How to get started with Linux: A beginner's guide

The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. It’s a far cry from the one-size-fits-all, this-is-just-what-comes-with-your-PC vision of Windows.

Everything from software installation to hardware drivers works differently on Linux, though, which can be daunting. Take heart—you don’t even need to install Linux on your PC to get started. Here’s everything you need to know.

Choose and download a Linux distro

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Pop! OS Linux from System76 is a rare DIY distro from a hardware vendor

Pop! OS is more than just another Linux distro. Many Linux OSes borrow from other OSes in one way or another but add their own spin to the OS in question--like a different desktop environment, for example. Pop! OS is not much different in this respect, except that it's developed by System76, a company that sells laptops and desktops preloaded with Ubuntu. Well, for now. System76 recently released an Alpha version of its own Ubuntu-based operating system, dubbed Pop! OS. The company has set the first official release for Pop! OS for October 19.

linux pop os desktop with apps Alex Campbell

The Pop! OS desktop is the same as the standard Ubuntu GNOME desktop, but with some aesthetic tweaks.

First impressions

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All about Debian 9 'Stretch,' the Linux distro that just works

Debian 9 "Stretch" just came out, and as far as Linux distros go, Debian stands apart as a distribution meant for stability. Sure, most desktop users might choose Ubuntu or Fedora for their desktop PC, while users who are more willing to get their hands dirty might opt for Arch or Gentoo. Hackers might gravitate to Kali, while the paranoid among us might look for something like TAILS. 

There's a lot to take in with a Debian release, but there are a few key notes for the average desktop user.

What is Debian?

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The SambaCry scare gives Linux users a taste of WannaCry-Petya problems

The SambaCry vulnerability is to Linux what WannaCry and Petya are to Windows: big security threats.  Linux users are immune to most vulnerabilities and malware outbreaks that affect Windows users. But the recent discovery of a vulnerability in Samba (dubbed SambaCry) brought them back to reality. The vulnerability has since been fixed, but the discovery warrants a little discussion.

What is SambaCry?

SabmaCry is not malware like WannaCry or Petya. Instead, it is considered a vulnerability, which presents malware with a possible avenue for attack. The vulnerability–officially called CVE-2017-7494–was named SambaCry due to similarities to the vulnerabilities that WannaCry took advantage of.

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How to use Evernote in Linux

Evernote does not offer an official desktop client for Linux, but there are a few workarounds. For a better-than-browser experience, try one of these methods. 

Evernote Web and Chrome app

The browser-based version of Evernote is the only officially supported way of using the application on Linux. It works, but if you’re a tab hoarder like me, editing your notes in a tab in a sea of tabs can be a bit tricky. On top of that, there is the additional baggage of running a full-fledged web browser.

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3 reasons to turn your Raspberry Pi into a DNS server with dnsmasq

I love my little Raspberry Pi. The $35 computer has a ton of uses, from the utilitarian to the hobby project. But in practice, how many of us are going to build a homebrewed Amazon Echo? My guess is not many. But there is one use for a Pi that I've been a big fan of for almost a year: a simple DNS server.

DNS and dnsmasq

By making DNS requests from a local Raspberry Pi instead of a remote server, you can realize a few advantages. Fetching any kind of data from a local area network will always be faster than fetching something from the Internet.

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The System76 Galago Pro is a fierce featherweight competitor for Linux lovers

For most people running Linux on a laptop, chances are they had to go through the ritual of wiping Windows and installing the Linux OS. It’s a time-honored tradition in the Linux world, but things are slowly changing, with Linux now coming preinstalled on some very nice portables. Case in point: the ultralight System76 Galago Pro, a laptop that pleasantly surprised me more than once.

System76? Never heard of 'em

Traditionally, getting your laptop to work with Linux can be a pain. Old ThinkPads are still a favorite among Linux users for their reliability and compatibility with the Linux kernel. And though modern kernels have come a long way in hardware compatibility, just grabbing a laptop and hoping for the best can still be a big gamble. 

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