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Reviews

Fedora 25: With Wayland, Linux has never been easier (or more handsome)

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For the past several releases, the Fedora Project has been pursuing what it calls Fedora Next. Essentially, Fedora Next took a step back and looked at how the distro is used and came up with editions specifically tailored to those use cases. The most notable of these are Fedora WorkStation and Fedora Server (the desktop/laptop and server versions respectively).

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Best Xfce distro of 2016

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Let us continue where we started with the KDE/Plasma nominations. It is time to vector our all-seeing eye toward another desktop environment – Xfce. Once upon a time, it used to be a bland, boring offering that could not stand up to the likes of Gnome 2 and KDE 3.5. But then, slowly, it emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix, and persistently, steadily earned its place among the big ones, standing tall, stable, sturdy, and just plain good.

In a way, Xfce now fills the void that was created when Gnome 3 came to life, and many years later, it is still there. But then, Xfce has also left its austerity behind, and it is trying to cater to the modern-era users with all the goodies people expect, without sacrificing its simple approach to fast, no-nonsense computing. So let us see what Year 2016 has blessed us with. To wit, our candidates.

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Review: MX Linux MX-15

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Originally, this review was going to be of Bodhi Linux, based on a suggestion from a comment in a recent review. However, when I tried it, while it was able to connect to the Internet, it could not connect to its package repositories for me to install any packages, and I figured that there wouldn't be much point in writing a review given that. Then, I thought of trying the latest version openSUSE on the recommendation of a friend of mine, especially given that I haven't tried openSUSE in quite a while; that turned out to only be available in the form of an installation DVD, as no live image is available yet (though I hope to try it when that does become available). After that, I saw some reviews of MX Linux, and thought it might be interesting to try. (Spoiler alert: this review exists because there's enough material for me to write about it.)

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Manjaro 16.10 Xfce - Surprised me, I like

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Weird. I have never expected to be writing a conclusion to an Arch-based distro review and feel really pleased about the whole experience. But then, looking at how Manjaro behaved and how it delivered, I really don't have much to complain. The list of bad things is not very long: Samba printing, Bluetooth, some cosmetic problems, and ultra-slow GRUB updates. Other than that, it was really good.

You get a stable, fast distribution with a balanced kit of programs, media codecs and smartphone support out of the box, low resource utilization, very decent battery life, and even some perks, in the form of a new kernel that may resolve hardware and driver issues, if you have them. Plus, you can actually tame it if you feel like spending some time on the aesthetics front, and it won't bite with random, unexplained errors. Most importantly, there's a continuous trend of improvement and maturity in the distribution. Just look at my previous reviews, dating back to 2013. Everything seems to be in order, well, except this one really big thing.

What's next? Is this the sum of what the community can do - wants to do, or can we expect Manjaro to take a more commercial, more adult approach, and even become something that could one day appeal to non-Linux folks? That might not be the mission, and perhaps it will never happen, but I am always apprehensive around small distros, because changes can be painful and devastating, and as a user, you need to believe you have a solid, stable, long-term support behind you. This review cannot answer that, but at the very least, it gives you an indication what you can do with Manjaro 16.10 Xfce, if you feel like testing. Overall, 9.25/10 I would say, and it doesn't take much to up the score. Quite a surprise for this bleak year of distro testing, and a most refreshing change for this no less dreary autumn season. Surpassed my expectations and bitterness. Well worth a ride. Get it, fellas, get it.

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Netrunner 16.09 Avalon - King Arthur wasn't there

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Blade Runner? Say what. Nope. Netrunner. But not the Netrunner distro as you remember it. There are changes in the land of sprinters. The old system, which used to be based on Ubuntu LTS, is now a different fork and a separate entity called Maui, and it shall bear the scrutiny of my wits, senses and taste very soon.

This means, today, we are testing Netrunner 16.09 Avalon, the latest semi-rolling edition based on Debian Stable. Now, my previous testing experience does not agree with this model. Netrunner 17 Horizon was a pretty good product, in fact good enough to be the honorable mention in the annual Plasma/KDE vote, but the rolling 2015.11 was a disaster that would not even install, and got a zero score. So, with less than high hopes, we proceed.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Zorin 12

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This version of Zorin is a great step forward. It has a renewed sense of purpose and stands out in its own right as a decent Linux distribution.

I think Zorin should follow Mint's lead and stick with aligning itself to the Ubuntu LTS release. This gives the developers more time to push it along at their own pace.

All in all a decent alternative to Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5: is it near-perfect?

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ROSA is a Linux distribution forked some time ago from Mandriva Linux by a team of Russian developers, Rosa Lab, or officially LLC NTC-IT ROSA.

I reviewed their distributions several times: ROSA KDE R7, ROSA Desktop 2012 and even interviewed the ROSA team.

The most recent release of ROSA is now ROSA Desktop Fresh R8, which is available in several flavours: MATE, GNOME 3, KDE 4 and Plasma 5. I decided to try the Plasma 5 edition of this distribution, especially as my interest to Plasma increased after the good impression Kubuntu 16.10 left on me.

There are links to the ISO images available on the ROSA download page, and I used it to get my own version of this Linux distribution. The size of ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5 64-bit image is 1.9 Gb. The dd command helped me to "burn" the image to the USB stick.

So, the USB drive is attached to my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

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OnePlus 3T review: One of the best Android phones gets a little better

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OnePlus has never been one to play by the rules. Back when it made its entrance into the crowded smartphone market with the One, it set itself apart by selling a premium handset at a mid-tier price and offering invitation-only purchases instead of the standard preorders. The 3T very much fits with this rebellious nature. Essentially a refreshed version of the 6-month-old OnePlus 3, the new phone undermines another smartphone constant: the yearly update.

iPhone users are familiar with the concept of the mid-cycle model—a handset that keeps the same enclosure but beefs up features and internal components. But there’s always been a special hook with Apple’s S phones, a reason for current owners to rush out and buy the new model. The 3T could be seen as OnePlus’ attempt to mimic the success Apple has had with the formula (and in fact, the company says it picked T for the new phone’s surname simply because it’s a letter higher than S).

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Android Marshmallow on PC Falls Flat

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The Android-x86 Project eventually may become a viable operating system alternative for your desktop and laptops computers, but it's not there yet. You will have to wait a while for the developers to fix a number of failures with the latest release upgrading Android-x86 to Marshmallow 6.0.1.

The developers late this summer released the first stable version of Android-x86 6.0, codenamed "Marshmallow." Android-x86 lets you run the Android OS with the Google Chrome browser on your desktop and laptop computers, rather than buying one of the qualified Chromebooks with the Google Play Store features bolted on.

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5: is it near-perfect?

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5 64-bit Live (WOW! That's a long name!) left a decent impression on me. It was quick. I noticed no issues in regards to speed and performance.

There were no bugs or crushes during the run.

Both issues I had during the Live session run were linked to the notification area: the icons that should be placed there don't appear.

The default menu in ROSA R8 Plasma 5 is not to my taste, but that is easy to change.

On the positive note, there were no obvious traces of the operating system "nationality". Unlike full-of-French Emmabuntus, you won't find anything Russian in ROSA R8.

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The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org

So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM '17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that's fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn't enforce the GPL just doesn't make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don't know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users' freedom, I mean it. So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don't have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple. Read more

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