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Reviews

Reolink RLC-810A review – A 4K security camera with people & vehicle detection

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Android
Reviews
Ubuntu

The person and vehicle detection feature in Reolink RLC-810A security camera is just great, and I could not imagine reviewing other CCTV cameras or NVR systems without AI in the future, as in my experience, standard motion detection just does not cut it with too many false positive. As we’ve seen in the review, the way to position the camera may be important to make sure it works optimally, and at night, cats may be detected as persons, but it still removes 99% of the noise I got with PIR sensors.

I don’t like using Windows, simply because I only use Ubuntu 20.04 on my laptop and Android on my phone unless I have no other choice. So I also really appreciated the multiple ways I could access the camera from the Android app and a standard web browser in Ubuntu, and support for RTSP and ONVIF is also great for people wanting to integrate the camera into their own CCTV solution. It should be noted I could only access the “Clear” 4K UHD stream from the Android app (it should also work in Reolink Windows and Mac program), and RTSP, but only the “Fluent” 640×360 stream from the web browser and ONVIF, so that’s probably something the company will want to fix in a new firmware update.

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Review: ArchBang Linux 0111

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Linux
Reviews

ArchBang Linux is a lightweight distribution based on Arch Linux. Using the i3 window manager, it strives to be fast, up-to-date and suitable for desktop systems. The current snapshots of ArchBang use an unusual versioning convention with a day & month combination. For example, 0811 is the snapshot for the 8th of November. Previous versions used a year & month combination so that a snapshot from January 2014 would be 2014.01.

Apart from the shift in version numbers since the last time I tried ArchBang the distribution has also swapped out the Openbox window manager for i3 on the install media. I was curious to see how this would work. ArchBang has just one download option, a 914MB ISO file that runs on 64-bit (x86_64) machines.

The live media boots and brings up the i3 window manager. The wallpaper displays a nice water-focused nature scene. There is a Conky status panel displayed to the right of the desktop. Under the status readout there is a listing for keyboard shortcuts we can use to launch some programs, access desktop settings, and start the install process.

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A Review of NixOS

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Reviews

Most reviews go over desktop tools and default tools, but such reviews are not very useful for describing NixOS, as the power of NixOS lies elsewhere. People who choose NixOS must be willing to do their own partitioning, and you will not be doing them any favours by telling them the default desktop manager can suit their needs.

With that said, if you can follow the NixOS manual, you will be fine. You can choose a default desktop environment if you want, but make sure you are comfortable with the command line and can edit a text file for configuration tasks.

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Kubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla review

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Reviews
Ubuntu

On one hand, Kubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla is a solid distro. It has some really cool features - it's stylish, consistent, fast, stable, and sort of fun to use. Definitely ahead of the game when it comes to your typical Tux offering. But then, this release is a missed opportunity, because it could have nailed it with Plasma 5.20, which really is so much better than what you get by default. Honest.

And then, of course, there's the "pick your regression of the day" game. Any which issue with networking, sharing or media playback, all these are problems we've seen before, some have been addressed, some have gone back, and some have returned, and there's really no point for me to talk about this again. As long as the Linux desktop development remains focused on the concepts of amateur/project/fun instead of product, and as long as there isn't the tightest of integrations of all components, it doesn't seem feasible we will ever see a steady-state desktop that can maintain core functionality without erratic changes over consecutive releases.

Now that said, Kubuntu 20.10 is a bright ray of goodness and almost pro level of attention to detail and finesse in the Tux arena, and if you're on a hunt for a desktop, this seems like the most reasonable choice of late. There you go. Good but it could have easily been so much better.

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Review: Enso OS 0.4

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Reviews

Enso OS is a Linux distribution based on Xubuntu. Enso features the Xfce desktop with the Gala window manager which is imported from elementary OS. Enso OS 0.4 is the project's latest release and the new version runs on 64-bit (x86_64) computers exclusively.

The 0.4 release offers a few new features. There is a new note taking application included by default called Pinny. The AppHive (sometimes written "Apphive") software manager has been updated and allows users to mark (star) favourite applications. Reportedly, AppHive's performance has been improved while it is processing queued actions in the background. This release also includes a new dark theme, though the desktop uses a light theme by default. While there are not many new features in this version's release announcement, the distribution does seem to be placing a focus on minor improvements and tweaks to the user experience.

[...]

One thing I find interesting about the Enso project is it comes across as relatively humble. The distribution's website doesn't make bold claims about changing the computing landscape or leading the way in innovation. It doesn't claim to be especially easy to use or perfect for gaming. The project does mention a few things it does differently, such as its software centre and the hybrid desktop. This understated approach was one I found somewhat endearing. The project sets out to do a few things differently from its parent, but not with an apparent quest for glory.

The AppHive software centre, as I mentioned above, is a capable software manager. It mostly functions well and makes it easy to find new applications. I would have liked more status and progress information during the install process, but otherwise AppHive is a decent software centre.

To me the more interesting feature was the Xfce/Gala desktop. It offers most of the flexibility and performance of Xfce while serving up a more modern (or alternatively more macOS-style) desktop interface. Whether modern/macOS is a characteristic that appeals to the user will likely be entirely a personal choice. For me, the desktop did not introduce many features that really appealed to me. Though to be fair, it also didn't do anything that caused me serious problems. The application menu in a window concept never really clicked with me, but otherwise the hybrid interface worked well.

The top bar with its shortcuts to files in my home directory certainly appealed to me. On the other hand, having the top panel also act as a unified menu bar for the active application felt awkward. In the end, it mostly balanced out.

On the whole Enso didn't wow me, but it also functioned well. It provided a decent experience and mostly stayed out of my way while I was working. I can see how this style of desktop experience would appeal to people, especially those who like macOS or elementary OS style desktop environments.

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Raspberry Pi 4 Review: Is Raspberry Pi 4 Worth Buying?

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Linux
Reviews

When it comes to single-board computers, nothing can beat the popularity of the Raspberry Pi. These tiny boards are not only affordable but also very user-friendly and offer excellent performance. Among these Pi models, the latest version, the Raspberry Pi 4, is supposed to be the most powerful and best of all. Since its launch, the 4k resolution display and the higher speed ethernet port have caught our attention, and we were inspired to give it a try.
We have to say that this model is highly satisfying and the best tiny desktop computer you can get. However, like most other things, Pi 4 has some disadvantages, like getting heated or not compatible with older software. This article will give you a thorough explanation of all the changes, performance, and disadvantages of Pi 4. Stick to the end to know whether this new version is worth your money or not.

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LXQt 0.16.0 Review – Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment

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Linux
Reviews

LXQt 0.16.0 released with more improvements and bug fixes. Here we review the changes and take you through the new features of this lightweight Qt desktop environment.
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The Raspberry Pi 400 is Awesome! A Computer in A Keyboard!

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Linux
Reviews

The Raspberry Pi foundation has recently launched the Raspberry Pi 400, a whole computer built into a compact keyboard to make personal computers more affordable. We are glad to say that they have successfully provided us with a PC for just $70. This version of the Pi is supposed to be cooler and faster than the Pi 4, which is 40 times powerful than the original Pi. The foundation has also come up with a ready-to-go kit available for only $100.

Regarding the “computer-in-a-keyboard,” Raspberry Pi 400 has been successful in being an excellent general-purpose computer. Though it can never be the substitute for a modern laptop or desktop computer, you can still do several things with it, including edit documents, search on the web, send an email or browse social media. Also, you can use it as an online learning center for your kids. So, in brief, this version of the Pi has successfully carried out the goals made by the Raspberry Pi foundation.

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Fedora 33 Workstation review

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Red Hat
Reviews

I don't think there's much to be said at this point. It's all written above. Fedora 33, like 99% of distros out there, does not have sufficiently friendly defaults for the average user, let alone anyone coming from the Windows world. Perhaps the nerdy features could be useful to developers and alike - latest kernel, BTRFS and whatnot - but ordinary people don't know what these are, don't care, and they just want to watch videos without heaving. Having to worry about trifles like font, media playback or minimize button. Nah.

My intention is to still go through all the way and try to create a useful baseline for the common desktop user. This will include a complete revamp of the desktop, installation of a dozen different applications, and several dozen tweaks. Similar to my Fedora 32 guide, probably almost identical. But that's just because I want to see what needs to be done, and if there's anything useful I can offer my readers. I can't recommend Fedora for everyday usage, and I feel quite sad and resigned at the end of this short testing session. Take care.

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Review: Fedora 33 Workstation

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Red Hat
Reviews

In late October, the Fedora project released Fedora 33 in several different versions. Workstation, Server, and IoT (Internet of Things) are the three core releases. Fedora CoreOS and Fedora Silverblue are considered emerging editions. There are also several spins and variants that feature alternate desktop environments or are tuned to a specific task. I will be focusing on Fedora 33 Workstation for this review.

Fedora 33 Workstation introduces two interesting new features: Btrfs as the default file system format and swap on zRAM, the later of which was already in use in Fedora IoT. The rest of the updates include the usual refresh and polish of everything. Fedora 33 Workstation ships with version 5.8 of the Linux kernel, GNOME 3.38, and all the various applications and development tools are the latest versions.

[...]

Fedora 33 is the first time I have ever been frustrated with a Fedora release. From the Secure Boot issue to the constantly crashing Firefox tabs, this release of Fedora was not a pleasure to work with. It was not awful, but it was no where near what I have usually experienced from a Fedora release. I am sure all the issues will be fixed eventually, but, for now, I have a hard time recommending Fedora 33. Maybe people with better hardware will have better luck (the Firefox issue does seem to be related to not having enough available RAM), so try Fedora 33 out, if you are a Fedora fan. Maybe things will have improved by the time they put out a possible point release to deal with the Secure Boot issue, but nothing to date has fixed any of the issues I had when working on this review.

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More in Tux Machines

GTK: At the Heart of GNOME

GTK is at the heart of the GNOME application and software development kit. GTK is used to create graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for desktop environments, applications, and window managers. Since the GTK 4 development process began in 2016, we have about 250 individual contributors, with more than 100 active this year. Thanks to the funding received by the GNOME Foundation in 2020, the GTK development team was able to run hackfests, including one we were lucky enough to have at FOSDEM. This funding also supported Emmanuele Bassi, Core GTK Developer at the GNOME Foundation, working on GTK full-time. For most of 2020, Emmanuele worked on implementing a new accessibility interface for GTK 4, to ensure that more people can use GNOME applications, including those with disabilities. We are building a diverse and sustainable free software computing ecosystem where everyone can be empowered by technology they trust. Since Emmanuele works directly for the Foundation he’s uniquely able to focus on the needs of the community, project, and users to support these goals. GTK is a project with a long history, and throughout that history, it has gone through multiple iterations. A new major release is on the horizon. After four years of development that included a complete overhaul of the internals of the toolkit, GTK 4 promises to be faster through hardware acceleration; more efficient, in terms of performance and power consumption; and more ergonomic, for both application developers, and end users. Over the past four years, the GTK team has continued work on the existing stable versions of GTK and put out multiple releases. Read more Also: GTK Planning More Improvements In 2021 From Better Accessibility To Animation Framework

Platform exclusivity, DRM, and independent authors: A cautionary tale

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that you wrote a book. You've worked on it for years, and you want to share it with the world. You want to reach as many people as possible, but it would be nice to be compensated for your hard work. How many weekends did you spend at home, polishing your manuscript instead of going out with friends? How many sleepless nights have you spent staring at a blank page, looking for inspiration? While researching the best way to publish, you hear horror stories about authors finding their books sold on counterfeit Web sites or distributed gratis without the author's consent. You read stories about authors feeling violated as their hard work is stolen in such a way. As you read about these activities, you also see mentions of companies that claim that they would protect your work against it. Should you publish your book through them, your book would only be available through their application. People could only access it through their store, and they wouldn't even be able to open the file on a device that isn't vetted by the company. The app is very popular, so most people use it anyway, and authors do not have to worry about a lack of interest. Only dealing with one store would also make things easier on your end. You won't have to manage different things. They'll even format your book for you. Sounds easy enough, so you take the deal. Weeks pass, and you make a few sales. It's by no mean a huge success, but you got a few positive reviews, mostly from family and friends. You keep mentioning your project to everyone you know, and find some limited interest. One day, a friend you hadn't talked to in a while asks about your book. They say that they don't like the app your book requires, and they don't want to buy it through the one store you signed an exclusivity deal with. They explain that Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) restricts their freedom to read the book on their device of choice, and won't even let them make backups of the file. They tell you how they once used a similar app, but were locked out of all the books they purchased after moving away from said application. After hearing your friend's story, you decide to give them a DRM-free copy of your book. After all, you wrote it so people would enjoy it first and foremost, and you want your friend to see the fruit of your labor. Read more

Open Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Arduino and RISC-V

  • Raspberry Pi 400 kit ships with 7-inch or 13.3-inch touchscreen display

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation has recently launched the Raspberry Pi 4 keyboard computer with impressive performance thanks to a well-designed cooling solution, and I think it’s a great tool for kids (and adults) who may want to carry a Raspberry Pi around. 

  • Shutdown button with Raspberry PI and Python - peppe8o

    Because of their low price, mini button switches are useful for many purposes. We have already analyzed how they work (ref. Using mini Switch Button with Raspberry PI and Python) and a funny use case (ref. Reaction Game (v2) with Raspberry PI and Mini Button Switch).

  • Arduino Blog » This remote-controlled storytelling apparatus is made up of Arduino-driven toy animatronics

    As an exhibit at the Phaneo Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, Niklas Roy and Felix Figus created a remotely-operated storytelling apparatus dubbed “Smart Fairy Tale.” When initiated, a little red ball rolls down the installation’s transparent tubing, triggering different interactions based on the interruption of light sensors along its path. 25 Arduino Nanos are used to control each individual animatronic part of the “story,” making the code manageable and allowing the overall machine to still work if there’s a malfunction in one section.

  • Pine64's PINECIL RISC-V soldering iron launched for $25

    We’ve previously mentioned PINECIL RISC-V soldering iron during Pine64’s release of PineCube open-source IP camera development kit, and the good news is the soldering iron is now available for $24.99 on Pine64 store together with optional sets of gross or fine soldering tips compatible with the one used with TS100 model The soldering iron is powered by GigaDevice GD32VF103TB 32-bit RISC-V general-purpose microcontroller and features a small display and two buttons for user interaction, as well as changeable tips.

Linux READFILE System Call Revived Now That It Might Have A User

Earlier this year we mentioned Greg Kroah-Hartman working on a new READFILE system call. The goal of this new syscall is for reading small and medium files more efficiently by having one call to read a file straight into a buffer without having to use the separate open/read/close system calls. It's looking like that system call is back on the table and could be mainlined now that there's a possible user. The READFILE system call is simple for reading lightweight files straight into a buffer without the overhead of multiple system calls that in turn can help performance, especially if reading many files such as on sysfs/debugfs and the like. It had been a number of months without any updates on that syscall and it wasn't mainlined in the cycles since it was proposed earlier this year. But now it looks like it's back on the table. Read more