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Reviews

Review: OpenSnitch - an application firewall for Linux

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Reviews

For years I've heard people new to Linux talk about how they would like a user friendly, application-focused firewall solution. Linux distributions typically focus on blocking traffic based on network ports and hostnames. The few solutions which have focused on process filtering tend to be either harder to set up or less friendly to use. OpenSnitch is one of the first tools I have encountered which provides both the rules and real-time monitoring that Windows tools (such as Zone Alarm) provide. The fact that OpenSnitch manages to be friendly, pretty easy to navigate, and flexible in how we manage both rules and new connections is fantastic. I'm really happy with how this tool work and how easy it is to set up.

What I particularly like about OpenSnitch is that it is not just useful for making new rules, the way traffic is sorted and cataloged in the various tabs is great. Even if you are not interested in locking down your network, I think it is well worth installing OpenSnitch to find out what processes are talking over your network and who they are talking with. For example, while I was running Linux Mint, some programs sent out signals to Canonical servers which appears to be used for connectivity checks and/or getting a count of how many users are on-line. You might be interested in seeing how many programs are phoning home or pinging remote servers in an effort to count users or check for news updates.

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EndeavourOS 21.4 Review [Atlantis] - Pure Arch Linux Experience for You

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Linux
Reviews

We review the EndeavourOS 21.4 (Atlantis) — the best Arch Linux flavor for beginners.
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Tribulations with Linux on Zidoo M6 Rockchip RK3566 mini PC

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Ubuntu

I could recover and boot to the Linux-Qt again on Zidoo M6. It would probably be feasible to update the Ubuntu image for the Firefly mini PC with the device tree file from the Zidoo M6 mini PC, but I’m not sure why I’d have to torture myself. So I’ll leave it at that for now.

Since Zidoo M6 is a board and mini PC targeting business and industrial customers, instead of individuals, Zidoo should be able to provide adequate Linux support to help their customers get started with their project(s). But at least, we know that Linux on Rockchip RK3566/RK3568 may require more work, you can’t simply use an image from another board and expect it to boot, and in most cases, it’s possible to recover a bricked device from Rockchip by simply pulling eMMC D0 pin to the ground.
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MX Linux MX-21 Xfce

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MX Linux MX-21 Xfce is the complete opposite of my MX-21 KDE review - that one was delightful. The Xfce one is the worst experience I had with this distro, probably ever. I didn't really get to properly test anything due to the general sluggishness, the login freeze, the suspend & wake problems, the Firefox slowness, the kernel oops, and all the rest of it. But the visual customization did show me one important aspect - how much more advanced KDE is, and how fragile scaling is in Xfce.

I really am not in the mood to manually tweak 20-30 separate Xfce elements just to have a nice, presentable desktop. That's 2005, and it needs to stop. The Xfce version of MX-21 ain't bad, but it's fragile. Worse yet, the distro behaved far better in the past, so we also have a regression on our hands. All I can say, go for the KDE version, it's amazing (among the best systems I ever tried). Whereas the Xfce one needs to go back to the workshop and get some serious rework. Alas, on that note, and with some mild paranoia swirling in my brain, we end this sad review.

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JingPad Review: A Linux Tablet With Potential, But Rough Edges

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The Linux ecosystem in many ways found much of its momentum via hardware, rather than software. So it makes sense that there have been some fascinating efforts to reinvent the Linux ecosystem around hardware. The Raspberry Pi has of course built lasting excitement around computer hardware in contexts that fit neatly into the internet of things. But as desktop Linux distros have at times felt like wheel-spinning exercises (just ask Linus Tech Tips, and shout-out to Jason Evangelho), it feels like Linux hardware targeted at consumers is likely to push it over the edge at some point. I’ve already covered two of those efforts in the relatively recent past—the PineBook Pro and the PinePhone, both made by Pine64—but the JingPad represents something different: an attempt to make a piece of hardware that supports Linux from the ground up … that a non-Linux user might actually want to use. Today’s Tedium takes an up-close look at the JingPad A1, an experimental new tablet worth looking into.

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Review: LockBox 1.0

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LockBox is one of the most recent additions to the DistroWatch database. LockBox (sometimes referred to as LBX) is a Linux distribution derived from Ubuntu and elementary OS. It is especially intended for storing and managing cryptocurrencies. It includes several hardened configuration changes for security purposes, a highly restrictive firewall setup, several applications designed for data backups, a password manager, and the Brave Internet browser. LockBox is available for x86_64 machines exclusively and its install media is 3.4GB in size.

In a curious case of life imitating art, the LockBox website currently describes the project using a quote from the DistroWatch information page about the distribution.

One of the first things I discovered about the distribution is LockBox will not boot in Legacy BIOS mode. A boot menu will appear and begin a countdown from five seconds. When the countdown reaches zero, or when we select any of the boot options, the counter simply resets to five seconds again. The boot menu offers to let us "Try or install elementary OS" or "Check disks for defects" and both options simply reset the boot menu counter. When trying to launch the distribution in UEFI mode, only the Try/Install option is presented and choosing it boots the distribution's live environment.

When the live system boots we are shown a graphical window where we can choose our preferred language from a list. We are given the choice to try the live desktop, which loads the Pantheon desktop. Alternatively we can launch the system installer. I'll talk about the Pantheon desktop later in this review.

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Endless OS Review - Desktop Linux Done Right for the Masses

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Linux
Reviews

We review the popular Endless OS as Linux Desktop with the new features and updates of the latest version 4.0.
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Fedora 35 Mini-Review On The Blackbird And TALOS II

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Red Hat
Reviews

My conclusion is damning with faint praise: at least it wasn't any worse. And with these tweaks it works fine. If you're on F34 you have no reason not to upgrade, and if you're on F33 you won't have much longer until you have to (and you might as well just jump right to F35 at that point). But it's still carrying an odd number of regressions (even though, or perhaps despite the fact, the workarounds for F35 are the same as F34) and the installation on the T2 was bumpier than the Blackbird for reasons that remain unclear to me. If you run KDE or Xfce or anything other than GNOME, you shouldn't have any problems, but if you still use GNOME as your desktop environment you should be prepared to do more preparatory work to get it off the ground. I have higher hopes for F36 because we may finally get that float128 update that still wrecks a small but notable selection of packages like MAME, but I also hope that some of these regressions get dealt with as well because that would make these updates a bit more liveable. Any system upgrade of any OS will make you wonder what's going to break this time, but the most recent Fedora updates have come off as more fraught with peril than they ought to be.

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Cutefish OS Review - Impressive Linux Distribution in the Making

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Linux
Reviews

We review the Debian/Ubuntu based Cutefish OS Linux Distribution that features the stunning Cutefish Desktop.
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Review: Fedora 35

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Red Hat
Reviews

Fedora 35 was released on 2 November 2021, slightly after the anticipated launch in late October. I respect their delay, the Fedora team did not want to release a buggy product, or they still had some key issues to workout; nevertheless Fedora 35 is here. For some background, Fedora is a Linux distribution which aims to create, "an innovative, free, and open source platform for hardware, clouds, and containers that enables software developers and community members to build tailored solutions for their users." (Quoted from getfedora.org.) Many Linux users will know Fedora as the community and upstream version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the enterprise version of Fedora known primarily for running on servers and a company to provide support.

[...]

Time from the LUKS decryption screen to GNOME Display Manager was approximately 20 seconds, quite good for boot-up times. Consider also that I use a solid-state hard drive for my main installation media, which improves boot times significantly. Its not mere milliseconds, but it is very good for a full distro.

GNOME 41 is super polished. It seems like everything works out of the box (come on NVIDIA, lets get you on board). Whereas on other distros I would need to configure many options and drivers to get everything working properly, Fedora just works. The polish extends to all of the facets of this operating system. The boot-up splash screen is simple and beautiful. The installation of updates is clean, and the rebooting during installation is well polished. Fedora knows how to take control of an operating system and do it properly. I love how dnf (the package manager) handles updates and installing software. My Steam games worked as expected. I could edit photos easily using the photo editing software of my choice. Firefox worked great for streaming media. The HDMI output was perfect. What can I say, Fedora leaves little left to want. Yes there may be more highly configurable distributions, but Fedora seems to be one of, if not the most professional distribution I have used. (I have not been a Fedora user in the past.)

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Tiny four-port net appliance runs Linux on Elkhart Lake

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New Videos: Endless OS 4.0.0, KDE Plasma Panels, and Enterprise Linux Security

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IBM/Red Hat Leftovers

  • 6 edge computing trends to watch in 2022 | The Enterprisers Project

    While many aspects of edge computing aren’t new, the overall picture continues to evolve quickly. For example, “edge computing” encompasses the distributed retail store branch systems that have been around for decades. The term has also swallowed all manner of local factory floor and telecommunications provider computing systems, albeit in a more connected and less proprietary fashion than was the historical norm. Edge computing helps IT and business leaders solve problems as both sensor data and machine learning data proliferates. However, even if we see echoes of older architectures in certain edge computing deployments, we also see developing edge trends that are genuinely new or at least quite different from what existed previously. And they’re helping IT and business leaders solve problems in industries ranging from telco to automotive, for example, as both sensor data and machine learning data proliferates.

  • Digital transformation: Are you using the right metrics? | The Enterprisers Project

    For any digital transformation project to succeed, you need a well-laid-out road map, clear objectives, and bite-sized goals to mark the milestones. And it’s important to put those plans into action and measure their success against the pre-defined relevant metrics. The pandemic made the pace of digital transformation a key performance metric by making it urgent for enterprises to embrace and accelerate digital. Now it’s time to think beyond speed and measure the success of digital transformation against metrics that align with business goals.

  • How customers and partners are meeting growing market demands with Red Hat OpenShift and learning resources

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  • Automating host to host VPN tunnels with RHEL System Roles

    In today's world where organizations frequently use multiple cloud providers, datacenters, and systems in edge environments, secure communication between these distributed systems is essential. Host-to-host VPN tunnels allow for encrypted communication between systems, and are frequently used when traffic needs to traverse untrusted networks such as the public internet. While host-to-host VPN tunnels can be implemented on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) manually, this can be time consuming and error-prone. Red Hat introduced the VPN RHEL System Role in RHEL 8.5 to provide an automated solution to implement host-to-host VPN connections, as well as opportunistic mesh VPNs. RHEL System Roles are a collection of Ansible roles and modules that are included in RHEL to help provide consistent workflows and streamline the execution of manual tasks. For more information on VPNs in RHEL, refer to the configuring a VPN with IPsec documentation.

  • Custom WebAssembly extensions in OpenShift Service Mesh

    Red Hat OpenShift Service Mesh 2.1 requires using WebAssembly extensions instead of Istio Mixer to extend Service Mesh functionality. The 2.11 release of Red Hat 3scale API Management also supports using WebAssembly extensions. Thus, the latest release of the 3scale integration for Istio uses the WebAssembly proxy instead of the Istio Mixer component. Developers can use WebAssembly extensions in OpenShift Service Mesh and 3scale to add features directly to the Envoy proxy, thereby moving common functionality out of applications and into the sidecar.

  • Boost Apache Camel performance on Quarkus

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