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Your source for GNU/Linux news, reviews and HOWTO guides. And some K-pop news too.

Breaking News

  • Firefox will do monthly releases starting next year
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    The once freedom-respecting and slim Firefox web browser from the Mozilla Corporation will get fresh releases every four weeks starting January 7th, 2020. Mozilla switched to a variable schedule with releases every six to eight weeks back in 2016.
  • Richard Stallman has resigned from his position as president of the Free Software Foundation
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    The FSF has released a very short statement saying "On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors.
  • Linux Kernel 5.3 is released
    The latest Linux kernel is the first kernel with support for AMDs Navi GPUs which were released this summer. It also adds support for a series of special umwait instructions present on upcoming low-power Intel x86 CPUs. These instructions allows CPUs to wait for processes using far less power than NOP (No Operation) loops. Intel has also added Speed Select support for their Xeon servers to this kernel. A new lightweight hypervisor called ACRN may be of interest to those developing very light IoT devices. There is also support for the Chinese x86 Zhaoxin CPU in Linux Kernel 5.3.

Quote of the week

"The purpose of a non-free program is to subjugate people. And typically that leads to malicious functionalities. Many of the most widely non-free programs are MALWARE. Now, note that malware is totally different issue, a different consent. The difference between free software and proprietary software is a matter of how the program is distributed to users, on what conditions for instance it's distributed. And the same code, any code, could be distributed as free software, any code could be distributed as proprietary software. Sometimes the same code is distributed both ways in parallel. It's a matter of how the code is distributed. It is not a technical issue, it is not a technical distinction between free and proprietary. Technical distinctions are things like what features does the program have, how does it work, how was the code written? Those are all technical things. This is a social, ethical and political distinction which is why it is so important."

Latest software reviews

  • Endless OS
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    Endless OS from Endless Computers is a GNU+Linux operating system loosely based on Debian with a tablet-like skin on top of a customized GNOME 3 desktop environment. It is designed to be very easy to use and people with little to no computer skills who are somewhat familiar with smartphones and tablets may feel right at home. It has automatic updates with no user interaction and license terms which are so bad they make the licenses of competing operating systems like Windows and MacOS sound free in comparison.
  • Tzclock
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    tzclock, short for "Timezone Clock", is a very nice-looking configurable analog clock program for GNU/Linux desktops. It is by default dull and uninteresting and it default face doesn't even have a second hand. Don't let that fool you, it is very configurable and it is easy to make it be a very nice analog clock.
  • Strawberry
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    Strawberry is a database-oriented music player made for enjoying large music collections. It supports all the common audio file formats. It has many more advanced features like metadata tag editing, album art and song lyric fetching, audio analyzer and equalizer and "scrobbler" support for a variety of services. Strawberry started as a fork of the long-dead Clementine player which was based on Qt4. Strawberry uses the more modern Qt5 framework for it's graphical interface. It is a decent player as of version 0.6.3.

Hot News

  • Linux Kernel 5.3 rc8 is released and 5.3 final is coming soon
    The next Linux kernel is shaping up to be a interesting release with it's support for existing as well as future AMD Navi GPUs in addition to support for the mysterious CometLake-H and CometLake-LP platforms on the Intel side.
  • F-Droid 1.7.1 available
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    There's not much new in the latest version of the free software Android appstore. There is no mention of version 1.7.1 in the changelog and there is no news on the f-droid website. A close-up inspection of the gitlab repository indicates that only a donation related file has been changed since 1.7 was released early last month.
  • Qt Creator 4.10.0 released with Android targets for CMake and Qbs projects
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    The latest version of the cross-platform IDE for developing software with the Qt toolkit has a new "pin" files feature which allows you to make files stay on top and never go away even if you bulk close all files in a project. There's also support for installing all files that are installed by your build system's install step on remote targets.
  • Mesa 19.2 rc2 released with support for Navi and "unreleased" AMD chip
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    The second Mesa 19.2 release candidate is now available for hardcore and bleeding edge GNU/Linux users who want the latest in graphics technology. Mesa 19.2 will be the first Mesa version to support the AMD Navi GPUs released this summer as well as a mysterious "unreleased" AMD chip referred to as "Navi14". There is also improvements in the Intel Iris graphics driver for Intel iGPUs.
  • Warzone 2100 3.3 released with better graphics and high resolution monitor support
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    It has been 3 years since the last release of the free open source strategy game Warzone 2100 from 1999. Warzone 2100 has been free software since 2004 and it's small hardcore community has been making small incremental improvements ever since. Version 3.2 could not get into scaling which made it unusable on modern monitors. The latest version has a brand new "Display Scale" option which works well on modern 4K displays. There's also better and smoother graphics and the lagging which would sometimes be noticeable when a lot of things were going on is gone. The new version is available for GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS. There is no Android version.
  • Git v2.23.0 is released and available
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    Big websites like Microsoft github and GitLab Inc is where the vast majority of people encounter git for the first time. It is actually free open source software and you can and should install it on your own server instead of surrendering control over vital code to large multi-national corporations. The latest version of git has many fixes both server and client-side. It is also "futureproof".
  • Fedora 31 is branched: Here are the high-lights in the next Fedora version
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    The next version of IBMs beta-test distribution for Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been branched off from Fedora's bleeding edge "rawhide" tree. The first beta verison of Fedodra 31 will be released September 29th and the final version will be released in the end of October. The high-lights in Fedora 31 are CgroupsV2 resource control, Python 3 as the default python interpreter and updated versions of the KDE, GNOME, XFCE and DeepinDE desktop environments. There will be no i386 or i686 versions of Fedora 31.
  • Creating Worms exploiting Windows Remote Desktop Vulnerabilities knock on port 3389
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    Microsoft has announced that their Windows OS has yet another critical security hole which allows anyone to take control over machines running that operating system if remote desktop services are enabled. The result is that you may be seeing attempts to connect to port 3389 in your firewall. These can be safely be ignored since they are only targeting Windows-infected computers.
  • Happy Birthday Debian
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    The community distribution Debian is 26 years old today. The Debian Project was founded by Ian Murdock on August 16th, 1993. The first version, Debian 0.01, wasn't released until one month later on September 15th, 1993.
  • AMD finally submits kernel patch for broken RDRAND on older AMD APUs
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    It only took 5 years for AMD to submit a kernel patch which doesn't even fix RDRAND being broken on older AMD APUs after suspend. Their kernel patch "fixes" the problem by completely disabling the RDRAND instruction on all family 15 and 16 APUs and CPUs from AMD - even those not affected by this particular issue.
  • Tor Snowflake launched as a censorship countermeasure for the The Onion Router network
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    The Onion Router's many nodes are banned by quite a few tyrannical regimes around the world. Tor has a feature called "bridges" which helps by-pass local censorship. Bridges are computers who act as middle-men between end-users and the Tor network. They are not listed in the Tor directory and they are meant to be hard to learn. It is, of course, possible to pretend you are a lots and lots of end-users in order to learn all the bridges. Tor's new "Snowflake" browser-plugin aims so make Tor even more censorship-resistant by allowing anyone with that browser plugin to act as a proxy for Tor's bridges.
  • Treasure-trove of internal Google documents showing censorship and bias leaked by insider
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    A now former Google employee who went on camera talking about Google election meddling and other illegalities in June has made a 300 MB compressed archive filled with internal Google documents available through Project Veritas. The documents include censorship blacklists and plans which outline a clear political agenda.
  • Linux Kernel 5.3-rc4 released
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    The forth release-candidate of the upcoming Linux Kernel 5.3 is the largest release candidate "in years". A lot of the changes since rc3 are network-related and quote a few of those are related to WIFI drivers like the iwlwifi driver for Intel wireless network cards. There's also a notable amount of changes related to Logitech input devices. There's also new Spectre v1 swapgs mitigations in this kernel; fixes for Intel CPU security flaws keep piling onto the already huge pile of fixes for Intel's highly insecure Swiss-cheese products.
  • Xfce 4.14 Released
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    The leading GNU/Linux desktop environment Xfce has released a new stable version after almost 5 years of development. The latest version is based on GTK3 instead of GTK2 and it uses GDBus instead of GLib under the hood. There's entirely new components like Xfce's new screensaver and many small and large improvements to the existing applications in Xfce 4.12 such as the file-manager Thunar, the video player Parole, the Xfce4-terminal terminal emulator.
  • Xfce Image Viewer Ristretto 0.10.0 released
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    This is the first version of Ristretto which is based on GTK3+. It is essentially the same as the GTK2 version. It has some bug-fixes and translation updates but nothing new in terms of features, the port to GTK3 is the big high-light in this release.
  • IBM subsidiary Red Hat has joined the RISC-V foundation
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    The move was not entirely surprising given that IBM is one of the RISC-V foundations founding members. There is no announcement of Red Hat distributions like Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux becoming available for RISC-V any time soon. However, this does signal that they have plans in that direction.
  • Bitcoin Core 0.18.1 Released
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    The new minor version of the Bitcoin Core wallet software for storing and managing the crypto-currency BTC has some minor bug fixes, performance improvements and updated translations. Tor users will be happy to learn that this Bitcoin Core version does not hang for ages when it's shut down while it's connected to the Tor network. Bitcoin Core 0.18.1 is available for GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS.
  • Xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin 2.3.3 released
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    Xfce's team describes the Whiskermenu as "An alternate menu". That may be true in theory but in practice it's the default standard menu on most distributions. The new version has translation updates for Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Galician, Icelandic and Nepali. It also removes a partial crash-fix for crashes caused by garcon.

Older news:

Check out the news archive for more news.

Recent software reviews

  • F-Droid
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    F-Droid is a free software Appstore and software repository for the Android operating system. The F-Droid app can be used to install a large variety of free software from F-Droid's own community repository as well as other third party repositories. Only free as in freedom to view and modify the source software is allowed in the F-Droid repository. Software with botnet and tracking features are allowed. Such applications are marked as having "anti-features" and it is possible to configure them to be hidden from the list of visible applications.
  • Tee
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    tee is a small program in GNU coreutils which can redirect input to a file while piping it on to another program as standard output. This can be really useful if you want to do two things with one program's output.
  • Ristretto
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    Ristretto is a simple image viewer designed with Xfce in mind made using the GTK2 libraries. It can be used to browse through the images in one folder and that's about it. Ristretto does not have any easy way of quickly switching between folders and zoom settings applied to one image is not applied to the next. It is not great as a general-purpose image viewer.
  • KDE Connect
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    KDE Connect is a KDE technology which allows you to securely synchronize and control devices. It is available for Linux, Android, Windows and Mac. A device with KDE connect can be used to control music playback or send SMS messages or transfer files and many other things on another device running KDE connect.
  • Jami
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    Jami is both a peer to peer voice over IP client program which supports secure voice and video communication over the Internet using SRTP to carry communications data and a custom protocol for service discovery using a distributed hash table (DHT). Jami does not rely on or need central servers to call other people using the same program. Jami is a great choice for making secure phone calls over the Internet using Android phones as long as those you want to talk to are also using Jami. The Linux version is utterly useless.
  • CoreCtrl
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    CoreCtrl is a graphical system monitoring and performance tuning program for controlling a machines performance characteristics as well as it's fans. It has a global as well as per-program profiles for CPU governor and GPU performance levels. It has graphs for monitoring and several information layouts which show detailed incriminating information about the system it's running on.
  • Eagle Island
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    Eagle Island is a typical 2D platform game set on an island with obstacles such as evil birds, man-eating plants and mushrooms. You play a red-haired hero who abuses his bird to kill all the things on the island that's out to get him. The game is non-free in terms of both freedom and price. There is a free to play demo as well as a paid full edition available on Steam with versions for Linux and Windows and something called "mac OS".
  • Gentoo Linux
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    Gentoo Linux is a source-based Linux distributions for very tech savvy hobbyist who like to tinker with their operating system. It uses a BSD-style ports system called portage for package management. Gentoo is highly configurable and can be customized in ways other distributions can not. All software is compiled during installation and the way programs are compiled can be tuned with USE flags which decide what libraries and features will be included in a compile. Installing and maintaining Gentoo requires a lot more work and manual labor than most Linux distributions.
  • IceWM
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    Ice Window Manager is a very light-weight all in one desktop environment and stacking window manager made for the X window system. The name implies it is just another window manager but there's more to it. IceWM has a built-in configurable panel with a menu, window switcher and a clock. This makes it possible to use it as an alternative to desktop environments. IceWM eats less than 20MB RAM making it a great choice on resource-limited hardware.
  • SpeedCrunch
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    SpeedCrunch is a very efficient and easy to use free calculator program for Linux, Windows and macOS. The homepage describes it as a "high-precision scientific calculator" and while that's true it is also the by far best general-purpose calculator available on Linux platforms. It's a great choice if you are looking for something to assign to that Calc(ulator) key found on many modern keyboards.

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