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University students create award-winning open source projects

In my short time working for Clarkson University, I've realized what a huge impact this small university is making on the open source world. Our 4,300 student-strong science and technology-focused institution, located just south of the Canadian border in Potsdam, New York, hosts the Clarkson Open Source Institute (COSI), dedicated to promoting open source software and providing equipment and support for student projects. While many universities offer opportunities for students to get involved in open source projects, it's rare to have an entire institute dedicated to promoting open source development. COSI is part of Clarkson's Applied Computer Science Labs within the computer science department. It, along with the Internet Teaching Lab and the Virtual Reality Lab, is run by students (supported by faculty advisers), allowing them to gain experience in managing both facilities and projects while still undergraduates. Read more

Linux 4.17-rc2

So rc2 is out, and things look fairly normal. The diff looks a bit unusual, with the tools subdirectory dominating, with 30%+ of the whole diff. Mostly perf and test scripts. But if you ignore that, the rest looks fairly usual. Arch updates (s390 and x86 dominate) and drivers (networking, gpu, HID, mmc, misc) are the bulk of it, with misc other changes all over (filesystems, core kernel, networking, docs). We've still got some known fallout from the merge window, but it shouldn't affect most normal configurations, so go out and test. Linus Read more Also: Upstream Linux support for new NXP i.MX8

Today in Techrights

Review: Chakra GNU/Linux 2017.10

Chakra is an unusual distribution for a few reasons. It is a rare semi-rolling project, which tries to maintain a fairly stable base system while providing up to date applications. This is an interesting compromise between full rolling and static operating systems. The semi-rolling concept is an idea I like and I was curious to see how well the approach would work dealing with around six months of updates. I was pleased to find Chakra handled the massive upgrade well. Chakra was once also considered unusual for being very KDE-focused. There are more KDE distribution these days (KaOS, Kubuntu and KDE neon come readily to mind) and I think Chakra may have lost some of its appeal as more competition has established itself in the KDE-centric arena. I found the distribution to be easy to set up and pretty straight forward to use, but there were a few characteristics which bothered me during my trial with Chakra. One was that while updates installed cleanly, once Plasma 5.12 was installed, I experienced slow login times and reduced performance on the desktop. It could be argued that this is a Plasma problem, not a Chakra problem, but the distribution's rolling release nature means any regressions in new versions of software end up in the user's lap. Something that tends to bother me about distributions which focus on one desktop toolkit or another is that this approach to selecting software means we are sometimes using less capable tools in the name of toolkit purity. This is not a trade-off I like as I'd rather be using more polished applications over ones which a particular affiliation. Finally, Chakra includes a number of command line aliases which got in my way. This seems to be a problem I have been running into more often recently. Developers are trying to be helpful by aliasing common commands, but it means that for some tasks I need to change my habits or undefine the provided aliases and the feature ends up being a nuisance instead of a convenience. Chakra seems to be a capable and useful distribution and I am sure there are people who will appreciate the rolling release nature. Many people will likely also like having lots of KDE applications, and I can see the appeal of this combination. However, one thing which makes me hesitate to recommend Chakra is that the distribution does not appear to bring any special features to the ecosystem. It's a useful operating system and, to be completely fair, users can install non-KDE alternatives if they want to use LibreOffice instead of Calligra or GIMP instead of KolourPaint. But I'm not sure Chakra brings anything unique which makes it stand apart from openSUSE's Tumbleweed or KaOS's polished Plasma offering. Chakra used to be special in its semi-rolling, KDE-focused niche, but these days the distribution has a more competition and I'm not sure the project has any special sauce to set it apart from the crowd. Read more