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Reviews

Distrowatch Top 5 Distributions review: MX Linux

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Reviews

I didn’t like the layout of the main panel being on the side, and I’m not a big fan of Xfce typically...but once I organized things a little more to my liking, I found MX Linux was a pleasure to use, responsive, fast, and had more tools than you can shake a stick at...So new users will likely not need to use the terminal for anything really, it’s all right there in nice custom-made GUI tools, however, power users may also find the simplicity of some of these tools quite handy too.

Being based on Debian will also help to ensure that MX Linux stays rock solid stable, and there should rarely be crashes or broken packages. I would recommend MX Linux to anyone who cares more about stability than bleeding edge package updates, as well as people looking for a strong distribution that does not use Systemd.

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Review: Ubuntu 21.10

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 21.10 (code name Impish Indri) and its many variant flavors were released on October 14. This release is a non-Long Term Support release, meaning it will be supported for nine months. Like all new releases of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 21.10 comes with numerous updates and enhancements. The most notable of these changes are the customized GNOME 40 desktop and Firefox being a Snap instead of a Deb package. Both of these changes are explored in depth in this review.

Installing Ubuntu 21.10

I began by downloading the 2.9GB ISO and copying it to a flash drive. Booting the computer from the flash drive resulted in an extremely familiar experience. Unfortunately, the new installer currently being worked on did not make it into this release, so Ubuntu 21.10 still provides the same installation experience as all the recent releases of Ubuntu.

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Essential System Tools: Czkawka – data cleaner

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Software
Reviews

This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table in the Summary section.

Even though the cost of storage per GB continues to fall, it’s common for users to need to find and remove duplicates files. The process of finding and removing duplicates is time-consuming. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that are designed to remove the laborious nature of finding duplicates. We recommend fdupes, an excellent command-line tool. We know that many users prefer software with a graphical user interface.

Czkawka is an app that finds duplicate files, big files, empty files, similar images, and much more. Czkawka is free and open source software.

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Free Software Review: Trying out LibreWolf 93 as an alternative to Firefox. It’s less annoying, but there’s still DRM?

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Moz/FF
Reviews
Web

Firefox has recently crossed the line into malware territory.

I’ve been blogging a lot about how much I absolutely despise the direction they are taking the company in.

To recap a little, they’ve turned into a “woke” political party on a crusade to bring Cancel Culture to everyone who has a difference of opinion, their CEO is running them into the ground and swiping all the money while she’s at it.

They laid off most of the developers last year and blamed COVID, and now they hope to get a pile of dirty cash from a sleazy advertising partner with “sponsored suggestions”. A keylogger.

None of this is okay. This is actually worse than Chrome in some ways because it sends your private data to three companies, one of which is Google, then Mozilla, and then another advertising company (BuySellAds).

While I generally like GNOME Web and where it’s going, I’d like to keep using the parts of Firefox that actually do what I want them to, and I was even considering learning how to clean it myself. I’ve built the browser from source code before.

Most of the malicious anti-features are compile-time options.

But it appears that a project called LibreWolf beat me to this.

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Review: Auxtral 3

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At the beginning of this review I mentioned Auxtral reminded me of Linux Mint Debian Edition. The theme, the Cinnamon desktop, and general look of the project certainly held that first impression. However, the default applications and tools (apart from the Cinnamon desktop and command line utilities) felt quite a bit different. Linux Mint has been around for several years and has earned a reputation for being beginner friendly, polished, and shipping with a lot of top-notch open source applications.

Auxtral appears to have a similar approach - similar base distribution, the same desktop environments, and a similar look. However, Auxtral does have its own personality under the surface. It ships with a quite different collection of applications, sometimes using less popular items (Brave in place of Firefox, SMPlayer instead of VLC, etc.) It has also gone its own way with software updates, preferring classic tools like APT and Synaptic over Mint's update manager.

Auxtral is off to a good start. This was my first time trying the distribution and the experience was mostly positive. The operating system is easy to install, offers multiple desktop environments, and walks a pretty good line between hand holding and staying out of the way. The application menu is uncluttered while including enough programs to be useful. Some of those programs are a bit more obscure or less beginner friendly than what you might find in Linux Mint, but otherwise it's a good collection. Virtually everything worked and worked smoothly. I was unpleasantly surprised by this distribution's memory usage, most projects consume about half as much RAM, but otherwise I liked what Auxtral had to offer. I might not recommended it to complete beginners, especially since the project does not appear to have any documentation or support options of its own, but for someone who doesn't mind a little command line work or who likes the idea of an easy to setup distribution that combines Debian with the Cinnamon (or Xfce desktop) this seems like a good option.

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Free Software Review: Yoga Image Optimizer. Google Guetzli? WHY!?

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Many programs that write JPEG files don’t do the best job at using the format efficiently.

So, there are many suboptimal JPEGs floating around the internet, and many are up to 20-30% bigger than they need to be, because some programs do all sorts of ridiculous and unnecessary things when they write them, and also fail to use Huffman Coding correctly.

Unfortunately, JPEG is a lossy compressed format (and not even a great one), and so like an MP3 file, if you re-encode it, even back into itself, you suffer further loss in quality.

However, lossless optimization doesn’t do this. You may not get enormous improvements in file size, but it’s more like using a more aggressive dictionary search in a ZIP file.

(As lossy compression schemes broadly have two parts. One that discards data that it considers perceptually irrelevant, and then another part that does lossless compression methods on what’s left.).

I looked around to see if Debian had MozJPEG, but it didn’t. There was a open discussion about it, which is one of the bright sides of Debian. At least you know the discussions leading up to the decisions they make.

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New Atari VCS Review: Retro Tech Meets Geek Chic

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Hardware
Reviews
Debian

Among other things, the year 1977 marked the beginning of (in my humble opinion) the two greatest entertainment franchises: Star Wars and Atari. Needless to say, the former is alive and well. And until recently, the latter has lived on through the sheer tenacity of its legendary gaming heritage. Now, three years after its hugely successful Indiegogo campaign, Atari at long last quenched retro gaming fans' thirst by finally releasing its brand-new console. Officially known as the VCS 800, this truly multifunctional hybrid gaming, entertainment and computing device is an amazing time machine to both the past and future.

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Excellent System Utilities: Pingnoo – traceroute/ping analyser

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OSS
Reviews

Essential System Utilities is a series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems.

The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the bottom.

This article looks at Pingnoo, an open-source cross-platform application for analysing and measuring the round trip time (latency) between two hosts. It offers a graphical representation for traceroute and ping output.

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Kubuntu Focus XE is the perfect laptop for Windows-switchers and Linux beginners [Review]

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Reviews
Ubuntu
Gadgets

Should you buy the Kubuntu Focus XE Linux laptop? If you are looking to run a Linux-based operating system and want a laptop that is guaranteed to work, it should absolutely be considered. Not only is the hardware largely great, but arguably more importantly, the included software is top-notch.

The Kubuntu operating system is wonderful, as is all of the included curated apps. Not to mention, the Kubuntu Focus enhancements including the specialized apps, Welcome Wizard, and welcome guide, will make things much easier for Linux beginners. The Kubuntu Focus team set out to deliver an excellent user experience at an affordable price with the XE laptop and they totally delivered.

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Review: Pyabr OS

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Pyabr OS was one of the latest distributions to be added to the DistroWatch waiting list. The project refers to itself as a "Python Cloud Operating System", a Linux distribution mostly written in Python. The project, which declares it is developed in Iran with multilingual support, runs on x86_64 computers and 64-bit Raspberry Pi machines.

The project's website mentions that Pyabr is a platform written in Python which offers a desktop and applications which can be run on any Linux distribution while Pyabr OS is a Debian-based operating system that runs the Pyabr software. The operating system can reportedly be installed locally or run from live media like a thumb drive. The desktop environment resembles KDE Plasma but is a custom environment called Baran which the project says is written in Python using the Qt framework.

I was unsure going into this trial how all of this related to cloud computing or services. The term "cloud" gets thrown around on the project's website, but without a clear indication of how this affects the end user. I decided to give the project a test drive and see if I could find out.

The Pyabr OS ISO file is a small download of just 447MB. The live system always stalled early in the boot process for 90 seconds while waiting for systemd to sort out its infamous "A start job is running..." warning. After that, the distribution booted quickly and displayed the Baran desktop which does look a lot like KDE Plasma at first glance due to its shared Qt framework and theme.

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