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Reviews

Set up web services quickly with UBOS 11

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Reviews

Some people might think that UBOS is targeting less experienced users with its talk of quickly and easily setting up popular web services at home. At least that was my initial impression of the project's mission. However, I came to realize that UBOS makes certain admin tasks very fast and convenient, but not necessarily beginner friendly. Running UBOS means using the command line and being comfortable with the Linux command line tools. The UBOS project does provide us with documentation for using the ubos-admin software which is very useful, but we are not given manual pages or guides for other commands. This means UBOS users should already be comfortable working from a terminal, but do not necessarily need to know anything about setting up an Apache web server or web applications.

For the most part, UBOS does a good job of making it quick and easy to set up a handful of web services. What would usually take me twenty minutes to install, configure and test takes less than five minutes with UBOS and I appreciate this time saving technology. The ability to backup multiple websites and their databases in seconds with one command is also a very welcome feature.

There were downsides to using UBOS I ran into. One was the distribution refusing to reboot after services were installed. The second was the issue I ran into where I could not install new services once web applications had already been installed. This seems like a restriction which would get in the way in any situation where we want to experiment with new applications.

A final issue I ran into was UBOS currently does not offer many pre-packaged services. There are, at the time of writing, eight available web services we can install and configure with a single command. This is a good start, but I hope more services are added later, perhaps for other blogging software, development tools and other common web services. The basics many home users are likely to want are already in UBOS's inventory and I hope the selection is expanded to appeal to a wider audience in the future.

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SparkyLinux 5: Great All-Purpose Distro for Confident Linux Users

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Linux
Reviews

Other factors make using SparkyLinux 5 a smart decision. One is its use of a rolling release schedule that pushes the latest packages and edition upgrades as they are ready, without requiring a complete reinstallation.

Starting out, I referred to SparkyLinux as one of the best full-service Linux distros available. Of course, that is a subjective evaluation, but having installed and tested the latest editions of countless Linux distros on a weekly basis for years, I've developed a sixth sense for what makes a great choice and what does not.

SparkyLinux 5 is one of those great choices. Check it out.

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Manjaro 17.0.2 KDE Review: Looks Gorgeous, Responsive & Power Efficient (A Little Slow to Boot, Though)

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Reviews

My biggest concern over Manjaro 17.0.2 KDE is the 50+ seconds of boot-up times. It’s a concern to me only because I can’t put my laptop computer to sleep due to that Focaltech touchpad issue. So when I take a break (say for about 20-30 minutes), I’m forced to keep the laptop turned ON. If I’m somewhat low on battery, then I’m forced to plug in the charger (yes I’m talking from the two weeks+ experience I’ve had so far with Manjaro). That said, even if you have a troublesome Focaltech touchpad, if you’re going to install it into an SSD then I guess it’s not much of a concern at ll anyway. Other than that, this a gorgeous looking, responsive, power efficient and one of the stablest KDE distributions I’ve had used so far!

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Nokia 5 review: A great-looking Android smartphone that's tantalisingly cheap

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Android
Reviews

Nokia’s first Android smartphones are on their way. The entry-level model, the Nokia 3, is on sale now for £119.99. The next step-up is the Nokia 5, which goes on sale on 16 August. The Nokia 6 is the highest-specced of the three first handsets and is on sale on 2 August for £219.99.

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Long-Term Review: Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" MATE

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Linux
Reviews

A little over two weeks ago, I made the decision on what Linux distribution to install and use full-time on my personal laptop. I chose Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" MATE, because I felt that while it could do a bit better for total newbies in terms of usability (as some usability features have regressed since a couple of years ago), it has been a reliable and known quantity for me, and I figured that if I could generally use the live session without much hassle, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch (no pun intended) to imagine that the installed session would likely be workable. As I've covered most of the experiences of installing and using programs and getting around the desktop in my review of the live session, this post will be relatively short, covering only the salient points of the installation and some of the changes I made after the installation. Follow the jump to see more.

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Find your happy place: Fedora 26 has landed

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Red Hat
Reviews

Review Fedora 26, released recently, is a welcome update on the already very nice 25.

As with Fedora's last couple of releases, there are three major ways to get Fedora 26 – Workstation, Server and Atomic Host. The Workstation release is aimed at desktop users and, by default, will install the GNOME desktop. Server and Atomic Host target, yes, servers and container-based deployments respectively.

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Review: Calculate Linux 17.6 KDE

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Gentoo
Reviews

Calculate Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution. The project's slogan is "Easy Linux from the source," which refers to the fact that Calculate is relatively easy to use but still benefits from Gentoo's powerful and flexible source-based Portage package manager.

Calculate recently celebrated its tenth birthday and released Calculate Linux 17.6. The distro comes in four flavours; apart from a desktop and server edition there's Calculate Scratch ("for those who want to build a customized system that works for them") and Calculate Media Center ("for your home multimedia center"). Each version is available for the x86_64 and i686 architectures and uses SysV init rather than systemd. The desktop edition has ISOs for the KDE, Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce desktop environments - GNOME is presumably not available because of its dependency on systemd. I opted for the 64-bit KDE version, which is just over 2GB in size.

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Qubes OS 3.2

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Reviews

All in all, the Qubes OS team did an awesome job on integrating all this things so far. The security of the App VMs is not better than the security of the corresponding Template operating systems. However, if a App VM gets an issue, it does not affect the others. If you plan to do weird things, you can use a disposable VM where all changes gets discarded afterwards. It is very easy for anybody to create App VMs without network for example. And this is something I would like to use ever since I stumbled over Firejail which provides app-specific sandboxing.

In general, the documentation of Cubes OS is awesome. I learned a lot and I had to. Cubes OS is nothing to set-up by aunt Martha. You have to have deeper technical understanding to set-up the system. Afterwards, anyone is able to use it with a short introduction to the basic guidelines.

Of course, I found some usability issues and some bugs here or there. But overall, Cubes OS is a valid option for a security purist or a privacy-aware person.

When Qubes OS meets my personal requirements, it complicates things though. For example the file server/client architecture adds complexity you don't have to maintain within a personal computer.

Accessing USB devices, network printers and so forth is cumbersome as well.

You have to set your priorities. Wink

Will I install it on my notebook or desktop and use it on a daily basis? My notebook would be cool since it is in potential harmful environments such as WiFi networks I don't control. On the other side, I do need USB flash drive access with good usability and need to connect to projectors.

My home server/computer runs 24/7 and could profit from Cubes OS since I got many different things running on this machine. I could separate those domains. Working in offline VMs with applications that don't need network is also a very nice thing to have. The USB flash drive thing is also a big thing here. Restricting to LAN access only would be fine. System crash resulting in an encrypted system that does not boot any more is a no go.

Well, I am not convinced yet. Probably I stick to Debian 9 or I do find the urge to come around the issues and find a Qubes OS setup which serves me well.

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Also: [Video] 3 BILLION LINUX USERS!!! (Intro to Endless OS)

Leftovers: Ask the Linux Foundation and Review of Damn Small Linux

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GNU
Linux
Reviews
  • Questions about SysAdmin Training from The Linux Foundation? Join the Next #AskLF

    His #AskLF chat will take place the Monday after SysAdmin Day: a professional holiday the organization has recognized for years.

  • Damn Small Linux A Lightweight Linux Distro For Old Computers

    By the name yes it’s really small and lightweight (had to utter this word too “damn!”). Damn Small Linux is a distro that offers a GUI based OS for low resource systems and some applications for normal users task-alike. It’s designed with the intention to pack all the modern features under 50 MB.
    ​Well, that may sound crazy but you cannot rely on it as a primary OS if you have a recent modern hardware. Instead take a U-turn now and see what Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE has to offer.

    Damn Small Linux latest version is v4.11rc2 and development has been in a long pause since 2015. Don’t be put off by that because that’s how some people roll. Slow and steady until they sort things out.

Peppermint Eight – Stairway to Cloud

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Reviews

I must admit that Peppermint Eight left much better impression on me than Peppermint Three five years ago. To a certain extent it also benefits from the global improvement of cloud-based web solutions.

The distribution itself ran smoothly without any visible glitches or hiccups worth mentioning.

The only "but" that I would like to mention here is that Peppermint is too strongly Google-oriented. There are some other cloud-based Office and Email solutions. Adding links to them in the default operating system would not require too many resources, but would at least pretend giving the user some choices.

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PlayOnLinux For Easier Use Of Wine

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Linux Kernel: KPTI, SEV, CBS

  • Experimental KPTI Support For x86 32-bit Linux
    For the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support currently within the Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability it's currently limited to 64-bit on the x86 side, but for the unfortunate souls still running x86 32-bit operating systems, SUSE is working on such support.
  • AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization Is Ready To Roll With Linux 4.16
    With the Linux 4.16 kernel cycle that is expected to begin immediately following the Linux 4.15 kernel debut on Sunday, AMD's Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) technology supported by their new EPYC processors will be mainline. Going back to the end of 2016 have been Linux patches for Secure Encrypted Virtualization while with Linux 4.16 it will finally be part of the mainline kernel and supported with KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization.
  • Deadline scheduler part 2 — details and usage
    Linux’s deadline scheduler is a global early deadline first scheduler for sporadic tasks with constrained deadlines. These terms were defined in the first part of this series. In this installment, the details of the Linux deadline scheduler and how it can be used will be examined. The deadline scheduler prioritizes the tasks according to the task’s job deadline: the earliest absolute deadline first. For a system with M processors, the M earliest deadline jobs will be selected to run on the M processors. The Linux deadline scheduler also implements the constant bandwidth server (CBS) algorithm, which is a resource-reservation protocol. CBS is used to guarantee that each task will receive its full run time during every period. At every activation of a task, the CBS replenishes the task’s run time. As the job runs, it consumes that time; if the task runs out, it will be throttled and descheduled. In this case, the task will be able to run only after the next replenishment at the beginning of the next period. Therefore, CBS is used to both guarantee each task’s CPU time based on its timing requirements and to prevent a misbehaving task from running for more than its run time and causing problems to other jobs.

Graphics: Mesa and AMDGPU

  • Mesa 17.3.3 Released With RADV & ANV Vulkan Driver Fixes
    Mesa 17.3.3 is now available as the latest point release for the Mesa 17.3 stable series. This bi-weekly point release to Mesa presents several RADV Vega/GFX9 fixes, various Intel ANV Vulkan driver fixes, a DRI3 fix, and random fixes to the OpenGL drivers like RadeonSI, Etnaviv, and even Swrast.
  • R600g "Soft" FP64 Shows Signs Of Life, Enabling Older GPUs To Have OpenGL 4 In 2018
    Most pre-GCN AMD graphics cards are still limited to OpenGL 3.3 support at this time due to not supporting FP64. Only the HD 5800/6900 series on R600g currently have real double-precision floating-point support working right now so at present they are on OpenGL 4.3 rather than 3.3, but those other generations may be catching up soon thanks to the "soft" FP64 code.
  • AMDGPU DC Gets More Raven Ridge Improvements, Audio Fixes
    Harry Wentland of AMD has sent out the latest batch of patches for the AMDGPU DC display code stack. Fortunately it lightens up the DRM driver by about six thousand lines thanks to removing some unused code. Besides gutting out a chunk of unused code, the DC code has a few audio fixes (no word yet on supporting newer audio formats with DC), fixes on driver unload, a "bunch" of continued Raven Ridge display updates, and various other code clean-ups.
  • AMDGPU Firmware Blobs Updated For Video Encode/Decode
    There are updated AMDGPU microcode/firmware files now available for recent Radeon GPUs. The updated firmware files now available via the main linux-firmware.git repository are centered around the video blocks: UVD video decoding, VCE video encode, and the new VCN video encode/decode block with Raven Ridge.

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