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Reviews

ZTE Quartz smartwatch review: An inexpensive Android Wear watch with one glaring issue

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Android
Reviews

Finding a feature-loaded Android Wear smartwatch under $200 is getting more difficult with each new product release.

There's the $349 LG Watch Sport, equipped with LTE and Android Pay compatibility. There's also the $369 Huawei Watch 2, which offers excellent battery life but lacks any cellular connectivity. Or, for a little less, you can pick up the fitness-focussed Polar M600 for $329.

It seems manufacturers have settled on pricing devices over $300 -- well, expect for ZTE. The company is known for making low-end and mid-range smartphones that work but are priced well below the rest of its competitors. With the ZTE Quartz smartwatch, the company's approach is no different: Load it up with features and specs at an affordable price.

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HTC U11 review: A fragile, squeezable flagship

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Android
Reviews

HTC gave customers many reasons to forgo the HTC 10 and opt for the U11. The new handset is an upgrade from last year's device in nearly every crucial way: it performs better, has a longer battery life, keeps Android's adoptable storage feature, and supports dual, always-on wake words with "OK Google" and "Alexa."

The surprising utility of Edge Sense is also a plus, even if it seems gimmicky. Some users may not need any more buttons, pressure sensors, or other methods of input on the body of their smartphones. But if you have that one program or app that you want to access quickly, Edge Sense is a seamless and convenient way to do so.

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System76 Galago Pro is the MacBook Pro alternative the Linux community has been waiting for [Review]

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Linux
Reviews

System76 sells really great Ubuntu Linux laptops, but there has been one glaring issue -- the machines aren't exactly svelte. Don't get me wrong, the notebooks aren't ridiculously large or heavy, but compared to, say, a new MacBook Pro, there is a very big difference.

Many people have been anxiously awaiting a thin and light System76 laptop, and I am happy to say that it is finally here. The newest version of the Galago Pro notebook is very elegant, featuring an aluminum body and HiDPI display. But is the whole package worth your money?

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Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 - what does the future look like?

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GNOME
Reviews
Ubuntu

You could recently read reviews of different flavours of Ubuntu 17.04 on Linux notes from DarkDuck blog: Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Lubuntu.

And you all remember the recent announcement from Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical that Ubuntu 17.10 will be the last version of Ubuntu coming with Unity Desktop Environment. It means that more attention in the Linux – and especially the Ubuntu – community is now on the Ubuntu GNOME version. I've never reviewed this version of Ubuntu yet.

Let's see what it is like. I downloaded the ISO image of Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 64-bit, which is 1.5 GB in size and "burnt" it onto the USB stick using the dd command.

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Also: Top 10 snaps in May

Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 - what does the future look like?

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Reviews
Ubuntu

In general, there was nothing wrong in my experience with Ubuntu GNOME 17.04. It felt solid and reliable. Yes, there were resource issues. Yes, there was a personal incompatibility with the keyboard layout switch mode. Yes, there is a learning curve to get used to in the absence of "Minimize" and "Restore" buttons, to the way of switching between the applications. But that's not too serious.

More serious is that GNOME felt a bit "empty" for me.

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ZTE Quartz watch review: The Best Android Wear value, plain and simple

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Reviews

The decision to buy any Android Watch is dependent on multiple factors, but in the ZTE Quartz’s case, there are two main ones to consider: Do you need Android Pay? Are you a T-Mobile customer?

If the answers to those questions are no and yes, respectively, then the ZTE Quartz is a no-brainer purchase (assuming it fits your wrist). At just $192, you’re not likely to find a better deal for a 3G Android Wear watch, even if you opt for one of the marked-down first-gen versions. All-day, independent connectivity is quite a feat for a sub-$200 2017 watch, and if that’s one of the features you crave, there’s very little reason reason not to pick one up.

It might not be the flashiest watch around, but with the money you save you can buy a real fancy band to go with it.

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DiRT 4 review: as engaging as DiRT Rally but without the punishing difficulty

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Reviews
Gaming

Last year, UK studio Codemasters blew my nomex racing socks off with DiRT Rally. The achievement was all the more notable because—while I tend to stick almost exclusively to racing games—I haven't really enjoyed off-road or rally games very much in the past. Now, Paul Coleman and his team at Codemasters have a new game for us that builds on the success of DiRT Rally, but it should entice a far wider audience. Enter DiRT 4, available starting June 6 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

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Unihertz Jelly review: a tiny phone with huge aspirations

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Android
Reviews

Is it the Jelly phone for everyone? We wouldn’t say so, but there is definitely a market for it. Some people do prefer a simpler experience with the ability to download just a few extra applications. It’s kind of like a smart feature phone of sorts… or a good secondary device for the glove compartment. And while it won’t be making anyone jelly, it is probably worth the asking price if its uniqueness piqued your interest.

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BitKey Unlocks Mysteries of the Bitcoin Universe

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Reviews
Debian

BitKey is a Debian-based live distribution with specialist utilities for performing highly secure air-gapped bitcoin transactions.

This specialty distro is not for everyday computing needs, but if you are obsessed with the use of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, this distro might be just what you need.

I am a high-tech sort of guy with a keen interest in diving through Linux distros both simple and complex. I'm on the lookout for new twists to old desktop environments and unique use case distros. Technologies and software solutions that make my computing life more secure and more functional are always the anticipated outcome.

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Returning to the Void

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Reviews

Void is an independently developed, rolling release Linux distribution. The Void distribution runs on 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors as well as several ARM boards including the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and Cubieboard2. The Void distribution is available in Cinnamon, Enlightenment, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce editions with some additional desktop environments offered through the project's software repositories. There is also a plain edition which I believe sets up a minimal command line environment.

There are a number of features which set Void apart from most other Linux distributions. Void uses the XBPS package manager for working with source and binary packages. Void was an early adopter of OpenBSD's LibreSSL library which acts as a drop-in replacement for the OpenSSL security library. Further, Void has an init implementation called runit which is unusually small and simple. Another interesting feature of Void is the distribution can use one of two C libraries. Most Linux distributions use the glibc library. Void does provide glibc and also offers installation media with the lightweight musl library.

I decided to download the Void project's MATE edition which is 637MB in size. Booting from the supplied media brings up a screen where we can choose between starting the distribution's live environment or loading Void into RAM and then launching the desktop environment. The latter option uses more memory, but makes the distribution run faster and frees up the drive or port where our installation media is located.

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More in Tux Machines

Graphics: Mesa 17.2.6 RC, AMDGPU, and Vulkan

  • Mesa 17.2.6 release candidate
  • Mesa 17.2.6 RC Arrives With 50+ Fixes
    While Mesa 17.3 is imminent and should be released as stable within the next few days, Mesa 17.2.6 is being prepped for release as the current point release.
  • 43 More AMDGPU DC Patches Hit The Streets
    While the massive AMDGPU DC infrastructure has been merged for Linux 4.15, the flow of improvements to this display code continues and it looks like the next few kernel cycles at least could be quite busy on the AMD front.
  • A Prototype Of The Vulkan Portability Initiative: Low-Level 3D To Vulkan / D3D12 / Metal
    A Mozilla engineer has put out a prototype library in working on the Vulkan Portability Initiative for allowing low-level 3D graphics support that's backed by Vulkan / Direct3D 12 / Metal. With Apple sticking to their own Metal graphics API and Direct3D 12 still being the dominant graphics API on Windows 10, The Khronos Group has been working towards better 3D portability for where Vulkan may not be directly supported by the OS/drivers or otherwise available. They've been working to target a subset of the Vulkan API that can be efficiently mapped to these other native graphics APIs and to have the libraries and tooling for better compatibility and code re-use of these different graphics APIs.

Kernel: Linux 4.15, TLDR, and Linus Torvalds' Latest Rant

  • Linux 4.15 Adds AMD Raven Ridge Audio ID
    Not only is AMD Stoney Ridge audio (finally) being supported by the Linux 4.15 kernel, but it also looks like Raven Ridge audio should now be working too.
  • Linux 4.14.2 Fixes The BCache Corruption Bug
    Normally I don't bother mentioning new Linux kernel point releases on Phoronix unless there are some significant changes, as is the case today with Linux 4.14.2.
  • TLDR is what Linux man pages always should have been
    If you get stuck using a Linux tool, the first port of call shouldn’t be to Stack Overflow, but rather its “man pages.” Man — which is short for manual — retrieves documentation for a given program. Unfortunately, this can often be dense, hard to understand, and lacking in practical examples to help you solve your problem. TLDR is another way of looking at documentation. Rather than being a comprehensive guide to a given tool, it instead focuses on offering practical example-driven instructions of how something works.
  • Linux creator Linus Torvalds: This is what drives me nuts about IT security
    Developers are often accused of not thinking about security, but Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds has had enough of security people who don't think about developers and end-users. After blasting some kernel developers last week for killing processes in the name of hardening the kernel, Torvalds has offered a more measured explanation for his frustration with security myopia. While he agrees that having multiple layers of security in the kernel is a good idea, certain ways of implementing it are not, in particular if it annoys users and developers by killing processes that break users' machines and wreck core kernel code. Because ultimately, if there are no users, there's not much point in having a supremely secure kernel, Torvalds contends.

Unity 7 Hoping To Become An Official Flavor For Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

While Canonical abandoned their work on the Unity desktop environment in favor of the Unity-inspired customized GNOME Shell that debuted in Ubuntu 17.10, some within the community have remained interested in maintaining Unity 7 and even getting it into an official spin/flavor of Ubuntu. Posted today to the community.ubuntu.com was a Unity maintenance roadmap, reiterating the hope by some in the Ubuntu community for Ubuntu Unity to become an official LTS distribution of Ubuntu. They are hoping to make it an official flavor alongside Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Xubuntu, and others. Read more Original/direct: Unity Maintenance Roadmap

Programming/Development: Django and Google India

  • An introduction to the Django ORM
    One of the most powerful features of Django is its Object-Relational Mapper (ORM), which enables you to interact with your database, like you would with SQL. In fact, Django's ORM is just a pythonical way to create SQL to query and manipulate your database and get results in a pythonic fashion. Well, I say just a way, but it's actually really clever engineering that takes advantage of some of the more complex parts of Python to make developers' lives easier.
  • Hey, Coders! Google India Is Offering 130,000 Free Developer Scholarships — Here’s How To Apply
  • Google to prepare 1.3 lakh Indians for emerging technologies

    "The new scholarship programme is in tandem with Google's aim to train two million developers in India. The country is the second largest developer ecosystem in the world and is bound to overtake the US by 2021," William Florance, Developer Products Group and Skilling Lead for India, Google, told reporters here.