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

Breaking News

  • Xfce4-panel 4.15.0 kicks off Xfce's march towards a 4.16 release
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    It took almost half a decade from the release of version 4.12 of the Xfce desktop environment in 2015 to the release of Xfce 4.14 two months ago. Major version Xfce releases have generally been several years apart since it's inception in 1996. This will not be the case with Xfce 4.16; it will arrive much sooner than one would except given Xfce's release-history. The developers secret roadmap reveals that it could be released this time next year. Planned features include a "night light" mode, client side decorations and header-bars in simpler applications. GTK2 will no longer be supported.
  • Sudo bug lets users who are allowed to run commands as another user to run them as root instead
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    This sudo bug is either very serious or a complete non-issue depending on your use-case. Sudo is typically used to allow one user to run any command as root. However, some do have specialized setups where one user is allowed to run one or two commands as other regular users. The bug would allow that user to run the commands he is allowed to run as other users as root - which typically means that a root shell is within reach.
  • Intels upcoming i3 CPUs raise the bar for entry-level CPUs to four cores and four threads
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    The top of the line consumer desktop CPUs from Intel up to a few years ago were called i7's and they had four cores and four threads. SiSoftware has a listing of a benchmark of a mysterious new Intel "ComentLake" CPU named the i3-10100 CPU and it is apparently a 3.60GHz 4 core 8 thread part with 4x256KB L2 cache and 6 MB L3 cache. This pushes the standard for "entry level" processors up to a level near top-end i7 CPUs from just a few years ago.

Quote of the week

"Please do not stick defines into a function body. That's horrible."

Thomas Gleixner on the Linux Kernel Mailing List August 27th, 2019

Latest software reviews

  • Redshift
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    Redshift is a color temperature adjusting tray application which gradually shifts the connected displays colors so there is less blue light depending on the time of day at the detected or configured location. It is similar to the dumb "blue light" filters which are built into monitors.
  • Ublock Origin
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    Ublock Origin is the by far best web garbage filter. It is available as a browser extension for Chrome/Chromium, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. It is almost essential to get a good browsing experience on the modern world wide web. It can be configured to use a variety of filters from diverse sources making it a great all in one filtering solution.
  • Dooble
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    Dooble is a free software web browser made using the Qt toolkit's webview module. It's github page describes it as "A colorful Web browser". Releases are made for Windows, MacOS and Debian. It can be compiled for other GNU/Linux variants beyond Debian as well as FreeBSD but ready-to-use releases are not made. Compiling and installing it on GNU/Linux systems beyond Debian is not that difficult if you are a wizard but it is not strait-forward if you are clueless. The Debian installation README is useful on such a GNU/Linux variant. Once installed it's a working browser.

Hot News

  • Free Software Enthusiasts are The Worst when it comes to AdBlocking
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     One may assume that a website with ten times as many visitors as another sort-of comparable website would be more profitable but that's just not the case when one of the websites cater to free software enthusiasts who are, in fact, the most privacy-aware and advertisement-hostile people of all. That is a corner-case where the ten times more popular site barely generates half the revenue.
  • Facebook's digital currency Libra appears to be falling apart as major players leave before commitment deadline
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    Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, and eBay all withdrew from the Libra Association on Friday following PayPal's resignation last week. The Libra Association is scheduled to hold it's first meeting on Monday and it's members will be asked to make serious commitments in that meeting. It appears that the largest payment processors were not willing to make any commitments.
  • New stable kernels: 5.3.6, 4.19.79 and 4.14.149 are now available
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    The new stable-series kernels have a small fix for a performance regression which has radically decreased performance on multi-core systems running lots and lots virtual machines since January 2017. The Chinese found eight times higher performance on their system when the patch which caused the regression was reverted.
  • Firefox 69.0.3 with nothing new for free software users
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    The latest minor version of Firefox which was released on October 10th has a fix for Windows 10 users with Parental Controls enabled and a fix for those using Yahoo's e-mail service. There is absolutely nothing new for those who use variants of the GNU/Linux operating system.
  • GNOME Internet Radio Locator v2.0.8 is now available
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    GNOME Internet Radio Locator by Norwegian developer Ole Aamot is a free radio tuner which allows you to tune into radio stations using a world map view or a handy search-box. It has been in rapid development the second half of the year with new versions being released almost weekly the last few months. Version 2.0.8, released October 7th, is worth a look if you like to listen to a small variety of international radio stations.
  • GNOME 3.34.1 is now available
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    The first minor bug-fix release of the 3.34 series GNOME desktop environment is now available.
  • The Free Software Foundation is working to gain a "shared understanding" with the GNU Project
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    The corporate media witch-hunt against Honorary Doctor Richard Stallman resulted in him being ousted from the Free Software Foundation which he founded in 1985. He was, however, not removed from the GNU Project where he remains "Chief GNUisance". The FSF and the GNU project have so far had the shared values and goals; it appears that this is changing.
  • SuperTuxKart 1.1 could be released "anytime"
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    Version 1.1 of the popular free kart racing game SuperTuxKart for GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Android is essentially ready. Developer sources tell us that the git version is as good as ready to become a v1.1 release and that the release could happen "anytime". The new version has IPv6 support, new skins, better touch-screen controls and quite a few bug-fixes and improvements under the hood.
  • GNU Screen v.4.7.0 is released with support for Unicode 12.1.0 tables
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    If you like to work on more than one thing at a time in a terminal emulator's tab then screen (or tmux) may be for you. The latest version of the GNU Screen terminal multiplexer adds support for OSC 11, SGR 1006 mouse mode, Unicode 12.1.0 and there are also some cross-compilation fixes and a cleaned up manual page.
  • Linux 5.4 rc1 is released
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    Half the lines changed in this release candidate for the next upcoming kernel were AMD DRM definition headers. We leave it up to AMD fans to speculate on what fancy new graphics technology they plan to release with support for the indicated new features.
  • Microsoft Windows no longer trusts built-in SSD encryption and neither should you
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    Many modern SSDs come with their own built-in encryption system. Enabling it under GNU/Linux is typically quite trivial; most of them will ask the BIOS for a ATA HDD password and use that if one is set. However, there are some valid concerns about the security of these built-in encryption schemes. Hard-coded super-passwords set by the manufacturer is one which should not be ignored.
  • Honorary Doctor Richard Stallman will remain the head of the GNU Project
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    The founder of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project has announced that he will remain Chief GNUisance of the GNU project in an e-mail to the info-gnu mailing list on September 26th, 2019.
  • Mesa 19.2 is released with support for AMD Navi GPUs
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    Support for the AMD "Navi" GPUs released this summer as well as some upcoming AMD GPUs is the big highlight in the latest version of the GNU/Linux graphics stack used by all the free graphics drivers. This, together with kernel support in the newly released 5.3 series Linux Kernels, means that it is finally possible to buy these GPUs and use them on a GNU/Linux machine without having to use git development versions of everything.
  • Xfce-Panel 4.14.1 is released
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    The Xfce desktop has gotten it's first update to the relatively new 4.14 branch which is baed on GTK3. The window list is now consistent with xfdesktop and the tasklist will now resize as windows are removed. There's also fixes for the pager and the systray and a lot of translation updates.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Older news:

Check out the news archive for more news.

Recent software reviews

  • PokerTH
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    PokerTH is for playing Texas-Hold'em Poker on internet server pokerTH.net and chatting. Heavily censored politically-correct user names. comes with some lame avatars. Neat high-score web-tables here (is the #1 guy a cheater or a bot?). Many bingo losers at the table. Folds even on big blind. highly customizable. with auto-fold and auto-call and hand calculator. mid october 2019, AUR managed to break the PokerTH package. It all went downhill from there…
  • 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.
  • 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.

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