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Reviews

A low-key good experience for Thor-oughly new penguins: Elementary OS 6, aka Odin

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OS
Reviews

Elementary OS is one of my favourite distros to review because it always brings interesting new ideas to the Linux desktop. It's a very opinionated distro and not for everyone, but so long as the elementary vision aligns with your own, I think it's one of the nicest, most polished distros around.

The key is aligning visions. If you like to endlessly tweak and customize your desktop experience, this is not the distro for you. Technically there is a "tweak" tool, similar to Gnome Tweaks, which allows you to do things like add a minimise button to elementary OS's windows and make other changes. That's helpful if there's just one or two things that are stopping you from loving elementary OS, but it's not going to make customising everything viable.

If, on the other hand, you just want a clean, attractive desktop that you don't have to fiddle with, offers most of the basic applications you need out of the box, and can be a set-it-and-forget it system, elementary OS Odin is an excellent choice.

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Review: Obarun 2021.07.26

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Reviews

The distribution is available in two flavours, Minimal and with JWM as the default window manager. The Minimal edition is an 837MB download while the JWM edition is 1.3GB in size. I chose to download the JWM edition for x86_64 computers.

Booting from the provided ISO brings up a menu offering to start the distribution in Live, Persistent, or Run From RAM modes. This gives us some flexibility in how we wish to use the live media. I chose to take the default, plain live mode. The live session boots to a text console where we are shown login credentials for both the root user and a regular user account. Signing in as the regular user, oblive, automatically launches a graphical environment.

The JWM-powered desktop places a panel along the bottom of the screen. The panel holds an application menu, task switcher, and system tray. On the desktop we find icons for opening a README file and for launching the system installer. The README file is a short text file with login credentials, links to on-line resources, and tips for launching programs from within JWM.

Shortly after signing into the live desktop a network management window opens. This provides us with a utility for getting us on-line with minimal effort. The network manager window makes it straight forward to connect to wired and wireless networks.

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The Best Linux Gaming Laptop? Juno Neptune 15 Review

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Linux
Reviews
Gaming

If I had to pinpoint something to criticize, it's not something related to the actual hardware, but rather the operating system.

Offering Ubuntu 20.04 pre-installed is certainly a safe and sane choice, but other Linux PC companies like Star Labs, Slimbook and TUXEDO Computers offer a handful of distro options.

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Excellent Utilities: Deskreen – live streaming desktop to a web browser

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OSS
Reviews

This is a series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We cover a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides.

When people talk about screen sharing they typically refer to desktop sharing applications (remote display). Good examples of open source software include TigerVNC, Remmina, X2Go and Veyon. But this review looks at a different approach with live streaming your desktop or a specific application to a web browser.

Deskreen is free and open source software that lets you use any device with a web browser as a secondary screen. This device can be a wide range of hardware such as a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, or a notebook. And you can connect as many devices as required.

If you have a multi-monitor setup, you already appreciate the virtues of multiple screens. But Deskreen offers many of these advantages without additional outlay.

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Primed for PineTime

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Reviews
Gadgets

There’s something about having a watch that’s special. For me, not only is it a good way to tell the time without looking at my phone, it’s also a way to “accessorize” myself (not into piercings or tattoos, gugh…). I’ve owned watches in the past, but I either lost them or they broke after just a few months of having them (the result of buying cheap watches).

These are just standard watches that I’m talking about; smartwatches have the burden of being tied down to a proprietary app on your smartphone in order to get any good use out of them, and what’s more, not only are they generally more expensive than a “dumb” watch, but they also need to be unstrapped from your wrist every week (or maybe every day, depending on what watch you have) and charged so that it can keep telling you the time.

Something about the PineTime struck me though. Not just it’s inexpensive price point ($27 at the time of writing this); but also the fact that this is the first smartwatch I’ve ever seen that’s not powered by Google, Samsung, Apple, or the likes of some other wallet-draining corporation. It’s powered by the community, through open-source software. I can rely on the fact that, as long as the developers stay active, I can keep getting updates to my watch indefinitely, and not have to buy a “second-generation” watch just because the guys at the big corps say, “Well, this watch is two years old now; we have a better model that increases the screen size by about 10 pixels, increases the battery by about 2%, and the vibration is just a hair stronger. You have to buy the new model now because we’re not supporting the older model anymore.”

None of that BS. The beauty the PineTime also has is that it’s not tied down to one specific type of operating system or firmware. I can use different types of firmware depending on my tastes; by default the PineTime ships with InfiniTime (more on that later), but if I want to change to say, WASP OS, that’s possible. Or any other type of firmware/operating system available.

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Review: Archcraft 2021.06.06

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Reviews

I feel that I don't have a lot to say about Archcraft and I feel this is because the distribution doesn't, for better or worse, attempt to do much. The project's website is understated, claiming to offer a minimal distribution based on Arch Linux with a lightweight window manager and yay for acquiring software from the AUR. This is what we get, along with the friendly Calamares system installer. There isn't much else to look at, out of the box.

This seems to be the point, really, of Archcraft - it delivers a fairly minimum base, low RAM consumption, and offers better than average performance. It isn't particularly flashy, convenient, or full of features. The idea appears to be that users can build their system from a small foundation and add the pieces they need. There isn't a lot of documentation and I suspect we are expected to seek out the Arch Linux wiki if we need help.

Most of the time Archcraft takes on this role fairly well. I did have a few complaints though. Personally, I'm not a fan of system monitors built into the panel or desktop. I find them distracting and the ones used by default don't provide information I find all that useful. There are a lot of little configuration tools and, oddly enough, some duplication in functionality in the application menu. I'm not sure why we need three application menus, two file managers, and a couple of text editors in what is otherwise a very minimal platform.

In short, Archcraft does what it sets out to do. It's basically Arch Linux with a window manager and yay pre-installed for us. This works and yet I don't feel the distribution distinguishes itself from the many other minimal Arch-installed-via-Calamares distributions currently available.

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Elecrow CrowPi 2 electronics learning laptop hands-on: Raspberry Pi 4 laptop for students

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Hardware
Reviews
Debian

Since Raspbian is based on Debian Linux, it's a fairly robust and capable OS. If it runs on ARM Linux, it runs on the CrowPi 2. This includes mainstays like GIMP for image editing, LibreOffice for office work, Chromium and Firefox for web browsing, and (of course) Minecraft Pi Edition for gaming. There are also a handful of Python games, but these are good for only a few minutes of fun and are truly intended to teach Python coding.

Thankfully, the larger 11.6-inch 1920x1080 screen makes retro gaming viable. Elecrow includes instructions for installing RetroPie to a microSD card and booting it on the CrowPi 2. The company also includes two USB controllers styled after the SNES gamepads for gaming. This is how my kids prefer to use the CrowPi 2, and it makes for a good portable retro gaming machine.

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Also: Repair, Repurpose, Upgrade With the Raspberry Pi Or Pico

KDE Slimbook: the best way to run KDE

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KDE
Hardware
Reviews

How do you write a review of a laptop when you’re struggling to find truly negative things to say? This is rarely an issue – every laptop is a compromise – but with the KDE Slimbook, I feel like I’ve hit this particular problem for the first time. A luxury, for sure, but it makes writing this review a lot harder than it’s supposed to be.

First, let’s talk about Slimbook itself. Slimbook is a Linux OEM from Spain, founded in 2015, which sells various laptops and desktops with a variety of preinstalled Linux distributions to choose from (including options for no operating system, or Windows). A few years ago, Slimbook partnered with KDE to sell the KDE Slimbook – a Slimbook laptop with KDE Neon preinstalled, and the KDE logo engraved on the laptop’s lid. The current KDE Slimbook is – I think – the third generation, and the first to make the switch from Intel to AMD.

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Atari VCS review: Costly nostalgia & DIY potential

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Hardware
Reviews
Gaming

Beyond the Atari VCS mode’s custom Linux Debian-based OS, you can also use external SSDs, HDDs, and thumb drives to load up further operating systems like a non-custom Linux Debian or Windows 10 in the system’s built-in PC Mode. During my time experimenting with the VCS, I was able to load up Windows 10, fiddle around, and log into my Steam account. However, without substantial upgrades, you shouldn’t expect to access your full Steam Library. The Atari VCS’s base specs just aren’t up to the task of running much. The most technically advanced game I was able to download and run out of my Steam library on an external HDD was top-down Guantlet Legends-like Battle Axe, which is kind of in line with the quality of games I saw in the VCS store anyways.

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Cozy – modern audio book player

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Software
OSS
Reviews

Linux offers a huge array of open source music players. And many of them are high quality. I’ve reviewed the vast majority for LinuxLinks.

Cozy is different to the music players we’ve covered. While it plays music the software is geared to playing audio books. Cozy is free and open source software. It’s written in Python.

Let’s see how it fares.

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More in Tux Machines

Graphics: GL, Libinput, NVIDIA, and AMD

  • Mike Blumenkrantz: Underwater

    I got a request recently to fix up the WebGL Aquarium demo. I’ve had this bookmarked for a while since it’s one of the only test cases for GL_EXT_multisampled_render_to_texture I’m aware of, at least when running Chrome in EGL mode. Naturally, I decided to do both at once since this would be yet another extension that no native desktop driver in Mesa currently supports.

  • xf86-input-libinput 1.2.0

    This release introduces support for touchpad gestures that will be available as part of X server 21.1. Additionally high-resolution scrolling data is now acquired from libinput if available and sent downstream to X server. The default scroll distance has been bumped to 120 in the process, but this should not affect correctly written clients.

  • xf86-input-libinput 1.2 Brings Touchpad Gestures, High Resolution Scrolling - Phoronix

    For those continuing to make use of the X.Org Server, xf86-input-libinput 1.2 is now available for integrating the latest functionality of libinput input handling library. Libinput 1.19 released last week with support for hold gesture types and high resolution wheel scrolling. The xf86-input-libinput 1.2 release for this X.Org DDX now supports touchpad gestures and high resolution scrolling data as well when pairing this driver with libinput 1.19. In the case of the hold gestures, it requires to be used in conjunction with the forthcoming X.Org Server 21.1 release.

  • NVIDIA Prepares The Linux Kernel For Future Laptops With EC-Driven Backlights - Phoronix

    NVIDIA is contributing a new open-source driver to the upstream Linux kernel for dealing with upcoming laptops where the backlight controls are handled by the device's embedded controller (EC). With Linux 5.16 later this year NVIDIA is ready with the "wmaa-backlight-wmi" driver for EC-based backlight controls for upcoming laptop/notebook computers.

  • AMD Continues CRIU Work To Checkpoint/Restore ROCm Compute Workloads - Phoronix

    Earlier this year AMD went public with prototyping CRIU support for Radeon GPUs around ROCm to be able to checkpoint/freeze running compute workloads and to then restore them at a later point. This CRIU focus is driven by their big accelerator needs and forthcoming supercomputers for migrating workloads particularly within containers. AMD continues working on CRIU support for GPUs and last week provided an update on the project.

today's howtos

  • Getting started with JBoss | Enable Sysadmin

    JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) is an enterprise-grade, open source platform to deploy highly transactional and scalable web applications. It includes everything you need to build, run, deploy, and manage enterprise-level Java applications in different environments—including on-premises, virtual environments, and private, public, and hybrid clouds. This article explains some of what I have learned during my time with JBoss EAP, its operating modes, installing it, and managing the JBoss service. I will also show how to build and deploy a sample web application archive (WAR) file so that you can learn alongside me.

  • How to scale GRUB menu on 4K displays

    Several weeks ago, I installed Kubuntu 20.04 on my IdeaPad Y50-70, a somewhat old but rather capable 15.6-inch laptop with a 4K screen resolution. Predictably, the device wasn't usable in its native screen mode, and I had to make everything bigger, scaling and all that. In the end, I managed to create an ergonomically comfortable setup, with two exceptions - the login menu, and the boot menu. The former gave me some grief, but I was able to get it sorted. With GRUB, there were more problems. One, the menu wouldn't show, even though I had a dual-boot configuration in place. Two, the menu was tiny, with the text barely readable. So I embarked on a journey of GRUB modifications, hence this tutorial. Let me show you how you can make the GRUB menu bigger on HD/UHD displays.

  • Use this Linux command-line tool to learn more about your NVMe drives | Opensource.com

    NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express, and it refers to how software and storage communicate across PCIe and other protocols, including TCP. It's an open specification led by a non-profit organization and defines several forms of solid-state storage. My laptop has an NVMe drive, as does my desktop. And they're fast. I love how quickly my computers boot and how quickly they're able to read and write data. There's no perceptible delay. It also didn't take long for me to get curious about the technology driving this ultra-fast storage, so I did a little investigation. I learned that NVMe drives consume less power while delivering much faster access to data compared to even SSD drives over SATA. That was interesting, but I wanted to know more about my particular NVMe drives, and I wanted to know how they compared with other drives. Could I securely erase the drive? How could I check its integrity? Those questions led me to an Internet search that yielded an open source project with a collection of tools to manage NVMe drives. It's called nvme-cli.

  • Delta Chat, Overview and Installation

    The email messenger, Delta Chat, is a Germany communication app which everyone can use and just works friends and family even without them using the same application. This article overviews it and give installation guide for Ubuntu and Android users. Let's chat!

  • How to install Node.js & NPM on Debian 11

    Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment for developing server-side and networking applications built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. NPM(Node Package Manager) is the default package manager for Node.js. It comes installed when you install Node.js. You can do almost everything with it since it provides access to thousands of packages that can be downloaded and installed in your application's project directory through the command-line interface. In this article, we will learn what Nodejs is and how to install it on a Linux machine using a non-root user account.

  • How to Install pgAdmin 5 PostgreSQL Administration Tool on Debian 11

    pgAdmin is a free and open-source graphical administration tool for PostgreSQL which is easy to use. It supports PostgreSQL 9.6 and above, and it can be run on multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

  • Install Filebeat on CentOS 8 - Unixcop

    Filebeat is used to ship logs to logstash or Elastic search to filter and use them as per requirement. Whether you’re collecting from security devices, cloud, containers, hosts, or OT, Filebeat helps you keep the simple things simple by offering a lightweight way to forward and centralize logs and files. Filebeat consists of two main components: inputs and harvesters. These components work together to tail files and send event data to the output that you specify. An input is responsible for managing the harvesters and finding all sources to read from.

  • How to Install FreeRADIUS and Daloradius on Ubuntu 20.04 – VITUX

    RADIUS is a AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) protocol that helps in controlling network access. In other words, RADIUS protocol is used for connection management between the Network Access Server (NAS) and Authentication server. The connection between two ends(NAC-NAS or NAS-Authentication server) is initiated after a successful negotiation on the network layer by exchanging packets containing necessary information such as NAS identification, authentication port number etc. In simple words, it can be said that RADIUS provides authentication, authorization, and account information from an Authentication server to a device requesting access.

Today in Techrights

NVIDIA 470.74 Graphics Driver Brings Support for Linux Kernel 5.14, Firefox Improvements

Good news for NVIDIA users who want to upgrade their distributions to Linux 5.14 as NVIDIA 470.74 is here with a fix for bug that caused the nvidia-drm.ko kernel module to crash when loading with DRM-KMS enabled (modeset=1) on the Linux 5.14 kernel series. In addition, it improves support for the Mozilla Firefox web browser to prevent visual corruption by adding an application profile to disable FXAA (also available for FreeBSD and Solaris systems), it fixes a Vulkan performance regression that affected the rFactor2 computer racing simulator game, and addresses a bug that could cause GPU apps to exit when resuming from suspend. Read more