- Gbrainy Is 2.4.2 ReleasedDeveloper Jordi Mas has proudly released a new version of the educational brain teaser game Gbrainy. Gbrainy has logic puzzles, calculation trainers, memory trainers and "verbal analogies" for those who, like the games name implies, want to train their brain. The latest version has updated and fixed translations and that's it.
- Total War: SHOGUN 2 Is Being Given Away For Free On Steam Until May 1stFeral Interactive is giving away licenses to the proprietary turn-based strategy game Total War: SHOGUN 2, released in 2011, in the Steam Store until May 1st. The game has a native GNU/Linux version and very low system requirements, you can play it on a laptop with integrated Intel graphics. The game's graphics are decent and the gameplay is alright, purchasing a license at zero price is worth it if you enjoy playing turn-based strategy games. There's also huge rebates on DLC packs and battle packs which can be had for a few dollars each while the give-away lasts.
- Focal fossaUbuntu version 20.04 from April of 2020 codenamed "focal fossa" referring to cryptoprocta ferox, as the Latin name goes. A fossa is a cat-like creature from Madagascar. fun fact: The generic name crypto procta refers to how the animal's anus is hidden by its anal pouch, from the Ancient Greek words crypto- "hidden", and procta "anus".
- Chromium 81 Is Released With Many Security Fixes And Mostly Working Vulkan Rendering SupportThe latest version of the free software Chromium web browser, which forms the basis for Google's commercial Chrome product, has 32 security fixes. Three of those are "high" impact and eight of them are listed as "medium". More importantly, the Vulkan support added in Chromium 79 no longer leads to a total disaster when it is enabled on GNU/Linux systems. Vulkan rendering actually works as of this release.
- Qt Could Go Proprietary, KDE Relationship And Qt-Based Free Software In JeopardyThe Qt Company, maker of the popular Qt toolkit used by a lot of free software, announced that they would be restricting LTS releases of the Qt toolkit to paying customers in a widely criticized move back in January, 2020. They are currently strongly considering taking that one step further by restricting all Qt releases to paying license holders for the first 12 months. This jeopardizes the future of the popular KDE Plasma desktop environment as well as the LXQt desktop environment and it puts the wisdom of using the Qt toolkit for free software development in question.
Quote of the week
"yes, using the floating point calculations in the display code has been a source of numerous problems and confusion in the past.
The calls to kernel_fpu_begin() and kernel_fpu_end() are hidden behind the DC_FP_START() and DC_FP_END() macros which are supposed to hide the architecture depend handling for x86 and PPC64.
This originated from the graphics block integrated into AMD CPU (where we knew which fp unit we had), but as far as I know is now also used for dedicated AMD GPUs as well.
I'm not really a fan of this either, but so far we weren't able to convince the hardware engineers to not use floating point calculations for the display stuff."
Latest software reviews
- DeaDBeeFDeaDBeeF is a music player which is, in its "About" window, described as "The Ultimate Music Player". And it is if you want a basic easy to use music player capable of playing all the common audio formats. DeaDBeeF does not any kind of music collection database features, there is no file indexing or searchable database. If you like to manually manage playlists using a file file picker or a file manager and you want a easy to use music player then DeaDBeeF may be for you. DeaDBeeF is available for Linux and macOS.
- QuaternionQuaternion is a Matrix client written in Qt. It is capable of showing chat-rooms but it is not at all usable as a general-purpose chat client; it is way too buggy.
- XfburnXfburn is a CD/DVD/BlueRay disc authoring program written with the Xfce desktop environment in mind. It can be used in any desktop environment. It can be used to burn ISO images, create audio discs and data discs. It supports CDs, DVDs and BlueRay discs. It does not support authoring playable video DVD or BlueRay discs. Xfburn is fine if you still have a CD/DVD/BlueRay writer and you want to demonstrate how that ancient technology works when you are giving a tour of your museum or something like that.
- The Secret Chronicles of Dr. M 2.1.0 RC1 Is ReleasedDevelopment of the Super-Mario like 2D jump and run sidescroller platform game The Secret Chronicles of Dr. M. (TSC) is moving forward with the first version 2.1.0 release candidate following three months of rigorous testing since the release of 2.1.0 beta 2 late January 2020. TSC has wonderful graphics, original music, original levels and it is overall a fun free software game worth trying if you have time to waste playing games. TSC is available for Windows and Linux.
- Linux 5.6.2 Is Released With Intel Wifi FixThere were some small bug fixes in Linux 5.6.1 and mostly small bug fixes in Linux 5.6.2 too except for one rather important fix for those who have wireless Intel WIFI chips. Linux 5.6 broke wifi support for everyone using the
iwlwifidriver for wireless Intel cards. 5.6.2 has a small fix which restores wifi functionality for all the affected users.
- GNOME And KDE Are Merging To KNOME - The Next Generation Linux Desktop EnvironmentDo you like the simplicity and lack of features GNOME offers yet you would also like the customization options and feature-richness KDE has? We have good news, KDE and GNOME are merging their desktop environments into KNOME! KDE+GNOME = KNOME, the future desktop environment for free software users.
- Second Mini Album "Dear My Color" From Korean Pop Sensation 보라미유 (Boramiyu) Is Released And It Is WonderfulThe second mini-album from Korean solo artist 보라미유 (Boramiyu) starts off with the very soothing and charming song love song "우리가 틀렸던 건 아닐 거야". The mini-albums second song, 10분 전, is a very happy and cheerful song which shines with wonderful vocal performance. It just gets better from there.
- Wine 5.5 Brings Bux Fixes For Beat Hazard 2, iTunes, How To Survive And MoreThe latest development release of the Wine compatibility layer for running Windows software on Linux has better WebServices support, better support for debug information in Portable Executable files and 32 mostly application-specific bug-fixes.
- Linux 5.6 Is ReleasedThe latest kernel displays Vcore, Vsoc, Icore and Isoc power values on AMD chips using the k10temp hardware monitoring driver, there's multipath TCP (MPTCP) support, WireGuard network tunnel support for VPN connections, support for passing a configuration file with kernel options upon boot and much more. Intel WIFI support is broken in this kernel so you should avoid it if you are using a laptop or a notebook with a Intel WIFI chip.
- Pale Moon v18.104.22.168 Is ReleasedThe European developer "Moonchild" has released a "major development" update to the Pale Moon web browser yesterday. New features include "promise-based media playback" and 1.25x playback of HTML media elements. There were some minor problem with that release so two more minor point versions were related today.
- Some Proprietary AMD GPU Source Code Has LeakedSomeone going by the e-mail nickname "palesaferns" leaked a number of Hardware Definition Language (HDL) source code files for the AMD Navi graphics cards to a GitHub repository. That repository was swiftly yet too-lately removed by GitHub-owner Microsoft at the behest of AMD. The released stolen source code tree has code for Navi10 and empty folders for other graphics chips like the "Arden" GPU in the coming XBox Series X which indicates that the leaker is also in possession of those source files as well. AMD has issued a statement saying that they "believe the stolen graphics IP is not core to the competitiveness or security of our graphics products".
- Thunar 1.8.14 Is ReleasedThe newly released Thunar 1.8.13 had several bug-fixes, improvements and a unfortunate regression which broke drag and drop when multiple files are selected. Thunar 1.8.14 is a "emergency release" which reverts the one commit that broke drag and drop. The rest of the improvements in Thunar 1.8.13 remain intact.
- Thunar 1.8.13 Is Released With Unfortunate Bug That Makes It Useless As A File ManagerThe latest release of the Thunar file manager for the Xfce desktop environment has several bug fixes, including crash fixes, and a new bug which breaks drag and drop of multiple files. Select 4 or 10 files in Thunar 1.8.13 and drag them and only one of the files is dragged along thanks to a very unfortunate commit for opening multiple files in a single application. It is very unfortunate that the commit which added that feature made Thunar utterly useless as a file manager and it is quite embarrassing that the Xfce team released Thunar with such a usability-breaking bug.
- Xfce4-screensaver 0.1.9 Is Released With A Critical Security FixXfce4-screensaver has, so far, had a really embarrassing adn very unfortunate bug which allowed anyone to unlock a machine locked with Xfce4-screensaver by connecting a docking station or a few extra monitors. Xfce developer Sean Davis has addressed this major security flaw as well as several other less embarrassing bugs in the latest Xfce4-screensaver release.
- XScreenSaver 5.44 Is Released With 3 New ScreensaversJamie Zawinski, who created XScreenSaver in 1992 and still maintains it, has released a new minor version with three new screen savers and performance tweaks for six of the existing screensavers. There are also new color options for four screensavers and "various bug fixes" in this release.
- Get Tomb Raider For Free On Steam Until March 24thValve's Steam games store is currently having a sale on several Tomb Raider games and bundles with 70-80% rebates on games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation and Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. The 2013 game Tomb Raider and the 2014 game Lara Croft and the temple of Osiris are currently being given away at a 100% discount. There are native versions of Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS. The native GNU/Linux version works great and it is totally worth picking it up while it is being given away for free. Lara Croft and the temple of Osiris does not have a native GNU/Linux version but you can play the Windows version on GNU/Linux. The give-away ends on March 24th, 2020.
- GNOME 3.36 "Gresik" Is ReleasedThe latest version of the smart-TV/tablet GNOME "app" environment which is pushed as a default on several GNU/Linux distributions meant for desktops for some incomprehensible reason has a new "app" for managing shell extensions, performance improvements, parental controls and a redesigned clock. There is still no system tray, window manager buttons for anything beyond closing windows or anything else one would expect from a desktop environment.
- Gbrainy Is 2.4.2 Released
- Firefox 74 Is Released With Several Vulnerability Fixes
- Xfburn 0.6.2 Is Released
- Genius Mathematics Tool 1.0.25 Is Released
- LibrePlanet 2020 Is CANCELLED
- New Modern exFAT Driver From Samsung Is Coming In Linux 5.7
- Firefox Is Rolling Out DNS over HTTPS And The Security Benefits Are Not What You May Think They Are
- New Chinese Free Speech Law Limits Chinese Citizens Ability To Participate In Free Software Development
- Wine 5.3 Is Released With 29 Bug Fixes And Better Shell Folder Handling
- The Nightly Tor Browser Build Has Support For Namecoin Domain Names
- Linux Remains Licensed Under The GNU GPL v2 And New Contributions Remain Subject To It
- Chrome and Chromium 80 Have A New Directly To Text Snippet Linking Feature
- Sweden Has Ended Democracy With The Passing Of A New Secret Electronic Surveillance Law Which Allows Law Enforcement To Secretly Install Hardware And Software Backdoors On Electronic Devices
- Mesa 20.0.0 Is Released
Check out the news archive for more news.
Recent software reviews
clamav is a GPL licensed free software anti-virus solution for GNU/Linux and BSD systems. It has a command-line anti-virus scanner and a daemon which can update the anti-virus database automatically. clamav can and should be a standard part of e-mail and file server setups.
- OBS StudioOBS Studio is a free software screen recording and live streaming application for Linux, Windows and macOS. It can record web camera streams, single windows, single monitors or entire desktops. It supports hardware accelerated video encoding using VAAPI on Linux. It is the single best and most feature-complete application for both screen recording and live screaming.
- SpectacleSpectacle is a simple and easy to use screenshot utility written with KDE in mind. It is the default application bound to the PrtSc (printscreen) key in KDE Plasma. It can also be used in any other desktop environment. It has all the features you could possible want from a screenshot application which makes it a good choice to set as a default action when the PrtSc button is pressed in any desktop environment.
- PolariPolari is a extremely simple IRC client designed specificially for GNOME. It uses the practically abandoned Telepathy communications framework to communicate with IRC servers. Polari will, by default, not run in the background so you get messages if it is minimized. There is no system tray support since GNOME 3 does not have any system tray. There are no configuration options what so ever and no useful options in the mobile-phone style hamburger menu beyond which is something you will likely want to do after testing it and discovering how much of a joke of a IRC client it is compared to any other IRC client made the last two decades.
- Nano AdblockerNano Adblocker is a web browser advertisement filter based on Ublock Origin. It is basically Ublock Origin with a few patches on top and one additional Nano-specific filter list with around 300 entries. Nano Adblocker releases trail the Ublock Origin releases and the Nano Adblocker offers shockingly little extra compared to the original it is based on. It works fine but there is no reason to use it over the original it is based on.
- MangoHudMangoHud is a modified version of the built-in Mesa heads up display for Vulkan. It is prettier and more configurable than the built-in Mesa HUD and it has handy keyboard shortcuts for turning the HUD (F12) and logging (F2) on/off. It is specially useful for games who play Windows games using Wine and DXVK.
- NodeTubeNodeTube is a free software video hosting package written for Node.js. It uses MongoDB for storage, redis modules and ffmpeg for video conversion. It does not use WebTorrent or any similar technology for bandwidth reduction which means that hosting using NodeTube is quite bandwidth-expensive. NodeTube is easy to install for those who are familiar with hosting applications on Linux servers and it is mature enough to be used as a smaller personal video hosting platform. Scaling it to serve a really huge number of users may be somewhat problematic.
MongoDB is a document-oriented database program utilizing JSON-like documents with a schema. It is licensed under a special sort-of free software Server Side Public License (SSPL). Many free software web applications requires it.
- NAVER whaleNAVER whale is a Chromium-based web browser from the South Korean Internet giant Naver Corporation. It has many unique features like a toolbox with a calculator, timer, calendar and unit converter and a built-in music player. There are also a lot of not-really builtin features like stock price monitoring and exchange rate conversion which in reality access and use various NAVER web services. Most of those services are only available in Korean language. The web browser itself has English text in most menus and help texts. Some features, like the built-in music player, do not have any English translation. Whaleis overall a fine web browser but the tie-ins with South Korean web services who are only available in Korean language and the lack of translations for some of its features means that it is not the best choice for English-speaking people.
alien is a command-line tool for converting Linux software packages between Debian .deb, Red Hat .rpm, Software .tgz and even Solaris .pkg file formats. The resulting converted packages it produces may or may not install and they may or may not work depending on the original package which has been converted. Converted packages who do install will, in most cases, only do so after going through some hoops.
- The secret battle of encryption algorithms - In this video from LibrePlanet 2019 Amanda Sopkin explains some cryptography basics and dilemmas.
- Overtaking Proprietary Software Without Writing Code - "a few rough insights on sharpening free software". This lecture was given by Olivier Cleynen at the CCC in December 2007. The points in it were very good and remain relevant more than a decade later.
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