Computer hardware is useless without software. As cool as the diminutive Raspberry Pi computers are, for instance, they are just paperweights until you install an operating system. The little computers can run many OSes -- including an IoT variant of Windows 10 -- but really, Linux makes it shine.
One of the most popular Linux-based operating systems for Raspberry Pi is the Debian-based Raspbian. This is the "official" distribution for the Pi hardware, and today, it gets a major update. The Chromium web browser gets bumped up to version 65, while a new and faster PDF viewer, called qpdfView, replaces Xpdf. More importantly, the operating system gets two big additions -- a new setup wizard and recommended software program.
A hacker managed to take control of the Github account for Gentoo Linux, going as far as inserting malicious code into the distros. The malware was designed to delete user data.
Although the situation is now under control, an investigation is underway to determine what happened. Anyone who has downloaded a Gentoo distro or other files recently, is warned to "refrain from using code from the Gentoo Github Organization" for the time being.
Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution, right? Yes and no. While the "normal" version of the operating system is, in fact, based on Canonical's distro, there is yet another version. Called Linux Mint Debian Edition, or LMDE, it is based on Debian -- as the name implies.
Today, we learn some interesting news. The Beta of the next version of the operating system, LMDE 3 -- code-named "Cindy" -- should be released next month, in July.
Back in March, we reported on the Mintbox Mini 2 -- a diminutive Linux Mint desktop PC manufactured by a company called "Compulab." Of course, it can run other distributions too, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Heck, it can even run Windows 10 if you want/need. This is the second generation of Mintbox Mini with the big difference being a switch from AMD to Intel. The fanless device is not a powerhouse, but it should run the Linux distribution like a champ. Quite frankly, it is very beautiful too -- the fins look cool as hell.
Barring any last-minute issues, the release of Linux Mint 19 "Tara" is imminent -- it should be made available any day now. As a result, starting today, you can finally order the MintBox Mini 2. Apparently, Compulab was waiting for Tara's release to get closer before taking orders. In addition to the standard model, there is also a "Pro" variant.
Google is a huge proponent of open source. The company is constantly releasing projects on GitHub -- a huge win for the open source community. Not to mention, Google leverages one of the most important open source projects for its operating systems -- the Linux kernel. Both Android and Chrome OS, for instance, are Linux-based.
Today, Google becomes a Platinum Member of the Linux Foundation. This is big news, as not only will Google benefit from the platinum perks, but arguably more importantly, the Linux community will experience a huge financial win. You see, the annual cost for being a platinum member is $500,000!
Linux and user data collection. Some people will decry such a thing, but they would be wrong. As long as the collection is opt-in, it is totally acceptable and in line with Linux ideology. When is it questionable? When users don't have a choice. With Windows 10 telemetry, for instance, users can opt out of sharing some data with Microsoft, but not all. And that's a problem. Even if Microsoft's intentions are pure, and designed solely with improving Windows 10, users should be able to refuse all data sharing at time of installation.
With Ubuntu desktop, Canonical has started collecting installation data, but it is doing it the right way. It shows the user exactly what data could be shared and lets them choose whether or not they want to send it. It is 100 percent optional -- the way it should be. Guess what? According to the company, 67 percent of users decided to do so. That is an impressive metric in itself. By being open and honest, Canonical achieved what I would call a successful conversion rate. Best of all, it gleaned a lot of interesting data, and it is sharing the analytics publicly.
It's officially summer and the weekend is here. For some folks, this means spending time outdoors for the next couple of days. If you are a computer guy or gal, however, you may be sun adverse -- spending time inside tinkering with your PC could be more fun than the beach or the pool. If that is you (it's definitely me!), I have a suggestion -- why not try a new Linux distribution this weekend? Hell, there are countless such operating systems from which to choose.
Today, a lesser known Linux-based operating system achieves a milestone. Called "Peppermint," version 9 is now available for download. If you are still holding onto some old hardware, you might want to pay attention. Not only is the OS designed to be light on resources, but Peppermint's developers are still maintaining a 32-bit version of the Ubuntu-based distro.
deepin Linux is controversial because its developers are in China. You see, some people are suspicious of a Linux distribution that comes from that country. If you feel that way, that's your business. But you know what? I am personally sick and tired of such xenophobia these days. Let's not forget, many goods come from China -- including personal computers and associated components. Not to mention, the OS is largely open source.
Controversy aside, deepin is a great operating system for both Linux beginners and experts alike. Not only is it stable thanks to its Debian base, but it has a very polished and focused user experience. Today, version 15.6 becomes available, and it is loaded with improvements.
There has been something of a spate of chip vulnerability discoveries recently, and now another one has emerged. Known as Floating Point Lazy State Save/Restore, the security flaw (CVE-2018-3665) is found in Intel Core and Xeon processors and it is another speculative execution vulnerability in a similar vein to Spectre.
The security flaw takes advantage of one of the ways the Linux kernel saves and restores the state of the Floating Point Unit (FPU) when switching tasks -- specifically the Lazy FPU Restore scheme. Malware or malicious users can take advantage of the vulnerability to grab encryption keys. Linux kernel from version 4.9 and upwards, as well as modern versions of Windows and Windows Server are not affected.
Ah, Linux Mint. This operating system has its detractors, but for the most part, it is beloved by both Linux beginners and experts alike. True, most of the praise is due to its excellent Ubuntu base, but the Mint team understands what many other distribution maintainers don't -- the overall experience matters. When you install Mint, you are in for a polished treat -- it is clear that the developers truly care about the end users.
Today, Linux Mint 19 "Tara" Beta finally sees release. Three desktop environments are available -- Cinnamon (3.8), MATE (1.20), and Xfce (4.12). All of these DEs are excellent, but the shining star is Cinnamon. Tara is significant as it is based on the newest Ubuntu 18.04 and will receive updates until the year 2023. The included Linux kernel is version 4.15 and not 4.17 -- understandable, as it was only just released.
In his weekly message to the Linux community on Sunday, Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux 4.17. The release comes a couple of months after the first release candidate, and in his message Torvalds also talks about version 5.0 of the Linux kernel.
Having previously said that Linux kernel v5.0 "should be meaningless", he said that this next major numerical milestone will come around "in the not too distance future". For now, though, it's version 4.17 -- or Merciless Moray, if you prefer -- that's of interest.
Just yesterday, we shared that The GNOME Project moved to GitLab. This was a major score for GitLab, but also, an important move for GNOME as well -- it should greatly improve collaboration between its contributors. GNOME is not alone in its move to that Git-repository manager, however, as GIMP (plus the babl and GEGL libraries) also made the transition. Actually, believe it or not, GNOME is hosting GIMP there.
If you aren't familiar with GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), please know that it is an open source image/graphics editor/manipulator. It is very similar to Adobe Photoshop, although GIMP is totally free. In fact, the open source Photoshop alternative is a cross-platform affair, available not just on Linux, but macOS, and Windows too. It is an extremely important program for the open source community -- right up there with LibreOffice.
GNOME is one of the most important open source projects on the planet. Even if you use an alternative desktop environment, such as KDE or Xfce, you cannot deny that GNOME's contributions have largely shaped the path of Linux on the desktop for the better. Don't forget, GNOME is much more than just a DE -- many of its apps are essential. That's probably why someone (or something) recently pledged to donate $1 million to it -- GNOME's existence and success is a must for the Linux community.
Today, The GNOME Foundation makes a very big announcement -- the project has fully transitioned to GitLab. In other words, yes, the GNOME Project is growing up a bit and becoming better organized. This move to the GitLab Git-repository manager is a breath of fresh air, quite frankly, and should really improve collaboration between GNOME Project contributors.
While Dell is mostly known as a Windows PC manufacturer, the company is also a big proponent of Linux. Its "Developer Edition" models can be configured with Ubuntu, for instance. Of course, despite this branding, non-developers can buy them too. The XPS 13 "Developer Edition" in particular is a svelte machine that should make many home Linux users very happy.
In addition to home users, Dell manufactures solid business-class mobile workstations, and the company recently announced four such Linux-powered models. These Precision "Developer Edition" laptops run Ubuntu and are RHEL certified. One of these notebooks, the Precision 3530, is available today, while the other three will be available soon.
Despite being the default desktop environment for the two most important Linux distributions in the world -- Fedora and Ubuntu -- GNOME is not a money-making project. Actually, it is run by a non-profit called The GNOME Foundation that relies heavily on donations from both organizations and individuals. That's what makes GNOME so extraordinary -- the high quality desktop environment and apps are largely a labor of love.
Today, The GNOME Foundation makes a shocking revelation -- a mystery donor has pledged $1 million dollars! We don't know who is promising the money -- it could be a rich man or woman, but more likely -- and this is pure speculation -- it is probably a company that benefits from GNOME, such as Red Hat or Canonical.