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Reviews

Trying Out Ubuntu 17.10 On A Laptop One Month Ahead Of Release

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Curious around the GNOME Shell desktop and improvements made during the Ubuntu 17.10 cycle in transitioning away from Unity 7 and X.Org to GNOME and Wayland, I took the recently-reviewed Razer Blade Stealth laptop and tried out the very latest Ubuntu desktop daily ISO on this Intel laptop. Here are my initial impressions of the current Ubuntu 17.10 desktop experience as well as some power/boot/performance benchmarks of 17.10 in its daily state compared to Ubuntu 17.04 on this Kabylake system.

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Bodhi Linux With Moksha Is Truly Enlightening

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Linux
Reviews

Bodhi Linux is a very functional alternative to the run-of-the-mill distro offerings. It will extend users' comfort zones as they get familiar with its different computing procedures. Newcomers to Linux, not knowing how Linux "is supposed to work," actually may have an easier time gaining proficiency in using this Enlightened approach to computing.

The Midori browser by default loads a help file with wiki-like links to some startup information. That file is part of the installation content, so new users can access the quick start guide and FAQ topics even if they are not able to access a wireless Internet connection.

Minimum hardware specs include a 500-Mhz processor with 256 MB of RAM and 4 GB of drive space.

Recommended specs are a 1.0-Ghz processor with 512 MB of RAM and 10 GB of drive space.

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Galaxy Note8 review: An overpriced S8+ with a pen is still a pretty great phone

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Android
Reviews

A little under a year ago, I'd have said that there might not be a Galaxy Note8 at all. Of course, I'd have been wrong. But after the Note7's disastrous recall episode, it seemed perfectly fair to ask whether the Galaxy Note would continue be a thing. After all, battery fires aside, the Note really didn't seem to be the focus of Samsung's smartphone development the way it once was. The Note7 wasn't much more than a stretched, squared-off Galaxy S7 edge. And even before that, the Note5 wasn't much different from the pen-less Galaxy S6 Edge+ it debuted alongside. If there were a perfect time to call it quits on the Note series, a major recall followed by a total product cancellation would have been it.

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Android 8.0 Oreo, thoroughly reviewed

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Android
Reviews

Android 8.0 Oreo is the 26th version of the world's most popular operating system. This year, Google's mobile-and-everything-else OS hit two billion monthly active users—and that's just counting phones and tablets. What can all those users expect from the new version? In an interview with Ars earlier this year, Android's VP of engineering Dave Burke said that the 8.0 release would be about "foundation and fundamentals." His team was guided by a single question: "What are we doing to Android to make sure Android is in a great place in the next 5 to 10 years?"

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Review: Nitrux 1.0.2

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Nitrux is a fairly new addition to the DistroWatch database. The distribution features a custom desktop environment, called Nomad, which is based on KDE's Plasma 5 desktop. The Nomad desktop reportedly features a simplified system tray and a friendly, graphical front-end for the UFW firewall utility. Nitrux also ships with a custom software manager called NX Software Center and a music player called Babe. The Nitrux project previously featured the Anbox utility for running Android apps on GNU/Linux desktop distributions, but Anbox has been removed in recent versions of the Nitrux distribution.

Nitrux is available in just one edition and is built for 64-bit x86 computers exclusively. Originally I tried to download Nitrux from the project's website and found my download kept getting disconnected partway through. I switched to downloading the project's ISO file (1.0GB in size) from a SourceForge mirror and this download completed successfully.

Booting from the Nitrux installation media brings up a menu asking if we would like to launch the distribution's live mode or start the system installer. Taking the live mode option, we are brought to a graphical login screen. We can sign into the Nomad desktop by using "nitrux" as both the username and password.

The Nomad desktop appears to use KDE's Plasma desktop software, but with a high degree of customization. The main desktop panel containing the application menu and system tray is placed at the top of the screen. A quick-launch bar is displayed at the bottom of the screen. The launch bar at the bottom of the desktop displays icons, but no tool tips or text to indicate what clicking on each icon will open. The application menu is displayed as a large grid of icons. The first page of the menu displays commonly used (or "favourite") applications. The second page lists all installed applications. The desktop's default background is mostly white with red and purple at the corners in shades that remind me of cotton candy.

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Budgie Desktop – You Shall Not Pass!

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Reviews

The quest for the ultimate desktop environment continues. In the last few months, we have looked at a range of Qt-based desktops, starting with Ze Papa, Plasma, and then looked at several other new and not so new players, the bold and the beautiful, the less successful and the more rad. The list covers the likes of LXQt, Liri, Nomad, and recently, Lumina, as well.

Today, we will explore Budgie. Now, this is a rather interesting one. First, we had a taste of it way back when. In the day, it was quite slow, buggy and not very appealing. But then, through my Solus OS testing in the past year or so, I’ve come across Budgie again, and I was rather intrigued by the look & feel and the obvious progress. While my endeavors with Solus were less glamorous, Budgie did impress me as something worth a deeper consideration. For the moment, it’s Gtk and heavily interwoven with Gnome. Moving forward, it will also be using the Qt technology, starting with the upcoming release 11. Let’s have a look.

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Razer Blade Stealth Laptop On Linux, Various Linux Laptop Performance Metrics

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Linux
Reviews

Earlier this year Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan announced that Razer is planning better laptop support on Linux. He noted that more customers are requesting Linux support and they formed a goal of figuring out how to make "the best notebook in the world that supports Linux." Razer doesn't have any Linux laptop announcement to make yet, but for seeing the current state of affairs, they sent over the Razer Stealth laptop so we could put it through our Linux testing paces at Phoronix. Here is a look at the Razer Stealth ultrabook on Linux as well as a variety of interesting performance metrics, including some power metrics compared to Windows.

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Window Maker Live: Cool Retro Look, Even Cooler Performance

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Window Maker Live (WML) takes an unusual approach to desktop interface management. It has an old-fashioned look with a productive new feel.

The latest version of Window Maker Live (0.95.7-4), released this month, is a Debian-based Linux distribution that uses the Window Maker window manager as the default graphical user interface. It integrates well-known open source components in a surprisingly satisfying interface.

Window Maker itself has been around since 1997. It is an X11 window manager originally designed to provide integration support for the GNUstep Desktop Environment, a free adaptation of Cocoa (formerly OpenStep).

A framework with application development tools for Unix-like operating systems and Microsoft Windows, Window Maker is part of the GNU Project.

If you are into retro computing, you will marvel at Window Maker's success in reproducing the cool look and feel of the Nextstep user interface. That nostalgia is reminiscent of Thinkpad T61 technology.

If that level of computing nostalgia is not your passion, WML's user interface can bring you a productivity boost without the excessive GUI bloat of modern-day Linux desktop environments.

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Quick Look to Deepin Desktop on Manjaro

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Reviews

Do you know that you can enjoy Deepin Desktop not only at Deepin GNU/Linux? For now, Manjaro OS has a community edition called Manjaro Deepin. Yes, this means an OS with always latest packages and with Deepin Desktop! I find latest Deepin Desktop is far more lightweight at Manjaro than at Deepin OS 15.4.1. The 3D desktop effect is pretty normal there, not consuming 100% of CPU like my latest review on 15.4.1. I recommend anyone to test Manjaro Deepin instead if he/she needs to see how amazing Deepin Desktop is. Now it's time for the quick look!

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Purism Librem 13 v2 Linux laptop review

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Linux
Reviews

At first glance, the Purism Librem 13 v2 looks like a lot of other laptops on the market. It’s a compact notebook that measures about 0.7 inches thick, weighs about 3.3 pounds, and which has a 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display, a backlit keyboard, and a large touchpad.

But take a closer look at the touchpad and you’ll notice that there’s a rectangle where you’d normally find a Windows key. And glance up to the space above the touchpad and you’ll find two hardware switches.

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today's lefftovers

OSS Leftovers

  • Running for the board of the Open Source Initiative – a few words
    Today I would like to explain my reasons for my candidacy at the board of the Open Source Initiative. I can think of two kinds of reason for my decision: one is personal, and the other one is directly related to current state of Open Source and software freedom. Let’s start with the first one: I’m currently helping the Open Information Security Foundation and the Suricata project in my capacity at ANSSI, while contributing in a minor way to the LibreOffice project and the Document Foundation.
  • Tutanota: Encrypted Open Source Email Service for Privacy Minded People
    Since then, I have heard of another email provider that you may be interested in. It’s a little different, but it touts some of the same features ProtonMail does: privacy, security, open-source code, etc. It’s called Tutanota, and like ProtonMail, I am a very big fan.
  • Open FinTech Forum – Event preview, October 10-11, New York City.
  • The tracker will always get through
    A big objection to tracking protection is the idea that the tracker will always get through. Some people suggest that as browsers give users more ability to control how their personal information gets leaked across sites, things won't get better for users, because third-party tracking will just keep up. On this view, today's easy-to-block third-party cookies will be replaced by techniques such as passive fingerprinting where it's hard to tell if the browser is succeeding at protecting the user or not, and users will be stuck in the same place they are now, or worse. I doubt this is the case because we're playing a more complex game than just trackers vs. users. The game has at least five sides, and some of the fastest-moving players with the best understanding of the game are the adfraud hackers. Right now adfraud is losing in some areas where they had been winning, and the resulting shift in adfraud is likely to shift the risks and rewards of tracking techniques.
  • MozMEAO SRE Status Report - February 16, 2018
    Here’s what happened on the MozMEAO SRE team from January 23 - February 16.
  • The major milestones of the Government Digital Service (GDS)
  • PyTorch Should Be Copyleft
    Most people have heard of Google’s Tensorflow which was released at the end of 2015, but there’s an active codebase called PyTorch which is easier to understand, less of a black box, and more dynamic. Tensorflow does have solutions for some of those limitations (such as Tensorflow-fold, and Tensorflow-Eager) but these new capabilities remove the need for other features and complexity of Tensorflow. Google built a great system for doing static computation graphs before realizing that most people want dynamic graphs. Doh! [...] I wish PyTorch used the AGPL license. Most neural networks are run on servers today, it is hardly used on the Linux desktop. Data is central to AI and that can stay owned by FB and the users of course. The ImageNet dataset created a revolution in computer vision, so let’s never forget that open data sets can be useful.
  • Linux on Nintendo Switch, a new Kubernetes ML platform, and more news
    In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the Mozilla's IoT gateway, a new machine learning platform, Code.mil's revamp, and more.

Security: France, Munich, 'Smart' Meters, MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime

  • Highlights of the French cybersecurity strategy

    First, the document describes that in France cyberdefence and cyberoffence are separated. This is directly opposed to the models employed in Anglo-Saxon countries. But it’s shown as an asset. Key argument: it respects freedoms and civil liberties.

    The document then lists the six general objectives of cyberdefence, namely: prevention, anticipation, protection, detection, attribution, reaction (remediation). The strategy itself is complete, it focuses on civil, military, domestic, external, and international levels. Let’s say it’s a rarity in the business in strategic cybersecurity documents.

    [...]

    The strategy then mentions that one of the solutions could be to release source code and documentation after an end of support date.

  • The Munich Security Conference 2018

    Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

  • Smart meters could leave British homes vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts have warned
    New smart energy meters that the Government wants to be installed in millions of homes will leave householders vulnerable to cyber attacks, ministers have been warned.
  • MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime: Researchers nail exploits
    "The flaws—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—are in chips made by Intel and other major suppliers. They can allow hackers to steal data from the memory of running apps, including password managers, browsers and emails." The authors of the paper on arXiv, Caroline Trippel, Daniel Lustig, and Margaret Martonosi, discuss a tool they developed for "automatically synthesizing microarchitecture-specific programs capable of producing any user-specified hardware execution pattern of interest." They said they show "how this tool can be used for generating small microarchitecture-specific programs which represent exploits in their most abstracted form—security litmus tests."

How Linux became my job

I've been using open source since what seems like prehistoric times. Back then, there was nothing called social media. There was no Firefox, no Google Chrome (not even a Google), no Amazon, barely an internet. In fact, the hot topic of the day was the new Linux 2.0 kernel. The big technical challenges in those days? Well, the ELF format was replacing the old a.out format in binary Linux distributions, and the upgrade could be tricky on some installs of Linux. Read more