest account is enabled.

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Google Pixel review: Android at its best

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Android
Reviews

For years, Google chose to partner with manufacturers to create handsets showing off the purest form of Android, with the latest innovations highlighted by the best hardware. This was what the Nexus range was all about. But this lead to at least a few compromises.

With the arrival of Daydream VR, and with so many hardware makers falling on financial hard times, Google couldn't afford any compromises. The Pixel is the company's first home-made smartphone. It offers the latest version of Android, with a few Pixel-specific features, and support for the as-yet-unreleased VR system.

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LG V20 review: The Android phone for hardcore enthusiasts

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Android
Reviews

LG hired Joseph Gordon-Levitt to market its V20 phablet, but I think a better pitchman would have been Stefon from Saturday Night Live: “2016’s hottest phone is the LG V20. It’s got everything. A removable battery, two displays, three microphones, knock knock codes, and don’t worry about about shooting videos, because with a wide-angle lens and electronic image stabilization, you can capture an entire breakdance crew of Shetland ponies wearing hazmat suits.”

OK, I kid the V20. But the phone is packed with a ridiculous amount of features, the bulk of which are focused on content creation. LG promises pixel-perfect photos, action videos free of camera shake, and music recordings with pristine sound. It sounds awesome on paper, but I’ve been testing the V20 for several weeks, and found the phone falls short in some key content-creation areas.

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FreeBSD 11.0 Reviewed

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Reviews
BSD

There were definitely some attractive features in FreeBSD 11.0. I especially enjoyed the changes to the system installer. The ability to set up UFS and ZFS through a series of guided steps was a welcome feature. I also really appreciate that the installer will allow us to enable certain security features like PID randomization and hiding the processes of other users. Linux distributions allow the administrator to set these options, but they often require digging through documentation and setting cryptic variables from the command line. FreeBSD makes enabling these features as straight forward as checking a box during the initial installation.

I also like how pkg has progressed. I think it has become faster in the past year or two and handled dependencies better than it did when the new package manager was introduced. In addition, FreeBSD's documentation is as good as ever, though I feel it has become more scattered. There were times I would find what I wanted in the Handbook, but other times I had to switch to the wiki or dig through a man page. The information is out there, but it can take some searching to find.

Other aspects of running FreeBSD were more disappointing. For example, I had hoped to find boot environments working and accessible from the boot menu. However, progress seems to have reversed in this area as switching boot environments prevented the system from loading. There were some other issues, for example I was unable to login from the graphical login screen, but I could access the Lumina desktop by signing into my account from the command line and launching an X session.

Hardware was a weak point in my experiment. FreeBSD did not work on my desktop machine at all in BIOS mode and failed to boot from installation media in UEFI mode. When running in a VirtualBox environment, the operating system did much better. FreeBSD was able to boot, play sound and run smoothly, but screen resolution was limited, even after VirtualBox modules had been installed and enabled.

Perhaps my biggest concern though while using FreeBSD 11.0 was that I could not update the base operating system, meaning it would be difficult to keep the system patched against security updates. Even once I had manually created a /boot directory to fix the boot environment creation issue, freebsd-update and freebsd-version continued to fail to detect the running kernel. This leaves the system vulnerable and means our best chance for keeping up with security updates is to manually install them from source code, not an ideal situation.

All in all, FreeBSD 11.0 does have some interesting new features, but it also has several bugs which make me want to hold off on using the operating system until a point release has been made available to fix the existing issues.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS

  • Diving into Drupal: Princeton’s Multi-site Migration Success with Open-source
    Princeton University’s web team had a complex and overwhelming digital ecosystem comprised of many different websites, created from pre-built templates and hosted exclusively on internal servers. Fast forward six years: Princeton continues to manage a their multisite and flagship endeavors on the open-source Drupal platform, and have seen some great results since their migration back in 2011. However, this success did not come overnight. Organizational buy-in, multi-site migration and authentication were a few of the many challenges Princeton ran into when making the decision to move to the cloud.
  • GitHub Invites Developers to Contribute to the Open Source Guides
    GitHub has recently launched its Open Source Guides, a collection of resources addressing the most common scenarios and best practices for both contributors and maintainers of open source projects. The guides themselves are open source and GitHub is actively inviting developers to participate and share their stories.
  • Top open source projects
    TechRadar recently posted an article about "The best open source software 2017" where they list a few of their favorite open source software projects. It's really hard for an open source software project to become popular if it has poor usability—so I thought I'd add a few quick comments of my own about each.
  • Dropbox releases open-source Slack bot
    Dropbox is looking to tackle unauthorized access and other security incidents in the workplace with a chatbot. Called Securitybot, it that can automatically grab alerts from security monitoring tools and verify incidents with other employers. The company says that through the use of the chatbot, which is open source, it will no longer be necessary to manually reach out to employees to verify access, every time someone enters a sensitive part of the system. The bot is built primarily for Slack, but it is designed to be transferable to other platforms as well.
  • Dropbox’s tool shows how chatbots could be future of cybersecurity
    Disillusion with chatbots has set in across the tech industry and yet Dropbox’s deep thinkers believe they have spotted the technology’s hidden talent: cybersecurity.

Desktop GNU/Linux

  • Entroware have unleashed the 'Aether' laptop for Linux enthusiasts featuring Intel's 7th generation CPUs
  • New Entroware Aether Laptop Pairs Intel Kaby Lake with Ubuntu
    The new Entroware Aether is the latest Linux powered laptop from British company Entroware, and is powered by the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors.
  • Freedom From Microsoft v1.01
    But we can be Free from Microsoft! As we saw above, there is a powerful – and now popular movement afoot to make alternative software available. The Free Software Foundation, and the GNU Project, both founded by Richard Stallman, provide Free software to users with licenses that guarantee users rights: the rights to view, modify, and distribute the software source code. With GNU-licensed software, such as Linux, the user is in complete control over the software they employ. And as people contribute to modify Free Software source code, and are required to share those modifications again, the aggregate creative acts give rise to the availability of many more, much more useful results. Value is created beyond what anyone thought possible, and our freedom multiplies.
  • Review of the week 2017/08
    This week we had to cancel a couple snapshots, as a regression in grub was detected, that caused issues on chain-loading bootloaders. But thanks to our genius maintainers, the issue could be found, fixed and integrated into Tumbleweed (and this despite being busy with hackweek! A great THANK YOU!). Despite those canceled snapshots, this review will still span 4 revisions: 0216, 0218, 0219 and 0224. And believe me, there have been quite some things coming your way.

Security Leftovers

  • [Older] The Secure Linux OS - Tails
    Some people worry a lot about security issues. Anyone can worry about their personal information, such as credit card numbers, on the Internet. They can also be concerned with someone monitoring their activity on the Internet, such as the websites they visit. To help ease these frustrations about the Internet anyone can use the Internet without having to “look over their shoulder”.
  • Password management made easy as news of CloudFlare leak surfaces
    In the last 24 hours, news broke that a serious Cloudflare bug has been causing sensitive data leaks since September, exposing 5.5 million users across thousands of websites. In addition to login data cached by Google and other search engines, it is possible that some iOS applications have been affected as well. With the scale of this leak, the best course of action is to update every password for every site you have an account for. If there was ever a good time to modernize your password practices, this is it. As consumers and denizens of the Internet, we have a responsibility to be aware of the risks we face and make an attempt to mitigate that risk by taking best-effort precautions. Poor password and authentication hygiene leaves a user open to risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft, just like forgetting to brush your teeth regularly can lead to cavities and gum disease. This leaves us with the question of what good password and authentication hygiene looks like. If we stick with the (admittedly poorly chosen) dentistry analogy, then there are five easily identifiable aspects of good hygiene.
  • Security: You might want to change passwords on sites that use Cloudflare
  • Smoothwall Express
    The award-winning Smoothwall Express open-source firewall—designed specifically to be installed and administered by non-experts—continues its forward development march with a new 3.1 release.

Leftovers: Ubuntu and Derivatives

  • 'Big Bang Theory's' Stuart wears Ubuntu T-shirt
    Am I the only person to notice that comic book shop-owning Stuart (Kevin Sussman) on the "The Big Bang Theory" is wearing an Ubuntu T-shirt on the episode airing Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017? (It's Season 10, Episode 17, if that information helps you.) The T-shirt appearance isn't as overt as Sheldon's mention of the Ubuntu Linux operating system way back in Season 3 (Episode 22, according to one YouTube video title), but it's an unusual return for Ubuntu to the world of "Big Bang."
  • Unity Explained: A Look at Ubuntu’s Default Desktop Environment
    Ubuntu is the most well-known version of Linux around. It’s how millions of people have discovered Linux for the first time, and continues to draw new users into the world of open source operating systems. So the interface Ubuntu uses is one many people are going to see. In this area, Ubuntu is unique. Even as a new user, rarely will you confuse the default Ubuntu desktop for something else. That’s because Ubuntu has its own interface that you can — but probably won’t — find anywhere else. It’s called Unity.
  • A Look at Ubuntu MATE 16.04.2 LTS for Raspberry Pi
    Installing Ubuntu MATE onto my Raspberry Pi 3 was straight forward. You can easily use Etcher to write the image to a microSD card, the partition is automatically resized to fill your microSD card when the pi is powered up for the first time, and then you are sent through a typical guided installer. Installation takes several minutes and finally the system reboots and you arrive at the desktop. A Welcome app provides some good information on Ubuntu MATE, including a section specific for the Raspberry Pi. The Welcome app explains that the while the system is based on Ubuntu MATE and uses Ubuntu armhf base, it is in fact using the same kernel as Raspian. It also turns out that a whole set of Raspian software has been ported over such as raspi-config, rpi.gpio, sonic-pi, python-sent-hat, omxplayer, etc. I got in a very simple couple of tests that showed that GPIO control worked.
  • Zorin OS 12 Business Has Arrived [Ed: Zorin 12.1 has also just been released]
    This new release of Zorin OS Business takes advantage of the new features and enhancements in Zorin OS 12, our biggest release ever. These include an all new desktop environment, a new way to install software, entirely new desktop apps and much more. You can find more information about what’s new in Zorin OS 12 here.