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Reviews

Hands-On with System76’s COSMIC Desktop for Pop!_OS Linux 21.04

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Reviews

In mid-April 2021, System76 unveiled COSMIC as their take on the new design of the GNOME 40 desktop environment for Pop!_OS Linux, but they didn’t provide us with many details, except for the fact that their COSMIC desktop will offer a “totally different” desktop experience with an always visible dock, as well as separate Workspaces and Applications views.

The COSMIC desktop will be part of the upcoming Pop!_OS Linux 21.04 distribution release, which is derived from Canonical’s Ubuntu 21.04 (Hiruste Hippo) and expected later this summer. But, today, System76 released the beta version Pop!_OS Linux 21.04 to give us an early taste of the COSMIC desktop, so I downloaded the ISO and gave it a try on my Lenovo laptop.

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Review: EndeavourOS 2021.04.17

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Endeavour ran quickly for me, offered me just enough tools to get up and running, was stable, and worked with all of my hardware. I feel like Xfce is a suitable desktop for the audience Endeavour is reportedly targeting (users with enough experience to be comfortable with the command line) as it balances performance with features. Plus people can install alternative desktops if they wish.

The one piece I felt was missing from Endeavour was a graphical package manager. The distribution previously featured one and I think removing it was unfortunate. When running distributions that start with a minimal number of desktop applications I appreciate the convenience of being able to quickly browse and install popular applications and items I use most days. Thanks to Arch's large collection of up to date software Endeavour can provide everything I want, but installing all of these packages through pacman gets tedious compared to a nice, point-n-click experience.

This concern aside, I really like what the Endeavour team is doing. I'm already finding it faster and more reliable than Antergos was and the project is offering a pleasant, up to date platform without distractions or clutter. I don't think I encountered a bug during my entire time with the distribution, which is a pleasant change of pace. People who like the appeal of Arch's rolling release model while also appreciating a convenient system installer and pre-configured desktop environments will feel right at home with this distribution.

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SteamOS Review: Linux for Your Living Room

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Reviews
Debian

SteamOS is a Debian-based Linux distro optimized for the Steam client and designed from the ground up to deliver a modern living room experience. It is optimized to work with a controller and doesn’t need you to attach a keyboard and a mouse. Furthermore, the UI is big and console-like, allowing you to operate it while lying on your sofa easily.

Now, SteamOS was originally announced way back in 2013. However, over the years, development on the operating system has been poor, to say the least. The last major update to SteamOS came back in July 2019, which makes it nearly two years old when writing this review.

But all that said, the project is far from dead. Valve (Steam Developer Company) has reportedly stated that SteamOS is currently sidelined, but they do have plans to go back to it.

However, till SteamOS gets back on track, is the current version of the operating system good enough to function as your living room entertainment system? Well, that’s exactly what we will be looking into in this in-depth review of SteamOS.

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Foliate – simple and modern GTK eBook viewer

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OSS
Reviews

An electronic book (commonly abbreviated e-book) is a text and image-based publication which can be read on a computer or other digital devices such as an e-book reader.

Digital books are well established. Project Gutenberg, an online library of books that can be downloaded free of charge, has been expanding its collection since 1971. Almost its entire library consists of books that are available in the public domain, although there are a few copyright texts which are also included.

Foliate is an open source eBook viewer built with GJS (GNOME JavaScript bindings) and Epub.js, a JavaScript library for rendering ePub documents in the browser, across many devices.

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Review: TeLOS and snakeware 0.0.6

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OS
Reviews

This past week I decided to pick a couple of projects at random from the DistroWatch waiting list to see what new, different, or interesting distributions are being developed. The first project I decided to try was TeLOS. TeLOS is a Debian-based project which uses Debian's Testing and Unstable branches as its foundation. The distribution runs the KDE Plasma desktop and its website lists an odd combination of features. The TeLOS website claims the distribution is lightweight and full-featured; customizable and not bloated. It also reportedly honours open source software while including non-free firmware, Steam, and the proprietary Chrome web browser. In other words, each line of the project's description seems to contradict the previous line...

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Asus Tinker Board 2S Review

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Hardware
Reviews
Debian

When an old laptop or smartphone is overkill for your DIY electronics project, a single-board computer is the perfect affordable alternative. It's been almost a decade since the first Raspberry Pi started a phenomenon and four years since Asus joined the party with its original Tinker Board. Now, a next-generation Tinker Board 2S has appeared to compete with today's more powerful options. It's pricey at $125, but it packs a lot of potential for sophisticated inventions and dedicated makers.

A Small But Mighty Foundation

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're already familiar with single-board computers, and the Tinker Board 2S doesn't reinvent the wheel. About the size of a deck of cards—in fact, extremely similar in size and shape to the Raspberry Pi—the 2S (and the Tinker Board 2, which has just a microSD card slot for storage while the 2S has both a slot and 16GB of eMMC flash) fit a lot of functionality onto a small PCB.

The brain of the Tinker Board 2S is a 64-bit Rockchip RK3399 system-on-a-chip, consisting of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 running at 2.0GHz and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 running at 1.5GHz. This big.LITTLE design, as ARM calls it, allows the two CPUs to dynamically allocate tasks to the appropriate core for reduced energy usage. You also get a Mali-T860 MP4 GPU running at 800MHz and 2GB or 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 memory, depending on the model you choose. Our $125 test model comes with 2GB.

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Garuda Desktops Put a New Spin on Linux Looks

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Linux
Reviews

The minimum requirement for Garuda Linux is 30 GB storage space with 4 GB RAM and a 64-bit system. The recommended requirements, however, provide much better performance. These are 40 GB storage space with 8 GB RAM running a video card with OpenGL 3.3 or better.

The Garuda distro is optimized for performance on real hardware. Installing Garuda in virtual machines might result in a bad experience.

Oftentimes, there are two parts to evaluating Linux distros. One is the design and feature sets that make a particular Linux distribution unique from other offerings. The other is how the desktop environment contributes to or weakens the user's computing experience.

Rest assured that Garuda Linux covers both of those factors. Not every desktop flavor will be a winning choice. But Garuda's overall performance and design along with its wide range of environments can eliminate distro-hopping to find your best fit.

My only real disappointment with this latest Garuda Linux release is that most of the background images are dark and moody. But each flavor still has the Garuda uniqueness that performs solidly.

One caution to consider is that some of the less commonly used window manager options will take getting used to using. But computing is always about learning curves and adjusting to new processes.

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Kubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo review - Life is a vicious circle

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Reviews
Ubuntu

So what can I say? Kubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo is a meh distro. There isn't any glamor or novelty, or in fact, any reason for it to exist. Interim releases don't make sense, with any distro family out there. It'd be so much better if we had one release every 18-24 months, but then get a nice, polished product. All in all, it's nothing spectacular. There were bugs, there were regressions, there were glitches. Compare to the previous release, and then scratch your head.

If you like Plasma, then Kubuntu does a good job, but you should stay with an LTS. I can't say there is anything majorly useful or exciting here, and I feel totally dejected by the random scattershot of new problems. But until distros invest huge effort and resources in proper QA, nothing will change. So there we go. I went through the motions, I ticked a box, and I don't feel any wiser or happier because of it. Until the next time.

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Review: Fedora 34

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Red Hat
Reviews

Those of us who run Linux because we're fed up with Ctrl-Alt-Del or aren't hip enough to be Apple-ites also probably aren't the ideal candidates to use Fedora. After all, that's what Linus Torvalds uses, and it's one of the most common distros among coders, system administrators, and the like.

So what happens when someone who thinks Vim and Emacs Reddit posts are funny gives the recently released Fedora 34 workstation a try? He is more than pleasantly surprised. This version of Fedora, put together by the Fedora Project and its sponsor Red Hat, was much more nimble than I expected, and especially given my older hardware. In fact, I was able to do what I normally do - write freelance articles, spend too much time e-mailing editors, and work with WordPress and Substack - without banging my mouse in frustration more than a couple of times.

Does this mean I want to use Fedora 34 as my daily driver? Probably not. I don't have many uses for Boxes, Fedora's VM app. But it does offer a variety of features that other distros should consider adding, including my beloved Xubuntu. The documentation is first-rate, much more complete and easier to use (with pictures, even!) than I've seen almost anywhere else. The ability to configure Nextcloud from a simple prompt as part of the post-installation process is genius. And that I was able to reboot after installation without trying to decide when to remove the install USB - still a sticky proposition with Ubuntu and its flavors - was almost as nice.

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Accessible-Coconut - Ubuntu-based Linux Distribution for Visually Impaired Users

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Linux
Reviews

We take a look at "Accessible-Coconut" - a friendly Linux for Visually Impaired Users. We covered the features, utilities, download details, and a brief review of this distro.
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