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Reviews

Linux Mint 18.2 "Red" Sonya - Distro the Destroyer

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Linux
Reviews

Let us a-go distro-testing! Today, we focus on Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya, freshly released with a nice sprinkling of Cinnamon on the proverbial distro pudding. For years, this was one of the best performing distributions, offering a complete experience to the Linux user. Lately though, the experience has been slightly less amazing. Serena was just ok.

But then, this spring testing season - slowly moving into the summer, cue Vivaldi music - has been pretty good overall. The Ubuntu flock seems to be behaving reasonably, with the Flagship Ubuntu and in particular the KDE-flavored Kubuntu offering a splendid revival of hope and quality. Armed with this foreknowledge, we commence.

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Fedora 26

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Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora 26 is a great release of one of the major Linux distributions. Yes, the differences between Fedora 26's and Fedora 25's Workstation variants are minimal, but the few changes that are there are solid reasons to upgrade. For users interested in different desktop environments, Fedora's various spins provide a solid Fedora core experience with different desktop environments on top. The LXQt spin in particular is an interesting new addition to the Fedora family and is worth checking out. Though, the real star of this release is the Python Classroom Lab, which is a wonderful way to provide a Python programming environment for classrooms. Even when running off live media, it is very functional, making it a great way to temporarily turn a few general purpose computers into a lab for teaching programming without a lot of work.

If the worst thing I can say is that Fedora 26 is boring, I think the developers have done a great job. I really look forward to the next few releases of Fedora, which should be much more interesting, assuming planned developments actually make it into the releases.

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Nokia 3 review

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Android
Reviews

The Nokia 3 is the lowest-end of Nokia's new line of Android phones. It's on sale in the UK for £120, but you will have to make sacrifices for that price. That converts to $156 or AU$200, although Nokia has no plans to bring the phone to the US.

The biggest problems are in the processor performance. The quad-core chip struggles to run even the stock version of Android Nougat, making swiping around the interface sluggish and stuttery. There's a noticeable delay when opening apps, too, and some apps -- including the Google Play store -- forced quit on several occasions. I found it regularly frustrating.

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Solus 2017.04.18.0 review - Second time lucky?

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Reviews

Solus 2017 looks like a nice distro, with some obvious visual caveats and tiny functional quirks. It's reasonable enough than I'm determined to test it on non-UEFI hardware, where I'll hopefully have more luck. But on a UEFI platform, it seems hopeless. I don't know there should be a problem when so many other distros do just fine without any issues. Solus seems to be a special snowflake, and it does not cooperate well with a modern and complex system.

All in all, I cannot recommend the distro, because the outcome may still be harmful. If a distro cannot install properly, the results can be unpredictable. My testing shows some very favorable things, and Budgie looks quite all right now, but as a package, Solus just doesn't handle UEFI well. I'll report back after a third, and hopefully lucky test, but you are warned to carefully proceed until the hardware side has been polished. Double sigh. Maybe another another time.

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Also: A Short Review of Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" Cinnamon LTS

Debian 9 Stretch - Not by a long stretch

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Reviews
Debian

Debian 9 Stretch is a horrible disappointment. It's a completely unusable product in my scenario, and I see no real reason why I should bother using it. Ubuntu and friends offer a superior experience. Perhaps Debian serves a purposes somewhere, but I fail to see it. What really irks me is that in six or so years since I've last tried it, it's as if nothing at all has changed. Exactly the same kind of issues, only different hardware and kernel modules.

Perhaps without Debian we wouldn't have Ubuntu and such. For that matter, we also wouldn't have pyramids without slaves. But that does not mean we should be grateful for slavery in giving us big stony architecture. Similarly, Debian may be a baseline for many other distributions. But on its own, without a thick layer of customization and changes, it fails horribly on the desktop. This test makes me sad and angry. Because I know an end when I see one. It's still a few years away, but it will inevitably come. Anyway, completely not recommended. My last venture into Debian this way. We're done.

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Review: Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" MATE

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Linux
Reviews

The quest for a replacement Linux distribution for Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce continues. With this post comes a review of the latest MATE edition of Linux Mint. Especially for regular readers of this blog, Linux Mint needs no introduction. I will just say that with the latest point release, it seems like the developers have put more polish into the distribution, including their new set of "X-apps" meant to work across MATE, Cinnamon, Xfce, and GNOME, avoiding the pitfalls of more DE-specific applications. I want to see what has changed since my last review and to see whether this would be suitable for installation and daily use on my laptop. To that end, I made a live USB system (again, on my new SanDisk Cruzer USB flash drive) using the "dd" command. Follow the jump to see what it's like. Note that I'll frequently reference that previous review, noting only changes and overall important points as needed.

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Moto Z2 Play review - Android Authority

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Android
Reviews

Lenovo and Motorola brought their modular functionality concept to the mid-range with the Moto Z Play last year. This device was one of our favorite value smartphones of 2016, and now its successor, the Moto Z2 Play, features some key improvements and even more Moto Mod accessories.

However, Motorola seems to have made a few compromises this time around. The Z2 Play has a much smaller battery than before, and also went up in price. Will this be another home run like the original Z Play, or did the company make too many compromises? Find out, in our full Moto Z2 Play review!

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Review: Debian 9 "Stretch" MATE

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Reviews
Debian

It has been about 2 months since the support cycle for Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" ended. Since then, I haven't been able to update Mozilla Firefox or Adobe Flash, and concurrently, I haven't been able to use the latest versions of Google Hangouts or Skype, the former of which I already cannot use to the fullest extent, and the latter of which I am still somehow able to use but am counting the days when that will end too. Given that, it is urgent that I upgrade the Linux distribution that I use soon, so today, I am trying Debian.

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All about Debian 9 'Stretch,' the Linux distro that just works

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Reviews
Debian

Debian 9 "Stretch" just came out, and as far as Linux distros go, Debian stands apart as a distribution meant for stability. Sure, most desktop users might choose Ubuntu or Fedora for their desktop PC, while users who are more willing to get their hands dirty might opt for Arch or Gentoo. Hackers might gravitate to Kali, while the paranoid among us might look for something like TAILS.

There's a lot to take in with a Debian release, but there are a few key notes for the average desktop user.

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Peppermint OS 8

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Reviews

Peppermint OS is a lightweight Linux distribution built primarily from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS packages. The latest release of Peppermint, version 8, ships with support for booting on UEFI-enabled computers. Peppermint also supports loading on computers protected by Secure Boot. The distribution ships with version 4.8 of the Linux kernel with Ubuntu's Hardware Enablement (HWE) drivers so the distribution should run on most modern computers.

Perhaps the most interesting item Peppermint ships with, and what sets it apart from other lightweight Ubuntu-based projects such as Lubuntu and Linux Lite, is a feature called Ice. The Ice software helps users set up short-cuts to websites and web-apps. These short-cuts can be added to the Peppermint application menu and launched in a streamlined web browser window, giving the web-resource the appearance of a natively run application.

Peppermint 8 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. I opted to download the 64-bit version which is 1.2GB in size. Booting from the downloaded media brings up a menu giving us the chance to load the distribution's live desktop environment, launch the system installer, begin an OEM install or verify the integrity of the installation media.

Peppermint's live session boots to a desktop environment which contains a mixture of Xfce and LXDE components. The hybrid desktop uses LXDE's LXSession software while running the Xfwm4 window manager and Xfce's panel. The panel -- with its application menu, task switcher and system tray -- sits at the bottom of the screen. An icon on the desktop can be used to launch the distribution's system installer. The application menu is divided into two panes with the left side displaying categories of software and the right side showing specific application launchers.

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More in Tux Machines

Command Line Heroes Launched

  • Red Hat launches new podcast series, Command Line Heroes
    Technology has become so integrated into our daily lives that it can be easy to take it for granted. But we’ve only gotten to where we are today because of the command line heroes that shaped the industry - and continue to do so. Command line hero. What does that really mean? To us it’s the developers, programmers, hackers, geeks and open source rebels - the people who are on the front line, transforming technology from the command line up. The biggest technology advancements and innovations didn’t happen by accident. They were made possible through the passion, creativity and persistence of technologists around the world.
  • Command Line Heroes
    I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, ever since it was announced: today, the first two episodes of Command Line Heroes were published. Command Line Heroes, or CLH for short, is a series of podcasts that tells the stories of open source. It’s hosted by Saron Yitbarek, of CodeNewbie fame, and sponsored by Red Hat.

NethServer, Red Hat, and Fedora

  • Why building a community is worth the extra effort
    Building the NethServer community was risky. But we've learned so much about the power of working with passionate people.
  • Risk Malaise Alert in Option Market: Red Hat Inc Implied Price Swing Hits A Deteriorated Level
  • Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) Receives “Neutral” Rating from Credit Suisse Group
  • Sit Investment Associates Inc. Takes $1.22 Million Position in Red Hat Inc (RHT)
  • Fixing flatpak startup times
    A lot of people have noticed that flatpak apps sometimes start very slowly. Upon closer inspection you notice this only happens the first time you run the application. Still, it gives a very poor first time impression. So, what is causing this, and can we fix it? The short answer to this is font-cache generation, and yes, I landed a fix today. For the longer version we have to take a detour into how flatpak and fontconfig works.
  • Fedora 28 wallpaper contest now open -- submit your image to the Linux distro!
    One of the first things I do after installing a new Linux distribution is set a different wallpaper. Why? Desktop pictures really inspire me -- my mood can be positively altered by a beautiful image. The default wallpaper is often boring. For the most part, I prefer images of nature with bright colors. After all, if I am stuck indoors working on my computer, a wallpaper of the beach, mountains, or a colorful bird, for instance, can transport me to the outdoors -- in my mind. Sadly, not every distro has beautiful high-quality images. Fedora, however, often does -- thanks to its "supplemental" wallpapers. What is particularly cool  about that operating system, is that it regularly accepts wallpaper submissions from the community as part of a contest. In other words, anybody can potentially contribute to a new version of the distro by simply uploading a photo, drawing, or other picture. Fedora 28 is the upcoming version of the OS, and the developers are now calling for wallpaper submissions for it. Will you submit an entry to the contest?

OSS Leftovers

  • Google's Kelsey Hightower talks Kubernetes and community
    Google developer advocate Kelsey Hightower says that he always figured that the (now wildly successful) Kubernetes container orchestration platform "would get big on its own at some point." He shared some of the reasons he sees for Kubernetes' success in a podcast recorded in December at CloudNativeCon in Austin. The first is that Kubernetes is an effective platform on which to do other things. It provides "better primitives than I had before" as Hightower puts it. At the same time, he says that this is something people misunderstand about Kubernetes. "It's not the end game," he says. Rather, at some point, it increasingly becomes "the new platform for building other platforms."
  • A FOSS Year Resolution
    It’s that time of year again. The time when some people are taking a long hard look at their lives and trying to decide what they want to change about themselves over the course of the next year. Some of us want to lose weight, or exercise more, or spend more time with our kids. The trouble is only about 9% of these resolutions actually happen.
  • Do not limit yourself
    The motto of Learn yourself, teach others is still very strong among us. We try to break any such stupid limits others try to force on our lives. We dream, we try to enjoying talking about that book someone just finished. We discuss about our favorite food. I will end this post saying one thing again. Do not bound yourself in some non existing limits. Always remember, What a great teacher, failure is (I hope I quoted Master Yoda properly). Not everything we will try in life will be a super successful thing, but we can always try to learn from those incidents. You don’t have to bow down in front of anyone, you can do things you love in your life without asking for others’ permissions.
  • Benjamin Mako Hill: OpenSym 2017 Program Postmortem
    The International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym) is the premier academic venue exclusively focused on scholarly research into open collaboration. OpenSym is an ACM conference which means that, like conferences in computer science, it’s really more like a journal that gets published once a year than it is like most social science conferences. The “journal”, in iithis case, is called the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Open Collaboration and it consists of final copies of papers which are typically also presented at the conference. Like journal articles, papers that are published in the proceedings are not typically published elsewhere.
  • NVDA and Firefox 58 – The team is regaining strength
    A week before the Firefox 57 “Quantum” release in November, I published an Article detailing some bits to be aware of when using Firefox and the NVDA screen reader together. In Firefox 58, due on January 23, 2018, the reliable team is regaining strength in playing well together and offering you good and fast web accessibility. After the Firefox 57 release, due to many changes under the hood, NVDA and Firefox temporarily lapsed in performance. Statistics quickly showed that about two thirds of the NVDA user base stayed with us despite of this. So to all of you who stuck with us on this difficult release: Thank you! Many of the others moved to the extended support release of Firefox 52. Thank you to those of you as well, you decided to stick with Firefox! Also, statistics show that barely any of those of you who stuck with 57 decided to turn off multi-process Firefox, but instead used the new technology, and some of you even reported problems to us.
  • Retpoline-enabled GCC
    There will be upstream backports at least to GCC 7, but probably pretty far back (I've seen people talk about all the way to 4.3). So you won't have to run my crappy home-grown build for very long—it's a temporary measure. :-) Oh, and it made Stockfish 3% faster than with GCC 6.3! Hooray.
  • Payara Services to Embed Secure, Stable Open Source Java Runtime from Azul SystemsPayara Server 2018 Update Includes Azul Zulu Enterprise Builds of OpenJDK
  • Eclipse Che – A Next-Generation Cloud IDE and Workspace Server
    We have a couple of posts on developer workspaces and cloud IDEs but in my opinion, none of them has the combined features of beauty, flexibility, and efficiency while being free. That is why it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the (arguably) best cloud-based IDE you will ever need, Eclipse Che. Eclipse Che is a beautiful and customizable open-source developer workspace and cloud Integrated Development Environment.

Security: Hospital With Windows, Reproducible Builds, Intel, Transmission and More

  • Hospital [sic] sent offline as hackers infect systems with ransomware, demand payment [iophk: "Windows"]
  • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #142
  • Spectre and Meltdown patches causing trouble as realistic attacks get closer
    Applications, operating systems, and firmware all need to be updated to defeat Meltdown and protect against Spectre, two attacks that exploit features of high-performance processors to leak information and undermine system security. The computing industry has been scrambling to respond after news of the problem broke early a few days into the new year. But that patching is proving problematic. The Meltdown protection is revealing bugs or otherwise undesirable behavior in various drivers, and Intel is currently recommending that people cease installing a microcode update it issued to help tackle the Spectre problem. This comes as researchers are digging into the papers describing the issues and getting closer to weaponizing the research to turn it into a practical attack. With the bad guys sure to be doing the same, real-world attacks using this research are sure to follow soon.
  • Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw
    new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday. F-Secure said in a statement that the flaw had nothing to do with the "Spectre" and "Meltdown" vulnerabilities recently found in the micro-chips that are used in almost all computers, tablets and smartphones today. Rather, it was an issue within Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), "which is commonly found in most corporate laptops, (and) allows an attacker to take complete control over a user's device in a matter of seconds," the cybersecurity firm said.
  • What is RubyMiner? New malware found targeting Windows and Linux servers to mine cryptocurrency
  • BitTorrent flaw could let hackers take control of Windows, Linux PCs
    According to Project Zero, the client is vulnerable to a DNS re-binding attack that effectively tricks the PC into accepting requests via port 9091 from malicious websites that it would (and should) ordinarily ignore.
  • BitTorrent critical flaw allows hackers to remotely control users' computers
    A critical flaw in the popular Transmission BitTorrent app could allow hackers to remotely control users' computers. The flaw, uncovered by Google Project Zero security researchers, allows websites to execute malicious code on users' devices. Researchers also warned that BitTorrent clients could be susceptible to attacks as well if the flaw is leveraged.