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Hack Computer review

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware
Reviews

I bought a hack computer for $299 - it's designed for teaching 8+ year olds programming. That's not my intended use case, but I wanted to support a Linux pre-installed vendor with my purchase (I bought an OLPC back in the day in the buy-one give-one program).

I only use a laptop for company events, which are usually 2-4 weeks a year. Otherwise, I use my desktop. I would have bought a machine with Ubuntu pre-installed if I was looking for more of a daily driver.

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Review: OS108 and Venom Linux

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Reviews

Every so often I like to step outside of the distributions I know, the ones I tend to see and use year after year, and try something different. Sometimes trying a new project introduces me to a new way of doing things, as Bedrock Linux did earlier this year. Other times trying a project that is just getting started is a reminder of just how much infrastructure, time and resources go into the big-name projects. At any rate, this week I want to talk about two young projects that grabbed my attention for different reasons.

The first is OS108, which caught my eye because it is a desktop flavour of BSD, which is relatively rare. Specifically, the base operating system is NetBSD. OS108 reportedly wants to be a replacement for Windows and macOS and features the MATE desktop environment. The website did not offer much more information than that. I was able to learn OS108 is available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines only, which I suspect undercuts the usefulness of having a highly portable operating system, such as NetBSD, as the base.

The ISO file I downloaded for OS108 was 1.5GB in size. The file had no version number associated with it, so I assume this is the project's first release. The project's download page says we should install OS108 just as if it were regular NetBSD, then run a script to set up the MATE desktop. Optionally, there is another set of instructions we can follow to set up wireless networking.

Booting from the OS108 media brings up an installer which guides us through a series of text-based menus. We are asked to select our keyboard layout, choose whether to install a fresh copy of the operating system or upgrade, and then select which hard drive will hold OS108. We are also asked to confirm our hard drive's geometry and whether we want to manually partition the disk or let OS108 take over the whole drive. The installer recommends we set aside at least 5GB of space on the drive. Personally, I found more space was required as the default package selection, including the MATE desktop, consumes about 6GB of disk space.

We are next asked if we want a full install, a mostly full install without the X.Org display software, a minimal install, or a custom selection of packages. I went with the full option since it was the default. We can then select where the source packages are located (on the DVD, in this case) and the packages are quickly copied over to the hard drive. A minute later I was asked to perform more configuration steps. These included enabling networking, setting a root password, and turning on optional network services from a list of daemons. We can also create a regular user account and optionally download the pkgsrc ports framework. I skipped installing pkgsrc.

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Enso OS Makes Xfce Elementary

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OS
Reviews

The most impressive aspect of Enso OS is the tweaked desktop that combines a somewhat modified Xfce environment with key elements from Elementary OS. The result could be a better alternative to Xubuntu, depending on your computing preferences.

For an early beta release of a relatively new Linux distribution, Enso OS has much going for it. This distro also has numerous areas where the developer must grow the infrastructure.

Enso OS is clearly a distro that bears watching over the next few releases.

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Nebra AnyBeam: A Raspberry Pi powered home cinema projector you can fit in your pocket [Review]

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Before large screen televisions and 4K content became a thing, I used to enjoy watching films projected onto a white wall at home. I had a Canon projector hooked up to my PC with surround sound, and it was like having a personal cinema.

Technology has moved on quite some way since then, and you can now buy reasonable quality projectors for a fraction of the price. Case in point is Nebra AnyBeam, a Raspberry Pi powered pocket sized projector.

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Review: openSUSE Leap 15.1

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Reviews
SUSE

openSUSE is one of those distros I have always been interested in but which I had never used for more than a few hours. Recently the project released Leap 15.1, which was a good enough reason to give the distro a proper spin.

The distro hardly needs an introduction. It is a community project sponsored by SUSE, one of the larger commercial Linux vendors. openSUSE maintains two distros: Tumbleweed is a rolling release distro and upstream to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE). Leap is a stable (non-rolling) distro that is downstream to SLE. A new version of Leap is released roughly once a year, and each version is supported for 18 months. The Leap 15.x series as a whole is supported for three years.

openSUSE is probably best known for the Btrfs file system, Snapper and YaST. As Leap 15.1 is a relatively small, conservative upgrade from 15.0 I will mainly focus on these features. I will also have a look at where things may be heading.

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StreamTuner2 – internet radio station and video browser

Filed under
Software
Reviews

I’ve put a few internet radio station players through their paces in recent weeks.

I was fairly positive about odio, even though it’s not released under an open source license and consumes massive globs of memory. But the developer is beavering away on a new release and intends to open source the code. I’ll definitely write an updated review when/if that happens. I’ve also covered Shortwave, a GTK3 based radio player written in Rust. My favorites to date are Radiotray-NG and PyRadio.

This time, I’m putting StreamTuner2 under the microscope. StreamTuner2 is a GUI for browsing internet radio directories, music collections, and video services – grouped by genres or categories. It runs your preferred audio player or streamripper for recording.

StreamTuner2 is an independent rewrite of StreamTuner1. Whereas the original was developed in C, the rewrite is coded in Python. If you ever used the original StreamTuner 0.99 software, you’ll be familiar with StreamTuner2’s interface, as both share many similarities. The software is released into the public domain, so you can do anything you like with the source code.

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MX Linux Reinvents Computer Use

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Linux
Reviews

MX Linux makes transitioning from any desktop operating system simple. It provides a computing platform that is a bit different and very reliable.

MX Linux is a powerful, easy-to-use computing platform that goes beyond lightweight performance without filling your computer with software bloat.

The latest MX Linux 18.3 ISO is a "refresh" release, not a major upgrade. It has all the recent updates, bug fixes and system updates. This distro does not offer rolling releases, however.

You can perform a system upgrade from an existing MX Linux installation when new refresh releases are issued to get all the updates since the original MX-18 version release. There is no need to do a re-installation with each new release.

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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 8

Filed under
KDE
Reviews

This eighth report is a summary of my worst overall Slimbook & Kubuntu session yet. On one hand, I've witnessed many useful, important, visible improvements in the system over the past six months, and we had hit a plateau of good, sweet stability. The latest wave of updates seems to upset that ever so slightly. Enough to make me miffed, because I really don't want to need any of those crashes or annoyances.

I'm still very happy with my choice, and occasional crashes happen everywhere. This isn't Linux-specific, but that doesn't mean we should settle for comfortable mediocrity. The one outstanding issue is the CPU temperature event, which to me looks like something in the firmware. I will keep an eye, because apart from that, the hardware has been rock solid, there were no other events of this type at all, and no visible problems as a result in any shape or form. Anyway, I think we've had enough excitement for one report. We shall soon convene for yet more thrill, uncertainty, fun, and adventure. Stay cool.

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Review: Manjaro Linux 18.0.4

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Reviews

I've always been a big fan of Ubuntu because of ease of use and it always seemed to work with my hardware, but I've always had a desire to use a rolling release and have more control over my system. Manjaro really impressed me with how well it worked on my computer, even with pretty new hardware (mhwd gets the credit here). Other things about Manjaro that seal the deal are Pamac, Manjaro Settings Manager, and the community. I don't think I can ever go back to the release model that Ubuntu uses and I will be using Manjaro as my distro of choice for the foreseeable future.

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Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo - Order and chaos

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo is a somewhat bi-polar release. It's got a lot of goodies and many improvements, notably Samba support and smartphone support, plus Boutique looks and behaves better than ever. The performance and battery life can be better. But the big issue is customization. There are way too many layouts, which are all good and nice for the end user, for the dev team to manage effectively. With six or seven permutations, lots of little things can go wrong - and they did.

I had to fight the dock, the menu, the global menu, the positioning of the panels, the fonts, all of it really. Shame, because Ubuntu MATE brings a lot of innovation, but it doesn't gel. Then, hardware glitches. Video tearing, the Wireless disconnect. Not something I've seen with the rest of the bunch. All in all, this is a reasonable interim release, but it feels chaotic. Worth testing, and you'll probably find it in line with Cosmic. Something like 6.5-7/10. Once the problems get resolved, it could really be a cushty one. Just look at how MX Linux progressed over the last years. So there. Testing, testing, one two dingo.

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More in Tux Machines

All Linux, all the time: Supercomputers Top 500

Starting at the top, two IBM-built supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, respectively to the bottom -- a Lenovo Xeon-powered box in China -- all of them run Linux. Linux supports more hardware architectures than any other operating system. In supercomputers, it supports both clusters, such as Summit and Sierra, the most common architecture, and Massively Parallel Processing (MPP), which is used by the number three computer Sunway TaihuLight. When it comes to high-performance computing (HPC), Intel dominates the TOP500 by providing processing power to 95.6% of all systems included on the list. That said, IBM's POWER powers the fastest supercomputers. One supercomputer works its high-speed magic with Arm processors: Sandia Labs' Astra, an HPE design, which uses over 130-thousand Cavium ThunderX2 cores. And, what do all these processors run? Linux, of course. . 133 systems of the Top 500 supercomputers are using either accelerator or co-processor setups. Of these most are using Nvidia GPUs. And, once more, it's Linux conducting the hardware in a symphony of speed. Read more

Red Hat and SUSE Leftovers

  • Are DevOps certifications valuable? 10 pros and cons
  • Kubernetes 1.15: Enabling the Workloads
    The last mile for any enterprise IT system is the application. In order to enable those applications to function properly, an entire ecosystem of services, APIs, databases and edge servers must exist. As Carl Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” To create that IT universe, however, we must have control over its elements. In the Kubernetes universe, the individual solar systems and planets are now Operators, and the fundamental laws of that universe have solidified to the point where civilizations can grow and take root. Discarding the metaphor, we can see this in the introduction of Object Count Quota Support For Custom Resources. In English, this enables administrators to count and limit the number of Kubernetes resources across the broader ecosystem in a given cluster. This means services like Knative, Istio, and even Operators like the CrunchyData PostgreSQL Operator, the MongoDB Operator or the Redis Operator can be controlled via quota using the same mechanisms that standard Kubernetes resources have enjoyed for many releases. That’s great for developers, who can now be limited by certain expectations. It would not benefit the cluster for a bad bit of code to create 30 new PostgreSQL clusters because someone forgot to add a “;” at the end of a line. Call them “guardrails” that protect against unbounded object growth in your etcd database.
  • Red Hat named HPE’s Partner of the Year at HPE Discover 2019
    For more than 19 years, Red Hat has collaborated with HPE to develop, deliver and support trusted solutions that can create value and fuel transformation for customers. Our work together has grown over these nearly two decades and our solutions now include Linux, containers and telecommunications technologies, to name just a few. As a testament to our collaboration, HPE has named Red Hat the Technology Partner of the Year 2019 for Hybrid Cloud Solutions.
  • Demystifying Containers – Part II: Container Runtimes
    This series of blog posts and corresponding talks aims to provide you with a pragmatic view on containers from a historic perspective. Together we will discover modern cloud architectures layer by layer, which means we will start at the Linux Kernel level and end up at writing our own secure cloud native applications. Simple examples paired with the historic background will guide you from the beginning with a minimal Linux environment up to crafting secure containers, which fit perfectly into todays’ and futures’ orchestration world. In the end it should be much easier to understand how features within the Linux kernel, container tools, runtimes, software defined networks and orchestration software like Kubernetes are designed and how they work under the hood.
  • Edge > Core > Cloud: Transform the Way You Want
    For more than 25 years, SUSE has been very successful in delivering enterprise-grade Linux to our customers. And as IT infrastructure has shifted and evolved, so have we. For instance, we enabled and supported the move to software-defined data centers as virtualization and containerization technologies became more prevalent and data growth demanded a new approach.
  • SUSE OpenStack Cloud Technology Preview Takes Flight
    We are pleased to announce that as of today we are making a technology preview of a containerized version of SUSE OpenStack Cloud available that will demonstrate a future direction for our product. The lifecycle management for this technology preview is based on an upstream OpenStack project called Airship, which SUSE has been using and contributing to for some time. This follows our open / open policy of upstream first and community involvement.

NSA Back Doors in Windows Causing Chaos While Media is Obsessing Over DoS Linux Bug

  • U.S. Government Announces Critical Warning For Microsoft Windows Users
    The United States Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has gone public with a warning to Microsoft Windows users regarding a critical security vulnerability. By issuing the "update now" warning, CISA has joined the likes of Microsoft itself and the National Security Agency (NSA) in warning Windows users of the danger from the BlueKeep vulnerability. This latest warning, and many would argue the one with most gravitas, comes hot on the heels of Yaniv Balmas, the global head of cyber research at security vendor Check Point, telling me in an interview for SC Magazine UK that "it's now a race against the clock by cyber criminals which makes this vulnerability a ticking cyber bomb." Balmas also predicted that it will only be "a matter of weeks" before attackers started exploiting BlueKeep. The CISA alert appears to confirm this, stating that it has, "coordinated with external stakeholders and determined that Windows 2000 is vulnerable to BlueKeep." That it can confirm a remote code execution on Windows 2000 might not sound too frightening, this is an old operating system after all, it would be unwise to classify this as an exercise in fear, uncertainty and doubt. Until now, the exploits that have been developed, at least those seen in operation, did nothing more than crash the computer. Achieving remote code execution brings the specter of the BlueKeep worm into view as it brings control of infected machines to the attacker.
  • Netflix uncovers SACK Panic vuln that can bork Linux-based systems

Graphics: AMDVLK Still Hasn't Yet Adopted FreeSync Support, a Look at Hair Renderer In Vulkan

  • AMDVLK Still Hasn't Yet Adopted FreeSync Support
    While the AMDGPU kernel driver has shipped with the long-awaited FreeSync support since the Linux 5.0 release earlier this year and was quickly wired up for the RadeonSI Gallium3D OpenGL driver in Mesa 19.0 while the recent Mesa 19.1 update brought FreeSync for the RADV Vulkan driver, AMDVLK as AMD's official open-source Vulkan driver isn't yet supporting this variable rate refresh technology. It's a bit ironic that the AMDVLK Vulkan driver still hasn't done its bit of hooking into the AMDGPU FreeSync support even though the code-base is partially shared with their Windows driver and the unofficial Mesa-based "RADV" Vulkan driver is already shipping with this feature in place. When looking through the latest AMDVLK code, the FreeSync functionality remains absent.
  • VKHR - An AMD-Backed Open-Source Hair Renderer In Vulkan
    VKHR is an open-source, real-time hybrid hair renderer written in Vulkan and developed under the support of AMD/RTG. AMD previously worked on some great hair rendering tech with TressFX but now it's being taken to a whole new level with VKHR. VKHR is being led by Erik Jansson of AMD as a real-time hybrid hair renderer "written 100% from scratch in Vulkan" and using C++17 code. VKHR has a built-in ray-tracer based on Intel's Embree technology. And there's even a built-in benchmark for comparing the project's hair rendering performance.