Well, folks... they did it. The people over at System76 finally achieved one of their dreams -- selling laptops with open source firmware! This is quite an impressive feat.
System76 has long been a proponent of both Linux and open source, and over the years, it never deviated from that. And now, two of its laptops will come with open source firmware based on Coreboot. Thrilling stuff, eh? Also exciting, however, is both computers can be be configured with some excellent specifications too, such as 10th gen Intel Core processors, up to 32GB RAM, and Thunderbolt 3.
I fondly remember building my first-ever 64-bit computer with an AMD 3200+ processor. While it seems like only yesterday, the reality is, that was more than 15 years ago! Yes, 64-bit consumer chips have been around that long, showing how asinine it is for operating systems to still support outdated 32-bit hardware in 2019. Shockingly, Microsoft has 32-bit Windows 10, while countless Linux distributions support the antiquated hardware too. Sigh.
Thankfully, the good folks that develop the excellent Fedora Linux distribution have finally had enough. Beginning with the upcoming version 31 of the operating system, i686 32-bit processor support is being dropped by the Fedora Project. While it absolutely is the correct decision, there will undoubtedly be whining from some vocal crybabies in the Linux community. After all, for some Linux users, the act of complaining seems to be a popular pastime.
Chromebooks used to be glorified web browsers running atop the Linux kernel, but these days, they are far more useful. If you need more than just web apps, you can now run Android apps and traditional desktop Linux programs on Chrome OS. Best of all, you can run them all side by side, making it all feel like a cohesive experience -- it doesn't feel like you are using a mixture of software intended for different platforms.
Today, Samsung launches its latest Chrome OS laptops -- the 11.6-inch Chromebook 4 and 15.6-inch Chromebook 4+. The former weighs just 2.6 pounds, while the latter is a heftier 3.75 pounds. Both laptops are powered by the same Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, and you can choose between 4GB and 6GB of RAM. Strangely, there is no option for 8GB of memory. Storage options are 32GB or 64GB, and sadly, regardless of capacity, you will get a sluggish eMMC drive. Both machines have USB-C and micro SD readers, which is cool, but the Wi-Fi is only 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) -- not the newer 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6).
Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 Build 18995 with new sign-in option and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) updates
Microsoft will begin rolling out the Windows 10 19H1 update very soon, but in the meantime it’s working hard on the next big feature release -- the May 2020 Update, due out next spring.
Fresh from its big hardware event yesterday, the software giant today rolls out a new flight to Fast ring Insiders. Build 18995 introduces a number of new features, including adding Windows Hello PIN sign-in support to Safe mode, and yet more improvements for Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).
All Linux users are the same, right? Oh, hell no! Linux users are a diverse bunch, with differing opinions, tastes, and personalities. In fact, that is probably a contributing factor to the fragmentation of the Linux community. Linux users have lots of options between distributions, desktop environments, and more -- they are not stuck in a box like Windows 10 users.
To highlight how different Linux users can be, Canonical has released some data about the installation of snaps, categorized by distro. It chose six of the most popular Linux-based operating systems for its analysis -- Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, Arch Linux, and Manjaro. It then shared the top five most popular snaps for each distribution.
Security researchers at TrendMicro have discovered a rootkit-like strain of malware that is striking Linux users. Called Skidmap, the malware is a cryptocurrency miner, but there is much more to it than that.
Skidmap is clever. Very clever. It goes out of its way to disguise itself, going as far as faking system statistics to hide the tell-tale high CPU usage that might give it away. More than this, the Monero-mining malware can also give attackers unlimited access to an infected system.
Fedora may not be the flashiest or most exciting Linux distribution, but it is very reliable. You can always depend on the operating system to be rock solid and very modern. Best of all, it focuses on true open source ideology -- there are no non-free packages by default. I tend to "distro hop" out of curiosity, but no matter what, I always find my way back to Fedora.
Fedora 31 is due later this year, but first, there needs to be some beta testing. And so, today, Fedora 31 Beta is made available for download. Unfortunately, details surrounding version 31 are a bit sparse. With that said, one big change involves Fedora users with ARM 64-based single board computers, such as a Raspberry Pi. Those folks will get access to an additional desktop spin -- the lightweight Xfce.
Huawei makes some of the best laptops around -- the company actually puts Apple's design team to shame. This focus on elegance cannot be said for many other Windows PC manufacturers, as they often just set their sights on cutting corners to keep prices down.
And that is why Donald Trump's xenophobic attacks on Huawei are so tragic. Huawei's computers and smartphones are wonderful, but with uncertainty about access to Windows and proper Android (with Google apps), consumers are correct to be a bit concerned.
There are many Linux desktop environments from which to choose -- some are good, others are bad, but only one can be best -- GNOME. Whether you choose Ubuntu, Fedora, Manjaro, or some other different Linux distribution, GNOME will provide you with a superior user experience. Not only is it ideal for productivity, but GNOME is quite pretty too. And yes, there are plenty of customization options. Not to mention, the excellent stock GNOME apps create a very cohesive experience overall.
Today, GNOME 3.34 is finally released. Code-named "Thessaloniki," the newest version of the desktop environment is chock full of new features, bug fixes, visual improvements, and updated apps. One of the most apparent changes to users will be the ability to group icons into folders using drag-and-drop within the application overview -- very cool.
Manjaro may have lofty goals of becoming a successful company, but let's be honest -- users of the Linux-based operating system don't really care about that. Don't get me wrong, I am sure most members of the Linux community are rooting for the newly-formed company's success, but they are probably more interested in the excellent operating system itself.
Today, Manjaro Linux 18.1.0 "Juhraya" finally becomes available for download, and it isn't without some controversy. You see, rather than just offer up LibreOffice like most distributions, Juhraya offers an alternative choice at installation -- FreeOffice.
Microsoft is working to bring its Teams software to Linux. The company has said that it is "actively working" on creating a Linux version of the client, although there is no word on quite when it might be released.
There have long been calls for Microsoft to cater for Linux users. The collaborative Teams software is used by many people in mixed platform environments, and the announcement from Teams engineers have been greeted with enthusiasm.
Some people may think a company focused on Linux can never be successful. That’s false thinking, actually. True, some people use Linux as just a hobby, but it is so much more than that. As Red Hat shows us, Linux can be a billion dollar business. Plus, System76, for example, has been selling personal computers running Linux for many years. So, yeah, a Linux-focused company can be a success.
Of course, that does not mean a Linux-focused company is guaranteed to be a success. Case in point, today, popular Linux distribution Manjaro announces that it has formed a limited partnership business entity. The question, however, is whether or not creating such a company is a good idea.
MX Linux is apparently becoming increasingly more popular these days, and I am not really sure why. Lately, I have been testing out the open source operating system, and I simply don't understand the hype.
Xfce, which MX uses, remains one of the worst desktop environment for end users -- it is lightweight, but that aside, it offers nothing over the superior GNOME or KDE. If you own a HiDPI monitor (which more and more people have), Xfce remains a terrible experience.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 Build 18975 with Cortana and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) improvements
Work continues apace on the next major Windows 10 update due out next spring. Recent preview releases have all introduced big improvements, and today's new flight, Build 18975, is no different.
This release for Fast ring Insiders introduces the ability to move the Cortana window to anywhere on screen, and also makes improvements to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).
Apple Music is the best streaming music service. Yes, it is better than Spotify. Apple's offering has a superior interface and better new music discovery. Hell, I recently discovered the best album of the year on Apple Music -- Blowing on a Marshmallow in Perpetuity by 0 Stars. Seriously, check it out, y'all.
Unfortunately, Apple Music doesn't work on traditional Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora. It does, however, work on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Chromebook users can take advantage of the Apple Music Android app from the Play Store. Traditional Linux users, however, are sadly left out of the party.