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Reviews

OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 review

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MDV
Reviews

OpenMandriva is a Linux distribution whose roots and traditions date back to the Mandrake/Mandriva Linux era, what it has in common with with ROSA Linux and Mageia. The latest edition of the desktop distribution – OpenMandriva Lx 3.01, was released on December 25 2016, so it was a nice Christmas present to OpenMandriva fans.

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2016 in review: The year in Android

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Android
Reviews

Android is in a very different place than it was when 2016 began. While the last 12 months were filled with much of the usual pomp and circumstance surrounding the release of new handsets, connected gadgets, and OS refreshes, the state of Android has never been more promising or less predictable. Google stepped out from behind the curtain and into the spotlight. Headsets took over smartwatches as the trend of the moment. And Samsung’s phablet woes opened the door for smaller players to make big gains.

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Best Gnome distro of 2016

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GNOME
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Ever since Gnome 3 came to life, I struggled with how it was realized and what it did, a far cry (but not Far Cry, hi hi) from its predecessor. It was functionally inferior to its rival, and it is the chief reason why MATE and Cinnamon came to life. Then, over the years, it slowly evolved, and now, at last, the combination of its core elements and a thick layer of necessary extensions allows for a decent compromise. Throughout 2016, I tested more Gnome releases than ever before, I was quite pleased with the results, and now we will select the best candidate for this year.

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Happy Holidays: Linux Mint get a major upgrade

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Reviews

With this long-term support Linux desktop, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint is better than ever. Since I've already found Linux Mint 18 to be the best desktop out there of any sort, that's saying something.

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Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 review

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Reviews

For users with older computers, some of the modern Linux distributions can be too resource intensive. Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 is a lightweight distribution designed for those users. The minimum system requirements are a 500MHz processor, 128MB of RAM, and 4GB of disk space. The recommended requirements are a 1.0GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 10GB of disk space. Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as well as a "Legacy" release for really old 32-bit systems, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 can easily bring new life to older computers.

Bodhi Linux offers a couple of download options beyond the 32-bit/64-bit choice. There is a Standard release and an AppPack version. The Standard release is very bare-bones with only a minimal set of pre-installed options, while the AppPack version comes with a larger number of bundled applications. The ISO for the 64-bit Standard version is 647MB and the 64-bit AppPack version is 1.21GB (about twice the size). For the purposes of this review, I opted for the Standard version, so I could customize my system as I wished. However, I will be mentioning some of the AppPack version's additional software throughout this review.

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Fedora 25 Gnome review - A way to land

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Red Hat
Reviews

All right. Brace yourselves. It's Fedora time. Throughout 2016, a gloomy year for the likes of us, Linux users, Fedora has been a friendly companion. It made me like and use Gnome again, plus it offered a pleasant, vibrant, practical desktop experience that nicely filled the gap left by Ubuntu. Almost like a dental crown.

We also learned how to pimp it, and I have a whole bunch of surprises laid out ahead of us, including yet more elegant tweaking and taming, reviews on other hardware, some revolutionary usability tricks, and still more. But all that will happen in the future. Now, we should focus on Fedora 25, and see how it stacks against its predecessor, as well as the entire Linux ecosystem. No pressure.

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Fedora 25: With Wayland, Linux has never been easier (or more handsome)

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Reviews

For the past several releases, the Fedora Project has been pursuing what it calls Fedora Next. Essentially, Fedora Next took a step back and looked at how the distro is used and came up with editions specifically tailored to those use cases. The most notable of these are Fedora WorkStation and Fedora Server (the desktop/laptop and server versions respectively).

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Best Xfce distro of 2016

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Reviews

Let us continue where we started with the KDE/Plasma nominations. It is time to vector our all-seeing eye toward another desktop environment – Xfce. Once upon a time, it used to be a bland, boring offering that could not stand up to the likes of Gnome 2 and KDE 3.5. But then, slowly, it emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix, and persistently, steadily earned its place among the big ones, standing tall, stable, sturdy, and just plain good.

In a way, Xfce now fills the void that was created when Gnome 3 came to life, and many years later, it is still there. But then, Xfce has also left its austerity behind, and it is trying to cater to the modern-era users with all the goodies people expect, without sacrificing its simple approach to fast, no-nonsense computing. So let us see what Year 2016 has blessed us with. To wit, our candidates.

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Review: MX Linux MX-15

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Reviews

Originally, this review was going to be of Bodhi Linux, based on a suggestion from a comment in a recent review. However, when I tried it, while it was able to connect to the Internet, it could not connect to its package repositories for me to install any packages, and I figured that there wouldn't be much point in writing a review given that. Then, I thought of trying the latest version openSUSE on the recommendation of a friend of mine, especially given that I haven't tried openSUSE in quite a while; that turned out to only be available in the form of an installation DVD, as no live image is available yet (though I hope to try it when that does become available). After that, I saw some reviews of MX Linux, and thought it might be interesting to try. (Spoiler alert: this review exists because there's enough material for me to write about it.)

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Manjaro 16.10 Xfce - Surprised me, I like

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Weird. I have never expected to be writing a conclusion to an Arch-based distro review and feel really pleased about the whole experience. But then, looking at how Manjaro behaved and how it delivered, I really don't have much to complain. The list of bad things is not very long: Samba printing, Bluetooth, some cosmetic problems, and ultra-slow GRUB updates. Other than that, it was really good.

You get a stable, fast distribution with a balanced kit of programs, media codecs and smartphone support out of the box, low resource utilization, very decent battery life, and even some perks, in the form of a new kernel that may resolve hardware and driver issues, if you have them. Plus, you can actually tame it if you feel like spending some time on the aesthetics front, and it won't bite with random, unexplained errors. Most importantly, there's a continuous trend of improvement and maturity in the distribution. Just look at my previous reviews, dating back to 2013. Everything seems to be in order, well, except this one really big thing.

What's next? Is this the sum of what the community can do - wants to do, or can we expect Manjaro to take a more commercial, more adult approach, and even become something that could one day appeal to non-Linux folks? That might not be the mission, and perhaps it will never happen, but I am always apprehensive around small distros, because changes can be painful and devastating, and as a user, you need to believe you have a solid, stable, long-term support behind you. This review cannot answer that, but at the very least, it gives you an indication what you can do with Manjaro 16.10 Xfce, if you feel like testing. Overall, 9.25/10 I would say, and it doesn't take much to up the score. Quite a surprise for this bleak year of distro testing, and a most refreshing change for this no less dreary autumn season. Surpassed my expectations and bitterness. Well worth a ride. Get it, fellas, get it.

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Leftovers: BSD

Security Leftovers

  • Stop using SHA1 encryption: It’s now completely unsafe, Google proves
    Security researchers have achieved the first real-world collision attack against the SHA-1 hash function, producing two different PDF files with the same SHA-1 signature. This shows that the algorithm's use for security-sensitive functions should be discontinued as soon as possible. SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1) dates back to 1995 and has been known to be vulnerable to theoretical attacks since 2005. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has banned the use of SHA-1 by U.S. federal agencies since 2010, and digital certificate authorities have not been allowed to issue SHA-1-signed certificates since Jan. 1, 2016, although some exemptions have been made. However, despite these efforts to phase out the use of SHA-1 in some areas, the algorithm is still fairly widely used to validate credit card transactions, electronic documents, email PGP/GPG signatures, open-source software repositories, backups and software updates.
  • on pgp
    First and foremost I have to pay respect to PGP, it was an important weapon in the first cryptowar. It has helped many whistleblowers and dissidents. It is software with quite interesting history, if all the cryptograms could tell... PGP is also deeply misunderstood, it is a highly successful political tool. It was essential in getting crypto out to the people. In my view PGP is not dead, it's just old and misunderstood and needs to be retired in honor. However the world has changed from the internet happy times of the '90s, from a passive adversary to many active ones - with cheap commercially available malware as turn-key-solutions, intrusive apps, malware, NSLs, gag orders, etc.
  • Cloudflare’s Cloudbleed is the worst privacy leak in recent Internet history
    Cloudflare revealed today that, for months, all of its protected websites were potentially leaking private information across the Internet. Specifically, Cloudflare’s reverse proxies were dumping uninitialized memory; that is to say, bleeding private data. The issue, termed Cloudbleed by some (but not its discoverer Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero), is the greatest privacy leak of 2017 and the year has just started. For months, since 2016-09-22 by their own admission, CloudFlare has been leaking private information through Cloudbleed. Basically, random data from random sites (again, it’s worth mentioning that every site that used CloudFlare in the last half year should be considered to having fallen victim to this) would be randomly distributed across the open Internet, and then indefinitely cached along the way.
  • Serious Cloudflare bug exposed a potpourri of secret customer data
    Cloudflare, a service that helps optimize the security and performance of more than 5.5 million websites, warned customers today that a recently fixed software bug exposed a range of sensitive information that could have included passwords and cookies and tokens used to authenticate users. A combination of factors made the bug particularly severe. First, the leakage may have been active since September 22, nearly five months before it was discovered, although the greatest period of impact was from February 13 and February 18. Second, some of the highly sensitive data that was leaked was cached by Google and other search engines. The result was that for the entire time the bug was active, hackers had the ability to access the data in real-time by making Web requests to affected websites and to access some of the leaked data later by crafting queries on search engines. "The bug was serious because the leaked memory could contain private information and because it had been cached by search engines," Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming wrote in a blog post published Thursday. "We are disclosing this problem now as we are satisfied that search engine caches have now been cleared of sensitive information. We have also not discovered any evidence of malicious exploits of the bug or other reports of its existence."

Security Leftovers

  • Change all the passwords (again)
    Looks like it is time to change all the passwords again. There’s a tiny little flaw in a CDN used … everywhere, it seems.
  • Today's leading causes of DDoS attacks [Ed: The so-called 'Internet of things' (crappy devices with identical passwords) is a mess; programmers to blame, not Linux]
    Of the most recent mega 100Gbps attacks in the last quarter, most of them were directly attributed to the Mirai botnet. The Mirai botnet works by exploiting the weak security on many Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The program finds its victims by constantly scanning the internet for IoT devices, which use factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords.
  • How to Set Up An SSL Certificate on Your Website [via "Steps To Secure Your Website With An SSL Certificate"]
  • SHA-1 is dead, long live SHA-1!
    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you heard that some researchers managed to create a SHA-1 collision. The short story as to why this matters is the whole purpose of a hashing algorithm is to make it impossible to generate collisions on purpose. Unfortunately though impossible things are usually also impossible so in reality we just make sure it’s really really hard to generate a collision. Thanks to Moore’s Law, hard things don’t stay hard forever. This is why MD5 had to go live on a farm out in the country, and we’re not allowed to see it anymore … because it’s having too much fun. SHA-1 will get to join it soon.
  • SHA1 collision via ASCII art
    Happy SHA1 collision day everybody! If you extract the differences between the good.pdf and bad.pdf attached to the paper, you'll find it all comes down to a small ~128 byte chunk of random-looking binary data that varies between the files.
  • PayThink Knowledge is power in fighting new Android attack bot
    Android users and apps have become a major part of payments and financial services, carrying an increased risk for web crime. It is estimated that there are 107.7 million Android Smartphone users in the U.S. who have downloaded more than 65 million apps from the Google App Store, and each one of them represents a smorgasbord of opportunity for hackers to steal user credentials and other information.
  • Red Hat: 'use after free' vulnerability found in Linux kernel's DCCP protocol IPV6 implementation
    Red Hat Product Security has published details of an "important" security vulnerability in the Linux kernel. The IPv6 implementation of the DCCP protocol means that it is possible for a local, unprivileged user to alter kernel memory and escalate their privileges. Known as the "use-after-free" flaw, CVE-2017-6074 affects a number of Red Hat products including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and Red Hat Openshift Online v2. Mitigating factors include the requirement for a potential attacker to have access to a local account on a machine, and for IPV6 to be enabled, but it is still something that will be of concern to Linux users. Describing the vulnerability, Red Hat says: "This flaw allows an attacker with an account on the local system to potentially elevate privileges. This class of flaw is commonly referred to as UAF (Use After Free.) Flaws of this nature are generally exploited by exercising a code path that accesses memory via a pointer that no longer references an in use allocation due to an earlier free() operation. In this specific issue, the flaw exists in the DCCP networking code and can be reached by a malicious actor with sufficient access to initiate a DCCP network connection on any local interface. Successful exploitation may result in crashing of the host kernel, potential execution of code in the context of the host kernel or other escalation of privilege by modifying kernel memory structures."

Android Leftovers