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Reviews

Vector Linux 5.9: Light, fast Slackware-based distro

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Vector Linux 5.9, released in late December of last year, is a Slackware 12.0-based distribution that uses Xfce 4.4.2 as its default user interface. Generally speaking, Xfce requires less horsepower than other UIs, like GNOME and KDE, and so Vector Linux bills itself as an excellent operating system to install on older, lower-powered computers. I've been using it for the past two weeks, and like what I see.

KDE 4.0: Everything that has an end, has a beginning

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By now, every Linux user's heard of KDE 4.0, and the controversy surrounding its release. Here's one partisan KDE user's take on it — with screenshots.

openSUSE 10.3 in review: A solid Linux desktop

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openSUSE is a popular German Linux distribution that Distrowatch.com lists as one of the "top ten." Version 10.3 was released on October 4th. Underneath its new green artwork, the new version's improvements include cutting down the time it takes to reach the graphical login screen; speeding up and streamlining its package management utility; and making it easier for users to install software using a new "one-click install" process. There's a lot to like here.

Beta Review: Kanotix 2007 "Thorhammer" RC5B

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The last Kanotix release (based on Debian Sid) came out in October, 2006. Shortly thereafter, a Kanotix co-developer (and many of Kanotix's other developers) left the project, mainly due to a disagreement over whether Kanotix should be based on Sid (Debian's unstable branch) or something less volatile, like Etch (Debian's current stable branch) or Ubuntu. Kanotix's founder now has a new, Etch-based version of Kanotix in development, code-named "Thorhammer."

Sidux 2007-03.1 "Gaia": A closer look

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Unless you're able to deal with such esoteric problems as diagnosing a buggy post-install script, or figuring out how to deal with a major change in the directory structure of X.org, you might occasionally find running a Debian Sid-based system to be more than you can handle. And that's where Sidux comes in. Sidux's goal is to allow mere mortals the ability to run Debian Sid on the desktop, in order to take advantage of the latest Debian software available. Its development team helps guide its users through the occasional bumps in Sid, via IRC and its user forum. Another goal is to offer a consistent release cycle. Sidux comes with a variety of "convenience scripts" and utilities you won't find in Debian proper, that make it easier to do such things as administer your system and install proprietary software.

Slackware 12: The anti-'buntu

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Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution; its first version came out in 1993. Version 12 was recently released. As its Wikipedia entry notes, it's got a reputation for sacrificing ease-of-use (in terms of configuration and package management tools provided by the distribution) in favor of letting the end user configure the system and its software by herself.

Fedora 7 "Moonshine": Freedom vs. Ease-of-Use (Part 2)

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Part 2 of the Fedora 7 "Moonshine" review.

Fedora 7 "Moonshine": Freedom vs. Ease-of-Use (Part 1)

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Fedora 7, a.k.a. "Moonshine," released on May 31, is an odd duck. On the one hand, it's hugely popular. On the other hand, these days, there seems to be an emphasis on being user-friendly (think "Ubuntu"). But Fedora's creators have consciously limited what it can do out of the box.

Linux Mint 3.0-BETA-012 Cassandra Quickie

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I was anxious to test the new Linux Mint release in hopes that wireless might be working, but alas, I spent the better part of 4 days downloading in vain.

Blue Belle: Running PCLinuxOS Test 4

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PCLinuxOS is an up-and-coming distribution that recently made it into Distrowatch.com's list of Top Ten Distributions. I installed PCLinuxOS Test 4 on a 10 GB partition (with a separate 1 GB /home partition) on an AMD Athlon 2600+ with 640 MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 6200 LE graphics card. This hardware is no great shakes nowadays, but it's plenty fast enough to run PCLinuxOS with all the bells and whistles.

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More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • How to get Apple-like gestures on the Linux desktop
    I understand a big part of the problem is that Apple owns patents on trackpad gestures, something which hinders the open source community's ability to create a quality experience. But that hurdle shouldn't equate to a bad experience, which many people have. Not only does Linux install without any sort of multi-touch gestures, it is sometimes over sensitive or under sensitive. I've installed Linux on laptop hardware and found the trackpad configuration was a losing battle—until I discovered Fusuma.
  • How to fix missing Python for Ansible in Fedora Vagrant
  • Did your open source career begin with video games?
    Certainly you don't need to be a gamer as a child to grow up and become a developer, nor does being a gamer automatically set you up for a career in technology. But there's definitely a good bit of overlap between the two. After listening to the first episode of Command Line Heroes, and reading Ross Turk's story of how MUDs led him to a career in coding, I've thought a bit about how gaming has influenced my own journey into technology, and how it lead to a career in open source. For me, that first important game was WarCraft II. Sure, I played games before it, and after it. But shortly after my family replaced our faithful Apple IIc with a blazing fast (by comparison) 486 PC with amazing features like color, and a sound card, and even a 2400 baud modem (that would take about three months to download the equivalent of an hour of Netflix today).
  • openSUSE to Have Summit in Nashville
    The openSUSE community is headed to Nashville, Tennessee, next year and will have the openSUSE SUmmit Nashville April 5 through April 6, 2019, during the end of SUSE’s premier annual global technical conference SUSECON. Registration for the event is open and the Call for Papers is open until Jan. 15. Partners of openSUSE, open-source community projects and community members are encourage to register for the summit and submit a talk. The schedule for the openSUSE SUmmit Nashville will be released at the beginning of February.
  • How selfless is your open organization?
    "Community" is a defining characteristic of open organizations. A community could be many things—a "team," a "group," a "department," or a "task force," for example. What makes any of these groups a true community is two distinct factors: a well-defined purpose and clear investment in or value of that purpose. How does a person balance a community's values with his or her own, personal values? How does that person negotiate this relationship when setting goals? Answers to these questions will expose and speak to that person's character.
  • Andres Rodriguez: MAAS 2.5.0 beta 1 released
    I’m happy to announce that MAAS 2.5.0 beta 1 has been released.
  • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 545
    Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 545 for the week of September 9 – 15, 2018.
  • Arm delivers production-ready open source Bluetooth Low Energy software stack to unleash IoT innovation
    Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is quickly becoming the Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity protocol of choice for a variety of use cases, including smart lighting, smart cities and asset tracking, where low-cost, power consumption and small footprint are fundamental requirements. According to the 2018 Bluetooth Market Update, there will be more than 5 billion Bluetooth device shipments by 2022, with 97% of them containing Bluetooth Low Energy technology. The advances in Bluetooth 5 technology, along with the introduction of Bluetooth Mesh are driving new market opportunities across building automation, sensor networks, and other IoT solutions.
  • Digital Minimalism and Deep Work
    Through Newport's blog I learned that the title of his next book is Digital Minimalism. This intrigued me, because since I started thinking about minimalism myself, I've wondered about the difference of approach needed between minimalism in the "real world" and the digital domains. It turns out the topic of Newport's next book is about something different: from what I can tell, focussing on controlling how one spends one's time online for maximum productivity.

Red Hat and Fedora Leftovers

OSS and Sharing Leftover

  • Announcing Heritage: An Open Source, Public Blockchain Project
    Heritage is a project of A​3​ by Airbus, the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley. Airbus Foundation is the first strategic partner within Airbus to utilize blockchain technology developed by Heritage. Heritage is a decentralized application for the Airbus Foundation to hold charity fundraising campaigns internal to Airbus. Through open sourcing Heritage, Airbus Foundation will help charities onboard cryptocurrency and smart contracts, opening them to a new class of donor. Heritage hopes to set a standard non-profits can replicate to continue to grow the ecosystem while aiding an underserved market.
  • Versity announces next generation open source archiving filesystem
    Versity Software has announced that it has released ScoutFS under GPLv2. "ScoutFS is the first GPL archiving file system ever released, creating an inherently safer and more user friendly option for storing archival data where accessibility over very large time scales, and the removal of vendor specific risk is a key consideration."
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  • Chrome Beta 70 Brings 2-Factor Authentication Via Fingerprint Sensor To Android & Mac
    With the beta version of Chrome 70 on the roll, Google has added yet another useful feature to make signing into the websites easier. As announced in an official blog post, Chrome now supports 2-factor authentication in Android and Macbook with the device’s fingerprint sensor.
  • Thunderbird 60 with title bar hidden
    Many users like hidden system titlebar as Firefox feature although it’s not finished yet. But we’re very close and I hope to have Firefox 64 in shape that the title bar can be disabled by default at least on Gnome and matches Firefox outfit at Windows and Mac. Thunderbird 60 was finally released for Fedora and comes with a basic version of the feature as it was introduced at Firefox 60 ESR. There’s a simple checkbox at “Customize” page at Firefox but Thunderbird is missing an easy switch.
  • Washington State Electronic Notary Public endorsements

    [...] This all seemed to me to be something that GnuPG is designed to do and does quite well. So I sent an email on Friday night to the sender of the letter requesting specific issues that my provider did not comply with. This morning I received a call from the DoL, and was able to successfully argue for GnuPG's qualification as an electronic records notary public technology provider for the State of Washington.

    In short, GnuPG can now be used to perform notarial acts <http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.45.140> in the State of Washington!

  • Surprise: Bill Introduced To Finally Make PACER Free To All
         This would be... amazing. We've spent years highlighting the massive problems with PACER, the federal court system that charges insane amounts for basically everything you do, just to access public records, and which functions very much like it was designed around 1995. There are a few court cases arguing that PACER fees are illegal and a recent ruling in one of those cases agreed. As we noted at the time, that was hardly the final word on the matter. A bill like the ones Collins introduced would be an amazing leap forward in giving public access to court documents.
  • Collins introduces bill to increase transparency and access to federal court documents
    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) today introduced a bill to reform both parts of the federal courts’ electronic records system. “Americans deserve a justice system that is transparent and accessible. I introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act to modernize the judicial records systems and remove fee-for-access barriers that technology has rendered unnecessary,” said Collins. “As an attorney and the son of a law enforcement officer, I understand how crucial it is that this legislation ensures access to a freer, fairer and more accountable judiciary.”

Security: UIDAI, Wireshark, Hackers For Good

  • Software Patch Claimed To Allow Aadhaar's Security To Be Bypassed, Calling Into Question Biometric Database's Integrity
    As the Huffington Post article explains, creating a patch that is able to circumvent the main security features in this way was possible thanks to design choices made early on in the project. The unprecedented scale of the Aadhaar enrollment process -- so far around 1.2 billion people have been given an Aadhaar number and added to the database -- meant that a large number of private agencies and village-level computer kiosks were used for registration. Since connectivity was often poor, the main software was installed on local computers, rather than being run in the cloud. The patch can be used by anyone with local access to the computer system, and simply involves replacing a folder of Java libraries with versions lacking the security checks. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government body responsible for the Aadhaar project, has responded to the Huffington Post article, but in a rather odd way: as a Donald Trump-like stream of tweets. The Huffington Post points out: "[the UIDAI] has simply stated that its systems are completely secure without any supporting evidence."
  • New CAS BACnet Wireshark Report Tool Helps User to Quickly Locate Intermittent Issues
  • Hackers For Good, Working To Gather Stakeholders To Find Answers To Cyberspace Challenges
    For a number of people, the word hacker means bad news. However, if some hackers have malevolent intentions, there are also hackers for good, and their skills were put to the challenge last week as they tried to save a fictitious city fallen into the hands of a group of cyber terrorists. The challenge was part of a two-day event organised by a young Geneva-based non-governmental organisation seeking to raise awareness about digital trust and bring accountability to cyberspace.