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Vinux Enhances Productivity for Visually Impaired Users
November 23, 2015
Vinux 5.0 is a striking example of the flexibility and usability of the Linux OS. Vinux is a fully functional Linux distro that caters to blind and partially sighted users. It's based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr 14.04.3 LTS and gives users support through 2019. The latest version was released earlier this month. It greatly improves on the usability features of other Linux distributions.
Ubuntu Studio Is a Treasure Trove for Creative Types
November 17, 2015
Ubuntu Studio 15.10 is a one-stop Linux OS shop for most creative people. It bundles a nearly full range of multimedia content-creation applications for workflows involving audio, graphics, video, photography and publishing. The developers describe this distro as a multimedia content-creation hub for all five creative workflows. The last element -- publishing -- is the weakest link.
Purism's Librem 13 Linux Laptop Is Sleek, Private and Secure
November 12, 2015
The combination of custom-made hardware paired with a tweaked Linux OS makes the Librem laptop lineup a unique offering with several innovative security features not offered in any other computer. The Librem line is a work in progress. The operating system just reached version 2.0 and comes preinstalled on the hardware built with the modified Linux kernel in mind.
GALPon MiniNo Makes Kid-Friendly Lightweight Linux
November 4, 2015
GALPon MiniNo is one of the strangest and most distinctive Linux distros to grace the Linux Picks and Pans computer screens. Those two traits make it an almost ideal option for anyone looking for a reliable operating system for youngsters and educational facilities that cater to early education students. PicarOS Diego 2015 is the latest in the GALPon MiniNo family of Linux products.
Is Apple TV a Worthy Upgrade? Sort Of
November 3, 2015
For Apple TV fans, the new Apple TV is the long-awaited upgrade we've been pining for, but I'm only half as impressed as I thought I would be. It comes down to this: The new Apple TV is an excellent set-top box, and it provides a foundation for the app-centric living room TV experience of the future... but damn, Apple, you spent how many years not getting this thing polished?
BackBox Takes Its Security Tools Seriously
October 30, 2015
BackBox Linux 4.4 is a great Linux distro for IT and other techies who want to do their own penetration tests and security assessments. The latest version, released this month, is an Ubuntu 14.04.3-based distribution that's speedy and simple to use. It's a fully functional Linux distro that comes well stocked with standard software and runs a desktop environment based on the Xfce window manager.
Plasma 5 Powers KaOS Productivity
October 27, 2015
KaOS is an efficient Linux distribution built around a refined KDE desktop environment that just keeps getting better. The KDE integration is more controlled than other Linux choices. I reviewed this distro last year, and I was impressed then with the solid performance of KaOS. The latest version takes it a step further, adding a calming, cleaner look and feel to the user interface.
MuseScore Can Turn Songwriters Into Maestros
October 23, 2015
MuseScore is a complete tool to help musicians and songwriters write musical scores, play them back and print the sheet music. It is available in a variety of Linux distro packages and comes in versions for Windows and OS X. It is fully open source software licensed under GNU GPL. The user interface is similar to a word processor or text editor for entering notes on a blank score sheet.
Liquid Lemur Linux Floats Fluid Desktop Design
October 20, 2015
Liquid Lemur offers a new twist on the usual Linux desktop environment experience. Developer Edward Snyder recently released the second alpha version of Liquid Lemur Linux 2.0. It offers a hybrid desktop experience that combines the Window Maker window manager with elements of the Xfce desktop. Liquid Lemur has been around for a few years, but it has gone through several directional changes.
Mate Makes Robolinux Raptor Soar
October 14, 2015
Robolinux Mate Raptor v8.1 is a stunningly gorgeous and well-tuned operating system that soars with unmatched functionality. This release of the Robolinux line runs the newest iteration of the Gnome 2 fork desktop Mate. It is fast and slick. The integration of Mate as a modern desktop environment is growing on me -- especially the way it's paired with the really cool features in Robolinux.
Slackel Linux: Not Your Father's Slackware
October 6, 2015
Slackel is a Linux distro a step away from the mainstream Debian-based Linux OS line. It is based on Slackware and Salix. Users already familiar with that lineage are more inclined to like Slackel. Slackel offers a few advantages not usually found with the Slackware Linux lineup. The main difference is that its repository includes the current version of Slackware and the latest version of KDE.
VectorLinux Light Has That Old-School Linux Feeling
September 29, 2015
VectorLinux 7.1 Light Edition targets fans of the IceWM desktop environment who own older computers. VectorLinux released its latest light edition this summer. What makes it new compared with previous editions is the shift to the lightweight IceWM. Yes, IceWM is very old school. Still, it is a handy and functional alternative that serves legacy computers well.
LibreOffice 5.0 Is the Office Suite Champ
September 25, 2015
LibreOffice 5.0, The Document Foundation's latest open source office suite, deserves to top the list of contenders for best performance in this category. The foundation last month released LibreOffice 5.0 for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. It is the 10th major release since the launch of the project, and the first in the third development cycle. The release coincides with the rollout of Windows 10.
Apple Dresses iOS to the Nines
September 18, 2015
Apple on Thursday released iOS 9, the latest version of its mobile operating system. Although more evolutionary than revolutionary, it has some useful additions. The good news is that iOS 9 works on much of Apple's existing hardware. If your device can run iOS 8, it should be able to run iOS 9. However, some of the software's features are available only on the newest iOS devices -- the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the iPad Pro.
ExTiX LXQt Breathes New Life Into Weak Hardware
September 17, 2015
The latest release of ExTiX offers a new spin on an old desktop environment and exhibits a passion for speed and ease of use. ExTiX 15.3, a fusion of the LXDE and Razor-qt desktop environments, has the economy of working in the LXQt desktop environment. LXQt is lightweight, modular, very fast and user-friendly. It is based on the popular LXDE -- that is, Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.
New Android-x86 Release Peppered With Problems
August 31, 2015
The latest Android-x86 Project release takes us one step closer to using the Android OS on a desktop or laptop computer -- but the project suffers from stability and reliability issues. If you want one Linux-based OS to run on all of your devices, Android-x86 could become a viable alternative. The major advantage would be keeping all of your settings, apps and Google services on an equal footing.
Nothing Could Be Finer Than Point Linux
August 20, 2015
Point Linux 3.0, dubbed "Agni," combines a solid operating system with a traditional no-frills approach to performance and reliability. In several ways, Point Linux belies the criticisms of Linux desktop newcomers who find that Linux not simple and straightforward to use. Point Linux is easy to install. It has a clear interface. Everything works out of the box.
MyNotex Is an Almost Perfect Note Taker and Task Manager
August 7, 2015
MyNotex is one application I keep revisiting for my note-taking and project management tasks. Italian Developer Massimo Nardello releases one major update per year. MyNotex keeps getting better and better. Version 1.3.1, was released in June. Nardello took what was a near-perfect locally stored note-taking program and made it better than using cloud-based services such as Evernote, Box or Dropbox.
The New Solus: Putting the Pieces Together Again
July 22, 2015
The Solus Project is a rebranded and rereleased Linux distro trying to regain its former popularity. In a field of Linux distributions cluttered with look-alike offerings, Solus brings something simple and something new. Solus has impressive potential for being uncomplicated and different. Based in the UK, the Solus Project is the latest iteration of SolusOS, which morphed into Evolve OS.
Mangaka Is an Artful Blend of Simplicity and Style
July 13, 2015
Mangaka is a not-so-traditional Linux distro with a gorgeous look. After gaining some traction among fans of the manga and anime communities, Mangaka fell dormant in December 2009. Developer Animesoft International regrouped, and the latest Release Candidate version came out on June 20. The Mangaka Project -- the name means "love" in Japanese -- started out with the code name of "AngelOS."
Makulu 9 Aero Soars Above the Linux Distro Crowd
June 26, 2015
The special release of Makulu 9 Aero edition might seem like one flexible Linux offering too many. However, anyone hankering for a Windows-like operating system and the best of what is easy about using Linux could not make a better choice. The Linux OS is notorious for its great variety of distros. Linux is also infamous for having far too many choices.
Antergos Linux Lowers the Arch Barrier
June 18, 2015
Antergos is an Arch-based Linux distribution that offers six desktop choices. This is a distro that Linux tinkerers might well embrace, but it comes with a few more stumbling blocks than other Linux options, which could make it a less welcome alternative. Its developers created a cute logo that espouses the notion that Antergos is a distro "for everyone." In some ways, that is true.
antiX Linux Doesn't Fool Around
June 15, 2015
The antiX distro is both something old and something new. It is a handy and innovative approach to keeping aging computers fast and active. It is also an energy infuser for new computers. I started playing around with antiX when looking for something different to keep some older computers out of the trash heap. antiX is a fast, lightweight distro that is easy to install.
ConnochaetOS Makes Slackware Truly Free and a Bit Easier
June 4, 2015
ConnochaetOS is a nice entry into a pure, free Linux experience. Most people mistakenly equate open source with "free," as in pay nothing. Experienced Linux users know, however, that the open source concept separates the price of the software from the cost of obtaining enterprise-level modifications and support. The notion of "free" does not mean there's no cost to get it.
Chromixium Adds Polish to Chrome
May 29, 2015
Chromixium is a new Linux distro that goes one big step further than the few existing distros catering to the Chrome OS. It one-ups Google's semi-proprietary Chrome OS locked into the popular Chromebook hardware. Chromixium sole developer Rich Jack's innovative version 1.0, released last month, is a Chrome OS clone that runs on nearly any aging or newer computer.
Simplicity Linux Makes Good on Its Easy-Peasy Promise
May 22, 2015
The latest edition of Simplicity Linux, version 15.4, recently became available for download. Simplicity Linux delivers just what its name suggests: It is a simpler way to run a fully powered Linux desktop on any computer you touch. Simplicity lets you carry your entire desktop, favorite installed applications, and complete collection of documents and files in your pocket everywhere you go.
Makulu Gives Unity a Good Name
May 18, 2015
Makulu Linux now is one of the first major distros to integrate the Unity desktop. It was more than worth the wait! The Unity desktop is Ubuntu's flagship desktop environment. Canonical pushed through its development several years ago as a way of introducing users to its "unifying" computing platform for all devices. It removed the traditional panel bar and two-column application menu.
The Last Apple Watch Review You'll Ever Need to Read
May 8, 2015
If you're thinking about getting an Apple Watch and have been on the fence, this review is for you. Why? The Apple Watch, it turns out, is less about being the perfect smartwatch than about being a watch. For the fence sitters out there, these two questions are really where you should start: First, do you want a watch? Second, do you want a digital wearable device that can transform your life?
Voyager-X Will Take You on a New Xfce Journey
May 7, 2015
Voyager-X 10.14.4, released in March, is based on Xubuntu/Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. This new Voyager-X is one of the first distros to use the new Xfce 4.12 desktop, more than one year in the making. Ubuntu has yet to implement it, and few other Linux distros have put the new update into play. Thus, the latest Xfce desktop is considered "experimental." However, it is a fully functional upgrade.
Vivid Vervet Doesn't Have Much Meat on Its Bones
April 29, 2015
You will not see much new in Ubuntu 15.04, aka "Vivid Vervet," unless you peer under the hood. The release of Ubuntu 15.04 for the desktop includes mostly maintenance and bug fixes, along with new integrated menus and dashboard usability improvements. Perhaps the most significant technical change in this desktop release is the adoption of Systemd to replace the default init manager system.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.