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

Breaking News

  • Xfce Image Viewer Ristretto 0.8.5 released
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    The latest version of the Ristretto image viewer fixes some memory leaks and some minor bugs. It is still based on GTK 2 and it is still too cumbersome to use as a general-purpose image viewer. The new version does not fix the very fundamental problems with this particular image viewer.
  • New Steam Clients Available with Faster Game Downloads
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    Valve has released both a new stable and a new beta version of their immoral Digital Rights Management riddled game store. The new clients have better logic for choosing what servers it's clients use to download games and updates which should result in faster downloads for those who happen to live close to one of their servers. This is good news for those willing to trade freedom for hours or weeks of temporary entertainment.
  • User-friendly XMPP client Kaidan 0.4.1 released
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    A major update to the simple and easy to use XMPP/Jabber messaging program Kaidan was released one week ago following one and a half year of hard development word. That long-awaited 0.4.0 release had the minor problem of not being able to connect to the Internet on some Linux distributions. Version 0.4.1 has fixed that bug as well as some other minor issues discovered after the 0.4.0 release. Kaidan is available for Linux, Android, macOS and Windows.

Quote of the week

"On AMD CPUs in the Ryzen family, there's a nasty bug in which the CPUs malfunction if they execute code from the highest canonical page. They'll speculate right off the end of the canonical space, and bad things happen. This is worked around in the same way as the Intel problem."

arch/x86/include/asm/processor.h in the git kernel tree

Latest software reviews

  • 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.

Hot News

  • AMD Navi Support is merged into the upcoming Linux Kernel 5.3
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    Linux kernel creator and architect Linus Torvalds has accepted the proposed Direct Rendering Management code required for AMD Navi GPU support from DRM maintainer Dave Airlie and merged it into the Linux kernel git tree. This ensures that the upcoming 5.3 version of the Linux Kernel will support these new GPUs. Kernel support is required for the Vulkan and OpenGL support the upcoming 19.2 version of the Mesa graphics stack will have for the newly released AMD Navi GPUs.
  • KDE Connect now lets you connect your Mac to Android phones and Linux desktops
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    KDE Connect is a multi-platform project for securely synchronizing and controlling one device from another. It has so far been been limited to synchronization between Linux desktops and Android phones. This technology is now available to Mac and Windows users thanks to KDEs Summer of Code students Weixuan Xiao and Piyush Aggarwal.
  • Happy birthday KDE Plama 5
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    The current iteration of the most advanced GNU/Linux desktop environment is five year old today; KDE Plasma 5.0 was launched July 16th, 2014. KDE itself is much older, it's launch date of October 14th, 1996 makes it 22 years old. Plasma itself is also older with the first version being introduced with KDE 4 on 23rd October 2007 - nearly 12 years ago.
  • Microsoft's Terms of Service Updated to be even more Draconian
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    Microsoft just spammed us informing that they are updating their terms of service. Their new terms are even more big-brother like than their previous terms. Their e-mail spam claims that you agree them reading your e-mails and sharing the content with contractors and partners just by using any of their products. You should absolutely resist and close your Microsoft accounts and remove all traces of Microsoft software from computing devices in your vicinity.
  • AntiX 19 beta 2 released
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    AntiX is a systemd-free Linux distribution forked off Debian with IceWM as the default desktop environment. It is essentially Debian with a really light-weight default configuration. The current stable 17.4 release is based on Debian Stretch. AntiX 19 is based on the newly released Debian 10 Buster. There is not much new since the first AntiX 19 beta was released, there's some new themes, icons and wallpapers included in the default installation and that's about it. The difference between 17.4 and the 19-series is huge.
  • AMD Admits Ryzen 3000 Series CPUs are Broken, promises BIOS update
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    AMD claims to have figured out why their new Ryzen 3000 CPUs are unable to produce random data when the RDRAND instruction is called. They promise that a BIOS update will be made available shortly. This is good news for those who want to run modern Linux distributions or Windows games like Destiny 2 on these chips since it is currently impossible to use any software which takes advantage of the RDRAND instruction on AMDs flawed new CPUs.
  • Mozilla's Firefox 68 vs Firefox 68 from Fedora: No difference. At all.
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    Curiosity will sometime result in a complete waste of time and that's exactly what benchmarking Firefox 68 directly from Mozilla vs the Firefox 68 update shipped by Fedora in that distributions repositories. There is absolutely no difference.
  • Kdenlive 19.04.3 released with a whole lot of bug-fixes
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    The latest stable version of the best free software video editor has a really long list of bug-fixes, 12 of which were causing crashes. Cursor tools now work as they should when hovering a timeline and the clip selection code, which previously would cause lags when working with lots of clips, is now a whole lot faster.
  • Linux Kernel 5.2 can't into Chromium VAAPI accelerated video on Intel i915
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    The annoyance when you just want to watch Oh My Girls new music video and you find that you can't because your shiny new kernel's got a broken driver for your Intel iGPU can be avoided by either not upgrading kernel 5.2 or by not using Chromium the VAAPI accelerated video patch.
  • Web Browser Showdown: Firefox 68 vs Chromium 75 vs Firefox Nightly
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    Chromium is the fastest web browser on Linux when it comes to everything and anything graphics-intensive. Is is not that clear-cut when it comes to overall performance and real-world use. What is clear is that both Firefox and Chromium appear to get slower with each new release and that is specially true if they are running on Intel hardware.
  • Finance Manager KMyMoney v5.0.5 Released
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    30 bugs have been eradicated since the last release of the double-entry bookkeeping program KMyMoney which is self-described as "the BEST Personal Finance Manager for FREE Users". It is similar to the more well-known commercial product Quicken. KMyMoney is cross-platform and the most important bugfix in this release is only for macOS users who could previously not open saved files.
  • GnuPG 2.2.17 released with An Easy Fix for the current Keyserver Signature Spam Problem
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    The GnuPG hackers have released a new version of GnuPG with a simple fix for the not-ongoing key-server signature spam problem: The new version will simply ignore all key-signatures received from key-servers. There is also a new "self-sigs-only" import option.
  • FreeBSD 11.3 released
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    The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team have updated the ELF toolchain and the clang, llvm and compiler-rt utilities as well as OpenSSL and other system libraries. Desktop environments have also been updated. Devil OS 11.3 ships KDE Plasma 5.15.3 and GNOME 3.28 for those who use it as a desktop OS.
  • Firefox 68 esr released with better Dark Mode, redesigned addons dashboard and more enterprise-policies
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    This is both a regular release and a Extended Support Release which makes it more important than other releases since some distributions tend to use the ESR release for years. It is also the basis for Firefox re-brands like GNU IceCat.
  • Free Software which Censors and Restricts what Sites and services the user is Allowed To Read and use is still Free Software
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    Free Software which restricts the user in certain ways is not a new concept. Gentoo Linux started shipping a modified version of the Bitcoin crypto currency software which restricted who users were allowed to send BTC to using a big blacklist in 2014. The question of censorship in free software is becoming increasingly important as more and more developers are building blacklists restricting what the end-user can do into their software. Does user-restricting censoring software qualify as being free software? We asked the senior authority on this matter and apparently, it does.
  • Mesa 19.1.2 released
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    Those who play Wolfenstein II will be happy to hear it no longer crashes when using the RADV drivers. There's also a DirectX to Vulkan fix for Intel gen7 iGPUs and some fixes for the Freedreno driver for Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware.
  • Revisiting Intel CPU bug workarounds with Linux Kernel 5.2
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    The impact of all the workarounds for all the Intel security is not that bad when it comes to every-day workloads like kernel compilation if you risk leaving SMT on. Turning SMT off does have a very real and noticeable impact on performance. Leaving SMT on and sticking with the kernels default settings will only add about a minute to a half-an-hour long compile job compared to turning the workarounds off with mitigations=off
  • AMD Ryzen 3000 series CPUs can't do Random on boot causing Boot Failure on newer Linux distributions
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    The fun part is that very old AMD APUs have a very similar well-known problem with it's implementation of the CPU instruction RDRAND. systemd implemented a work-around for it back in May but distributions do not have it since there has been no stable systemd releases since then. The result is that newer distributions - with the exception of Debian 10 - will simply fail to boot on Ryzen 3000 series CPUs due to a bug in those CPUs which causes them to fail to produce random data when RDRAND is called early in the boot process.

Older news:

Check out the news archive for more news.

Recent software reviews

  • 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.
  • LXQt
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    LXQt is a very light and simple desktop environment built using the Qt libraries. It consists of many small individual components like a panel program, session manager, hotkey daemon and a few more. LXQt lacks any window-manager of it's own though there is a LXQt configuration tool for Openbox. It is a great choice if you want a resource-light nearly fully featured desktop environment with a panel.
  • Dissenter
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    Dissenter is a "Free Speech" web browser made by Gab Ai. It appears to be a fork of an old Brave version which itself was forked off an old Chromium version. It is available for Windows, macOS and there are .deb and .rpm versions for Linux. The Linux version is not very useful since it doesn't even run or produce a web browser window.
  • Debian
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    Debian is a community-made Linux distribution focusing on being very stable and predictable. It has a two-year release cycle and new major versions of components are not introduced during the life-cycle of stable versions. The versions of both programs and system components found in Debian are older than they are in other distributions for the sake of stability. The current version of Debian is Debian 10 Buster.
  • KolourPaint
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    KolourPaint is a pretty simple drawing program and graphics editor similar to Microsoft Paint. It has the basic tools tools required to paint and draw but no advanced features like layers, masks or anything on that level. It has a user-friendly interface and support for a huge amount of graphics file formats. It can be used to both create art and do image editing but it's lack of features makes it rather cumbersome compared to more advanced software. It is more like a kids toy than a full-featured graphics editor.

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