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MX Linux Package Installer review - Nice but can be nicer

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Linux
Reviews

MX Package Installer is not a bad idea. But it's a workaround to the horrible mess that's Linux packaging. If anything, it just makes the problem more prominent, and puts it into the user's hands really. And, when we integrate over the problem space, the fault ends up at the MX doorsteps, because it's an MX Linux component that created the possibility for the user to try a program, all hopeful, and then to have it crash.

Ideally, every software component would have a clearly defined, rigorous test procedure. Every system would have a chain of these tests, declared, defined, interlinked. No application would be allowed for inclusion or publication without successful testing that proves the components work great on their own and as part of the overall complex system. The responsibility can be shared, if needed, whatever works the best. But to rely on third parties for your own success means gaps and problems and issues and tons of blameshifting. It's Debian, no it's MX, no it's KDE, no it's the user, and so on. Who cares? The Linux desktop isn't growing. Well, I do. I want it to grow.

So this would be the conclusion of this review. MXPI is a nice thing, but it's still 90% nerdy, 10% friendly, and the equation needs to be flipped. Over the years, the MX team has done pretty cool stuff, and I believe and hope they will be able to polish up MXPI. After all, they did it with their distro, and really transformed it from a nerdbox into a cool, accessible system. But the journey is far from over.

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Review: JingOS 0.8 and Tribblix

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Reviews

One of the most recent additions to the DistroWatch database is JingOS, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution for tablet computers. The project aims to run both GNU/Linux and Android applications via a graphical user interface which is designed to work in a familiar way on touch screens. While early versions of JingOS were developed for ARM-based devices, JingOS 0.8 is the project's first version to run on x86 processors.

The JingOS project requires that people register their e-mail address to obtain the project's free download. A download link is then sent to our e-mail address. When I downloaded an earlier version of JingOS (version 0.6) the download link was for the distribution's ISO file directly. When I downloaded version 0.8 I was given a link to the project's torrent file. At first my torrent download only had two seeders with an average download speed of 20kB/s. This eventually rose to eight seeders at 400kB/s, which is unusually slow compared to most free mirrors available these days. The ISO file's total size is 2.4GB so the download took over two hours.

Booting from the distribution's install media causes the system to start with a self-check of the media. This check can be skipped by pressing Ctrl+C. The screen then goes entirely black for a while. After a few minutes I started testing keyboard input without any response. The only thing I could do was to switch between terminals using the Ctrl+Alt+Function keys.

I found the first terminal remained blank, the second terminal showed a colourful background and a clock displaying UTC time. Terminals three through six all displayed a console login prompt. The login prompts identify the distribution as KDE neon's Unstable Edition.

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Fedora 34 Review - Impressive Performance and Stability with Cutting-Edge Linux

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Linux
Reviews

It has been some time I am using Fedora 34 and I believe it's time for a Fedora 34 review. Here I put down my experience with Fedora 34 overall in its workstation edition.
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Zorin OS Review – An alternative to macOS and Windows

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OS
Reviews

Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distro. Its ultimate goal is to provide Windows and macOS users with a Linux alternative. The Zorin OS is powerful, fast, and secure; it is pretty hard for trackers to track activities in your OS. Most users love Zorin due to its privacy prowess.

Why Zorin OS? This question has been asked by most users, thus, the essence of this tutorial. We are here to give you the ideal review of why you should opt for the Zorin OS.

This Linux distribution is user-friendly, and hence it does not matter if you are a Linux guru or not. Anyone can use this OS since it is very manageable. The handy preset layouts that are offered with this OS are a good touch. Newcomers can easily try out the macOS layout, Touch Layout, and Windows Layout now by installing Zorin OS and feel homely.

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Review: Ubuntu 21.04

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Reviews
Ubuntu

Like clockwork, every April sees the release of a new version of Ubuntu and all the official variants. This release of Ubuntu, Hirsute Hippo, is noteworthy for its decision to not include the new desktop layout featured in GNOME 40. Instead, Ubuntu 21.04 continues to use version 3.38 of GNOME Shell. This means the desktop experience remains much the same as it has been in recent Ubuntu releases.

[...]

Ubuntu 21.04 is a very solid release. Users of new releases of other GNOME-based distributions might be experiencing the new GNOME 40 interface, but Ubuntu 21.04's GNOME 3.38 desktop environment is functional and familiar. I do look forward to seeing how Ubuntu might tweak GNOME Shell 40 (or whatever the current post-40 GNOME version is at the time) in the future, but can find no fault with the decision to stick with 3.38 for now. The few issues I had with release are so minor they are barely worth repeating, but it would have been nice to see some non-hippo wallpapers.

Overall, I would recommend Ubuntu 21.04 to anyone who is okay with the short 9 month support window. If you are already a user of non-LTS Ubuntu releases, the upgrade from 20.10 to 21.04 is something you should feel comfortable doing as soon as possible. The new features, while not massive, are very nice quality of life improvements. Distro hoppers might be slightly more interested in distributions that feature GNOME 40, but I would still recommend they at least try out Ubuntu 21.04 to see what it has to offer.

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First Look at Solus GNOME with the GNOME 40 Desktop

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Despite the fact that it was released more than a month ago, GNOME 40 is, currently, like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it and everyone talks about it, but we haven’t actually been able to see it much in action, as only a few distributions are offering it in their repositories or pre-installed.

For now, as far as I know, if you want to use GNOME 40 as your daily driver, you have to either install Arch Linux, which isn’t something newcomers will be able to drop into, openSUSE Tumbleweed, which is a lot easier to install, or the recently released Fedora Linux 34.

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HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini Desktop PC – Hardware Acceleration in Firefox – Week 4

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Linux
Hardware
Reviews

This is a weekly blog looking at the HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini Desktop PC running Linux.

This week’s blog looks at configuring the HP EliteDesk 800 G2 to use hardware acceleration when watching videos in Firefox. Hardware video acceleration lets the GPU decode/encode video, offloading the CPU and saving power. Linux distributions, by default, don’t enable hardware acceleration because it can cause issues on specific hardware.

This machine was made available by Bargain Hardware. Bargain Hardware retails refurbished servers, workstations, PCs, and laptops to consumers and businesses worldwide. All systems are completely customisable on their website along with a vast offering of clean-pulled, tested components and enterprise replacement parts. They supply machines with a choice of Linux distros: Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora.

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Deepin 20 Review

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

Curious about Deepin 20? Here's our review to this latest version of the super beautiful and unique China operating system for your computers and laptops. We can say that Deepin is now a fashion in computing ready to compete with Windows and MacOS. This series of release begins with the big switch, from WPS to LibreOffice, and similarly from Google Chrome to Browser, aside from other large improvements in its system most notably the desktop in general and Control Center in particular. Here's Deepin Twenty for you all!

Deepin 20 is a fashion, successful beauty operating system with good performance. Among GNU/Linuxes, it has the originality and it is clearer to see in this release. I think it needs mass production as real computers. Several shortcomings exist such as the bad theming of LibreOffice and live session issue but those are covered up by the goodness. If now Lenovo proudly produce Fedora Thinkpads, I think it is not too difficult for them and other brands to produce Deepin Laptops and so on as well. To Deepin Team, thank you very much, you all have made an excellent OS and please continue! Finally, I can say Deepin 20 will be very much appealing to both of Windows' and MacOS' users to try and use in their machines. Enjoy Deepin computing to you all!

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Review: Manjaro Linux 21.0

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Manjaro Linux is an Arch-based distribution for x86_64 computers which features a graphical system installer (provided by Calamares) and pre-configured desktop environments. The latest snapshot of this rolling release project is Manjaro 21.0 which upgrades the default kernel to Linux 5.10 LTS.

Depending on which desktop edition of the distribution we choose to run we will get to see different new features and improvements. The Xfce edition upgrades the desktop to Xfce 4.16 and offers fractional scaling, as well as the ability to pause and resume file transfers in the Thunar file manager.

The KDE Plasma edition runs Plasma 5.21. The application menu offers two-pane navigation of program launchers. This release also reportedly ships with a new Plasma System Monitor tool and a settings module called Plasma Firewall for blocking unwanted network connections. The Plasma desktop's Wayland support has also been updated.

Manjaro's GNOME edition makes it possible to move application launchers and sort them into folders. GNOME 3.38 can run on multiple displays, each with their own refresh rate. The GNOME edition also offers parental controls through the user account manager.

I decided to try Manjaro's KDE Plasma edition which is a 2.7GB download. Booting from the provided media brings up a menu offering to start the distribution with open source drivers or non-free drivers. Either option loads the Plasma desktop.

Plasma features icons on the desktop for opening a PDF of a user guide and for launching the system installer. The guide includes detailed instructions for obtaining and installing Manjaro along with helpful screenshots. Across the bottom of the display we find a thick desktop panel. On this panel are buttons for opening the application menu, quick-launch buttons for the Dolphin file manager and Firefox, and a system tray.

Shortly after Plasma loads a welcome window appears. This window provides us with access to release notes, on-line documentation, and support forums. There is also a button for launching the distribution's installer.

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Manjaro 21.0 Ornara Review: Arch Linux for the Masses

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Linux
Reviews

Manjaro just dropped the latest version of its beginner-friendly Arch-based distro – Manjaro 21.0 Ornara, and we are hyped. Over the years, the distro has attracted many users by delivering an easy-to-use, intuitive user experience that’s backed by the power of Arch Linux. And now, with their latest Ornara update, the distro just got even more user-friendly and perfect for everyday use.

The last time we covered a Manjaro release was when Manjaro 19.0 Kyria came out but didn’t cover a proper in-depth review. We did, however, cover a thorough review of Manjaro Architect, but it’s a CLI net-installer and not ideal for beginners and regular users who need a GUI for their workflow.

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Games: Pokémon, Roundup, and Some More Titles on GNU/Linux

  • Bridging Game Worlds With The ‘Impossible’ Pokémon Trade | Hackaday

    Transferring hard-earned Pokémon out of the second generation GameBoy game worlds into the ‘Advance Era’ cartridges (and vice versa) has never been officially supported by Nintendo, however [Goppier] has made these illicit trades slightly easier for budding Pokémon trainers by way of a custom PCB and a healthy dose of reverse engineering. Changes to the data structure between Generation II on the original GameBoy (Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal) and Generation III on the GameBoy Advance (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen and Emerald) meant that trades between these cartridges was never a possibility – at least not through any legitimate means. In contrast, Pokémon trades are possible between the first and second generation games, as well as from Generation III and beyond, leaving the leap from Gen II to Gen III as an obvious missing link.

  • Punk Wars, Axis & Allies 1942 Online, Melvor Idle, Unpacking … - itsfoss.net

    One more to liven up the December bridge, and that is that there is nothing more entertaining to pass the time than to play a game and that is partly Linux Play, our premiere native games section for Linux with this, its monthly edition with the best that came out in November. Including construction and survival title and Punk wars, the classic war strategy of Axis & Allies 1942 Online, the RPG hardcore Melvor idle… And a lot more, without forgetting the free title with which we close the list and that this time transfers the television phenomenon of The Squid Game to PC controls under the name of Crab Game. Linux Play!

  • NeuroNet: Mendax Proxy gets some first footage, mixing elements of Your Grace & Reigns | GamingOnLinux

    NeuroNet: Mendax Proxy is an upcoming adventure that the developer claims blends together elements found in the likes of Your Grace, Reigns and Astrologaster into something new. Set to launch in 2022, NeuroNet sees you take control of an AI charged with managing a city called Catena. You will need to make quick-fire decisions that impact the future and the prosperity of its citizens, with every choice and decision taken having a lasting effect on those you meet and the city's status. Lots of cyberpunk theming going on here with a new trailer giving a look into what to expect you can see below.

  • The Jackie and Daria update for Spiritfarer lands December 13 | GamingOnLinux

    The biggest update yet for the award-winning Spiritfarer lands on December 13, with plenty of new content. Spiritfarer is a casual thoughtful experience about being a ferrymaster for the deceased. You build up a boat, explore and care for various spirits before letting them go. With the new update coming the developer said it is the biggest yet with a new island to explore, there's two new spirits to make friends with and a hospital to bring back from the brink. On top of that there's also some sort of new platforming event and new upgrades for your ferry.

GNU/Linux on Desktop/Laptop Miscellany

  • What Is a Physical Kill Switch, and Does Your PC Need One?

    Purism is a company founded on the idea of having strict privacy and security features built into its computers. The Librem 14 is a prime example of this philosophy, and its hardware, firmware, and operating system have been designed with a significantly higher level of paranoia than typical computers. The Librem 14 Linux laptop features multiple physical kill switches, which the company claims absolutely disables the related hardware. There are switches for the webcam and microphone as well as WiFi and Bluetooth. When it comes to the Librem 14 in particular, there are so many additional privacy features that the kill switches really are the least of it, but there are examples of such kill switches in regular laptops that don’t go to such extremes. All the way back in 2018, HP was already shipping laptops with physical kill switches for the webcam. Their Specter laptops included these switches, so hopefully the chances of a hacked webcam recording you when you don’t want it to are virtually zero. Kill switches may not always take the form of a traditional sliding switch on the side of a laptop. It’s entirely possible to integrate the kill switch with a physical, built-in camera shutter.

  • Partaker Intel Core i3-8130U fanless mini PC Win 10 Linux supported $423

    Partaker have created a new fanless mini PC equipped with a wealth of connectivity and capable of supporting both the Microsoft Windows 10 and operating system most Linux distributions depending on your preference. Pricing starts from $423 for the Intel Core i3-8130U processor version although a more affordable Intel Celeron 3865u/3867u/3965u processor version is also available with prices starting from $246. Both are barebone systems meaning that you will need to provide your own memory, storage and operating system, enabling you to tailor the system to your exact requirements.

  • IGEL Releases Support for VMware Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub for Linux

Kernel and Graphics: Kuiper Linux, Rust, Apple, Mesa, and XWayland

  • Custom Linux allows Raspberry Pi to drive ADI peripherals

    Called Kuiper Linux, it incorporates Linux device drivers for ADI products, and supports other hardware including Digilent Zedboard, TerASIC DE10-Nano and Digilent Cora “The reasoning behind creating this distribution is to minimise the barriers to integrating ADI hardware devices into a Linux-based system,” according to the company. “When starting with a generic Linux distribution, the kernel typically would have to be rebuilt with the desired drivers enabled. While this is not difficult for an engineer that is familiar with the process, it can be a daunting task even when everything goes right. ADI Kuiper Linux solves this problem, and includes a host of additional applications, software libraries, and utilities.”

  • Rust takes a major step forward as Linux's second official language | ZDNet

    It wasn't that long ago that the very idea that another language besides C would be used in the Linux kernel would have been laughed at. Things have changed. Today, not only is Rust, the high-level system language moving closer to Linux, it's closer than ever with the next "patch series to add support for Rust as a second language to the Linux kernel."

  • Apple SoC PMGR driver for 5.17
    Hi SoC folks,
    
    Please merge the new PMGR driver for 5.17.
    
    This should not have any hard deps with the previous pulls. The 
    MAINTAINERS change already rode along the DT pull, for simplicity.
    
  • More Apple Silicon M1 Bring-Up On The Way For Linux 5.17 - Phoronix

    The enablement work for supporting Apple's M1 SoC under Linux continues and with the v5.17 kernel next year will be yet more additions. Among the new driver activity for Linux 5.17 is an Apple PMGR driver for controlling the power states. The Apple PMGR block on their SoC has high-level power state controls for SoC devices. At the moment not all features are supported but important step forward for power management with Apple Silicon on Linux.

  • Intel's SWR Removed From Mainline Mesa, More Classic Code Cleaning Continues - Phoronix

    Last Friday Mesa classic drivers were removed from the mainline code-base and punted off to an "Amber" code branch where they will receive whatever attention moving forward. With that classic Mesa code removed, more code cleaning is now happening on top of the tens of thousands of lines of code already removed. Intel's OpenSWR driver has also now been removed from mainline. Since the original classic Mesa drivers consisting of Radeon R100/R200, original Nouveau, and Intel i915 / i965 drivers were removed, more code cleaning can now happen on mainline for code that was just sticking around for these old, rather unmaintained drivers.

  • XWayland Lands DRM Leasing Support To Handle VR Headsets - Phoronix

    Along with XWayland touchpad gestures, another shiny feature was merged this week into X.Org Server Git for XWayland: DRM leasing support! XWayland now has mainline support for the DRM leasing (drm-lease-v1) protocol for allowing X11 clients running through XWayland to lease non-desktop connectors/outputs from the underlying Wayland compositor. This is particularly useful and designed around the needs of virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays.

Open Hardware/Modding: Raspberry Pi, RISC-V, HiFiBerry, and More

  • Retro Reproduction Captures The Style Of The Sol-20 | Hackaday

    In the early years of the computer revolution, a machine like the Sol-20 really stood out. Where most hobbyist machines had front panels that bristled with toggle switches and LEDs, the Sol-20 was a sleek, all-in-one that looked like an electric typewriter in a walnut-trimmed box. Unfortunately, it was also quite expensive, so not that many were sold. This makes them hard enough to find 40 years later that building his own reproduction Sol-20 is about the only way for [Michael Gardi] to have one of his own.

  • Imagination Catapults into RISC-V

    Imagination unveiled four RISC-V-based “Catapult” CPU cores: two 32-bit MCU cores and two 64-bit designs that run Linux, including an automotive functional safety core. The big news on the first day of the RISC-V Summit in San Francisco was the announcement from Imagination Technologies that it was launching four RISC-V core designs under a Catapult brand. This summer, Imagination revealed it was building RISC-V CPU cores, and it has now announced four Catapult CPU designs. The in-order cores include two 32-bit MCU-like cores and two 64-bit models that run Linux. The UK-based company refers to the four core categories as “dynamic microcontrollers; real-time embedded CPUs; high-performance application CPUs; and functionally safe automotive CPUs.”

  • Adding Optical Audio to the Raspberry Pi with One Chip

    In the home theater space most people would tell you the age of optical audio, known officially as TOSLINK, is over. While at one time they were the standard for surround sound systems, the fiber cables with their glowing red tips have now been largely supplanted by the all-in-one capabilities of HDMI on new TVs and audio receivers. But of course, that doesn’t mean all that TOSLINK-compatible hardware that’s in the field simply disappears. If you’re looking to connect a Raspberry Pi to the optical port of your AV system, [Nick Sayer] has you covered. His “TOSLINK Transceiver Hat” utilizes a WM8804 chip from Cirrus Logic to go from the Pi’s I2S audio output to S/PDIF. From there the signal goes directly into the TOSLINK input and output modules, which have the appropriate fiber optic hardware and drivers built-in. All you have to do from a software standpoint is enable a boot overlay intended for a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) from HiFiBerry.

  • Guitar Pickguard Adds MIDI Capabilities

    For a standard that has been in use since the 1980s, MIDI is still one of the most dominant forces on the musical scene even today. It’s fast, flexible, and offers a standard recognized industry-wide over many different types of electronic instruments. Even things which aren’t instruments can be turned into musical devices like the infamous banana keyboard via the magic of MIDI, and it also allows augmentation of standard instruments with other capabilities like this guitar with a MIDI interface built into the pick guard. [Ezra] is the creator of this unique musical instrument which adds quite a few capabilities to his guitar. The setup is fairly straightforward: twelve wires run to the pick guard which are set up as capacitive sensors and correspond with a note on the chromatic scale. Instead of using touchpads, using wires allows him to bend away the “notes” that he doesn’t need for any particular piece of music. The wires are tied back to an Adafruit Feather 32u4 microcontroller behind the neck of the guitar which also has a few selectors for changing the way that the device creates tones. He can set the interface to emit single notes or continuously play notes, change the style, can change their octave, and plenty of other features as well.