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Posts published in “Reviews”

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 distros

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 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.

Putting Together a Video Book Review

Some things are easier than you might think. For example, here our contributing video editor gives you an example of a way that you can give thanks to a favorite author in a useful way with nothing more than a laptop, some freely available software and a YouTube account.

The Video Screening Room

If you encounter an excellent new book and you want to thank the author, your first inclination might be to track down the author’s email address and send them a thank-you message. A more meaningful step, though, is to write a short book review on Amazon (or elsewhere) explaining why others might also like the book. You can go one step further, too, and create a video book review that can be shared via social media.

To show other people what is possible, here is a screencast-style video book review I recently created on my Linux laptop. The book I’m reviewing is titled “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity,” a history of autism published in 2015.

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.

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