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For Safe, Private Mobile Browsing, Huddle Under F-Secure's Freedome
May 15, 2014
At a meeting with the press earlier this year, F-Secure Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen -- yes, the man who sparked the angry exodus of a small group of malware vendors from the RSA security conference -- mentioned the company would soon unveil Freedome, a cloud-based service that would be pretty much the bees' knees for protecting mobile devices.
AV Linux Dazzles Both Eyes and Ears
May 08, 2014
AV Linux can turn a new or old PC, or an Intel-powered Mac box, into a workstation for audio/graphics/video enthusiasts. AV Linux is a specialty distro much in the style of the CAELinux distro for engineers and scientists and the Musix distro for audio and music production that I reviewed in recent weeks. AV Linux is not your typical Linux desktop. It has a custom-designed Linux kernel.
All Things Appy: Top 5 New or Improved Android Apps
May 01, 2014
Five of the top free Android apps that either have been introduced for the first time or significantly updated this year are in the categories of password management, Web browser compression, lock screen functionality and media. Google's Android OS apps can be obtained in Google's Play Store. Browse to the Play Store -- you'll find it in your device's app drawer. Then search for the app.
Musix Linux: Sweet Strains Jarred by Sour Notes
April 30, 2014
The Musix Linux distro is a specialty OS with an impressive collection of tools for users with a passion mostly for audio and music production. That same collection of tools should be included for video, given the blending of music and video popular in distributing entertainment on the Internet today. Yet it is missing from Musix. Musix also lacks its own software repository.
Ubuntu Trusty Tahr: More Yawns, More Polish
April 24, 2014
A new Ubuntu Linux desktop line -- Ubuntu 14.04, known as "Trusty Tahr" -- lacks much in the way of new features or eye-popping special effects. You will find, however, a fresh batch of improvements in what is already a solid distro family of desktop and server implementations. Canonical continues its record of consistency with its latest version of Ubuntu, released this month.
uGet Gives Great Downloads
April 17, 2014
The latest version of the uGet Download Manager rekindled my interest in grabbing files without relying on a Web browser. uGet version 1.10.4. was released last month. Written in C, it uses GTK+3 for its user interface, and it is packed full with improvements. It is very reliable and stable, with 11 years of growth behind it. The uGet website has received a makeover to better support users.
CAELinux Is the Ideal Distro for Designing Scientists
April 10, 2014
CAELinux is a perfect example of the power of open source to tailor the Linux OS to users' specialized needs. This computer-assisted engineering distro clearly is not for the vast majority of Linux users, but it certainly has all the features you would expect in any mature Linux OS -- and then some. The extra ingredients make CAELinux a unique Linux distro for engineers and scientists.
Calligra 2.8 Is Too Sweet for Words Alone
April 03, 2014
If you spend any amount of time creating documents, graphics or organizing data into reports or visual presentations, drop whatever collection of tools you use and put the Calligra Suite to the test. The Calligra Suite is a forked set of office tools for the KDE desktop that branched off the stalled KOffice suite. However, you do not have to run the KDE environment to get it.
New Linux Office Suite Too Soft to Be King
March 27, 2014
The Kingsoft Office Suite holds the promise of bringing a near perfect clone of Microsoft Office to Linux desktop users. However, Kingsoft's developers still have some work to do on the Linux Alpha release to make it a beta deal. Other than OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the Linux platform lacks any full-featured office suite. Both of these more in common with each other than distinguishing features.
Linux Goes to the Head of the Class
March 21, 2014
A new book on open source education teaches school leaders and parents why kids need to see coding as more than cool. Energizing Education through Open Source: Using Open Source Software to Enhance Learning by Christopher Whittum makes a strong case for deploying the Linux OS and its academic software in schools. This book should be required reading for developing computer-driven curricula.
Android-x86 Just Might Make a Good Linux Desktop Alternative
March 20, 2014
Working with the Android OS on a desktop computer environment takes personal computing in a new direction. How many will follow it remains to be seen. The release of Android-x86 version 4.4-RC1 (KitKat-x86) by the Android-x86 Project brings the viability of an Android distro as an alternative desktop several steps closer, but it is still a work in progress.
Zorin OS 8 Makes Learning Linfastic
March 14, 2014
Zorin OS 8.0, released last month, is available in the free core and free education versions, as well as in a paid or ultimate version that provides support and a few other features. Though it is an interim upgrade, Zorin OS 8.0 has several very noteworthy changes and software improvements that make it worth using despite the shorter support period.
Makulu Makeover May Give Your Linux Life a Lift
March 10, 2014
MakuluLinux was already a solidly performing distro, but the latest version, released last month, takes Makulu to the next level of usability and maturity. Earlier versions offered a choice of Xfce, KDE and Enlightenment 17 desktops. So far, only the Xfce version is available in MakuluLinux 5. However, the tweaking Makulu developer Jacque Raymer built into this upgrade makes up for any loss.
Sobell Compiles Top-Notch Practical Linux Guide
March 05, 2014
Not everyone who dabbles in the realm of the Linux OS needs all the enterprise-specific tutelage this guidebook offers. However, it certainly has chapters to enlighten even casual readers interested in learning really useful stuff. Sobell assembles in one spot his accumulated experience as a Linux expert and his keen insights about succeeding with two enterprise workhorse distributions.
All Things Appy: 5 Cool Chrome Desktop Apps
February 28, 2014
Chrome apps are the newest form of extension and helper for the Chrome Desktop environment, and as of late last year, any computer, including Macs, could use them. Here are five recently updated free Chrome apps that are worth a look. All of them can be run offline, outside of the browser, on the desktop. In the top spot, Google's Keep app allows you to take notes in a Post-it note-like UI.
Old-School Event Management Approach Hampers ETM
February 20, 2014
Etm, an acronym for "Event and Task Manager," is a very useful calendar and planning tool. However, it is a bit cumbersome to learn and far less convenient to use than alternatives. It has an intuitive task-entry format, once you learn its plain text shorthand. Etm stores events, tasks and other user-generated notes and data in text files. You can create, modify and view entries using two primary methods.
Distro Astro Is a Stunning Star Voyager
February 13, 2014
The Linux desktop offers distributions for many diverse interests and specialties. Distro Astro is for astronomy enthusiasts. The latest version, Distro Astro 2.0, is dubbed "Pallas." It was released Nov. 20, 2013, at the South East Asian Young Astronomers Collaboration conference in Bandung, Indonesia. It is a major upgrade focusing on refinements for professional astronomers.
Aqua Mail Pro Beats Native Android Email Hands Down
February 07, 2014
If you've been thinking that there must be a better way to handle email than the email client supplied natively in Android, I bring good news: There is, and it's called "Aqua Mail." As things are right now, my on-device solutions are a bit of a mess. I have my Gmail-produced work emails appearing in the Gmail client, while my personal, custom-domain email is housed in the Android-native client.
Lightworks Video Editor Pulls Plenty of Weight
February 06, 2014
Lightworks is a professional-grade nonlinear video editor now available for Linux. It is a cross-platform editor from a well-known player in the media market, so this first-time Linux release could be a big thing. Lightworks version 11.5 for Linux was released late last month, following three years of development. Linux users now can download a free version or pay for a Pro version.
Minuum Keyboard Takes the Tedium Out of Typing
February 05, 2014
The holy grail of Android apps has got to be the one that best compensates for botched typing. The smaller the device I use, the more my typing deteriorates. I'm reasonably quick and accurate on a desktop PC; I slow down on a laptop; I get by on a tablet; and I am virtually incapacitated on most smartphones, though my thick peasant fingers work better on an iPhone than an Android.
LXLE Gives New Zest to Old Machines
January 31, 2014
Just when you think you have found the sweet spot with an ideal Linux desktop distro, along comes yet another version to tug at your computing heart strings. In this case, it is LXLE. Lubuntu eXtra Life Extension, aka LXLE, is based on Lubuntu, a version of Ubuntu running LXDE. If you have yet to experience the LXDE desktop, prepare yourself for a wonderfully smooth computing experience.
Viber's a Worthy Alternative to Outgoing GrooveIP
January 30, 2014
Google has been clamping down on third-party apps that ride piggyback on its Google Voice telephony service. A merger between Google Voice and Hangouts this year will result in the shuttering of an open protocol exploited by apps that used the Google Voice service for free SMS texting and VoIP calling. The days of free Internet-based in-U.S. smartphone calls over Google's network are numbered.
With B1 Archiver, No Need to RTFM
January 28, 2014
B1 Archiver is one of only a few archiver managers for the Linux platform that is reliably simple to use. Simplicity is a key trait that distinguishes the B1 Archiver from other Linux compression tools. In the category of smart-looking and simple archivers, one of my favorites is PeaZip. B1's GUI adds a new dimension that redefines ease of use on the Linux desktop, though.
Be-Bound Offers a Sip of Web in Data-Dry Deserts
January 24, 2014
As someone who regularly explores the back-roads of desert-adorned Southern California, I'm acutely aware of massive, gaping holes in wireless network coverage as soon as you leave blacktop in rural America. You can sometimes off-road all day out west with no mobile data coverage. Moments of connectivity might be the occasional hilltop-occurring set of phone handset signal bars.

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