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The Scourge of Global Internet Outages Continues | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

Last year, it seemed that nobody escaped the onslaught of outages. Google, Comcast, Route 53, AWS, GitHub, DE-CIX—one by one, these outages reduced the number of services available to users.

Major outages for the year included:

  • February 22: Multiple global financial trading sites reported outages or slowdowns on the Dow’s worst daily point drop to date.
  • March 1: GitHub weathered a massive DDoS attack that not only disrupted its service, but also caused collateral damage to other services.
  • March 2: AWS experienced another due to a power outage in Ashburn, VA.
  • May 31: AWS had yet another due to an ISP problem power outage that impacted AWS US-east-2.
  • April 13: A DE-CIX switch in Frankfurt, Germany, took down a large portion of the Internet for a major world economy.
  • April 24: AWS had multiple service outages, one involving the hijacking of its DNS service, Route 53.
  • June 29: Comcast claimed the most victims, with its fiber-cut outage cutting off or slowing down service for millions of Internet users—even beyond its customer base.
  • September 3: Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram all suffering outages, despite being hosted on different clouds.
  • November 12: One of the biggest outages of the year occurred when Google traffic was dropped and re-routed through Russia and China.

Many other services, such as Amazon, Slack, Twitter, Facebook went dark at some point, due to a network or application issue.

A recurring problem that will persist

If only last year were an anomaly. Unfortunately, it was not. Two years ago, Amazon, Comcast, Twitter and Netflix were effectively taken off the Internet for multiple hours by a DDoS attack because they all relied on a single DNS provider – Dyn, in their case.

Can it happen again? According to the 2018 ThousandEyes Global DNS Performance Report, 68 percent of the top 50 companies in the Fortune 500 and 72 percent of companies on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 are still at risk. Two years after the Dyn DDoS attack, you’d think digital companies would have learned their lesson, but apparently not so.

According to the report, many of the biggest companies on the planet – as well as 44 percent of the top 25 SaaS providers – don’t have a fallback DNS option. That means that a single outage or DDoS attack could completely take their businesses off the Internet.

Without DNS, there is no digital experience. It’s the least appreciated aspect of delivering online user experience, and the most overlooked chink in an enterprise’s armor.

Even digitally mature organizations can get DNS wrong by not following best practices around resiliency. It’s also a complex topic that most networking professionals haven’t spent enough time to understand.

The DNS expert community is select, but the need for awareness of DNS has grown as more businesses than ever rely on digital experiences in their revenue generation. According to Gartner, CIOs report that 37 percent of their revenues will be have a digital footprint by 2020. If DNS is the first step in every digital experience, then not getting that step right can be incredibly costly.

As for the lack of enterprise DNS resiliency, consider this analogy. Most IT professionals would never consider building a data center without backup power or redundant telecom or Internet connections. Further, most know that redundant connectivity isn’t truly redundant unless there is diversity of physical cable routes and facilities. But too many are just using a single DNS service. If that DNS service is lost, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on your CDN, your data center, or your cloud hosting. Your brand will be offline, and you’ll be scrambling.


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Reconfigurable Computing Breathes New Life into NFV | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

Though Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) have been around for a while now, many organizations are still weighing the benefits and drawbacks of adopting these technologies. SDN and NFV hold great promise because they separate software from hardware, which eliminates standard proprietary bundling and its hefty price tag. However, they also have challenges that organizations need to overcome before enjoying the full value that is possible.

In the early days of network infrastructure, the standard practice was to buy customized hardware and software. Example applications include network gateways, switches, routers, network load balancers, varied mobile applications in the mobile core; radio access network such as vEPC (virtual evolved packet core), vCPE (virtual customer premise equipment) and vRAN (virtual Radio Access Network); and security applications like firewalls, NGFW, IDS/IPS, SSL/IPsec offload appliances, DLP and antivirus applications. 

This requires buying proprietary appliances to run each networking application. Operators would rather support these functions as software applications (virtualized network functions, or VNFs), running on virtual machines or in containers on standard servers.

That’s the idea behind NFV. Moving away from discrete, cus­tomized architectures to a more consolidated “x86-only architecture” promises to reduce costs, simplify deployment and management of net­working infrastructure, widen supplier choice and, ultimately, enable horizontal scale-out in the networking and security market.

Because the throughput and latency demands of today’s applications are so high, there’s no guarantee that applications in software on standard platforms will be able to meet those demands without allotting significant CPU resources to address the issue. Operators are realizing that the cost savings that NFV promises are offset by the need to deploy entire racks of compute resources at a problem that a single appliance could previously support. The CPU and server costs, rack space, and power required to meet the same performance footprint of a dedicated solution end up being as expensive as or more than custom-designed alternatives. The vision of operational simplicity and dramatically lower total cost of ownership are still a dream on the horizon.

How 5G Complicates Things

Operators are already facing performance and scaling problems with generic NFV infrastructure (NFVi), and as 5G networks become a working reality, their presence will only make the situation worse. The move to 5G brings new requirements to mobile networks, creating its own version of hyperscale networking that is needed to meet the performance goals for the technology but at the right economy of scale. Numerous factors are fundamentally unique to 5G networks when compared to previous 3G/4G instantiations of mobile protocols. The shorter the distance, the higher the frequency – thus, the more bandwidth that can be driven over the wireless network.

On top of this, 5G will also mean a huge increase in the number of users/devices (both human and IoT), which fundamentally affects the number of unique flows in the network and necessitates very low latency requirements. 5G also promises lower energy and cost than previous mobile technologies. These 5G goals, when realized, will drive the application of wireless communications to completely new areas never seen before.

Acceleration Needed

Operators see now that in order to scale virtualized networking functions (VNFs) to meet performance goals, they will need data plane acceleration based on FPGA-based SmartNICs. This technique offloads the x86 processors that are hosting the varied VNFs to support the breadth of services promised.

It turns out that the highest-performing and most secure method of deploying VNFs involves virtual switching supported by SmartNIC acceleration. Virtual machines (VMs) can use accelerated packet I/O and guaranteed traffic isolation via hardware while maintaining vSwitch functionality. FPGA-based SmartNICs specialize in the match/action processing required for vSwitches and can offload critical security processing, freeing up CPU resources for VNF applications. Functions like virtual switching, flow classification, filtering, intelligent load balancing, and encryption/decryption can all be performed in the SmartNIC and offloaded from the x86 processor housing the VNFs while, through technologies like VirtIO, be transparent to the VNF, providing a common management and orchestration layer to the network fabric.

In addition, custom offloads beyond the above examples that are specific to the VNF application in question and that require acceleration can be implemented in the FPGA SmartNIC via standard APIs. This level of complete flexibility provides a workload-specific processing architecture where specific tasks are split between the host x86 processor and the FPGA.

A New Configuration

These changes are such that costly, hardened networking and security solutions simply will not suffice. The technique to overcome the challenges that are facing NFV deployments requires reconfigurable computing platforms based on standard servers capable of offloading and accelerating compute-intensive workloads, either in an inline or look-aside model to appropriately distribute workloads between x86 general-purpose processors and software-reconfigurable, FPGA-based SmartNICs optimized for virtualized environments.

By combining commodity server platforms and FPGA-based SmartNICs, the stage is set for an environment in which network applications can operate at hundreds of gigabits of throughput with support for many millions of simultaneous flows. Organizations that have been hanging back to see if the promise of NFV would become a reality can begin to build this unique architecture for networking applications.


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Q4OS: A Diamond in the Rough Gets Some Polish | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Dec 20, 2018 11:19 AM PT

Q4OS: A Diamond in the Rough Gets Some Polish

Sometimes working with Linux distros is much like rustling through an old jewelry drawer. Every now and then, you find a diamond hidden among the rhinestones. That is the case with

I took a detailed first look at this new distro in February 2015, primarily to assess the Trinity desktop (TDE). That was a version 1 beta release. Still, Trinity showed some potential.

I have used it on numerous old and new computers, mostly because of its stability and ease of use. Every few upgrades I check out its progress. Key to this is watching the improvements and additional functionality of Trinity.

Q4OS is a lightweight Linux distro that offers some worthwhile alternatives to more established distros. Do not misunderstand what “lightweight” in Linux means, however.

Q4OS is designed with aging computer hardware in mind, but it does not ignore more modern boxes.

Its main claim to fame is the developing
Trinity project desktop. Trinity was forked in 2008 from the last official release of the K Desktop Environment’s third series (KDE 3), version 3.5.10.

Q4OS simplified KDE 3 design

Q4OS has a simplified KDE 3 design that has useful desktop applets for this alternative to the Trinity desktop. Other desktop options also are built in.

– click image to enlarge –

The Germany-based developers recently issued a significant update to the Q4OS snapshot of the distribution’s Testing branch, code-named “Centaurus.” Q4OS Centaurus 3.4 is based on the current Debian “Buster” and Trinity desktop (TDE) 14.0.6 development branches.

This distro is fast and runs extremely well on low-powered aging computers. Q4OS has superb performance on newer computers. Its design pushes classic style with a modern user interface in a new direction. Plus, it is very applicable for virtualization and cloud use.

From Rough to Polished

When I first started to monitor the Trinity desktop, I thought it had the potential for becoming a new attention-getter among up-and-coming Linux distros. The primary distro developer that implemented TDE was, and still is, Q4OS. The distro primarily is built around TDE as the default desktop.

It is easy to swap TDE into other more popular desktops without removing an easy return path to both TDE and KDE. Supported desktops include LXQT, LXDE, XFCE4, Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, Mate and GNOME. Installing a different desktop does not remove the TDE desktop. Instead, you can select between the alternative you installed and the TDE desktop at the login screen.

To install a different desktop environment, go to the Desktop Profiler tool and click the Desktop environments drop-down in the upper right corner of the window. A new window appears, where you can select your desktop of choice from the drop-down. Once back at the main Profiler Window, select which type of desktop profile you want, and then click Install.

These choices give both business and individual users lots of options. One of the big values in using Q4OS Linux is the add-on commercial support for customizing the distro to meet specific user needs. The name of the developers is not publicized on the website.

However, Q4OS clearly is intended to be more than a community-supported general purpose Linux distro. The website also invites businesses to makes use of Q4OS.org’s commercial support and software customization services.

What’s Inside

Q4OS is designed to offer a classic-style user interface (Trinity) or other alternatives with simple accessories. The distro provides stable APIs for complex third-party applications, such as Google Chrome, VirtualBox and development tools. The system also is ideal for virtual cloud environments, due to its very low hardware requirements.

One of the most important changes in this latest release is the switch to the Calamares installer. Calamares offers nice new installation features. For example, it offers optional full encryption of the target system, as well as easy disk drive partitioning.

Another important change is a move to the new Trinity 14.0.6 development version. All dependencies from the current stable Q4OS Scorpion version have been removed, making Centaurus fully independent, with its own repositories and dependencies.

Secure Boot support has been improved too. This is very handy if you install Q4OS on newer hardware hosting Microsoft Windows.

The Calamares installer detects if Secure Boot is active and adjusts the target system accordingly. If Secure Boot is switched off in the firmware, no Secure Boot files are installed.

Q4OS Centaurus offers the bleeding edge of Linux computing. It will be in development until Debian Buster becomes stable. Centaurus will be supported at least five years from the official release date.

The minimal hardware requirements are ideal for older hardware. The Trinity desktop needs at least a 300-MHz CPU with 128 MB RAM and 3 GB hard disk storage. Most of the other alternative desktops are lightweight and run with ease under the minimum resource requirements. The KDE Plasma desktop — and perhaps the Cinnamon desktop — thrive with at least a 1-GHz CPU, plus 1 GB RAM and 5 GB hard disk storage.

All About Trinity

The TDE project began as a continuation of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) version 3 after the Kubuntu developers switched to KDE Plasma 4. The name “Trinity” reflects that heritage. It means “three,” and TDE was a continuation of KDE 3.

The Trinity desktop design presents the simplified look of KDE applications while eliminating the layers of customization associated with KDE’s Activities and virtual desktop navigation. It displays the Bourbon start menu and taskbar.

Q4OS Trinity environment

Q4OS’s Trinity environment has a simplified desktop with bottom bar, classic menu options, and the ability to add/remove application icons on the desktop.

– click image to enlarge –

Timothy Pearson founded the TDE project and continues to lead it. He is an experienced software developer who was the KDE 3.x coordinator of previous Kubuntu releases.

TDE is both flexible and highly customizable. It has a pleasant visual appeal. Its desktop effects are compatible with older hardware. Trinity fills the gap left open with the other lightweight desktop options, which offer little in the way of desktop visual effects.

The field of new alternative desktop environments has created a clutter that may have blunted more interest in TDE. For instance, choices such as Pantheon, Enlightenment, Budgie and Awesome offer unique lightweight choices. Still, Q4OS levels that playing field by letting you use your desktop choice without undermining the unique system tools and customization opportunities the distro provides.

You will not find the Trinity desktop shipping as an option with most Linux distros. Those that use Trinity include Devuan, Sparky Linux, Exe GNU/Linux, ALT Linux, PCLinuxOS, Slax and Ubuntu Nightly.

TDE’s growth with Q4OS makes the combination a viable alternative to meet individual and small business computing needs. The TDE 14 series has been in development for more than two years. This extended development period has allowed the creation of a better and more stable feature-rich desktop environment than found in previous TDE releases.

Using It

Whether you adopt Q4OS to replace a Microsoft Windows experience or another Linux distribution, you will not have much of a learning curve. Out of the box, this distro works well with the default configurations.

Its simplified interface is intuitive. Whether you are a holdover from Windows XP or Windows 7 or even a disgruntled Window 10 refugee, Q4OS offers an inviting look and feel.

The basic collection of software barely gives you enough applications to get started. You will not find any bloat.

Installed titles include Google Chrome, Konqueror, KWrite text editor and a few system tools. From there, what you want to use is easily available through the software center and the Synaptic Package Manager (after you install it).

The Welcome screen makes it very easy to start setting up the desktop with just a few clicks. It is a good starting point. From that panel, you can add packages conveniently and quick start some of the unique features.

The Desktop Profiler lets you select which desktop environment to use. It also lets you select among a full-featured desktop, a basic desktop or a minimal desktop.

Install Applications installs the Synaptic Package Manager. Install Proprietary Codecs installs all the necessary media codecs for playing audio and video.

Turn On Desktop Effects makes it easy to activate more eye candy without having to wade through more detailed Control Panel options.

Switch to Kickoff Start Menu switches from the default Bourbon menu to either Classic or Kickoff styles. It is easy to try each one. Set Autologin allows you to set login to bypass requiring your password upon boot.

Q4OS desktop

A nice touch is the variety of background images and the right-click menu anywhere on the desktop.

– click image to enlarge –

Bottom Line

Q4OS has a focus on security, reliability, long-term stability and conservative integration of verified new features. This operating system is a proven performer for speed and very low hardware requirements. That performance is optimized for both new and very old hardware. For small business owners and high-tech minded home office workers, Q4OS is well suited for virtualization and cloud computing.

One of the hallmarks of this distro is to be a suitable powerhouse platform for legacy hardware. So the developers continue to resist a trend among Linux devs to drop support for old 32-bit computers.The 32-bit versions work with or without the PAE memory extension technology.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Dec 12, 2018 12:39 PM PT

Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary

Elementary OS is an easy-to-use operating system that offers a fresh approach to running Linux.

Developers of U.S.-based Elementary OS recently released the community’s annual major update, Juno 5. What makes this distro so nontraditional is its own desktop interface, called “Pantheon.”

This desktop interface is somewhat of a hybrid, inspired by Apple’s Debian Ubuntu-based OS X. The Pantheon desktop’s design is very deliberate and extremely functional. It combines some similarities of the GNOME 3 Shell with the visual finesse of the OS X dock.

Its Ubuntu underpinnings are anchored under the hood. What you see and use on the screen gives Elementary OS a distinct look and feel. Even the software center app, which in typical Ubuntu-based distros has the same appearance as the Ubuntu package manager, is part of the community’s well-maintained software distribution system..

AppCenter is a built-in app store for downloading both free and paid apps that are specifically designed for Elementary OS. In fact, the developers seem to stretch the concept of offering “free” open source applications.

For instance, a website statement maintains that “every single app in AppCenter is open source because we firmly believe in the world-changing power of freely-licensed code and open source software.” The developers also have apps offered with a price.

What’s the catch? Ultimately, there is no catch. You can pay what you want — if you want to pay anything at all.

No-Cost Download

Keep that pay-what-you-want strategy in mind if you decide to go to the download page to get the live session/installation ISO file. You will see an e-commerce transaction window. You have to select a payment amount in order to activate the download process. Or not!

Just enter a zero in the custom payment window. You do not have to fill in any payment card information. You can download the ISO file for free.

Of course, the real benefit to open source software distribution is not the idea that you can get Linux distros — or applications from the AppCenter — for free. It’s that the developers do not have to cover costly software licenses for using open source code.

They still have legitimate research and development costs, however, as well as website hosting and maintenance expenses. So consider making payment to keep Elementary OS developers solvent, and to keep patches and improved future releases in the pipeline.

Elementary Background

Elementary OS first appeared in 2011. It introduced a fresh new look and a simplified approach to desktop management.

I was mildly impressed with early editions of the Elementary OS platform. They worked reliably and there was no learning curve. The Pantheon desktop added a pretty new face and had just enough functionality to satisfy Linux newcomers.

I wanted more system configuration options, though. I was less concerned about ease-of-use issues than eager for more power-user features.

Elementary OS' multitasking controls

Elementary OS’ multitasking controls provide a convenient alternative to the keyboard shortcuts and traditional workspace switcher applets that other Linux distros use.

Over time, Elementary OS matured into a fairly useful new desktop environment that blended some of the better characteristics of other Linux distros. Its unique, simple, clean design acquired more productivity to satisfy experienced users’ needs.

The developers learned to temper oversimplifications of the Pantheon desktop. It became less limited. More advanced Linux users, however, might miss some of the functionality provided in more heavyweight environments such as Cinnamon or KDE.

Liking This Linux Flavor

Often, reviewers describe a particular Linux distro as being suitable for newcomers. That statement implies that the distro is easy to use because it resembles Microsoft Windows.

Software reviewers sometimes confuse the Linux of yesteryear with today’s typical Debian-style distros. Yes, Linux distros used to be hard to configure. They used to require advanced command line interface (CLI) skills.

A few Linux families must plead guilty to both accusations today. Think Arch Linux or enterprise class Linux offerings, for example. However, those design features are deliberate and welcomed by more seasoned Linux users who want total system control.

Elementary OS has no resemblance to Microsoft Windows or other more challenging Linux offerings. Using Elementary OS is more like running the Android OS on a desktop with the added functionality of virtual workspaces for multitasking.

The default settings work without fiddling. If you decide to venture into system settings, the experience is no more challenging than the settings on your cellphone.

The only difference is the limited categories. The Pantheon desktop has just five settings categories: Personal, Hardware, Network & Wireless, and Administration. Even better, the live session ISO lets you go from trying it out to installing it hassle-free.

That is what makes Elementary OS easy to use. It does not require decisions such as which desktop environment to use. It is elementary! This OS only has one choice — the Pantheon desktop.

The Pantheon Pathway

The Pantheon desktop is written using Vala and the GTK3 toolkit. That makes it modern and fast. It has a similarity to the GNOME 3 Shell but does not fully mimic it.

A configurable Mac-like app doc sits at the bottom of the screen in place of a traditional Linux panel. Basic system tools and a few frequently used application icons are displayed on this bar. Right-click on each icon for content-specific actions, including an option to remove it from the dock.

Much like the tool bar in Chrome OS or the task bar on an Android device, this bottom app dock displays icons for running applications. You can right-click on any of the icons to keep them or add them to the dock. Depending on the icon, you can close the app window or execute other functions in the right-click menu.

A transparent panel bar crosses the top of the screen. You can not add any applets there or dock any running applications. The right end holds a few essential system notifications. These include the Language emblem, Internet connection status, Bluetooth and battery status markers, and the Power Off icon to access the shutdown menu.

The far left end of the panel has an applications menu. The date and time are visible in the center of the panel space.

Applications and Hot Corners

The applications menu is nice and different. The default setting opens a grid display of installed applications. Click the two buttons at the top of the applications window left of the search field to switch views to categories.

Depending on the type of app involved, right-clicking on an app icon in the menu gives you an option to add the item to the dock bar at the bottom of the screen. Some of the apps give you the option to execute other actions without first having to launch the app. This is handy.

Elementary OS Pantheon desktop settings for wallpaper, appdock, hot corners

The Pantheon desktop provides a few choices for background images, AppDock behavior, and hot corners all under the Desktop portion of the Settings control.

With the Applications window open, start typing the name of an app to launch. A list of possible matches displays, and it instantly updates as you continue to type. If you change your mind, click on the desktop to close the Applications menu window. Otherwise, the windows self closes when you click on an icon to launch an app.

In the settings panel you can designate actions for each of the four hot corners. This is a convenient way to execute frequently used navigation actions.

The developers have a minimalist view in mind for the preinstalled software. You literally get a bare minimum of applications and tools to let you set up the rest of the system your way. while a bit inconvenient, this approach ensures that you do not have to deal with removing bloat.

Installed Inventory

The developers created applications built specifically for Elementary OS’ custom-made desktop environment. You get a few of these in the installed software bundle. The rest you must install from the AppCenter.

Applications include Calculator, Calendar, a files manager, Photos, Music and Videos. The Epiphany Web browser also is preinstalled. The Applications menu provides access to GParted Partition Editor, an email client, a WebCam app, a screenshot app and System Settings.

The Applications menu includes launchers for the AppCenter and Multitasking View. Many of these core apps and system tools are pinned to the bottom dock.

Elementary OS Pantheon Applications menu

The Applications menu contributes greatly to the user interface of the Pantheon desktop, but the Epiphany browser and sparse collection of preinstalled apps are not enough to provide out-of-the-box functionality.

Multitasking Flow

Access to virtual workplaces is handled differently than with the more traditional applets for virtual workplaces other Linux desktops employ. Elementary OS does not use the term “workspaces.” Instead, the desktop design is built around a multitasking layout, which is really what using virtual workspaces is all about.

It took me a while to adjust to this new approach. My muscle memory had to unlearn clicking on a space in a workplace switcher applet in the bottom panel or using a keyboard shortcut or Alt-Tab to bounce around virtual workspaces.

Elementary OS’ design is a big improvement over the slide-out panels found in GNOME 3. The Multitasking button changes the screen display to a mini Expo view. In place of the Dock bar, an application icon appears for each open application at the bottom of a reduced view of the current desktop.

A Plus button lets you add another workspace. A vertical slice of the background image appears at one or both screen side edges depending on how many workspaces you create.

To navigate among the workspaces, either click the icon in the multitasking bar or click one of the side panels. When you get to the desired workspace view, click on the visible reduced desktop image in the center of the screen, or the app icon in the multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen.

This is where the hot corners come in handy. I set up two hot corners. The bottom left opens the multitasking view. The bottom right corner displays a mini view of all workspaces. Then I click the one I want as the full-screen display.

What’s New Inside

The latest version of elementary OS has some worthwhile improvements. Updates to the desktop environment, file manager and software center add nice touches.

This release is the culmination of numerous updates and enhancements that focus on providing a more refined user experience with improved productivity for new and seasoned users.

Night Light is one example. It has both a manual timer and an automatic Sunrise to Sunset option. Night Light reduces the blue light output of the display. This can help reduce eye strain and sleeplessness.

A new Night Light indicator appears in the Panel for easy access to adjusting the display temperature or snoozing Night Light until the next day. It also provides a quick way to jump straight into the relevant screen in System Settings.

Another example is the tweaking added to the Tiling feature. You can now manage app windows with a blue feed-forward preview.

Bottom Line

The more I use the multitasking feature, the more I like its click-and-go navigational style. Getting rid of workspaces or running apps is simple. Hover the mouse pointer over the multitasking bar and click the icon’s circled X.

Elementary OS is a very solid Linux distro. Its uncluttered design is encouraged by not being able to place app icons on the desktop. There are no desklet programs to create distractions.

So far, the only real obstacle I’ve encountered in using Elementary OS is the need to adapt to having fewer power-user features. While basic installation was smooth and event free, not having preinstalled text editors, word processors or an alternative Web browser was an inconvenience.

New users who do not know what software they need to fill this void are at a big disadvantage.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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Debian Celebrates Its Birthday » Linux Magazine

The Debian GNU/Linux project celebrated its 25th birthday on August 16, 2018. Debian was created in 1993 by Ian Murdock. The name of the project came from the first three letters of his then girlfriend Debra and his own name – Deb Ian.

In the Debian manifesto, Murdock wrote, “Debian Linux is a brand-new kind of Linux distribution. Rather than being developed by one isolated individual or group, as other distributions of Linux have been developed in the past, Debian is being developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. The primary purpose of the Debian project is to finally create a distribution that lives up to the Linux name. Debian is being carefully and conscientiously put together and will be maintained and supported with similar care.”

Debian has evolved to become one of the most popular distributions. Its stable branch dominates the Linux-powered web hosting services. The popularity of Debian also lead to an entire generation of Debian-based distributions, including Ubuntu and Knoppix.

Debian has three releases: stable, testing, and unstable. Stable is meant to be used on servers and by users who don’t want their systems to change frequently. Stable has packages that are very well tested; as a result, they can be old.

Testing has packages that are not part of stable yet but are in the queue. Most Debian-based distributions, such as Ubuntu, are based on testing. It’s also suitable for desktop use on home PCs.

Debian Unstable is the place where all development happens; it’s really bleeding edge and is meant only for developers.

Version 9 is the current version of Debian, and its code name is Stretch. Each version of Debian is code-named after a character from the movie Toy Story. The unstable branch is code-named Sid, because Sid is the character that breaks everything.

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