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Reviews

Plasma 5.18 LTS review - The good, the bad ... and yeah

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KDE
Reviews

Here we go. The KDE team has released the latest version of Plasma, numbered 5.18. This also happens to be a Long Term Support (LTS) release, which in Plasma parlance means two years of support. Since I'm an avid user, and even have Plasma deployed in my production setup via Kubuntu 18.04 running on a Slimbook Pro2, it's time to set scopes on the future, and see what gives.

I did my testing on Lenovo G50, which happens to be my hardware scapegoat de jour. Also, I have KDE neon installed there, Developer Edition (Stable), so I get to see all the little changes and fixes and whatnot almost as soon as they are introduced. This means I had a chance to sample Plasma 5.18 since the earliest build, and now that we have the official release, I must share me experience. Avanti.

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Linux distro review: Intel’s own Clear Linux OS

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OS
Linux
Reviews

Intel's Clear Linux distribution has been getting a lot of attention lately, due to its incongruously high benchmark performance. Although the distribution was created and is managed by Intel, even AMD recommends running benchmarks of its new CPUs under Clear Linux in order to get the highest scores.

Recently at Phoronix, Michael Larabel tested a Threadripper 3990X system using nine different Linux distros, one of which was Clear Linux—and Intel's distribution got three times as many first-place results as any other distro tested. When attempting to conglomerate all test results into a single geometric mean, Larabel found that the distribution's results were, on average, 14% faster than the slowest distributions tested (CentOS 8 and Ubuntu 18.04.3).

There's not much question that Clear Linux is your best bet if you want to turn in the best possible benchmark numbers. The question not addressed here is, what's it like to run Clear Linux as a daily driver? We were curious, so we took it for a spin.

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Calculate Linux 20

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Linux
Reviews

Calculate Linux released version 20 at the end of 2019 with major updates and is based off Gentoo. Calculate Linux Desktop (CLD) includes a wizard to configure a connection to Calculate Directory Server. According to their download page, "Calculate Linux Desktop is listed in the Russian Software Register." To sum that up, CLD is a distro from Russia, based off Gentoo, and designed to connect to a Calculate Directory Server. What is a Calculate Directory Server? Well according to their website, "Calculate Directory Server (CDS) is an advanced, LDAP-based authentication server designed to be a domain controller for business networks."

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Detailed tests of search engines: Google, Startpage, Bing, DuckDuckGo, metaGer, Ecosia, Swisscows, Searx, Qwant, Yandex, and Mojeek

Filed under
Google
Reviews
Web

Since my last in-depth comparison review of alternative search engines in 2014, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Google is appearing as a loan-verb in more and more languages due to its continued dominance in the search engine market. But at the same time, Google is being increasingly demonized by privacy focused users. An even more more interesting development is the trend of complaints that Google’s algorithm is producing results that are less relevant and more indicative of artificial stupidity than artificial intelligence. I belong in this latter camp, as I am more of a pragmatist than a privacy pundit. I simply want the best search results with minimal effort and no nonsense. Back in my 2014 article, I was hopeful that DuckDuckGo was quickly becoming a viable and attractive alternative to Google. While DuckDuckGo continues to be the darling of privacy conscious users and is enjoying more popularity than ever, I am concerned that its core search infrastructure and algorithms have largely stagnated. Since my last article, many other alternatives have cropped up, bringing some very interesting features and concepts, but it still remains to be seen if they offer acceptable results in the fundamentally important area of relevant search results. This comparison sets out to analyze and compare the current batch of alternatives in 2020.

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Simplicity Does More Than Simplify Linux

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Linux
Reviews

Simplicity Linux, even with its more modern retooling, maintains the distro's earlier goals of providing a simpler way to run a fully powered Linux desktop. The addition of the Gaming Edition makes it easy to get started with computer gaming.

This new offering no doubt could be merged with the Desktop Edition for a more compact selection. That might allow the developer to release a new X Edition offering in the next release cycle.

I am not sure if the Mini Edition needs a full-function heavyweight desktop the likes of Cinnamon. I would like to see a return to the Xfce desktop there.

Either way, I look forward to the next release of Simplicity Linux. This distro holds considerable promise.

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Open Broadcast Software Studio - Ready for the silver screen?

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Software
Movies
Reviews

Having recently tested Kdenlive 19.08 and then taken a brief but pleasant look at OpenShot, I decided to expand my cinematic horizons and explore some additional software on the media market. One program that came into the hazy spotlight is Open Broadcast Software (OBS), a free and open-source video editor, designed primarily for video recording and live streaming.

Well, here I am, with me unfunny collection of Youtube clips, and here it is, OBS, waiting for me to test and review it. Sounds like a plan, and proceed so we shall. Once again, I'm back on Linux, in Kubuntu, but that shouldn't really make much difference. Anyway, let's begin.

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EasyOS 2.2

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Reviews

EasyOS is an experimental Linux distribution which uses many of the technologies and package formats pioneered by Puppy Linux. The distribution features custom container technology called Easy Containers which can run applications, or the entire desktop environment, in a container.

The project's latest version is EasyOS 2.2 which is based on Debian 10 packages. I last tried EasyOS (version 1.0) about a year ago and I was curious to see how the distribution has evolved. EasyOS is available for 64-bit (x86_64) computers and its download is a compressed image file, 514MB in size. Once the file is unpacked, it expands to 1,281MB (about 1.2GB).

Once the image file is written to a thumb drive we can boot the distribution which brings up a text console. We are prompted to pick our keyboard from a list of abbreviated language options. Then we are asked to make up a password. The password is later used to unencrypt a filesystem - I suspect the area of the thumb drive which contains our data and settings. In other words, it is important to remember this password.

The desktop, a customized version of JWM, loads and shows us a setup screen where we can adjust language and desktop settings. We are then given a chance to enable a firewall and open any listed network ports we wish. The window manager then displays icons along the top of the screen for launching package managers, a virtual terminal, a web browser, and a program that helps us find installed applications. Towards the central-top area of the desktop we find specially marked icons which launch containers. Specifically there are containers for running a console, a web browser, and a fully contained desktop. I will come back to these a bit later.

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MakuluLinux LinDoz Offers Windows Comfort Zone, but It's All Linux Under the Hood

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Overall, I am very impressed with the new LinDoz release. It is essentially designed as an easy-to-use operating system that feels comfortable for both Windows and Linux users.

In fact, it even makes using Linux easier for those with disabilities. LinDoz fully supports accessible options to cater for disabled or the elderly that may not see well. It now has a built in Screen Reader, Magnifier and On Screen keyboard. These features are neatly laid out with easy access.

I do not expect an automatic update from the still current version, however. Way too many changes are built into this LinDoz release. So grab the new ISO and experience an effortless fresh installation.

As of this writing, the upgrade was not yet posted for download. But Raymer's targeted date is between mid February and the end of the month.

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Dell’s 2019 XPS 13 DE: As close as we currently get to Linux-computing nirvana

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Linux
Reviews

Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition, the company's flagship "just works" Ubuntu-based machine, was recently refreshed. These days Dell's XPS line is not the cheapest Linux option, nor is it the most configurable or user-upgradable. And if any of those factors are a big part of your criteria, this is likely not the laptop for you.

On top of that, many Linux users still have a strong DIY streak and will turn up their noses at the XPS 13. After all, in a day and age when just about every laptop I test seems to run Linux fairly well right out of the box, do you need official support? If you know what you're doing and don't mind troubleshooting your own problems, the answer is probably not.

Yet after spending a few weeks with the latest XPS 13 (the fourth refresh I've tested), it's hard to shake the feeling that this is the closest any company has come to Linux-computing nirvana. The XPS 13 Developer Edition makes an excellent choice for anyone who prefers Linux but wants hardware support from the manufacturer. All these years into its Linux odyssey, Dell continues to stand behind the operating system on these machines in a way that, in my experience, few other computer makers do.

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Inside Gnome Boxes

Filed under
GNOME
Reviews
HowTos

For average users, Gnome Boxes offers an easy-to-use virtual machine solution for Linux.

When Linux users want a virtual machine, many install VMware Workstation Player or VirtualBox. Neither is free-licensed, but both are free for downloading and easier to use than Qemu. In comparison, Gnome Boxes (Boxes) is less well-known , but deserves attention. A front end for Qemu, KVM, and libvirt, Boxes is not only the most efficient VM solution for Linux, Windows, or BSD, but also improves some of the features that make alternatives difficult to use. In fact, it is so simple that I thought twice about reviewing it, on the grounds that it is so simple that it can almost speak for itself.

[...]

At this point, experts might complain that Boxes lacks the choice of the VM type to create. Boxes simply creates a Virtual Disk Image, with no option to choose a Virtual Hard Disk or Virtual Machine Disk as on VirtualBox. Neither can you specify a fixed size -- just a maximum size, so that the VM does not take over the entire drive. However, Boxes’ choices are what many users (if not most) want anyway, so the lack of options may hardly be missed. In general, the lack of options seems a reasonable exchange for Boxes’ streamlined simplicity.

But no matter what your choices, when you have made them, click the Create button in the window's upper right corner to go through a standard installation procedure in about the same time you would take if installing to hardware. If, as with many distributions, the installation gives you the option of a Live DVD rather than the installation, then, unlike with Virtual Box, the Live option can be used more than once. This setup means that you can save time and space by using the Live option. Later, if you want, you can install from the Live DVD.

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Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS Receive New Kernel Live Patch

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FreeBSD vs. Linux Scaling Up To 128 Threads With The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

Last week I looked at the Windows vs. Linux scaling performance on the Threadripper 3990X at varying core/thread counts followed by looking at the Windows 10 performance against eight Linux distributions for this $3990 USD processor running within the System76 Thelio Major workstation. Now the tables have turned for our first look at this 64-core / 128-thread processor running on the BSDs, FreeBSD 12.1 in particular. With this article is looking at the FreeBSD 12.1 performance and seeing how the performance scales compared to Ubuntu 20.04 Linux and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 based CentOS Stream. Read more