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Reviews

Zorin OS 12 "Core"

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Reviews

Zorin 12 Core is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds and the ISO we download is 1.5GB in size. Booting from this downloaded image launches a graphical environment. A window appears and asks if we would like to try Zorin's live desktop environment or launch the project's system installer. We can select our preferred language at this time from a list of languages on the left side of the window. At the bottom of the window is a link to the project's release notes and clicking this link opens a web browser to display the on-line document.

Something I found odd was that when I clicked the link to display Zorin's release notes, the web browser worked. It opened as expected and brought up the desired information. However, when I opted to try exploring Zorin's live desktop environment, I found the one application which did not launch was the Chromium web browser. When attempting to open the browser from the application menu, nothing would happen. When trying to launch Chromium from a virtual terminal, the terminal would hang, neither opening the browser nor returning me to a command prompt and no errors were displayed.

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MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis - Winds of change

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MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis is a very decent distribution. It's a small product, not very well known, and probably not your first home choice when it comes to Linux. But then, despite its humble upbringing, it does offer a powerful punch. You get all the goodies out of the box, and except for some Bluetooth issues and less-than-trivial customization, the slate is spotless. Music, phones, speed, battery life, fun, all there.

Of course, the question is, can MX Linux sustain this record. If we look back, there were some rough patches, a bit of identity crisis, and the existential question of quality, the same journey that Xubuntu underwent. But then it kind of peaked and degraded some recently. Will MX Linux follow the same path? The last few years were good, with a steady, consistent improvement on all fronts. Then again, I thought Xubuntu was invincible, too.

For the time being, predicting the future remains tricky. However, here and now, MX-16 is a great choice for a lightweight desktop. Xfce has come a long way, and you get all the essentials you expect from a home system. It's all there, plus good looks, plus speed that rivals anything out there, among the best battery life numbers, great stability, and even some extra unique features like the live session save and MX Tools. A most worthy combo. All in all, 9.5/10. Warmly recommended for testing and sampling.

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Review: PocketCHIP—Super cheap Linux terminal that fits in your pocket

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Linux
Reviews

Portable, pocket-sized computer. Runs Linux. Has a good battery life. Bonus points for a physical keyboard, and full-size USB port. Double bonus points for being cheap.

That’s sort of my ideal “carry with me” device. If I can have a Linux device, with a proper shell that I can work entirely from, I’m a happy camper. Over the past few years I’ve been able to hobble together a few devices to accomplish this Utopian goal—more or less.

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Mint 18.1 review: Forget about Wayland and get comfy with the command line

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All that changed a couple of years ago when Mint opted to stop chasing Ubuntu and built off the LTS cycle. Mint is no longer quite as cutting edge as it once was, which shows up in some important areas like the kernel (which is only at 4.4 even now). Mint is also still plagued by the some of the poorly implemented update and security issues that have dogged it for years. You can keep Mint up-to-date and secure, but Mint actively encourages users (especially inexperienced) users to avoid updates. That more than anything else would prevent me from picking Mint 18.1 over, well, any other distro.

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Huawei Mate 9 Pro Review: Probably The Best Android Phone Of 2016

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It is a testament (or perhaps indictment?) to the Wild Wild West nature of the mobile industry that, on December 14, thinking it was close enough to the end of the year, I wrote a piece ranking my favorite smartphones of 2016 -- only for the list to be thrown out of wack a week later when I got my hands on the Huawei Mate 9 Pro.

The Mate 9 Pro is now my favorite go-to phone to use, and since it was technically released in 2016, that means it is indeed my new favorite phone of 2016.

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Reviewing the Librem 15

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Hardware
Reviews

Following up on my previous post where I detailed the work I’ve been doing mostly on Purism’s website, today’s post post will cover some video work. Near the beginning of October, I received a Librem 15 v2 unit for testing and reviewing purposes. I have been using it as my main laptop since then, as I don’t believe in reviewing something without using it daily for a couple weeks at least. And so on nights and week-ends, I wrote down testing results, rough impressions and recommendations, then wrote a detailed plan and script to make the first in depth video review of this laptop. Here’s the result—not your typical 2-minutes superficial tour:

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Reviews: Elementary OS Loki and Solus-2017.01.01

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Reviews
  • It’s Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki

    Elementary OS isn’t your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn’t a distro at all. Elementary’s developers pitch their creation as a free and open alternative to Windows and macOS.

    That description is apt, and with the latest release, version 0.4 Loki, Elementary has blossomed into something beautiful. I love it, and I highly recommend it for new and experienced Linux users alike.

  • Solus-2017.01.01 — a review

    Solus is congenial system. I rather like the Budgie desktop. But you may find that you need to install additional software to meet your needs.

Min Browser Muffles the Web's Noise

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Web

Min is not a full-featured Web browser with bells and whistles galore. It is not designed for add-ons and many other features you typically use in well-established Web browsers. However, Min serves an important niche purpose by offering speed and distraction-free browsing.

The more I use the Min browser, the more productive it is for me -- but be wary when you first start to use it.

Min is not complicated or confusing -- it is just quirky. You have to play around with it to discover how it works.

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Blu Vivo 6 review: Affordable Android in a pretty shell

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Android
Reviews

Phone-maker Blu started making a name for itself in the States for being an affordable Android brand, but it's taken some time for the company to bring its wares to the UK.

In fact, the Vivo 6 is the company's first Blighty-bound device. Having launched in time for a crazy opening-day Amazon discount during Black Friday weekend in 2016, the phone is now back to its full price of £239. So is it worth the cash?

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Raspberry Pi: Hands on with SuSE and openSuSE Linux

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SUSE

At the end of November, the Raspberry Pi Blog announced the availability of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for the Raspberry Pi 3. As Eben Upton said at that time, this was a big deal for two reasons -- it was the first official 64-bit operating system for the Pi 3 (Raspbian and other currently available versions are 32-bit), and it was an official release from a major vendor.

The announcement in theSuSE Blog gives a lot more information about the what/why/how of the SLES port, and makes for an interesting read. From what I gather, SuSE and/or ARM gave out some spiffy packages (shown at right) which contained a Raspberry Pi 3 preloaded with SLES 12 SP2: I would have loved to have been there and been blessed with one...

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Desktop GNU/Linux/Chromebook

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Kernel Space/Linux

Leftovers: Software

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  • Linux Digital Audio Workstations: Open Source Music Production
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    i2pd (I2P Daemon) is a full-featured C++ implementation of I2P client. I2P (Invisible Internet Protocol) is a universal anonymous network layer. All communications over I2P are anonymous and end-to-end encrypted, participants don't reveal their real IP addresses.
  • 4 Command-Line Graphics Tools for Linux
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