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Reviews

ProtonVPN on Linux Review: An Open-Source VPN Service for Privacy Minded Users

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OSS
Reviews

If you want an enhanced level of privacy protection, transparency of the VPN service, and full-fledged Linux support, ProtonVPN is a fantastic choice.

However, the pricing plan may prove to be expensive if you want to use it on more than two devices compared to other VPN providers.

I think it is worth it if you regularly rely on a VPN connection to hide your IP address, use torrents, unblock geological restrictions, and more. And if you rarely use a VPN, you could look at some of the other VPN options available for Linux.

What do you think about ProtonVPN? Have you tried it yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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vizex – visualize disk space and disk usage

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Software
OSS
Reviews

You often hear that disk space is cheap and plentiful. And it’s true that a 4TB mechanical hard disk drive currently retails for less than 100 dollars. But like many users we’ve migrated to running Linux on M.2 Solid State Drives (SSDs). They are NVMe drives reaching read and write speeds of over 5,000MB/s. That’s over 20 times faster than a 7,200 RPM traditional hard drive.

M.2 SSDs do functionally everything a hard drive does, but help to make a computer feel far more responsive. M.2 are NVMe drives which reduce I/O overhead and brings various performance improvements relative to previous logical-device interfaces, including multiple long command queues, and reduced latency. M.2 drives are more expensive than mechanical hard drives in terms of dollar per gigabyte. And M.2 with really large capacities are thin on the ground and expensive, so most users settle for lower capacity drives.

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Review: Bedrock Linux 0.7.20

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Linux
Reviews

Bedrock is one of the more intriguing projects I have had the pleasure to use recently. It not only provides one heck of a toolbox for making distributions work together without requiring virtual machines or Docker, it does so quickly and with a minimal amount of knowledge required by the user. In short, we have a very easy way to run multiple distributions as if they were one operating system with almost no extra overhead in terms of CPU or memory usage. We do use a little extra disk space, but running Void, two versions of Ubuntu, and one copy of Arch only consumed around 7GB of disk space - about the same amount of disk consumption some large mainstream distributions use.

I also like how Bedrock essentially reverses distribution fragmentation. If you're tired of needing to run different distributions to gain access to a specific program or package manager, then you can run Bedrock and gain access to just about everything and use it seamlessly as one operating system. It's really quite a remarkable bit of engineering and, once I got used to how the different strata fit together, I encountered virtually no problems with it. There was the drawback that I couldn't use SELinux or Btrfs with Bedrock, but Bedrock's strata copying capabilities provide a sort of snapshot and there are other access controls people can use in place of SELinux. All in all, I'm quite happy with Bedrock.

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Review: Ubuntu MATE 21.04 and Anbox

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Reviews
Ubuntu

The Ubuntu team published version 21.04, on schedule and without much in the way of surprises. Ubuntu and its many community editions, including Ubuntu MATE, appear to have spent the past six months polishing the desktop environments. There aren't many changes, no leaps forward in terms of the underlying technology like init software, filesystems, and packaging formats which sometimes shake up the Ubuntu community. This time around the big headline change for Ubuntu was adopting Wayland as the default display software for the GNOME desktop. Meanwhile the Ubuntu MATE team included some fixes, addressed some problems when switching between desktop layouts, and polished their themes.

One key item mentioned in the Ubuntu MATE 21.04 release announcement is that their fixes have been pushed upstream to Debian. This means that fixes which appear in Ubuntu MATE 21.04 will not only be available to other flavours of Ubuntu, but improvements to the MATE desktop should also appear in Debian and its dozens of derived distributions.

Ubuntu MATE 21.04 is available for 64-bit (x86_64) machines. On release day ARM images were planned, but not published yet. The project's ISO file is a 2.8GB download. Booting from the Ubuntu MATE media brings up a menu asking if we'd like to run the live desktop, run the live desktop in safe graphics mode, or run the OEM install process. Taking the live desktop modes launches MATE 1.24.1. A window appears and asks us to select our language from a list and then click either a Try or Install button to proceed.

[...]

I was quite happy with my experiences with Ubuntu MATE 21.04. It had been a few years since I last tried this flavour of Ubuntu and I was pleased to see that the developers have mostly focused on polishing and fixing minor issues. The distribution works well with my hardware, it's responsive, and I like that we can easily switch between desktop layouts to suit the user's preference. The welcome window manages to provide access to a lot of information and resources without being too cluttered or confusing.

The Software Boutique is an interesting idea and I have mixed feelings about it. Having a small collection of popular applications readily available in an uncluttered interface is quite attractive to newcomers. On the other hand, forcing users to install a separate software centre to gain access to less popular (though still useful) applications feels awkward. This is a tool I'd probably want to stick in front of novice users to see how they react to it before I make a decision on it.

The documentation, settings panel, and default layout all feel really polished. The installer is easy to navigate, for the most part, and Ubuntu MATE ships with fairly up to date software. I had just two issues with this release. One was that the desktop panel sometimes crashed, either when switching desktop layouts or when signing in. Usually the panel restarts itself, but sometimes I had to logout and then sign back into my account to get the panel back. The other concern is Ubuntu MATE 21.04 only receives nine months of support. I'd suggest sticking with long-term support (LTS) releases for most people. However, for those who don't mind upgrading about once every six months, 21.04 is a really solid release based on my experience. It's also one of the more user friendly distributions I have used in the past six months.

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Review: CloudReady and TrueNAS Core

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Reviews

TrueNAS Core, formerly called FreeNAS, is a FreeBSD-based operating system which provides Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services. TrueNAS Core is the community branch of the TrueNAS project, sponsored by iXsystems. It also has a commercial branch called TrueNAS Enterprise. TrueNAS provides a minimal operating system base with a friendly, web-based front end for administration. Using TrueNAS we can set up ZFS storage pools, filesystem snapshots, network shares, user accounts, and background services through the web-based administration portal.

[...]

On the whole, I like TrueNAS Core. It's easy to set up, the web-based interface is easy to navigate. The system does a good job of displaying an overview of information and options in a friendly interface. There are a lot of options which might be overwhelming at first, but they're generally organized in a way that allows us to find specific tools fairly quickly.

I was frustrated with the networking issues which prevented me from using plugins, but the tools which were available, such as those for setting up pools, automating filesystem snapshots, and working with services were all top notch. I'd definitely look at using TrueNAS in an organization that had a lot of data to manage and wanted to organize and share it quickly and with minimal fuss.

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MakuluLinux Core Now Built on Forked Gnome

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Linux
Reviews

Overall, the new Core distro with the heavily modified Gnome base is a solid computing platform. On first use, you are greeted with a brief animated presentation of how the desktop works and the basic features to get you started.

If you are serious about considering MakuluLinux Core, make sure you watch the 44-minute video shown above. Raymer narrates the presentation and literally walks you through all the features and setting how-to tips. Also required reading is the Wiki user guide referenced in the menus.

The only difficulty new users will have is deciding which MakuluLinux edition best suits their computing needs.

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Ubuntu vs. Lubuntu: Everything you need to know

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Reviews
Ubuntu

The availability of several Ubuntu open-source Linux distribution variants is one reason why Ubuntu has remained so popular for so long. However, picking the right one for your needs is critical when it comes to PC operating systems. Thus, we compare the original Ubuntu with the most common Ubuntu flavor, Lubuntu, in this post, highlighting both similarities and differences.

Despite the variation in their names, all of these are based on the same Ubuntu operating system. As a result, the Linux kernel and low-level machine utilities are the same in both. However, each one of them has its desktop and flavor-specific applications. As a result, some are more feature-rich, while others are more lightweight, giving each a unique feel.

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RasPad 3 Review – Part 1: Raspberry Pi 4 “tablet” specs, unboxing and assembly

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Linux
Hardware
Reviews
Debian

RasPad tablet kit for Raspberry Pi 3B+ and other SBC’s was introduced in 2018, but Sunfounder has recently introduced an update, RasPad 3 that supports the more powerful Raspberry Pi 4 SBC.

After seeing my review of CrowPi2 Raspberry Pi 4 education laptop, the company asked me whether I’d be interested in reviewing Raspad 3 as well. So here we are, and I’ve received a sample of the tablet kit.

As usual, I’ll do a two-part review, with unboxing and assembly of the kit. Since I previously missed the RasPad 3 announcement, I’ll start by listing some of the specifications.

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Linux Candy: Fondo – wallpaper tool

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Software
OSS
Reviews

Linux Candy is a series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We only feature open source software in this series.

Some of the programs in this series are purely cosmetic, frivolous pieces of fun. Candy at their finest. But we also include some programs that aren’t purely decorative.

There’s a diverse range of programs included in this series. Programs such as eDEX-UI and Variety are actually highly practical programs. ASCIIQuarium has soothing and relaxing qualities for your desktop. Other programs included in this series (such as lolcat, cacafire) are included purely for their decorative qualities. And then there’s some really fun software that just raises a smile or two.

Fondo lets you quickly find beautiful wallpapers from Unsplash. With a single click on a picture, wait until the download is complete and enjoy your new wallpaper!

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Review: openSUSE 15.3

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Reviews
SUSE

I had mostly positive experiences while running openSUSE 15.3. The distribution does a lot of things well. The installer is both fairly straight forward to use and yet, under the surface, offers a lot of advanced options. This started me off with a good first impression, as did the initial welcome screen.

I deeply appreciate that openSUSE is one of the only Linux distributions to entirely embrace advanced filesystems. Its administrative tools automatically take snapshots of changes and we can rollback to previous snapshots from the boot menu. Apart from FreeBSD, I don't know of any other commonly used open source operating system which makes proper use of advanced filesystems such as Btrfs and ZFS.

Speaking of the administration tools, YaST is quite powerful. We can manipulate most aspects of the underlying operating system through YaST and, while some modules are overly complex (for less experienced users), more advanced users will find a lot of useful tools in the YaST panel.

There are some weak points in openSUSE's armour. The web-based application store, promoted by the welcome window, is really rough and overly complicated. It shows far too many package options for simple searches and depends on the user clicking on the proper link to download for the right edition of openSUSE. It will even show packages and download links for packages which haven't been built for openSUSE 15.3 yet.

The distribution offers a short support cycle. openSUSE Leap claims to be a long-term support (LTS) release, but only gets 18 months of updates. This is roughly the same as Fedora and much less than Ubuntu's community editions (which receive 36 months of support) or Ubuntu, Debian, and FreeBSD - each of which offer 60 months of support. Despite its rapid upgrade pace, the provided packages are mostly over a year old. This means openSUSE gives us the upgrade pace of Fedora along with the software age of more conservative distributions.

Not having multimedia codecs available out of the box is rare these days. This, combined with the complex command line steps outlined in the documentation and the failure of applications like Parole to find missing codecs after offering to install them (even after community repositories have been enabled), means new users have an overly complicated and confusing path ahead of them, compared against the experience offered by other distributions, if they want to watch videos.

One thing which I kept coming back to while using openSUSE is that it feels like a distribution for administrators and developers, not for regular home users. Some really complex tasks, like setting up Btrfs, working with complex firewalls, setting up network shares, comparing snapshots, and so on are quite easy (thanks to YaST). However, some basic actions such as playing video files, downloading desktop applications, or reading manual pages are unusually complex on openSUSE. It is a distribution which makes complex tasks easy and simple tasks harder than most other mainstream distributions.

The user interface is fairly polished and the newly upgraded Xfce desktop works well. The system is responsive and worked well with my test environments. I think this fairly smooth experience will entice people, particularly more experienced users, to run openSUSE. openSUSE is a little on the heavy side in terms of memory usage, but the array of convenient features that accompany it more than makes up for the difference in my opinion.

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Stable Kernels: 5.14.13, 5.10.74, 5.4.154, 4.19.212, 4.14.251, 4.9.287, and 4.4.289

I'm announcing the release of the 5.14.13 kernel.

All users of the 5.14 kernel series must upgrade.

The updated 5.14.y git tree can be found at:
	git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.14.y
and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:
	https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s...

thanks,

greg k-h
Read more Also: Linux 5.10.74 Linux 5.4.154 Linux 4.19.212 Linux 4.14.251 Linux 4.9.287 Linux 4.4.289

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