Who doesn't feel a little nostalgic from time to time? Progress is great, but sometimes it's nice to look back at how things used to be -- even if it's only to laugh at how different and primitive things used to be. The world of computing is no different in this regard.
Last year, developer Felix Rieseberg released Windows 95 as an Electron app to let 90s computer users relive their younger years. Now he's back with a second version of the Windows 95 app, and it's even better than ever -- gaming classics such as Doom and Wolfenstein3D are now included, for starters!
At the end of last month, BetaNews shared with you that System76 was preparing to release a refreshed version of its Darter Pro laptop. This computer features a large 15.6-inch display and a rather thin and light body. There are many useful ports too, such as USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, USB-A, gigabit Ethernet, an SD Card slot, and both HDMI and DisplayPort for video. If you are a Linux user, the new Darter Pro really looks like a home run. System76 even managed to fit a number pad on the right side of the keyboard -- a much desired feature for many consumers.
We reported that the laptop would become available for purchase on February 5, and thankfully, that proved to be correct. Yes, dear Linux users, you can finally buy the new Darter Pro. Pricing is very competitive, starting at just $999! Best of all, by purchasing a System76 computer, you are supporting a longtime contributor to the Linux community.
Don't want to watch Super Bowl LIII today? Install the Kodi 18 Leia-focused LibreELEC 9.0 Linux distro instead!
Well, folks, it is finally here. After a rather lengthy beta period, LibreELEC 9.0 is available for download. Wait, are you not familiar with this specialized Linux-based operating system? Please know it is a lightweight OS that only exists to run Kodi -- the very popular open source media center. It provides an easy to use environment for consuming media, such as movies and music. This new version of LibreELEC is based on the recently released Kodi 18 Leia and can run on a lot of different hardware, including the very popular Raspberry Pi devices. Yes, with LibreELEC, you can turn a Pi (or many similar devices) into a powerful media box!
If you are dreading watching Super Bowl LIII later today, why not install and play around with LibreELEC 9.0 instead? Look, not everyone enjoys spectating sports -- don't let society make you feel bad about preferring to tinker with Linux than watch football. This new version of LibreELEC even has game emulation support, making it far more interesting than merely watching video and listening to music.
Privacy-focused Linux distro Tails 3.12 now available for download with many critical security bug fixes
We are living in a very confusing world these days. Computers and the internet were supposed to be our saviors -- a portal to all the knowledge of the world. While that is still largely true, computers have also eroded our privacy through a slow campaign of conditioning humans to accept more and more encroachment by companies into their lives. Facebook and Google, for instance, have recently stirred up much controversy by spying on users with nefarious apps -- more than usual. Both of those billion dollar companies dangled money in front of its users, enticing these people to hand over full access to their lives. Worst of all, teen children were targeted too.
With all of that said, I can totally understand people being suspicious and cautious of technology. Hell, even Windows 10 is spying on users with its hardcore telemetry. Thankfully, there are ways to access the internet while minimizing attacks on your privacy. One great option is Tails -- a Linux-based operating system that can be run from a flash drive or DVD. It is an invaluable tool to safeguard yourself -- especially for those in countries where there isn't free speech.
When people come to me for advice on buying a computer that comes with a Linux-based operating system pre-installed, my first suggestion is always System76. While other companies, such as Dell, also make great laptops running Ubuntu, for instance, System76 stands above the rest by also offering its own operating system -- Pop!_OS (which is based on Ubuntu). In other words, System76 has better control over the overall customer experience. Not to mention, its contributions to both the Linux and open source communities are invaluable.
Today, the company unveils its latest laptop, and it looks like a winner. The 15.6-inch "Darter Pro," as it is called, is thin, but not overly so -- it still has USB-A ports (thankfully). The computer is quite modern, however, as it also has a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.
If you are a Linux desktop user, it is time to get very excited. Why? Because Dell has finally refreshed its XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop -- a very well-respected machine. Don't let the "Developer" in the name scare you -- it not only a great computer for devs, but home users, business users, and students too. This "Developer Edition" moniker simply indicates it is pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux.
This newest version of the notebook, dubbed "9380," continues with Dell's focus on beauty and thinness, but it now has improved specs. Webcam users in particular will be delighted to know that the newest XPS 13 now has the camera on the top of the display rather than the bottom! Yes, there will be no more showing off the inside of your nostrils while video-conferencing.
It used to be, people would scoff at the idea of switching to a Linux-based operating system due to a lack of software. While that is still true for some folks -- especially business users -- it is less of a concern these days. Why? Well, so many things are done through the web browser nowadays, lessening dependence on Windows software. For many consumers, just having the Google Chrome browser on, say, Ubuntu, is more than enough to accomplish their wants and needs. Not to mention, there are many quality Linux apps like GIMP and DaVinci Resolve.
But OK, lets say you really want to use a Linux-based operating system, but there's some Windows-only software that you absolutely cannot live without. Thankfully, you may still be able to ditch Windows and upgrade to something like Fedora or Linux Mint. How? Thanks to the excellent Wine. This compatibility layer (don't you dare call it an emulator), can sometimes enable you to run Windows software on Linux. Today, version 4.0 is released.
Indie open-source startup Whitewater Foundry debuted WLinux for WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) four months ago. This new, open source Linux distribution, based on Debian stable, was specially optimized for WSL.
Now the company is back with a 'remix' of the popular Fedora Linux distribution for WSL that can be installed directly from the Microsoft Store.
Purism is a company that focuses on privacy, security, and open source ideology. What's not to love? It already manufactures Linux-powered laptops with cool features like hardware kill switches for webcam and wireless radios. This way, you can be confident that your hardware is less likely be hacked and used to spy on you.
The company's core values are noble and respectable, but financially, this won't necessarily signal success. In fact, competing with the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple for desktop computing is a very hard task. Even harder? Breaking into the mobile business which is dominated by iOS and Android. And yet, Purism plans to launch the Librem 5 smartphone (running Linux-based PureOS) at some point in the future. Of course, such a device will need an app store, so PureOS has finally revealed the name of its upcoming offering -- the unimaginatively named PureOS Store. Sadly, this will be an attempt to merge mobile and desktop into a single store.
Since Microsoft will be ending Windows 7 support in less than a year, many computer users will have to decide if they will move onto the much-maligned Windows 10. Alternatively, depending on their needs, they could opt for a Mac or Chromebook. But what if you are happy with your current computer and don't want to buy new hardware? In that case, Linux can save the day. The excellent Netrunner, for instance, is a great option for Windows switchers that fear a change of user interface.
If you are open to moving away from the traditional Windows-like interface, another superb Linux distribution to consider is deepin. If you aren't familiar, deepin is a very stable operating system that focuses heavily on appearance. Quite frankly, it puts Windows 10 to shame in that regard -- its "Deepin Desktop Environment" is far superior to the dated and boring interface found on Microsoft's latest operating system. Today, deepin 15.9 becomes available for download with a huge list of changes, including new multi-touch gestures and improved power management.
Microsoft is killing Windows 7, so you should switch to Netrunner 19.01 'Blackbird' Linux distro now!
Windows 7 is an excellent operating system. It is a no-nonsense computing experience that just works. There are no ugly live tiles or forced updates. Conversely, Windows 10 is largely trash. Don't get me wrong, Microsoft's latest operating system isn't all bad, but it has many poor design choices, and the intrusive telemetry makes it feel like you are being spied on when using your own computer. Worst of all, it has proven to be very buggy -- it has been deleting important user files! That is scary stuff...
Many Windows users passed on both Windows 8.x and Windows 10, opting to stay on Windows 7. You know what? I don't blame them. Unfortunately, starting today, the Windows 7 death clock begins ticking away. You see, in exactly one year, Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. While the operating system will still function, it is foolish to use an unsupported OS. These folks will have to decide if they want to "upgrade" to Window 10 or opt for something entirely different. Today, Netrunner 19.01 "Blackbird" -- a Linux-based operating system that is reminiscent of Windows 7 -- is finally released. If you don't want to run Windows 10 on your PC, you should definitely give Blackbird a try before the Windows 7 support ends.
While I appreciate hardware makers and game developers pushing the boundaries of what gaming can be, it is important to remember one important fact -- fun trumps all. In other words, it doesn't matter how much processing power a computer or console has, or how beautiful a game's graphics are, if it isn't fun to play! That's probably a big reason why retro-gaming is so popular these days.
For Linux users, gaming is getting much better these days, especially with Steam support. One game in particular, however, has brought much joy to Linux users without the need for high-end graphics cards. Called "SuperTuxKart," it is essentially an open source clone of Mario Kart, that is simply fun to play. While the title character is the Linux mascot, there are Windows and macOS versions too. Thankfully, the game is about to get even better, as networking is being added -- allowing you to play against others over LAN or the internet. Today, following an alpha period, that feature finally becomes available in beta, with version 0.10-beta1.
As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself doing much reflecting. Linux consumes much of my thinking, and sadly, this was not the year that it overtakes Windows on the desktop. You know what, though? Windows 10 was an absolute disaster this year, while the Linux-based Chrome OS has slowly become more and more mature. Other desktop Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora, continue to get better, and Android remains the undisputed king of mobile. As we all know, Linux powers many servers around the globe too. So yeah, maybe it isn't the year of the Linux desktop, but the open source kernel still had a superb 2018 -- I raise my glass to it.
One of the most refreshing aspects of Linux in 2018 was the popularity of Snaps. Canonical revealed that the containerized packages have been a smashing success. Today, the Ubuntu-maker highlights what it feels are the top 10 Snaps of 2018. No, it is not based on popularity or voting, but seemingly, just Canonical's opinion.
Kodi is an excellent open source media player, allowing the user to have an immersive experience with both music and video. While the software gets a bad reputation due to people using it for piracy, many folks only use it for legal media consumption. As more and more illegal Kodi add-on maintainers face legal trouble, and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu remain competitively priced, fewer folks may seek pirated content. In fact, the LibreELEC developers claim the "Kodi piracy scene continues to decline."
Not familiar with LibreELEC? Please know it is a Linux distribution that exists solely to run Kodi. It supports many hardware configurations, including traditional x86_64 for PC and ARM for devices like Raspberry Pi and WeTek. Following the release of Kodi 18 'Leia' RC3, LibreELEC 9.0 (8.95.1) Beta 1 becomes available for download. Its most significant change is a clever way to handle Kodi start up crashes due to buggy add-ons. After five consecutive crashes, the OS will boot without any Kodi add-ons, allowing the user to at least have a usable device.
Giving Linux fans a little Christmas present, Linus Torvalds has announced that version 4.20 of the Linux kernel is now available.
In a post to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Torvalds said that there was no point in delaying the release of the latest stable version of the kernel just because so many people are taking a break for the holiday season. He says that while there are no known issues with the release, the shortlog is a little longer than he would have liked. However "nothing screams 'oh, that's scary'", he insists.