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Reviews

Pixel 2 and 2 XL review—The best Android phone you can buy

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Android
Reviews

Welcome to year two of Google Hardware. In 2016, Google jumped into the Android hardware space with its first self-branded device, the Google Pixel. Google's software prowess shined on the Pixel 1, offering up exclusive features like the Google Assistant, the best Android camera thanks to advanced software processing, fast day-one OS updates and betas, and the smoothest, best-performing overall build of Android. The killer software package made it the best Android phone of the previous generation.

The Pixel still represented Google's first foray into smartphone hardware, though, and it didn't offer anything special in the hardware department. It was a bland-looking iPhone clone. It had the same specs and basic design as everything else. The Pixel even skipped water resistance, which had become an expected feature at that price point. Google said it wanted to make its own hardware, but it didn't actually build special hardware.

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LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of BunsenLabs Linux

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Linux
Reviews
Ubuntu

Once upon a time there was Crunchbang Linux, and then it was no more, and then the community brought it back to life in another form known as BunsenLabs Linux. This distribution offers a lightweight and easily customizable Openbox desktop.

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Star 1.0.1 - lightweight desktops on a Devuan base

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Reviews

On the whole, I like the ideas presented in Star's design. The distribution is basically Devuan and pulls packages from Devuan's software repositories, but the live media and lightweight environments are great for testing the distribution and for breathing life into older computers. While this approach of starting light and adding only what we need is a solid concept, and proved to be very forgiving on resources, there are some rough edges in the implementation. The missing manual pages, for example, and the media player issues I ran into posed problems.

A few programs I used flashed warning messages letting me know PulseAudio was not available as Star uses the ALSA sound system by default. Strictly speaking, PulseAudio is not required most of the time and, if we do run into a situation where it is needed, we can install PulseAudio easily enough by rerunning Star's welcome script.

The default JWM environment is very plain and empty, which suited me. My only complaint was the constantly updating Conky status panel at the bottom of the screen. I was able to disable Conky, but it required digging into JWM's configuration files. Which brings me to another point: many users will probably prefer to try heavier editions of Star (like Xfce) to gain access to more user friendly configuration tools. The JWM edition is intentionally bare bones and probably best suited to more experienced users.

One last observation I had while using Star is that it is based on Devuan 1.0.0, which presents us with software that is about three years old (or more) at this point. This means some packages, like LibreOffice, are notably behind upstream versions. Since Star is best suited for older computers, this may not be an issue for most users, but it is worth keeping in mind that Star's software repository is a few years old at this point.

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Newbie's Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 2

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Reviews
Ubuntu

This is Part 2 of the newbie's guide to operate Ubuntu 17.10. Here you'll learn how to operate the Nautilus File Manager. You'll do most of daily activities in Nautilus because it is your file manager, like Finder in Mac OS X or Explorer in Windows. You'll learn basic skills such as selecting & navigating, creating & deleting, searching & sorting files/folders, and also basic knowledge for keyboard shortcuts and the user interface. I wish this article helps you best to run Ubuntu 17.10 easily and happily.

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LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" Xfce

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Reviews

The mission for a swap Linux conveyance for Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce proceeds. With this post comes a review of the most recent MATE version of Linux Mint. Particularly for consistent perusers of this blog, I will simply say that with the most recent point discharge, it appears like the designers have put cleaner into the conveyance, including their new arrangement of "X-applications" intended to work crosswise over MATE, Cinnamon, Xfce, and GNOME, keeping away from the entanglements of more DE-particular applications. I need to perceive what has changed since my last review and to see whether this would be reasonable for the establishment and everyday use on my portable workstation. With that in mind, I made a live USB framework (once more, on my new SanDisk Cruzer USB streak drive) utilizing the "dd" order. Take after the bounce to perceive what it resembles. Note that I'll often refer to past review, noticing just changes and general imperative focuses as required.

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Korora 26 Bloat - More is less or less is more?

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Red Hat
Reviews

Korora 26 Bloat is a noble concept, but it does not solve the fundamental problem it aims to solve: make Fedora usable. It tries to minimize the wreck that is Fedora 26 and fails to do so. Additionally, it introduces problems that the original did not have, making an even bigger mess.
Korora comes with a slew of ergonomics issues, flaking hardware support, too much actual bloat, tons of niggles and issues that are technically Fedora's legacy, and then the horrible Nvidia support that is just embarrassing in 2017. To answer my own question, more is less in this case, and there isn't a justifiable reason why you should prefer Korora over Fedora, nor why you should use it against the likes of Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Mint. Alas, this is not a good release, 2/10. Unusable, which is a shame, because I did like what Korora managed to do in the past. But it just shows how fragile the Linux world is. Proper distro release QA is a joke, regressions are nothing but a silent excuse to move on and churn out more bad code, almost like industrial protein, and this is so depressing I sometimes wonder why I even bother.

Anyway, to sum it up, Fedora 26 is worse than its predecessors, and Korora 26 is both worse than its own forefathers and the original article it seeks to tame, with appalling support for proprietary graphics drivers and other distros in a multi-boot setup that I really cannot recommend it. The cosmetic issues are also important, but in the end, the real deal breaker is the hardware side. Waiting for Korora 27. Peace.

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LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Pantheon Desktop Environment

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Linux
Reviews
Ubuntu

Pantheon is beautiful, lightweight, fast, simple and brings something new to Linux desktops. For Linux newbies, Pantheon is pretty straightforward and easy to use. For advanced users who prefer to tinker with their desktop, Pantheon is a no go as there is little to do in terms of customizations. Changing wallpapers and switching workspace could surely do with some simplification Nonetheless, I believe everyone who used Pantheon is going to be impressed with how beautiful this desktop environment is.

​The Pantheon desktop is definitely among the very best desktop environments. Currently, there are efforts to bring the Pantheon desktop to some major distributions such as Fedora and Arch. There is even a community version of Manjaro that comes with Pantheon. But if you really want to use this desktop go with elementary OS.

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GNOME and Budgie: 2 Comfy Ubuntu 17.10 Environments

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GNOME
Reviews
Ubuntu

If you are looking for a change-of-pace desktop that has a modern flare and very tiny learning curve, Ubuntu's integration of both GNOME 3 and Budgie easily can fit your needs. If you want to keep using the Ubuntu family desktop line, take the other Ubuntu flavors for a spin.

Or, consider checking out the GNOME and Budgie flavors as an alternative to your current Linux distro. Canonical is a solid developer that has pioneered many innovations.

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Quick Look to Uruk GNU/Linux

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Reviews

Uruk GNU/Linux is a complete, user-friendly desktop operating system with strong commitment in free software that is derived from Trisquel. Uruk 2.0 is derived from Trisquel 8 Flidas (that is still in Beta now) that is derived from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Uruk features MATE Desktop as its interface, with LibreOffice and VLC there, plus Emacs and GIMP preinstalled, and completed with Ubiquity to easily install the system. If you kindly want a 100% free distro (despite for now, it hasn't been recognized by FSF) that is user-friendly and actively developed, I wish you'll be happy with Uruk. So here's a quick look to its live session. Enjoy!

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BunsenLabs Linux Deuterium review - Too much work

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Reviews

Debian base, kernel 3.X, a desktop and some apps. That's pretty much that. This is true in 90% of the cases, and the distinguishing factor is tiny, if any. But I'd like to believe there should be more, so that I can feel like I'm not just repeating same old stuff over and over without any real benefit or unique advantage. BunsenLabs Deuterium gives us a lightweight setup, it truly is that, but on any moderately decent hardware, the advantage goes away, and in its place, you get the horrible ergonomics of Openbox, which is simply not suited for any reasonable, modern work.

Hardware support is mediocre, the installation process is quirky, it's very hard to customize the desktop, network support is average, and in the end, you need to invest energy to achieve something you get out of the box with any other desktop environment. There's really no justifiable reason for that. Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it's a hassle.

So much in fact that I gave up. There wasn't anything cardinally wrong with the distro. But it's like walking into a store, seeing something, and then you move on, because there was no magic. Something like 2/10. Well, maybe next time. Or perhaps a different desktop environment.

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today's howtos

Graphics: VC4 and AMDVLK Driver

  • VC4 display, VC5 kernel submitted
    For VC5, I renamed the kernel driver to “v3d” and submitted it to the kernel. Daniel Vetter came back right away with a bunch of useful feedback, and next week I’m resolving that feedback and continuing to work on the GMP support. On the vc4 front, I did the investigation of the HDL to determine that the OLED matrix applies before the gamma tables, so we can expose it in the DRM for Android’s color correction. Stefan was also interested in reworking his fencing patches to use syncobjs, so hopefully we can merge those and get DRM HWC support in mainline soon. I also pushed Gustavo’s patch for using the new core DRM infrastructure for async cursor updates. This doesn’t simplify our code much yet, but Boris has a series he’s working on that gets rid of a lot of custom vc4 display code by switching more code over to the new async support.
  • V3D DRM Driver Revised As It Works To Get Into The Mainline Kernel
    Eric Anholt of Broadcom has sent out his revised patches for the "V3D" DRM driver, which up until last week was known as the VC5 DRM driver. As explained last week, the VC5 driver components are being renamed to V3D since it ends up supporting more than just VC5 with Broadcom VC6 hardware already being supported too. Eric is making preparations to get this VideoCore driver into the mainline Linux kernel and he will then also rename the VC5 Gallium3D driver to V3D Gallium3D.
  • AMDVLK Driver Gets Fixed For Rise of the Tomb Raider Using Application Profiles
    With last week's release of Rise of the Tomb Raider on Linux ported by Feral Interactive, when it came to Radeon GPU support for this Vulkan-only Linux game port the Mesa RADV driver was supported while the official AMDVLK driver would lead to GPU hangs. That's now been fixed. With the latest AMDVLK/XGL source code as of today, the GPU hang issue for Rise of the Tomb Raider should now be resolved.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Performance Boosted By Updated BIOS/AGESA

With last week's initial launch-day Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 2600X / Ryzen 7 2700X some found the Linux performance to be lower than Windows. While the root cause is undetermined, a BIOS/AGESA update does appear to help the Linux performance significantly at least with the motherboard where I've been doing most of my tests with the Ryzen 7 2700X. Here are the latest benchmark numbers. Read more

GNU: The GNU C Library 2.28 and Guix on Android

  • Glibc 2.28 Upstream Will Build/Run Cleanly On GNU Hurd
    While Linux distributions are still migrating to Glibc 2.27, in the two months since the release changes have continued building up for what will eventually become the GNU C Library 2.28. The Glibc 2.28 work queued thus far isn't nearly as exciting as all the performance optimizations and more introduced with Glibc 2.27, but it's a start. Most notable at this point for Glibc 2.28 is that it will now build and run cleanly on GNU/Hurd without requiring any out-of-tree patches. There has been a ton of Hurd-related commits to Glibc over the past month.
  • Guix on Android!
    Last year I thought to myself: since my phone is just a computer running an operating system called Android (or Replicant!), and that Android is based on a Linux kernel, it's just another foreign distribution I could install GNU Guix on, right? It turned out it was absolutely the case. Today I was reminded on IRC of my attempt last year at installing GNU Guix on my phone. Hence this blog post. I'll try to give you all the knowledge and commands required to install it on your own Android device.
  • GNU Guix Wrangled To Run On Android
    The GNU Guix transactional package manager can be made to run on Android smartphones/tablets, but not without lots of hoops to jump through first.