There are too many Linux distributions these days. While it can be argued that having too much choice is never a bad thing, the truth is, having so many distros causes resources to be spread too thinly. There is a lot of redundancy and waste, and eventually, the chickens will come home to roost -- we will see Linux-based operating systems begin to drop like flies.
Linux Mint is alive for now, but infighting and feelings of defeat have many users worried about its future. Sadly, another Linux distribution, Scientific Linux, really has died. This operating system was based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and maintained by some significant members of the scientific community, such as The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN. While current versions (6 and 7) will continue to be supported, future development has permanently ended, with the organizations instead turning to CentOS -- another distro based on RHEL.
Rolling release operating systems are really cool, because they are constantly being updated. This can ensure that the user is kept up-to-date without effort. Why is that good? Well, vulnerabilities are patched quickly, while the latest and greatest features of popular programs are regularly introduced. Of course, there is a potential downside too -- it could introduce bugs that could lead to instability. Ultimately, the user must decide if a rolling release best meets their needs.
One of the best such operating systems is Netrunner Rolling. I love this Arch/Manjaro-based operating system for several reasons, but mostly for its elegant implementation of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It is themed beautifully, providing a smooth user interface that is familiar to those switching from Windows. Not to mention, it comes pre-loaded with many excellent packages, making it a great "out of the box" Linux experience for newbies. Just in time for Easter, Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 becomes available for download -- the first ISO refresh since August of last year.
Christmas. Thanksgiving. Ubuntu release day. What do those three things have in common? They are days that cause many people to get excited. Back in the day, computer users would get excited about a new version of Windows too, such as Windows 95, XP, and 7 to name a few. Since Windows 8, however, Microsoft's new operating systems are hardly a reason for celebration. New versions of Ubuntu, the extremely popular Linux-based operating system, does pique the interest of many, including yours truly.
Today, Linux users around the world should celebrate, as Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" is finally here! Following the Beta release, the stable version is now available for download. Keep in mind, version 19.04 is not LTS (Long Term Support), meaning it is only supported until January 2020.
The Kodi Foundation released Kodi 18 'Leia' three months ago, bringing a number of big new features to the hugely popular home theater software, including a new Games area, updated and improved PVR backend clients, and a redesigned Music section.
A month later, a bug fix release candidate -- Kodi 18.1 -- arrived, and today there’s another new release available to install.
Google has added full USB support for Linux apps in the dev build of Chrome OS 75. The new feature arrived in build 75.0.3759.4 of the operating system and helps to improve the experience of running Linux apps on a Chromebook.
While USB support is not a brand-new feature, anyone who has tried using Linux apps on a Chromebook will be well aware that it has been a bit, well, ropey to say the least. Now this changes.
With the Linux Mint development being severely strained, and the future of that particular operating system being in slight doubt, many Linux "haters" are seemingly taking pleasure. Hardcore fans of Microsoft Windows will point to the Mint situation as proof that Linux (and open source ideology overall) doesn't have a future on the desktop. Thankfully, these negative people couldn't be more wrong. Regardless of what happens with Mint, Linux still has a bright future -- not only on mobile and servers, but desktop too. Maybe that success will be Chrome OS or Android. Whatever. The point is, the open source Linux kernel cannot be stopped.
As people are concerned about Linux Mint, another distro has been gaining in popularity. While not new, the attention it gets has been growing lately. Called "MX Linux," it is based on the excellent Debian Stable and uses the lightweight Xfce desktop environment by default. If you are intrigued by this newly en vogue distro, I have good news -- a new version is available for download. While not a major release,the 18.2 ISO is chock full of changes, fixes, and of course, updated packages. If you hate systemd (as many do), I have good news -- it is not enabled by default (although it is included).
Nintendo is the king of the "Kart Racing" genre. While there are many imitators -- some of which are very good -- Mario Kart remains the best. And no, it is not just about mascots, although it does help having Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong and such. Actually, the real magic is the gameplay -- solid controls and well-designed levels. The Mario Kart franchise is consistently excellent.
The problem? Mario Kart costs money and, emulators aside, only works on Nintendo consoles. If you want to get your kart racing on, but you don't want to open your wallet, you are in luck! SuperTuxKart is an excellent clone of Nintendo's game, featuring popular open source mascots. Best of all, the open source game is not only cross-platform, but totally free! The upcoming SuperTuxKart 0.10 will even introduce network multiplayer play, and now that version has reached Release Candidate status. And yes, you can download and play SuperTuxKart 0.10 RC1 now!
One of the most frustrating things for Windows users that switch to Linux is learning to install software. With Microsoft's operating system, you search the web for the software you want, download it, and install it. With Linux-based operating systems, however, programs are typically installed through a centralized app center or through the terminal. The Linux approach is arguably safer, as Windows users can easily be tricked into downloading malware. Windows 10 tries to emulate the centralized software center with the Microsoft Store, but users have largely rejected it.
Thanks to Canonical's wildly popular snaps (and other containerized packages, such as Flatpak), Linux users can more easily install software -- it should be more familiar to former Windows users. Snaps will work on most distributions too, meaning there is less work involved for software developers -- there is no need to create distro-dependent versions. Today, Microsoft furthers its commitment to Linux by releasing a snap version of Visual Studio Code. No, the source-code editor is not the Windows-maker's first snap -- it also released one for Skype, for instance.
Fedora is the best overall Linux distribution. It's really not up for debate -- even the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds uses it. The focus of the operating system is truly free and open source software, making it one of the most pure experiences. And while there are many flavors to choose with various desktop environments, the default is GNOME -- the overall best DE. While Fedora maybe isn't the best distro for beginners, it should be the eventual choice for those that "level up" to being an experienced Linux user later.
Today, after a bit of a delay, Fedora 30 is finally available for download. Details are a bit sparse regarding new features, but we will add them as we know more. What we do know, however, is the Workstation variant (which is what most users care about) uses GNOME 3.32 -- the latest and greatest version of that desktop environment.
I have been a bit critical of Linux Mint in the past, but the truth is, it is a great distribution that many people enjoy. While Mint is not my favorite desktop distro (that would be Fedora), I recognize its quality. Is it perfect? No, there is no such thing as a flawless Linux-based operating system.
Today should be happy times for the Linux Mint community, as we finally learn some new details about the upcoming version 19.2! It will be based on Ubuntu 18.04 and once again feature three desktop environments -- Xfce, Mate, and Cinnamon. We even found out the code name for Linux Mint 19.2 -- "Tina." And yet, it is hard to celebrate. Why? Because the developers seem to be depressed and defeated. They even appear to be a bit disenchanted with Free Software development overall.
One of the best things about operating systems based on the Linux kernel is they can sometimes be very lightweight. Why is this important? Well, when an OS uses very few resources, it can breathe new life into an aging PC. In other words, just because Windows 7 or Windows 10 run like molasses on your old computer, that doesn't mean you have to buy a new one. The right Linux distribution can make your older PC feel fast and new.
One of the most popular lightweight Linux-based operating systems is Linux Lite. Heck, the name of the distribution tells you that it is designed to use few resources! Version 4.4 is now available, and as per usual, it is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS -- 18.04. The Xfce desktop environment will feel familiar to those switching from Windows. Those new to Linux will also appreciate the easy access to many popular programs, such as Skype, Steam, and Spotify. Even the excellent Microsoft Office alternative, LibreOffice, is included.
Ubuntu is a great operating system. In fact, it has been so good for so long that many people take it for granted. Seriously, folks, think about how remarkable it is that such a high-quality Linux distribution is available for free. Despite it not costing anything, Ubuntu is arguably superior to the much-maligned Windows 10. Microsoft's operating system actually costs money now, and many users didn't even upgrade when it was offered for free.
Today, Canonical's operating system reaches a major milestone. You see, Ubuntu 19.04, which is named "Disco Dingo," has achieved Beta status. And yes, you can download it immediately -- a great way to get this weekend started! Fans of GNOME will be glad to know that version 3.32 is included in the standard Ubuntu Desktop release. Also cool? This is the first version of Ubuntu to use Linux kernel 5.
Back in December 2018, Microsoft announced that it would be moving its Edge browser over to Chromium, with the intent being to align its web platform with both the main web standards and other Chromium-based browsers. Microsoft also said at the time that Edge would be made available for "all supported versions of Windows", not just Windows 10.
Last week, an early version of the browser leaked onto the web, and while most people who tried it would no doubt have done so through Windows 10, it does indeed run on Windows 7 (and Windows 8.1).
Well, folks, it's happening -- Windows 7 will soon be unsupported. Yes, the last Microsoft operating system to truly be loved by users will soon be dead. Microsoft would love for these users to switch to Windows 10, but understandably, not everyone wants to. After all, the user interface is a mess, and there are spying concerns with overly aggressive telemetry.
If you are still on Windows 7, Microsoft will soon begin warning you that support is ending. I actually don't hate Microsoft for nagging these users -- quite the opposite. The company informing users that the Windows 7 operating system will soon be dangerous to use should be celebrated. Thankfully, Windows 10 is not the only path -- Linux is a great option these days. In fact, one of my favorite distributions for Windows switchers, Zorin OS, has a new Beta out today. You should definitely give it a go.
The Kodi Foundation has long been a supporter of open source software and today the developer announces that it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member.
The Linux Foundation is a non-profit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and open source in general, and providing support for the open source community as well as sponsoring Linux creator Linus Torvalds, and maintaining the linux.com website.