Tag Archives: ubuntu

Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools

The once-polarizing world of open-source software has recently become one of the hotter destinations for VCs. As the popularity of open source increases among organizations and developers, startups in the space have reached new heights and monstrous valuations.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen surging open-source companies like Databricks reach unicorn status, as well as VCs who cashed out behind a serious number of exits involving open-source and dev tool companies, deals like IBM’s Red Hat acquisition or Elastic’s late-2018 IPO. Last year, the exit spree continued with transactions like F5 Networks’ acquisition of NGINX and a number of high-profile acquisitions from mainstays like Microsoft and GitHub.

[Source: TechCrunch]

MakuluLinux LinDoz Offers Windows Comfort Zone, but It’s All Linux Under the Hood | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Feb 7, 2020 9:00 AM PT

After a long delay, a new
MakuluLinux LinDoz release is pending last-minute finishing touches and is a week — if not days — away, according to developer Jacque Montague Raymer.

Over the last few months, I have been testing what is now the final build of a new upgrade designed to make using Linux easier than ever. I have reviewed a variety of different desktop versions of MakuluLinux since this Linux newcomer debuted a few years ago.

Recently, I discussed with Raymer the trials and tribulations he faced in maintaining and advancing his Linux line of distros. He revealed a process that no doubt is similar to what confronts many software developers who step into the crowded and financially challenging field of Linux operating system creation. Woven into our conversation is a preview of the next Linux thing.

MakuluLinux is a partial rolling-release operating system that debuted in 2015 with a different approach to implementing Linux OS features. The last few years have brought considerable change and new development to this Linux family.

Family History

The LinDoz distro uses Microsoft Windows themes integrated with superior Linux functionality. It provides a comfortable, familiar computing platform for those looking for an easy-to-use alternative to the Windows OS platform. It runs a heavily tweaked version of the Cinnamon desktop.

MakuluLinux Theme Manager

The MakuluLinux Theme Manager offers a choice of Microsoft Windows-style layouts along with other configuration options. The Desktop Clock Color Scheme lets you switch between light or dark clock applet displays with a single click to match the selected background image.

– click image to enlarge –

The LinDoz and Flash distros have been solid performers since MakuluLinux arrived in 2015. Along the way, Raymer rebuilt them. He completely reworked the distros. Flash runs a strongly tweaked iteration of the Xfce desktop. Core is an innovative distro he introduced early last year.

The Core distro has a totally radical desktop design built on a homegrown user interface centered around a spin-wheel style circular menu display. MakuluLinux Core was something entirely new.

All three distros blended Microsoft Windows traits and Linux functionality into one solid Linux OS. They are not Microsoft Windows clones. LinDoz is designed to make Windows users feel comfortable transitioning to a Linux operating system, according to Raymer. Longtime Linux users also praise MakuluLinux’s different approach.

“There is just enough Windows in LinDoz for them to feel comfortable, but it is all Linux under the hood, Raymer told LinuxInsider.

Planning to Re-Plan

Previous versions of MakuluLinux LinDoz were based on the Debian Testing branch. Raymer, who previously lived in South Africa and relocated to Da Nang, Viet Nam, decided to retool LinDoz to be based on Ubuntu Linux.

That process slowed down the new build. So did discussions by his team about the future directional path. Up for discussion was potentially dropping one or more of the distros.

The release schedule delays were in part the result of deciding to first rebuild the in-house Constructor Tool packaged with the distros. Another cause was the need to resolve changes to the Calamares graphic interface installer that open source community members made to the installer in December.

The last-minute change was crucial because MakuluLinux uses the Calamares installer. Until the rebuild of LinDoz on a Ubuntu base and a port to a Debian base was completed, new releases for the Flash and Core distros would remain on hold as well.

The Linux development world is made up of many small software communities dedicated to specific distributions. Most are not larger business organizations the likes of Canonical, RedHat or Linux Mint. Limited time and money often impede progress.

Maintaining and upgrading releases is often a time-consuming and thankless job that never ends. Raymer found himself at such a crossroads. He had the potential to pursue a spinoff software creation at the expense of continuing his diversified operating systems.

Factoring in Changing Pace

The team met to discuss potentially putting more work into turning the Constructor Tool into some sort of kit for other developers to build their own modified distros. The existing Constructor Tool bundled in MakuluLinux lets users clone the configurations and installed applications to duplicate exact installation copies of their MakuluLinux systems.

With this tool expanded and redesigned, Linux developers then could compile all of the coded components to build their own distros easily, with virtually no knowledge or any coding experience needed, and put out a very professional distro with no effort at all, explained Raymer.

“We were going to start working on the Constructor Tool, build the kit, and start putting all effort into that. After all, with distros we have plenty of competition, and the workload is massive. Whereas if we become the builder of the builders — we build the tools that builders use — we have no competition, at least nothing near as nice as this tool we created. So, this was the plan. This is what we discussed,” he said.

The MakuluLinux team at first planned to phase out the MakuluLinux distros and focus on making “community” builds. The team would release a distro but would not work on it around the clock, Raymer disclosed. Instead, a support community could assume the tasks of editing and maintaining the selected distro with background assistance from the team as needed.

“We will assist as much as we can, to put it bluntly. We would still make distros, but not commit to full-time patches and maintenance unless there was an issue that really required us to step in,” he said.

Raymer and his team got caught up in a whole cycle of releasing distros. Many on the diverse, remotely operating team seemed to force staying on that path because they did not see the potential or Raymer’s vision of things that could be.

“So here we are nearly three years later, and I find myself reflecting, looking both back and looking forward,” he admitted.

Moving Forward, Cautiously

Raymer has weathered the near breakup decision and is ready to advance the growth and development of all three MakuluLinux distros. However, he is not yet committing to any specific dates. That said, he is firm about releasing new editions this year.

The first upgrade is the pending LinDoz release. It is nearly ready to go. It definitely will be based on Ubuntu with a Debian-based release to follow. You can expect the Ubuntu-based version of LinDoz between now and the end of February.

Upgrades for Flash and Core still need quite a bit of work. A last-minute breakthrough on revamping the Constructor Tool this week led to Raymer pushing out the first Flash upgrade build for testing. He still has no clear release date for the Flash distro upgrade. The team will begin working on the Core distro upgrade once LinDoz and Flash are released.

LinDoz First Look

LinDoz is not a Windows 7 or a Windows 10 clone, but users coming from those operating systems will feel right at home as a result of the Windows-style themes.

Combining that look and feel with the inclusion of Q4Wine, a GUI app to manage Wine, lets you bring your essential Microsoft programs to this Linux OS more easily than with other Linux options. Q4Wine enhances the functionality of the WINE Windows emulator.

However, users already familiar with Linux who have no need for Wine can just ignore or remove the emulator. They can change the theme choice to make the desktop view less like Windows. LinDoz is highly configurable beyond the look and feel of the themes.

MakuluLinux  LinDoz desktop

The LinDoz desktop displays all the essentials for Windows or Linux users. It has the bottom panel, an attractive choice of backgrounds, an updated menu, and top-caliber applications.

– click image to enlarge –

For instance, LinDoz has vivid backgrounds, a classic bottom panel, and a preconfigured workspace switcher applet with a nice collection of desktop desklets. It also uses a nicely tweaked version of the Cinnamon desktop with a unique menu.

The new menu blends both Windows and Linux functionality into one OS. The tweaks to the menu layouts make using menus much neater and more complete to provide a smoother user experience.

The tweaking that the Cinnamon desktop provides lets you substitute menu styles, place a variety of applets on the panel, add more panels, and position them wherever you like. Similarly, you can enhance the desktop’s functionality with desklet displays.

Upgrade Highlights

If you have used earlier versions of LinDoz, you will not see much in the way of new looks and major new features. Overall, this latest upgrade contains a tremendous amount of tweaking throughout the distro.

One of the key improvements is centered around changing the base code to Ubuntu, which also is based on Debian. To follow soon is a version based entirely on Debian Linux. The difference rests on Ubuntu being regarded as being highly stable with more current updates.

A new introductory video pops up only in Live mode. This is handy for new users, nice and neat and functional.

A new set-up manager is present in the Ubuntu-based version that is not the same as the intro manager in the existing Debian LinDoz version. It is laid out to go through a step-by-step process to set up things like WiFi, system updates, drivers and more.

You will find a new entry added to the right-click context menu on the desktop. This lets you right-click to open system settings.

This change makes up for removing the system settings launcher from the panel. Other improvements include an update manager shortcut added to the panel, and more Wine entries added to the right-click menu.

It has been years since I used Wine to load Microsoft Windows programs in any Linux distro. It was nice to discover that the configuration hassles and usability frustrations I recall when I did use Wine are not present in the new LinDoz release.

Windows Apps work out-of-the-box more reliably by simply double-clicking on EXE, MSI or COM files. The Windows programs loaded automatically open in the Wine environment.

Also present in this upgrade is a better selection of productivity software and games. The redesigned menus have new categories and content. For instance, apps include a system monitor and the Gnome software center.

Bottom Line

Overall, I am very impressed with the new LinDoz release. It is essentially designed as an easy-to-use operating system that feels comfortable for both Windows and Linux users.

In fact, it even makes using Linux easier for those with disabilities. LinDoz fully supports accessible options to cater for disabled or the elderly that may not see well. It now has a built in Screen Reader, Magnifier and On Screen keyboard. These features are neatly laid out with easy access.

I do not expect an automatic update from the still current version, however. Way too many changes are built into this LinDoz release. So grab the new ISO and experience an effortless fresh installation.

As of this writing, the upgrade was not yet posted for download. But Raymer’s targeted date is between mid February and the end of the month.

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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Even With A $199 Laptop, Clear Linux Can Offer Superior Performance To Fedora Or Ubuntu

The latest in our benchmarking fun with the $199+ Motile M141 laptop is seeing how well Intel’s Clear Linux performs on it in relation to Ubuntu and Fedora.

While Ubuntu Linux was about 15% faster than the default Windows 10 installation on this AMD Ryzen 3 3200U notebook, it’s possible to get even faster performance by loading up Clear Linux on it. We are used to covering Clear’s exciting performance capabilities on high-end hardware, but even for this low-end laptop with an AMD processor, Intel’s performance-optimized open-source operating system still did wonders.

This laptop that is a private label brand of Walmart, as a reminder, features an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Picasso processor with Vega 3 graphics, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and a 14-inch 1080p display.

For getting an idea to the performance potential with Clear Linux, benchmarks of Ubuntu 20.04 daily for the bleeding edge state, Ubuntu 18.04.3 as the current LTS release, and Fedora Workstation 31 were benchmarked against Clear Linux 32230 from this very budget friendly yet surprisingly decent device.

Lightworks 2020.1 Beta Video Editor Brings Linux Improvements


Lightworks 2020.1 is on the way as this professional-grade video editing system’s first release of the year and a change in their versioning scheme. Out this week is the first public beta of the still-proprietary video editing system for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Lightworks 2020.1 is still a binary blob: ten years after they announced their intention of open-sourcing it. As covered last year, there have been no signs of them actually working on the open-source version and it appears to be dead in the water.

While it’s unfortunate their open-source announcement didn’t pan out, Lightworks does remain one of the most capable Linux-native non-linear video editors. With Lightworks 2020.1 there is better H.265/HEVC video handling and MTS file editing on Linux that some performance issues should be resolved. Lightworks is also picking up decode support around HEVC/H.265 files for dealing with issues in the future.

Lightworks 2020.1 Beta also has various user-interface improvements, official support finally for Ubuntu 19.04, an HD overlay in the vectorscope, and a variety of other improvements. More details at LWKS.com.

Solus Shines With Plasma Desktop Options | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Jan 31, 2020 11:40 AM PT

Solus, an independent Linux distro based in Ireland, is built from scratch on the Linux kernel and the flagship Budgie desktop. This week’s release brings the KDE Plasma desktop to the growing Solus family.

Solus Budgie, GNOME, MATE

Solus uses a rolling release that frequently updates system files and software packages to eliminate the need to periodically reinstall the operating system when new ISO or installation files are issued. Updated ISOs are available on a predetermined developmental cycle so new users have immediate access to the most recent content.

Solus started out as a new Linux distribution some five years ago as an independent operating system available for 64-bit computers only and was built around the Linux kernel. Unlike many other Linux distributions, Solus is not based on another Linux family such as Ubuntu, Arch or Red Hat.

The first stable version was released in December 2015. It ran a homemade desktop called “Budgie.”
Budgie is an open source project in its own right. It offers a simplified approach to implementing the look and feel of the older-style GNOME 2 functionality.

I tested early beta releases prior to the first stable release. Along the way, I have revisited Solus to monitor progress with the fledgling new desktop environment as the Solus distro gained maturity, navigated rebranding issues, and ultimately survived the departure of the founding developer who turned over the distro’s development to a new team. A huge advantage for the Budgie desktop is that it is not a fork of another project.

Budgie is designed for easy integration into other distros and is an open source project in its own right. The Budgie desktop environment has an intuitive menu that enables quick access to your installed programs, offering both category and compact views.

In its younger stages, Solus was an acceptable Linux operating system that was simple and stable to use, but having only a homegrown desktop environment as a daily computing platform posed challenges.

As the Solus saga continued, that situation became less of a concern. The Budgie desktop became the Solus flagship as the developer team added other desktop options.

The Desktop Factor

The Budgie desktop is grown up. It shares the spotlight with several well-established desktop choices.

The Solus developers did more than plug in a choice of desktops. The devs made sure that the Solus design and application philosophy remained intact. This consistency is one of the distro’s prize characteristics.

One of the unique factors that the Solus distro brings to the Linux table is its independent nature. At its core are the Linux kernel and a growing collection of applications built around its own in-house package management and software center systems.

The inclusion of the KDE Plasma desktop should attract veteran Linux users looking for a more flexible desktop experience. Meanwhile, this latest Solus upgrade brings more usability and options that make Solus easy to use for Linux newcomers.

Solus 4.1 Plasma desktop edition

Solus 4.1 adds a Plasma desktop edition that retains the KDE look and feel without losing the Solus style consistency.

– click image to enlarge –

Early Flaws

My initial reviews noted Solus’ potential for growth. I saw some merit in using Budgie as an alternative lightweight desktop environment integrated into the GNOME 2 framework. In its initial stages, however, the Budgie desktop environment was more like “Budgie Bungled.”

The Budgie desktop was too simple to encourage continued use, I thought. I was disappointed with its slow development. It continued to suffer from a lack of functionality and completeness.

I was much more pleased with Budgie’s integration and performance over the years in other Linux distros. The Budgie desktop was less limited in performance elsewhere. Over time, Budgie in Solus improved. So did the Solus distro as a whole.

History Revisited

Ikey Doherty was the lead developer of what originally was named “Evolve OS” and later morphed into Solus OS in 2015. The morphing included the new Budgie desktop.

Early in its development, Doherty had to rebrand his original distro to resolve a conflict with another Linux distribution. Now the Linux project is called “Solus.”

Over the summer of 2018, due to unclear circumstances, Doherty relinquished his leadership and affiliation with the Solus community. Under Doherty, the distro was based in the UK. The current development team now is based in Ireland.

Moving On

Prior to the change in leadership, Solus lacked the glitz and glitter found in distributions with more seasoned desktop environments. Animation was nonexistent.

Fast-forward to Solus 4.0, which appeared last October and proved to be a mature distro that was alive and well. One of the early hallmarks of Solus was its simplicity. That was evident in every aspect of use.

It became a factor in the distro’s growing popularity. Performance gains and more functionality were evident in version 4.0 under the new developer community. Solus offered a fresh approach to uncomplicating the computer desktop.

That says a lot, given the sometimes sordid developmental path of the almost 5-year- young Linux distribution. Its series 4 release name — “Fortitude” — speaks volumes about the new developer team’s success with updates and improvements to each of the distribution’s supported desktop environments: Budgie, GNOME, MATE — and now KDE Plasma in the current 4.1 upgrades.

The custom Budgie desktop environment in the version 4.0 release sported a new minor release to version 10.5.1 of the Budgie desktop 10.5 series. Budgie received several enhancements, gaining improved menu handling, new font options, and the ability to work with multiple modern versions of the GNOME software stack.

Solus 4.1 Plasma desktop widgets

The Plasma desktop lets you display desktop widgets, a feature the other desktop options do not provide.

– click image to enlarge –

Progress Shows

The Budgie desktop in Solus 4.0 and 4.1 advances the cause of simplicity and elegance. It grew with the user in mind. It has a plain and clean style.

In this latest release, version 4.1, the Budgie desktop is still easy to use. It is a feature-rich, modern desktop designed to stay out the user’s way.

One key advantage for the Budgie desktop is that it is not a fork of another project. The Budgie desktop environment offers an intuitive menu that enables quick access to your installed programs, offering both category and compact views.

Budgie makes it easy to add, remove and modify panels, along with their properties and displayed applets. It gives you quick access to system settings and power options such as restart, suspend and shutdown.

The introduction of the GNOME and MATE desktops added more flexibility and variety to the Solus offering, however. Solus now has one more big reason for new users to check out this impressive Linux distribution. This same reason also might influence Budgie users to switch environments and try something new.

The Plasma Factor

This latest edition to the growing family of Solus desktops — KDE Plasma — is a welcome option. The flagship Budgie desktop provides a neat, clutter-free view. Its bottom panel bar and slide-out display for settings from the right edge of the screen reinforce the Solus mandate to keep things pretty and neat.

Earlier iterations of the Plasma desktop would not have fit that Solus mandate easily, but the latest Plasma layout is a handy complement to the Solus design style. Its bottom panel is almost a functional duplicate of what the Budgie panel bar offers.

Another nicety, at least for me, is the way Plasma handles an essential computing tool — virtual desktops. I found Budgie to be a bit too restrictive in navigating around workspaces. I disliked GNOME for being a tad bit too clunky in that regard. Plasma takes more of the middle ground.

Plasma has what no other desktop environment so far has duplicated. It has a traditional virtual desktop process. It also has what amounts to a “super workspace” system called “Activities.”

The Activity feature works separately from virtual desktops. You can use both together or one rather than the other. The Activity display offers several features not available to plain workspaces.

For example, you can show a different background image in each Activity “desktop.” You also can have different screen widgets for each Activity desktop, as with the main Solus Plasma screen.

Yet another benefit of the Plasma environment is the KDE family of tools and applications.

Solus 4.1 Plasma Activities panel

Plasma’s unique Activities panel provides another layer of virtual workspaces that let you display different backgrounds and desktop widgets in addition to the standard Solus desktop screen view.

– click image to enlarge –

Under the Hood

All of the Solus 4.1 releases have ISOs using Zstandard (zstd) compression for the SquashFS images. Compared to the xz compressed ISOs from previous releases, the ztsd compressed size is slightly larger. However, zstd files decompress significantly faster. This results in a faster installation process.

Solus 4.1 Plasma Edition features Plasma Desktop 5.17.5, the latest of 5.17 series. It is complemented by KDE Frameworks 5.66, KDE Applications 19.12.1 and QT 5.13.2.

The Solus developers did not just drop in a standard Plasma desktop. Like all of the Solus desktop environments, the Plasma edition refines the Plasma Desktop experience.

For instance, this edition introduces Solus Dark Theme, a custom theme that is darker than the standard KDE Breeze-Dark and comes closer to the style of the other Solus editions. Other Plasma modifications include changing the position of the Show Desktop widget inside the system tray and creating a custom layout of the Digital Clock widget.

The Solus Plasma Edition ships with Solus-specific integrations for KDE Applications and Frameworks, as well. That reinforces the Solus style consistency I mentioned earlier.

Solus 4.1 ships with the latest release of systemd, v244. This latest version introduces numerous features and prepares for future improvements to Solus around EFI support.

Bottom Line

Solus is one of the leading alternative distros to other more mainstream Linux OSes. The 4.1 upgrade, especially the Plasma edition, clearly set the standard that other Linux distributions should follow.

If you are a gamer, take note of this: Solus 4.1 just made gaming simpler. Solus 4.1 ships with increased file limits to enable ESync support. This release also raises the file limits in the PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) package to
Lutris’ suggested value. This lets you spend less time configuring your system and more time playing games.

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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