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Reviews

Biogenesis - Play evolution

Filed under
Software
Reviews
Sci/Tech

Molecular biology is a fascinating thing. Combine it with computers, and you get yourself a platform for studying the evolution of life. Not an easy one, and scientists worldwide have been at this problem for many years now, trying to understand and replicate the environmental conditions that led to the creation of life on Earth.

If you're fascinated by the concepts of amino acids, RNA, cellular division and alike, you can partake in the discovery journey with Biogenesis, a free, cross-platform, Java-based visual microbiology simulator. The idea is simple: you get a primordial soup, and you get to control it, studying and creating organisms of your own. Sounds like good, solid educational fun. Let there be light. I mean Java.

[...]

Biogenesis is not your everyday program, and it will most likely appeal to a tiny, tiny niche of users with some scientific inclination. However, it's a very capable and fascinating educational tool, as it touches on many important aspects of life without forcing you to go through four years of university somewhere, not that you shouldn't. It's smartly designed, it has the right dose of simple and complex, and it entices the brain to think in just the right way.

The one thing I'm missing are the actual algorithms in the background, which determine how applicable Biogenesis is for real-life simulations. Then again, it allows us to contemplate hypothetical early-life scenarios, and maybe gain understanding into why certain organisms are more prevalent, and how they have come to dominate life. Anyway, definitely worth testing. Begin.

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Galaxy Chromebook reviews

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google
Reviews

I can't imagine using something this fancy without wiping out the toy OS and installing Ubuntu Linux instead.

One thing that struck me is that The Verge's full-column warning (partially embedded below) about the clickwrap contracts the user must agree to just to start the machine. These are commonplace with gadgets, but rarely in such great numbers or with such hostile presentation. The reviewer writes they were unable to read them.

Tech companies have turned Linux into a transmission vector for adhesion contracts that are virtually impossible to read. To think, they used to complain that the GPL was a virus!

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Linux Mint 4 "Debian Edition"

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Linux
Reviews
Debian

Linux Mint is a popular desktop distribution which features two main branches. The first branch is based on Ubuntu long-term support (LTS) releases and is available in three editions: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. The second branch uses Debian Stable releases as its foundation and is available in one edition: Cinnamon.

The project's latest release is Linux Mint 4 "Debian Edition", also sometimes written LMDE 4. Much of the work which has gone into LMDE 4 focuses on bringing the Debian branch of Linux Mint up to date with the Ubuntu branch, which seems to get the bulk of the developers' focus. The latest improvements include better VirtualBox support, access to the System Reports tool, and APT's recommended packages being enabled by default...

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Manjaro 19 Kyria Gnome - Fairly well put together

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Linux
Reviews

Manjaro 19 Kyria is a solid, rounded distro - at least, the Gnome version is. But I presume results are quite similar across the board. Surprised, I am, as I was expecting something less polished. I do have to say that Kyria has some nice points, it's colorful, stable and rather friendly, and the package management is a tad better than in the past.

However, it does suffer from oddities. The application collection is too wild and undefined, some software has been added without any consideration to the espirit-de-distro, smartphone support can be better, and more battery time would be nice, too. Maybe this is Manjaro transforming from a leetbox to the Average Joe consumer thingie, or maybe this is a neverending part of the cosmic randomness called Linux desktop. We shall see. For now, testing, you ought. Grade? 5/7, I'd say. On a serious note, 8/10. I shall be keeping an eye on them other flavors. Take care.

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LMDE4: How Much Does Debian Matter?

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Linux
Reviews
Debian

LMDE4 works as intended. It is a more polished release overall than last year's version 3. It proves the developer's experimental intent. Linux Mint certainly can carry on with relatively minor changes should there ever be a parting of ways over the continued use of the Ubuntu Linux base.

What could make LMDE a better proposition going forward? Adding more diversification with a choice of MATE and Xfce desktops.

That would put the Debian-based Linux Mint variant on a more equal footing. In turn, the additional options could create interest in a Debian Linux-based alternative for potential new Linux Mint users who do not want the Cinnamon desktop.

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Elisa Music Player by KDE is Refreshing, But Not There Just Yet

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KDE
Software
Reviews

If you’re someone who still listens to locally stored music, in this day and age of several streaming music services, you deserve a good music player app. I use Google Play Music because it also lets me upload my local music files. Yet, I can never really fully switch over because I just don’t like the silly-looking interface. Google Play Music just has the worst interface of all music streaming services. Thus, I still prefer using a nice, beautiful local music player app more often when I can. As such, I’m always on the lookout. Elisa Music Player was just released by the KDE team and is kind of available for every Windows, openSUSE, and Arch Linux user.

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Bodhi Linux 5.1 Review: Slightly Different Lightweight Linux

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Linux
Reviews

Bodhi Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Unlike most other distributions, Bodhi uses its own Moksha desktop and focuses on providing you a minimal setup to run on older computers.

Bodhi Linux was first introduced in 2011. It is designed with “minimalism, resource efficiency, and user choice” in mind. The devs strove to provide a “system that is functional but not bloated“. As such, it uses the lightweight Moksha Desktop and has only the basic applications preinstalled. The idea is to give the user a stable platform to build the system that they want. It is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS.

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Project Trident 20.02

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OS
Reviews

Project Trident made a lot of progress very quickly between the time the Alpha snapshot of its new Void base was launched and when the stable release came out. The issues with the desktop not loading were fixed, I got sound working under Trident where it did not under Void, and the ZFS implementation was smooth. I think Lumina, as a desktop, has progressed nicely in the past year or so since I last used it. The distribution's performance is strong and its resource footprint relatively small. For someone who is interested in either ZFS on Linux or rolling release distributions, Trident is a promising option.

However, there are several rough edges. The installer is not particularly friendly yet and forces the user to dedicate an entire disk to Trident. While the ZFS implementation is good, it appears to lack boot environments which would be an excellent feature to incorporate, especially with Void's rolling upgrade approach. I also think Trident's goal of being a friendly layer on top of Void would be helped a lot by adding a graphical package manager as XBPS's syntax is a little unusual at times.

At this point Trident's Void-based distribution is in its early stages. It is a good first attempt, though there are still a few pieces that can be improved and polished. I'm hopeful that, in six months or a year, Trident will have progressed to a point where I feel comfortable recommending and using it in the long-term. For now I think it is an interesting distribution to try, as it showcases several unusual technologies, but I'm not sure it is ready to be used as a day-to-day operating system, unless the user is comfortable working a lot with the command line and working around a few issues.

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Arcolinux - Too much, too little

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Reviews

Walking the Tux road, one system at a time. A short while back, I thought a departure from the proven mainstream dozen distros would do me some fresh good. So I grabbed Solus OS, I tested Peppermint, and now, I'd like to embark on an Arch adventure.

Previously known as ArchMerge, Arcolinux is a distro that obeys Monty Python's rule of three. Three shall be the number of versions, and the number of desktop environments shall be three. Not two, not four. ArcoLinux has the main edition plus D and B builds for tinkerers. I opted for the Xfce-clad 19.12 release. Without further ado, let's see what gives.

[...]

I am struggling to reconcile with the polar brilliance of the Linux desktop. Even now, some 15+ years since I started using it, I haven't gotten used to it. You get something really cool, and then a bunch of random cosmic events that ruin the experience. And this is because most distros aren't designed with the end user in mind, and they have no product awareness.

Arcolinux has some interesting points. But this ain't new, radical or special. You can pick any distro, and it will do something significantly better than others. Then, it will also fail three or five basic things that ordinary folks expect. And most distros have this problem - they do not address the most mundane activities or needs that one wants in a desktop. Arcolinux was fast, it did all right on the connectivity front, but it's quite rough around the edges, and if you deviate from the dark-theme unicorn, the session loses all traces of fun. Which is not how it's meant to be. If you want to test something a bit avant-garde, and Arch-based at this, perhaps you want to look at Arcolinux. For me, this is a classic manifestation of a much wider problem in the Linux space, and once again, sadness rules supreme at the end of the short review.

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MintBox 3 Review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

This is a very subjective review of the MintBox 3. I say “very subjective” because not only do we get 5% of each sale (that in itself wouldn’t matter all that much), but we absolutely love this unit, the very long partnership we’ve had with Compulab and the fact that this amazing computer is running our software and wears our name.

No computer is perfect though, we’ll make some criticism, but as an introduction I’d rather warn you. This is by far the best computer we’ve ever played with, it runs Mint and it has our logo on it. It’s hard not to feel any bias.

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