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Reviews

Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon Review

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Linux
Reviews

Linux Mint is among the most popular GNU/Linux-based operating systems. Although DistroWatch is not a metric of popularity, Linux Mint has claimed the #1 ranking on the website, which means it’s the most sought after distro on the site.

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Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11

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Reviews

The Chakra GNU/Linux project produces a Linux distribution with a strong focus on the KDE desktop and software which uses the Qt development libraries. Chakra maintains a semi-rolling release where the core components of the operating system remain fairly stable while desktop software is updated frequently.

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Google Pixel C Review: Android's Not Ready For a Tablet This Good

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Android
Google
Reviews

With the Pixel C, Google imagines a tablet as more than just a portable window into the internet. These things have to be good for more than endless Candy Crush and Netflix, right?

The current thinking is tablets needs to evolve, and so Google, like its rivals, has created its own, kinda-sorta work tablet, complete with keyboard accessory. Although I did manage to get work done on this thing, the hefty price didn’t justify the minimal convenience.

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GeckoLinux: This Baby Knows What It's Doing

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Linux
Reviews

GeckoLinux is a custom spin of the openSuse project. It offers an impressive variety of options and easier operation than typical Suse-based Linux distros provide.

GeckoLinux is a newcomer. I mean very new. Its first release was last week. You shouldn't view this distro as a wailing infant, however. It's based on openSuse Leap 42.1 and was leapfrogged into near-instant maturity from Suse Studio, a Web application for building and testing software applications in a Web browser.

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WordPress Plugin Tutorial — How To Install WordPress Plugins

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Reviews
HowTos

today I’ll show you how you can make your website more useful for your readers by installing more plugins to your WordPress site. In this article you will know how to install WordPress plugins.

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Responsive WordPress Themes — How Important Responsive Themes Are For Your WordPress Sites?

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Reviews
Web

In this article you will know more about responsive WordPress themes and also how important these themes are for your site ranking in the search engines. So let’s dive in and discuss responsive WordPress themes.

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Pixel C review—New hardware ignores an Android tablet’s core problem: software

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Android
Reviews

Google is back with yet another Android tablet. The latest hardware effort, the Pixel C, comes from an odd place inside Google: the Pixel team. Usually a "Pixel" is the latest, fancy high-end Chromebook, but with the Pixel C, the traditionally Chrome OS-centric team decided to make an Android tablet. It's not just a tablet, though, there's also a clip-on keyboard base making it a Surface-style convertible.

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Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 - Downhill

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Literally, this has probably been the worst distro experience I've had this year. Some other operating systems simply refused to boot or such, but they did not frustrate me this much, did not give me false hope, and did not ruin my box too much. Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 did its best to completely obliterate any goodwill there could be.

I don't know why or how and when, but so far this autumn, both Plasma desktop failed miserably. Kubuntu Werewolf is a flop, all other Ubuntus are rather mediocre, and now this. Exactly the kind of thing that makes people forsake Linux forever. Luckily, I have a little more stamina, but after all my happy preaching about Plasma, well, I feel like an utter idiot. Moreover, the sheer inconsistency is absolutely maddening. Then, having a rolling distro is pointless if you roll into a disaster. Anyhow, 0/10. I'm out.

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3 Best Arch-based User Friendly Distributions of 2015

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Reviews

If you’re an avid Linux user you probably know by now that it is no operating system for the weak at heart (well sometimes). The chances of you getting crushed when trying to install a Linux-based operating system or learning the usual curves in your first week are pretty high.

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Guarding the gates with OpenBSD 5.8

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Reviews
BSD

The OpenBSD project has long held a reputation for producing a secure operating system. The project boasts just two remote security holes reported over a span of about twenty years. It's an impressive accomplishment for the developers and a good indication of why OpenBSD is so often trusted for security oriented tasks like running firewalls. However, the OpenBSD team has been steadily working on other projects too. The team behind OpenBSD also creates the widely used OpenSSH software which is used around the world by system administrators to remotely work on servers and securely transfer files. The OpenBSD project also spawned the LibreSSL software (a replacement for OpenSSL) following the Heartbleed vulnerability. In the latest release of OpenBSD we also saw improvements to the project's lightweight and secure web server (called httpd), the introduction of the doas command (a replace for sudo), a new implementation of the file command and W^X support for i386 processors. The latest version of the operating system, OpenBSD 5.8, also switched to denying root logins in the default installation.

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Security: OpenSSL, IoT, and LWN Coverage of 'Intelpocalypse'

  • Another Face to Face: Email Changes and Crypto Policy
    The OpenSSL OMC met last month for a two-day face-to-face meeting in London, and like previous F2F meetings, most of the team was present and we addressed a great many issues. This blog posts talks about some of them, and most of the others will get their own blog posts, or notices, later. Red Hat graciously hosted us for the two days, and both Red Hat and Cryptsoft covered the costs of their employees who attended. One of the overall threads of the meeting was about increasing the transparency of the project. By default, everything should be done in public. We decided to try some major changes to email and such.
  • Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff

    Throughout 2016 and 2017, attacks from massive botnets made up entirely of hacked [sic] IoT devices had many experts warning of a dire outlook for Internet security. But the future of IoT doesn’t have to be so bleak. Here’s a primer on minimizing the chances that your IoT things become a security liability for you or for the Internet at large.

  • A look at the handling of Meltdown and Spectre
    The Meltdown/Spectre debacle has, deservedly, reached the mainstream press and, likely, most of the public that has even a remote interest in computers and security. It only took a day or so from the accelerated disclosure date of January 3—it was originally scheduled for January 9—before the bugs were making big headlines. But Spectre has been known for at least six months and Meltdown for nearly as long—at least to some in the industry. Others that were affected were completely blindsided by the announcements and have joined the scramble to mitigate these hardware bugs before they bite users. Whatever else can be said about Meltdown and Spectre, the handling (or, in truth, mishandling) of this whole incident has been a horrific failure. For those just tuning in, Meltdown and Spectre are two types of hardware bugs that affect most modern CPUs. They allow attackers to cause the CPU to do speculative execution of code, while timing memory accesses to deduce what has or has not been cached, to disclose the contents of memory. These disclosures can span various security boundaries such as between user space and the kernel or between guest operating systems running in virtual machines. For more information, see the LWN article on the flaws and the blog post by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton that well describes modern CPU architectures and speculative execution to explain why the Raspberry Pi is not affected.
  • Addressing Meltdown and Spectre in the kernel
    When the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were disclosed on January 3, attention quickly turned to mitigations. There was already a clear defense against Meltdown in the form of kernel page-table isolation (KPTI), but the defenses against the two Spectre variants had not been developed in public and still do not exist in the mainline kernel. Initial versions of proposed defenses have now been disclosed. The resulting picture shows what has been done to fend off Spectre-based attacks in the near future, but the situation remains chaotic, to put it lightly. First, a couple of notes with regard to Meltdown. KPTI has been merged for the 4.15 release, followed by a steady trickle of fixes that is undoubtedly not yet finished. The X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE processor bit is being renamed to X86_BUG_CPU_MELTDOWN now that the details are public; there will be bug flags for the other two variants added in the near future. 4.9.75 and 4.4.110 have been released with their own KPTI variants. The older kernels do not have mainline KPTI, though; instead, they have a backport of the older KAISER patches that more closely matches what distributors shipped. Those backports have not fully stabilized yet either. KPTI patches for ARM are circulating, but have not yet been merged.
  • Is it time for open processors?
    The disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has brought a new level of attention to the security bugs that can lurk at the hardware level. Massive amounts of work have gone into improving the (still poor) security of our software, but all of that is in vain if the hardware gives away the game. The CPUs that we run in our systems are highly proprietary and have been shown to contain unpleasant surprises (the Intel management engine, for example). It is thus natural to wonder whether it is time to make a move to open-source hardware, much like we have done with our software. Such a move may well be possible, and it would certainly offer some benefits, but it would be no panacea. Given the complexity of modern CPUs and the fierceness of the market in which they are sold, it might be surprising to think that they could be developed in an open manner. But there are serious initiatives working in this area; the idea of an open CPU design is not pure fantasy. A quick look around turns up several efforts; the following list is necessarily incomplete.
  • Notes from the Intelpocalypse
    Rumors of an undisclosed CPU security issue have been circulating since before LWN first covered the kernel page-table isolation patch set in November 2017. Now, finally, the information is out — and the problem is even worse than had been expected. Read on for a summary of these issues and what has to be done to respond to them in the kernel. All three disclosed vulnerabilities take advantage of the CPU's speculative execution mechanism. In a simple view, a CPU is a deterministic machine executing a set of instructions in sequence in a predictable manner. Real-world CPUs are more complex, and that complexity has opened the door to some unpleasant attacks. A CPU is typically working on the execution of multiple instructions at once, for performance reasons. Executing instructions in parallel allows the processor to keep more of its subunits busy at once, which speeds things up. But parallel execution is also driven by the slowness of access to main memory. A cache miss requiring a fetch from RAM can stall the execution of an instruction for hundreds of processor cycles, with a clear impact on performance. To minimize the amount of time it spends waiting for data, the CPU will, to the extent it can, execute instructions after the stalled one, essentially reordering the code in the program. That reordering is often invisible, but it occasionally leads to the sort of fun that caused Documentation/memory-barriers.txt to be written.

US Sanctions Against Chinese Android Phones, LWN Report on Eelo

  • A new bill would ban the US government from using Huawei and ZTE phones
    US lawmakers have long worried about the security risks posed the alleged ties between Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and the country’s government. To that end, Texas Representative Mike Conaway introduced a bill last week called Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which aims to ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from the companies. Conaway’s bill would prohibit the US government from purchasing and using “telecommunications equipment and/or services,” from Huawei and ZTE. In a statement on his site, he says that technology coming from the country poses a threat to national security, and that use of this equipment “would be inviting Chinese surveillance into all aspects of our lives,” and cites US Intelligence and counterintelligence officials who say that Huawei has shared information with state leaders, and that the its business in the US is growing, representing a further security risk.
  • U.S. lawmakers urge AT&T to cut commercial ties with Huawei - sources
    U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said. The warning comes after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump took a harder line on policies initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries. Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei [HWT.UL] handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.
  • Eelo seeks to make a privacy-focused phone
    A focus on privacy is a key feature being touted by a number of different projects these days—from KDE to Tails to Nextcloud. One of the biggest privacy leaks for most people is their phone, so it is no surprise that there are projects looking to address that as well. A new entrant in that category is eelo, which is a non-profit project aimed at producing not only a phone, but also a suite of web services. All of that could potentially replace the Google or Apple mothership, which tend to collect as much personal data as possible.

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Mozilla: Resource Hogs, Privacy Month, Firefox Census, These Weeks in Firefox

  • Firefox Quantum Eats RAM Like Chrome
    For a long time, Mozilla’s Firefox has been my web browser of choice. I have always preferred it to using Google’s Chrome, because of its simplicity and reasonable system resource (especially RAM) usage. On many Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many others, Firefox even comes installed by default. Recently, Mozilla released a new, powerful and faster version of Firefox called Quantum. And according to the developers, it’s new with a “powerful engine that’s built for rapid-fire performance, better, faster page loading that uses less computer memory.”
  • Mozilla Communities Speaker Series #PrivacyMonth
    As a part of the Privacy Month initiative, Mozilla volunteers are hosting a couple of speaker series webinars on Privacy, Security and related topics. The webinars will see renowned speakers talking to us about their work around privacy, how to take control of your digital self, some privacy-security tips and much more.
  • “Ewoks or Porgs?” and Other Important Questions
    You ever go to a party where you decide to ask people REAL questions about themselves, rather than just boring chit chat? Us, too! That’s why we’ve included questions that really hone in on the important stuff in our 2nd Annual Firefox Census.
  • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 30