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Reviews

Review: MX Linux MX-15

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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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Netrunner 16.09 Avalon - King Arthur wasn't there

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Blade Runner? Say what. Nope. Netrunner. But not the Netrunner distro as you remember it. There are changes in the land of sprinters. The old system, which used to be based on Ubuntu LTS, is now a different fork and a separate entity called Maui, and it shall bear the scrutiny of my wits, senses and taste very soon.

This means, today, we are testing Netrunner 16.09 Avalon, the latest semi-rolling edition based on Debian Stable. Now, my previous testing experience does not agree with this model. Netrunner 17 Horizon was a pretty good product, in fact good enough to be the honorable mention in the annual Plasma/KDE vote, but the rolling 2015.11 was a disaster that would not even install, and got a zero score. So, with less than high hopes, we proceed.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Zorin 12

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This version of Zorin is a great step forward. It has a renewed sense of purpose and stands out in its own right as a decent Linux distribution.

I think Zorin should follow Mint's lead and stick with aligning itself to the Ubuntu LTS release. This gives the developers more time to push it along at their own pace.

All in all a decent alternative to Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5: is it near-perfect?

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MDV
Reviews

ROSA is a Linux distribution forked some time ago from Mandriva Linux by a team of Russian developers, Rosa Lab, or officially LLC NTC-IT ROSA.

I reviewed their distributions several times: ROSA KDE R7, ROSA Desktop 2012 and even interviewed the ROSA team.

The most recent release of ROSA is now ROSA Desktop Fresh R8, which is available in several flavours: MATE, GNOME 3, KDE 4 and Plasma 5. I decided to try the Plasma 5 edition of this distribution, especially as my interest to Plasma increased after the good impression Kubuntu 16.10 left on me.

There are links to the ISO images available on the ROSA download page, and I used it to get my own version of this Linux distribution. The size of ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5 64-bit image is 1.9 Gb. The dd command helped me to "burn" the image to the USB stick.

So, the USB drive is attached to my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

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OnePlus 3T review: One of the best Android phones gets a little better

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Android
Reviews

OnePlus has never been one to play by the rules. Back when it made its entrance into the crowded smartphone market with the One, it set itself apart by selling a premium handset at a mid-tier price and offering invitation-only purchases instead of the standard preorders. The 3T very much fits with this rebellious nature. Essentially a refreshed version of the 6-month-old OnePlus 3, the new phone undermines another smartphone constant: the yearly update.

iPhone users are familiar with the concept of the mid-cycle model—a handset that keeps the same enclosure but beefs up features and internal components. But there’s always been a special hook with Apple’s S phones, a reason for current owners to rush out and buy the new model. The 3T could be seen as OnePlus’ attempt to mimic the success Apple has had with the formula (and in fact, the company says it picked T for the new phone’s surname simply because it’s a letter higher than S).

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Android Marshmallow on PC Falls Flat

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The Android-x86 Project eventually may become a viable operating system alternative for your desktop and laptops computers, but it's not there yet. You will have to wait a while for the developers to fix a number of failures with the latest release upgrading Android-x86 to Marshmallow 6.0.1.

The developers late this summer released the first stable version of Android-x86 6.0, codenamed "Marshmallow." Android-x86 lets you run the Android OS with the Google Chrome browser on your desktop and laptop computers, rather than buying one of the qualified Chromebooks with the Google Play Store features bolted on.

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5: is it near-perfect?

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ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5 64-bit Live (WOW! That's a long name!) left a decent impression on me. It was quick. I noticed no issues in regards to speed and performance.

There were no bugs or crushes during the run.

Both issues I had during the Live session run were linked to the notification area: the icons that should be placed there don't appear.

The default menu in ROSA R8 Plasma 5 is not to my taste, but that is easy to change.

On the positive note, there were no obvious traces of the operating system "nationality". Unlike full-of-French Emmabuntus, you won't find anything Russian in ROSA R8.

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ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 review: The iPad Air running Android

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Android
Reviews

The history of Android on tablets is complicated. Just as Apple had done in 2007 with the first iPhone, the iPad's release in 2010 set a very high standard for the rest of the market. The next year, Google released Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom, designed specifically with tablets in mind. The Xoom wasn't the iPad killer that Motorola had hoped for, and there have been very few Android tablets that could stack up to Apple's iPad line.

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Fedora 25 review

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Red Hat
Reviews

Even when dealing with the various Wayland oddities and issues, Fedora 25 is a great distribution. Everything is reasonably polished and the default software provides a functional desktop for those looking for a basic web browsing, e-mail, and word processing environment. The additional packages available can easily turn Fedora into an excellent development workstation customized for a developer's specific needs. If you are programming in most of the current major programming languages, Fedora provides you the tools to easily do so. Overall, I am very pleased using Fedora 25, but I am even more excited for future releases of Fedora as the various minor Wayland issues get cleaned up.

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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS

  • Diving into Drupal: Princeton’s Multi-site Migration Success with Open-source
    Princeton University’s web team had a complex and overwhelming digital ecosystem comprised of many different websites, created from pre-built templates and hosted exclusively on internal servers. Fast forward six years: Princeton continues to manage a their multisite and flagship endeavors on the open-source Drupal platform, and have seen some great results since their migration back in 2011. However, this success did not come overnight. Organizational buy-in, multi-site migration and authentication were a few of the many challenges Princeton ran into when making the decision to move to the cloud.
  • GitHub Invites Developers to Contribute to the Open Source Guides
    GitHub has recently launched its Open Source Guides, a collection of resources addressing the most common scenarios and best practices for both contributors and maintainers of open source projects. The guides themselves are open source and GitHub is actively inviting developers to participate and share their stories.
  • Top open source projects
    TechRadar recently posted an article about "The best open source software 2017" where they list a few of their favorite open source software projects. It's really hard for an open source software project to become popular if it has poor usability—so I thought I'd add a few quick comments of my own about each.
  • Dropbox releases open-source Slack bot
    Dropbox is looking to tackle unauthorized access and other security incidents in the workplace with a chatbot. Called Securitybot, it that can automatically grab alerts from security monitoring tools and verify incidents with other employers. The company says that through the use of the chatbot, which is open source, it will no longer be necessary to manually reach out to employees to verify access, every time someone enters a sensitive part of the system. The bot is built primarily for Slack, but it is designed to be transferable to other platforms as well.
  • Dropbox’s tool shows how chatbots could be future of cybersecurity
    Disillusion with chatbots has set in across the tech industry and yet Dropbox’s deep thinkers believe they have spotted the technology’s hidden talent: cybersecurity.

Desktop GNU/Linux

  • Entroware have unleashed the 'Aether' laptop for Linux enthusiasts featuring Intel's 7th generation CPUs
  • New Entroware Aether Laptop Pairs Intel Kaby Lake with Ubuntu
    The new Entroware Aether is the latest Linux powered laptop from British company Entroware, and is powered by the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors.
  • Freedom From Microsoft v1.01
    But we can be Free from Microsoft! As we saw above, there is a powerful – and now popular movement afoot to make alternative software available. The Free Software Foundation, and the GNU Project, both founded by Richard Stallman, provide Free software to users with licenses that guarantee users rights: the rights to view, modify, and distribute the software source code. With GNU-licensed software, such as Linux, the user is in complete control over the software they employ. And as people contribute to modify Free Software source code, and are required to share those modifications again, the aggregate creative acts give rise to the availability of many more, much more useful results. Value is created beyond what anyone thought possible, and our freedom multiplies.
  • Review of the week 2017/08
    This week we had to cancel a couple snapshots, as a regression in grub was detected, that caused issues on chain-loading bootloaders. But thanks to our genius maintainers, the issue could be found, fixed and integrated into Tumbleweed (and this despite being busy with hackweek! A great THANK YOU!). Despite those canceled snapshots, this review will still span 4 revisions: 0216, 0218, 0219 and 0224. And believe me, there have been quite some things coming your way.

Security Leftovers

  • [Older] The Secure Linux OS - Tails
    Some people worry a lot about security issues. Anyone can worry about their personal information, such as credit card numbers, on the Internet. They can also be concerned with someone monitoring their activity on the Internet, such as the websites they visit. To help ease these frustrations about the Internet anyone can use the Internet without having to “look over their shoulder”.
  • Password management made easy as news of CloudFlare leak surfaces
    In the last 24 hours, news broke that a serious Cloudflare bug has been causing sensitive data leaks since September, exposing 5.5 million users across thousands of websites. In addition to login data cached by Google and other search engines, it is possible that some iOS applications have been affected as well. With the scale of this leak, the best course of action is to update every password for every site you have an account for. If there was ever a good time to modernize your password practices, this is it. As consumers and denizens of the Internet, we have a responsibility to be aware of the risks we face and make an attempt to mitigate that risk by taking best-effort precautions. Poor password and authentication hygiene leaves a user open to risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft, just like forgetting to brush your teeth regularly can lead to cavities and gum disease. This leaves us with the question of what good password and authentication hygiene looks like. If we stick with the (admittedly poorly chosen) dentistry analogy, then there are five easily identifiable aspects of good hygiene.
  • Security: You might want to change passwords on sites that use Cloudflare
  • Smoothwall Express
    The award-winning Smoothwall Express open-source firewall—designed specifically to be installed and administered by non-experts—continues its forward development march with a new 3.1 release.

Leftovers: Ubuntu and Derivatives

  • 'Big Bang Theory's' Stuart wears Ubuntu T-shirt
    Am I the only person to notice that comic book shop-owning Stuart (Kevin Sussman) on the "The Big Bang Theory" is wearing an Ubuntu T-shirt on the episode airing Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017? (It's Season 10, Episode 17, if that information helps you.) The T-shirt appearance isn't as overt as Sheldon's mention of the Ubuntu Linux operating system way back in Season 3 (Episode 22, according to one YouTube video title), but it's an unusual return for Ubuntu to the world of "Big Bang."
  • Unity Explained: A Look at Ubuntu’s Default Desktop Environment
    Ubuntu is the most well-known version of Linux around. It’s how millions of people have discovered Linux for the first time, and continues to draw new users into the world of open source operating systems. So the interface Ubuntu uses is one many people are going to see. In this area, Ubuntu is unique. Even as a new user, rarely will you confuse the default Ubuntu desktop for something else. That’s because Ubuntu has its own interface that you can — but probably won’t — find anywhere else. It’s called Unity.
  • A Look at Ubuntu MATE 16.04.2 LTS for Raspberry Pi
    Installing Ubuntu MATE onto my Raspberry Pi 3 was straight forward. You can easily use Etcher to write the image to a microSD card, the partition is automatically resized to fill your microSD card when the pi is powered up for the first time, and then you are sent through a typical guided installer. Installation takes several minutes and finally the system reboots and you arrive at the desktop. A Welcome app provides some good information on Ubuntu MATE, including a section specific for the Raspberry Pi. The Welcome app explains that the while the system is based on Ubuntu MATE and uses Ubuntu armhf base, it is in fact using the same kernel as Raspian. It also turns out that a whole set of Raspian software has been ported over such as raspi-config, rpi.gpio, sonic-pi, python-sent-hat, omxplayer, etc. I got in a very simple couple of tests that showed that GPIO control worked.
  • Zorin OS 12 Business Has Arrived [Ed: Zorin 12.1 has also just been released]
    This new release of Zorin OS Business takes advantage of the new features and enhancements in Zorin OS 12, our biggest release ever. These include an all new desktop environment, a new way to install software, entirely new desktop apps and much more. You can find more information about what’s new in Zorin OS 12 here.