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Posts published in “Reviews”

Jono Bacon Asked Google Home ‘Who Founded Linux?’ You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Excuse the hyperbole, but we’ve always wanted to use a click-baity sort of headline — just to see if they work. That being said, we’re not going to spoil the fun. To find the answer, you’re going to have to watch the video. Don’t worry, however — bad things rarely happen when Linux is involved.

Jono Bacon Google Home Linux

The Screening Room

We found this short eight minute video quite by accident while searching through the FOSS Force News Wire looking for something else. In it, we find the well known open source community manager, Jono Bacon, at home, apparently alone and in his kitchen, recording himself as he plays with his newly acquired Google Home device. This surprised us, as we didn’t know he actually had a home. It seemed to us he spends all of his time in his office, and we figured he lived there. We were also surprised to find him alone. A community manager, we figured, is absolutely always surrounded by his community.

WordGrinder: Distraction-Free Writing From the Command Line

WordGrinder is an old fashioned command line program that doesn’t try to do a lot of things. Its purpose is to get the job done, and stay out of the user’s way while doing it.

WordGrinder not MS WordWordGrinder not MS Word

A few months back while perusing the latest news from the open source media, I came across an article listing five favorite command line tools, or some such nonsense. It turned out that one of the items on the list was a command line “word processor,” WordGrinder, which the article’s writer claimed to be an uber-easy way to write from the command line.

As it happened, I’d been looking for that very thing, so I immediately looked in the Mint/Ubuntu repositories, found it, installed it and took a look. Unfortunately, at the time I was busy, facing a couple of deadlines, so when I couldn’t figure the first thing out about it in five seconds or less, I closed the terminal and went to Bluefish to finish an article I was writing, while vowing to return to look further into WordGrinder as soon as I finished.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Charlie Reisinger’s ‘The Open Schoolhouse’

The Screening Room

Charlie Reisinger is the IT Director of the Penn Manor School District, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He recently finished writing a spellbinding book describing how his school district decided to adopt open source software and methods. When reading this book, I sent an email to Charlie saying: “This book reads as if it’s your doctoral thesis — it’s a multiyear capstone project.” Charlie responded, “It felt in some way like that while writing the book.” Charlie went on to tell me that the reason he wrote the book was to help other school districts make the plunge into open source. “Come on in – the water is warm!” is the reassuring tone throughout the book.

Here is my video review of this book. Note — at 27-minutes long, it’s much longer than my other video book reviews. I had no choice but to give the book its due. It’s a masterful piece of storytelling that offers hope to students and teachers everywhere.

Phil ShapiroPhil Shapiro

For the past 10 years, Phil has been working at a public library in the Washington D.C.-area, helping youth and adults use the 28 public Linux stations the library offers seven days a week. He also writes for MAKE magazine, Opensource.com and TechSoup Libraries. Suggest videos by contacting Phil on Twitter or at pshapiro@his.com.

A Nonreview of Linux Mint Xfce 18 ‘Sarah’

With Linux Mint Xfce 18.1 “Serena” due to be released any day now, we decided it was too late for a full review of Mint Xfce 18.0 “Sarah,” and opted instead for this down-and-dirty “nonreview.”

screenshot Linux Mint Xfce 18 "Sarah"screenshot Linux Mint Xfce 18 "Sarah"
A peek at Linux Mint Xfce 18 “Sarah” as we see it daily at FOSS Force.

The FOSS Force Review Nonreview

Oh, drat. I’ve done gone and procrastinated too much again.

Shortly after Clem Lefebvre and his buddies released the Xfce edition of Mint 18 — that’s “Sarah” for those who prefer names to numbers — I installed it on one of the laptops I keep at the office so I could write a review. I even took the laptop with me to All Things Open in late October to give it a good workout — which I did writing my coverage of the conference for “another website.”

I never did get around to writing the review, but it’s always been on the back burner. I’d get it written before the next version of Mint is released, I figured.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Manjaro Linux: Should You Trust Love at First Sight?

If first impressions can be trusted, Manjaro Linux would seem to be a Linux lover’s dream. But how much can you really tell about a distro on a short test drive?

Distro of the Week

Wow! It’s a good thing I never act on love-at-first-sight impulses. About an hour ago, as I’m writing this, I rebooted the old System76 laptop we use for testing after downloading and installing Manjaro 16.06.1 “Daniella.” First impressions are everything, it’s said, and I am completely wowed.

Manjaro Linux Welcome screenManjaro Linux Welcome screen
The Manjaro Linux Welcome screen.
Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Five Favorite Linux Distros

Like everybody, we love “five best” lists. Trouble is, how can we come up with a five best list of anything when we haven’t even begun to look at them all? What we can do is list “five favorites,” like we’ve done with this list of five favorite Linux distros.

I’ve never been a distro hopper. Not at all. I started out with Mandrake back around 2002, and stuck with Mandrake/Mandriva until 2010. When it became obvious that the distro was in serious financial dodo and wasn’t likely to be around much longer, I moved to PCLinuxOS. This move was made partly because the distro had started life as a fork of Mandrake/Mandriva, keeping me in familiar territory, but mostly because it was one of two distros I could find that supported the Wi-Fi on an old Dell laptop I was using at the time. In 2012 I moved to Bodhi Linux after falling in love with the simple elegance of the Enlightenment 17 desktop, and the next year switched over to Linux Mint Xfce edition when we finally got around to setting up a full time office for FOSS Force.

Tux Linux distrosTux Linux distros

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Encrypted File Sharing Service Tresorit Offers Linux Desktop Client, But…

At first glance, Tresorit’s end-to-end file sharing service looks like it might be able to overcome its proprietary nature and win favor with some Linux users. Unfortunately, the service comes with another issue that might be an insurmountable deal breaker for some.

The FOSS Force Review

On Thursday I received an email from Eszter Szilva, a PR manager at Tresorit, which is an “end-to-end encrypted file sharing service.” She was offering an invitation to take a peek at the company’s just released client for GNU/Linux. I must admit I was a little excited by this, despite the fact that I already figured the service was also end-to-end proprietary. I was willing to ignore that, thinking it’s about time for companies to start treating Linux users with the same respect given to users of other operating systems.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

A Review of the Pocket CHIP Computer

The CHIP computer, a SBC that runs on Debian and is billed as “the world’s first $9 computer,” has been released. This video review of the Pocket CHIP offers a good preview of what it’s about.

The Video Screening Room

The runaway Kickstarter success CHIP computer is now shipping, both the computer motherboard itself and the neat Pocket CHIP handheld device. A thorough video review of the device was created by gadget reviewer Lon Seidman.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnDbB6YlPvo?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent&w=640&h=360]

To remind you what the CHIP Kickstarter campaign looked like on its first day, here is a screencast I made showing the contributions coming in on the first evening. This 30 second video is sped up to show several hours of Kickstarter contributions.

Phil ShapiroPhil Shapiro

For the past 10 years, Phil has been working at a public library in the Washington D.C.-area, helping youth and adults use the 28 public Linux stations the library offers seven days a week. He also writes for MAKE magazine, Opensource.com and TechSoup Libraries. Suggest videos by contacting Phil on Twitter or at pshapiro@his.com.

Our First Look at Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon

It’s been almost a month since Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” was released, so we decided to take it for a spin and have our first ever look at the Cinnamon desktop.

The FOSS Force Distro Review

Being a longtime Linux Mint user, I was happy at the end of last month when lead developer Clement Lefebvre and the gang released Linux Mint 18, otherwise known as “Sarah.” As always, the new Mint was first released with two desktops that are based on GNOME, Mint’s default Cinnamon and the more retro MATE. Those who prefer Xfce (my personal choice) and KDE will have to wait a while longer while the developers get them polished and ready to work and play well with the rest of Mint.

Linux Mint 18 CinnamonLinux Mint 18 Cinnamon

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Four Alternatives to Raspbian and Ubuntu MATE

While Raspbian and Ubuntu MATE remain the go-to distros for many Raspberry Pi users, our Pi guy reminds us that there are others, and offers us a look at four alternatives.

The Raspberry Pi Report

It seems like every article one reads about the Raspberry Pi always makes a reference to Raspbian. If not, then the writer will probably write about how wonderful Ubuntu MATE is on the Raspberry Pi. Which begs the question: Are there any other OS options for the Raspberry Pi? While there’s nothing wrong with either distro, we should remember that the main appeal of using Linux is the freedom and amount of choice that is offered to the user. With that being said, here are four other distros that offer a great user experience on the Raspberry Pi.

Isaac CarterIsaac Carter

In addition to hosting a Raspberry Pi meetup in Washington D.C., Isaac Carter is a co-host on mintCast. He’s also a software engineer who enjoys working with Java, JavaScript, and GNU/Linux. When he’s not coding, you can find him reading on any number of subjects or on the golf course.

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