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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

Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 13

Now that GNOME 3.26 is released, available in Ubuntu artful, and final GNOME Shell UI is confirmed, it’s time to adapt our default user experience to it. Let’s discuss how we worked with dash to dock upstream on the transparency feature. For more background on our current transition to GNOME Shell in artful, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post. Read more

Android Leftovers

Linux-driven Sitara SiP module shrinks to 21mm square

Octavo’s OSD335x-SM is a 40 percent smaller version of its AM335x-based OSD335x SiP that adds a 4KB EEPROM. There’s also a compact, open-spec dev board. Last year, Octavo Systems added a new twist to BeagleBone development when it released its 27 x 27mm OSD335x System-In-Package (SiP) module. The OSD335x, which went on to form the basis of the BeagleBone Black Wireless and BeagleBone Blue SBCs, packs a Texas Instruments Sitara AM335x SoC and nearly all the functions of a BeagleBone Black SBC into a BGA module. Octavo has now followed up with a 40 percent smaller OSD335x-SM variant that measures 21 x 21mm (441 sq. mm). Read more

today's leftovers

  • Black screen of death after Win10 update? Microsoft blames HP
    Microsoft is pointing the finger of blame at HP's factory image for black screens of death appearing after a Windows Update. Scores of PC owners took to the HP forums last week to report that Windows 10 updates released September 12 were slowing down the login process. Users stated that once they downloaded the updates and entered their username and password, they only saw black screens for about five to 10 minutes. The forum members said that clean installs or disabling a service called "app readiness", which "gets apps ready for use the first time a user signs in to this PC and when adding new apps" seemed to fix the delay. Today, a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register: "We're working to resolve this as soon as possible" and referred affected customers to a new support post.
  • GNOME 3.26 Released! Check Out the New Features
    GNOME 3.26 is the latest version of GNOME 3 released six months after the last stable release GNOME 3.24. The release, code-named “Manchester”, is the 33rd stable release of the free, open-source desktop.
  • Arch Arch and away! What's with the Arch warriors?
    If you choose to begin your Linux adventures with Arch Linux after trying Ubuntu for a month, you're probably doing it wrong. If there's a solid reason why you think Arch is for you; awesome! Do it. You will learn new things. A lot of new things. But hey, what's the point in learning what arch-chroot does if you can't figure out what sudo is or what wpa_supplicant does?
  • Setting a primary monitor for launching games in a dual monitor rig
  • AMD Zen Temperature Monitoring On Linux Is Working With Hwmon-Next
    If you want CPU temperature monitoring to work under Linux for your Ryzen / Threadripper / EPYC processor(s), it's working on hwmon-next. The temperature monitoring support didn't make it for Linux 4.14 but being published earlier this month were finally patches for Zen temperature monitoring by extending the k10temp Linux driver.
  • Fanless Skylake computer offers four PCI and PCIe slots
    Adlink’s MVP-6010 and MVP-6020 embedded computers run Linux or Windows on Intel 6th Gen CPUs, and offer 4x PCI/PCIe slots, 6x USB ports, and 4x COM ports. If Adlink’s new MVP-6010/6020 Series looks familiar, that’s because it’s a modified version of the recent MVP-5000 and last year’s MVP-6000 industrial PCs. The top half appears to be identical, with the same ports, layout, and Intel 6th Gen Core “Skylake” TE series processors. Like the MVP-6000, it adds a PCI and PCIe expansion unit on the bottom, but whereas the MVP-6000 had two slots, the MVP-6010 and MVP-6020 have four.
  • How Qi wireless charging works, and why it hasn’t taken over yet
    Qi has been an Android staple for a while, and now it’s coming to iPhones, too.
  • W3C DRM appeal fails, votes kept secret
    Earlier this summer, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — the organization responsible for defining the standards that make up the Web — decided to embrace DRM (aka "EME") as a web standard. I wasn’t happy about this. I don’t know many who were. Shortly after that, the W3C agreed to talk with me about the issue. During that discussion, I encouraged the W3C to increase their level of transparency going forward — and if there is an appeal of their DRM decision, to make that process completely open and visible to the public (including how individual members of the W3C vote on the issue). The appeal happened and has officially ended. I immediately reached out to the W3C to gather some details. What I found out was highly concerning. I’ll include the most interesting bits below, as un-edited as possible.