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.
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:
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 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 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.
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?
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...
Before diving into the Ubuntu review, here’s a bit of backdrop — and a bonus review. I downloaded and installed Windows 8 Preview several weeks ago. It took me about two days to realize that Microsoft’s desktop OS had jumped the great white for me. I can see how the Metro UI would be really nice on a tablet, but the concept on a desktop screen baffles me. Coincidentally, my 8 year-old’s installation of Windows 7 got corrupted and he needed a reinstall.
Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang is a surprisingly and yet expectedly good Plasma system, using some of that Mint-like approach to home computing. It's what Kubuntu should have been or should be, and it delivers a practical, out-of-the-box experience with a fine blend of software, fun and stability. That's a very sensible approach.
Not everything was perfect. Plasma has its bugs, the printer and the web cam issues need to be looked into, and on the aesthetics side, a few things can be polished and improved. The installer can benefit from having some extra safety mechanisms. But I guess that is the sum of my complaints. On the happy side, you get all the goodies from the start, the application collection is rich, the distro did not crash, and the performance is really decent for a Plasma beastling. A fine formula, and probably the best one we've seen in the last eighteen months or so. Good news if you like KDE. And indeed, this is definitely one of the distros you should try. 9/10. I'm quite pleased. Have a maui day.
BlankOn X operating system finally launched at January 1st 2017 as the 10th release codenamed "Tambora". BlankOn is a GNU/Linux distribution from Indonesia, a low-resource operating system with ultimate aim for desktop end-users. In this Tambora release, BlankOn brings the latest Manokwari desktop with improvements, along with its own BlankOn system installer, and some other stuffs. This Tambora release is a continuation of the BlankOn 9 release in 2014 named Suroboyo. This article sums up what's new for BlankOn in this Tambora version.
Absolute Linux is a distro that raises the question: Is it really worth the bother?
Any version of this Slackware-based Linux OS is just that -- a really big bother -- unless you love Unix-like systems that give you total control. It likely would be especially bothersome for less experienced users and for folks comfortable with Debian distros such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and such.
Some Slackware-based distros are easier than others to use -- but the text-based installation and mostly manual operating routine makes using Absolute Linux a challenge. Once you get beyond the configuration steps, you still face a considerable learning curve to keep it running smoothly.
Clearly, I am not overly impressed with the Absolute flavor of Slackware Linux. I see it as the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism instead of an automatic model with keyless ignition. That said, once you have the engine purring, it drives fast and furious along the highway.
I like to offer unique computing options in these weekly Linux Picks and Pans reviews, so I set my comfort zone aside and rolled up my sleeves to get my hands a little scraped reaching under Absolute Linux's hood.