Red Hat Acquires Container Startup CoreOS for $250 Million

By Abhishek Prakash

Red Hat acquires CoreOS

Brief: The billion-dollar open source company Red Hat is acquiring an open source startup CoreOS for $250 million. The move will further strengthen Red Hat’s position in the enterprise world that has been fixated on containerization lately.

Red Hat has just announced that it is acquiring CoreOS for $250 million. Paul Cormier, president, Products and Technologies at Red Hat commented:

“The next era of technology is being driven by container-based applications that span multi- and hybrid cloud environments, including physical, virtual, private cloud and public cloud platforms. Kubernetes, containers and Linux are at the heart of this transformation, and, like Red Hat, CoreOS has been a leader in both the upstream open source communities that are fueling these innovations and its work to bring enterprise-grade Kubernetes to customers. We believe this acquisition cements Red Hat as a cornerstone of hybrid cloud and modern app deployments.”

CoreOS is an open source operating system built on top of Linux kernel exclusively for automation and software development. CoreOS has been one of the most major contributors to the development of open source project Kubernetes, the latest buzzword in the IT industry these days.

CoreOS was founded in 2013 and had raised $50 million in fundings from various venture capitalists since then. While CoreOS is open source, it’s commercial counterpart is known as Tectonic. The container management system boasts of clients like Verizon and eBay.

Kubernetes is a lucrative option for sysadmins and devops

If you are looking for a career as a DevOps, learning Kubernetes will certainly help you. The entire IT industry is focusing on automation in software deployment. Cloud, Docker, Kubernetes, Ansible etc are in-demand skills in the job market today.

There is a free course on edX that will help you understand the basics of Kubernetes. The Linux Foundation also has a certification training course for more advanced and serious learners.

From: It’s FOSS

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Open Source CMS: 12 Great Website Creation Tools

By Ankush Das

Open Source Content Management Systems

Brief: Looking for a free and open source website creation tool? We have created a list of 12 open source CMS that you can use for various kind of websites.

A CMS (Content Management System) is what lets us manage the content or information on a webpage. However, it is capable of a lot of other things than just “managing the content”. And, the root cause for the rapid evolution and extensibility of CMS’ would definitely be – “Open Source CMS initiatives”.

The more open source CMSs surfaced, the more extensible they became. Well, some open source CMSs focused on a particular thing while most of them tried to become an “all-in-one CMS” – with the help of which you can design and customize your website as you’d prefer.

With the advancements in CMS’, you do not need to hire a web developer to set up your website – even if you want to create an e-commerce platform. You can do it all by yourself – without requiring any coding skills. Yes, it’s that easy!

But, before getting to know about some of the best open-source CMS’ – let us check out some of the factors which you should consider while choosing the best CMS for your work.

Factors To Look For While Choosing A CMS

There are basically three factors to consider while choosing the best CMS for your work, they are:

  • Plugins & Themes Support
  • User Interface
  • Customizability

The Number of Plugins & Themes Available

The plugins/extensions are meant to extend the functionality of the core features available in a CMS. The more variety of extensions available, the more things you can get done with them – thus saving a lot of time. What’s next?

Well, the website design does matter as well. So, the more variety of designs/themes a CMS offers in its repository – the merrier it is. You do not need to spend a fortune to hire a website designer in order to design your web page while you can do it yourself with the available CMS themes.

You can even purchase premium plugins and themes from 3rd party marketplaces like Envato.com.

User Interface

If the user interface is good enough, the web application will be user-friendly. You won’t need to spend a lot of time figuring out how to get things done.

Of course, you should look for the easy alternatives that do the job you want.

Customizability

It all comes down to your personal preferences. If you do not want to customize anything – just use the CMS as is – then you don’t have to worry about the customizability of a website creation tool.

However, if you want to customize a lot of elements as to your liking – you should be very cautious about what you can do with the various open source CMS’ available. There’s always a learning curve to this factor – no matter what CMS you prefer. The more experience you’d gain, the more customizations can be achieved.

Now, let us take a look at the best open source CMSs (or if you’d prefer them as – website creation tools).

Note: Using a CMS does not require any coding skills at all. However, if you have the necessary knowledge of Markup languages (HTML), Stylesheet languages (CSS), and server-side programming languages (PHP) – you can do a lot of innovative stuff.

List Of Open Source CMS

Just to be clear, this is not a ranking post. I am just listing some of the open source CMS that you can consider for your specific website needs.

1. WordPress

wordpress

Without a doubt, WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms. You can either make a blog or even build an e-commerce site with the help of it. WordPress is a very robust yet user-friendly website creation tool. When considering the statistic, WordPress occupies almost 60% of the total market share among all the other open-source CMS’.

Well, this awesome website also utilizes the WordPress CMS. You do not have the worry about the security patches on this platform because the dev community is superbly active to keep the platform up-to-date with new features and fixes. Majority of the online publications rely on WordPress to manage their content, including us at It’s FOSS.

Pros:

  • A huge plugin/theme repository
  • User-friendly
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)
  • Highly Customizable
  • Easy SEO-Integration
  • Multi-purpose CMS

Cons:

  • It’s tough to implement a custom website template.
  • Plugin compatibility with new WordPress versions might be an issue (most of the time)

WordPress Official Site

2. Drupal

drupal

Drupal is considered to be one of the best enterprise open source CMS. It isn’t as easy as WordPress though. So, you need to read some documentation before jumping right into the platform.

Similar to WordPress, Drupal offers modules (as plugins) to add more functionality to your website. Of course, you do not get a lot of modules (when compared to WordPress). But, it is perfectly customizable (almost close to what WordPress offers).

A lot of the web developers do recommend Drupal for e-commerce web portals.

Pros:

  • Highly extensible
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)
  • Tailored for e-commerce portals
  • Multi-purpose CMS

Cons:

  • Not recommended for a full-fledged blog/publication

Drupal Official Site

3. Joomla

Joomla is yet another impressive open source CMS to host a blog on. I wouldn’t recommend building an e-commerce site on top of Joomla, but if you want to utilize a website creation tool to build a blog or a portfolio site – Joomla is a good choice.

However, Joomla isn’t the CMS we can vouch for if you are looking to add interesting new features to your website. If that’s the case, look no further and utilize WordPress.

The user interface is very impressive – but not very easy-to-use.

Pros:

  • Impressive User Interface
  • Highly Customizable (Front-End)
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)
  • Multi-purpose CMS

Cons:

  • Not as flexible when compared to WordPress

Joomla Official Site

4. Ghost

Ghost is a simpler alternative to WordPress if you just want to focus on your content structure and SEO. You won’t really get the ability to add unique features to your website because Ghost is specifically tailored for publications/blogs.

If you want your content to stand out along with a modern website design (and no fancy features) – Ghost should be the perfect open source CMS in that case.

Pros:

  • Simplicity
  • Modern Website UI elements
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • Not much extensible
  • Lacks customizability
  • Only tailored for professional publications

Ghost CMS

5. Jekyll

Jekyll isn’t a full-fledged CMS but a static website generator. You can utilize Jekyll coupled with GitHub pages to host your web pages for free. If you want to create a basic portfolio site (or a site that contains basic information) – Jekyll with GitHub pages should do the trick.

Hugo is a similar open source static website generator that you can consider.

Pros:

  • Free web page hosting with GitHub pages
  • Optimized static website generator
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • Lack of customizability and extensibility
  • Not Easy-to-Use

Jekyll Official Site

6. TYPO3

If you do not want modern UI elements on your website – TYPO3 – is a great open source CMS. It offers a very easy-to-use interface and is perfectly optimized to create and manage enterprise landing pages.

I wouldn’t recommend this for bloggers. However, if you are putting a webpage about your business and you do not need to maintain it often, TYPO3 is an ideal choice.

Pros:

  • Simple & Easy-to-use
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • Lacks a lot of features
  • Does not support modern web UI elements

TYPO3 Official Site

7. Magento

Magento is a popular open source CMS tailored for e-commerce businesses. You will need to purchase a license in order to unlock all the premium features of Magento.

However, the community edition (or the open source edition) – is free to use and also houses a lot of necessary functionalities as needed for a web blog or an e-commerce site.

Pros:

  • Tailored for e-commerce businesses
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • You need to buy a license in order to unlock premium features

Magento Open Source

8. Microweber

If you are on the lookout for something very easy and that lets you manage your content in no time – Microweber definitely is the choice to go with.

It also supports e-commerce integration but with a limited set of features. The marketplace for this CMS isn’t huge but features a lot of modern website designs. It is a no-nonsense open source CMS to showcase your content by utilizing modern website templates and while being able to manage it very easily.

Pros:

  • Multi-purpose CMS
  • Easy-to-use

Cons:

  • Not regularly updated/patched – which might pose a threat to your site’s security.

Microweber Official Site

9. PyroCMS

PyroCMS is a fairly new CMS that has been evolving since 2015. It aims to make the website creation process a lot faster and simpler. With a variety of modules, you can add more functionalities to your website.

PyroCMS isn’t a recommendation if you want a full-fledged blog. So, if you want a very simple yet elegant blog – with no plans to add advanced functionalities to the site – PyroCMS is the way to go.

Pros:

  • Focuses on simplicity
  • Good user interface
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • Not much customizable/extensible

PyroCMS

10. SilverStripe

If you mostly utilize your desktop to manage the content of your site – SilverStripe can be an old-school CMS with basic website design templates. Unless you have some coding skills or hire a web developer, SilverStripe won’t be easy to customize as per your liking.

Pros:

  • Old-school website generator

Cons:

  • Lacks customizability/extensibility
  • Fairly Secure

SilverStripe Official Site

11. Fork

The fork is yet another basic CMS with a couple of handy extensions available. It has been around since 2010 and is still being actively maintained. So, if you want an easy CMS coupled with few useful extensions/themes – Fork should be the right one to set up.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use Interface
  • Secure (Regular Updates & Patches)

Cons:

  • Less number of extensions/theme available in the marketplace

Fork Official Site

12. Zenario

Zenario is an interesting open source CMS which you probably never heard of. It is a very simple yet innovative platform to manage content on. It is being utilized to make online portals for IoT applications and portfolio sites. It does offer a couple of advanced features but isn’t an all-in-one CMS.

Pros:

  • Tailored for online portals with IoT applications
  • Advanced framework for a specific usage

Cons:

  • Lacks customizability/extensibility

Zenario Official Site

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve known about the best open source CMS’ available – there’s a lot of factors you need to think of when deciding which of them would you be utilizing for your website.

If you’ve decided the purpose of your site, you may choose the CMS specifically fit for that category. Else, simply install a multi-purpose CMS like WordPress, Joomla, & Drupal.

If you are looking for static website generators, you can find more options here but I am not sure if all of them are open source.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

From: It’s FOSS

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Quick Look at the Arch Based Indie Linux Distribution: MagpieOS

By John Paul

MagpieOS Linux

Most of the Linux distros that are in use today are either created and developed in the US or Europe. A young developer from Bangladesh wants to change all that.

Who is Rizwan?

Rizwan is a computer science student from Bangladesh. He is currently studying to become a profession Python programmer. He started using Linux back in 2015. Working with Linux inspired him to create this own Linux distribution. He also wants to let the rest of the world know that Bangladesh is upgrading to Linux.

He has also worked on creating a live version of Linux From Scratch.

What is MagpieOS?

Rizwan’s new distro is named MagpieOS. MagpieOS is very simple. It is basically Arch with the GNOME3 desktop environment. MagpieOS also includes a custom repo with icons and themes (claimed to be) not available on other Arch-based distros or AUR.

Here is a list of the software included with MagpieOS: Firefox, LibreOffice, Uget, Bleachbit, Notepadqq, SUSE Studio Image Writer, Pamac Package Manager, Gparted, Gimp, Rhythmbox, Simple Screen Recorder, all default GNOME software including Totem Video Player, and a new set of custom wallpaper.

Currently, MagpieOS only supported the GNOME desktop environment. Rizwan picked it because it is his favorite. However, he plans to add more desktop environments in the future.

Unfortunately, MagpieOS does not support the Bangla language or any other local languages. It supports GNOME’s default language like English, Hindi etc.

Rizwan named his distro MagpieOS because the magpie is the official bird of Bangladesh.

MagpieOS Linux

Why Arch?

Like most people, Rizwan started his Linux journey by using Ubuntu. In the beginning, he was happy with it. However, sometimes the software he wanted to install was not available in the repos and he had to hunt through Google looking for the correct PPA. He decided to switch to Arch because Arch has many packages that were not available on Ubuntu. Rizwan also liked the fact that Arch is a rolling release and would always be up-to-date.

The problem with Arch is that it is complicated and time-consuming to install. So, Rizwan tried out several Arch-based distros and was not happy with any of them. He didn’t like Manjaro because they did not have permission to use Arch’s repos. Also, Arch repo mirrors are faster than Manjaro’s and have more software. He liked Antergos, but to install you need a constant internet connection. If your connection fails during installation, you have to start over.

Because of these issues, Rizwan decided to create a simple distro that would give him and others an Arch install without all the hassle. He also hopes to get developers from his home country to switch from Ubuntu to Arch by using his distro.

How to Help Rizwan with MagpieOS

If you are interested in helping Rizwan develop MagpieOS, you can contact him via the MagpieOS website. You can also check out the project’s GitHub page. Rizwan said that he is not looking for financial support at the moment.

MagpieOS Linux

Final Thoughts

I installed MagpieOS to give it a quick once-over. It uses the Calamares installer, which means installing it was relatively quick and painless. After I rebooted, I was greeted by an audio message welcoming me to MagpieOS.

To be honest, it was the first time I have heard a post-install greeting. (Windows 10 might have one, but I’m not sure.) There was also a Mac OS-esque application dock at the bottom of the screen. Other than that, it felt like any other GNOME 3 desktop I have used.

Considering that it’s an indie project at the nascent stage, I won’t recommend it using as your main OS. But if you are a distrohopper, you can surely give it a try.

That being said, this is a good first try for a student seeking to put his country on the technological map. All the best, Rizwan.

Have you already heard of MagpieOS? What is your favorite region or locally made Linux distro? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media.

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Install Xfce Desktop on Ubuntu and Turn it Into Xubuntu

By Abhishek Prakash

How to install Xfce on Ubuntu

Brief: You’ll learn how to install Xfce desktop on Ubuntu. You’ll also learn how to convert your Ubuntu desktop into Xubuntu desktop. Yes, there is a difference between installing Xfce and Xubuntu desktop.

One of the various ways to speed up Ubuntu is to use a lightweight desktop environment as it consumes fewer system resources. If you weren’t sure which Ubuntu to use and opted for the default Ubuntu, you may feel like using another desktop environment that better suits your need.

The good thing about Linux is that you can install another desktop environment (DE) along with your current one. You can easily switch between the two DEs at the login time. And why just two DEs? You can have more than two desktop environments as well.

You can also opt for completely removing one desktop and stay with the other one. It’s totally up to you.

Most of the time, the desktops environments don’t conflict with each other. But if you see something amiss or out of the place such network manager missing or something similar, you can remove the conflicting new desktop or reinstall the existing one.

This tutorial is about using Xfce desktop on your Ubuntu Unity or GNOME or any other Ubuntu flavor except Xubuntu.

How to install Xfce on Ubuntu

I have noticed that most tutorials on the internet just tell you how to install Xfce on Ubuntu but they don’t discuss how to remove it. This is important because if you don’t remove it completely, it will the traces of removed desktop behind. This will spoil your pristine desktop experience. This is why I have added the removal of Xfce desktop in this tutorial.

Let’s first begin with understanding Xfce and Xubuntu.

Difference between Xfce and Xubuntu

Xubuntu on top of Ubuntu
Xfce desktop environment

There are two ways you can use Xfce desktop on Ubuntu. Either you just install the Xfce desktop (xfce4 package) or you install the Xubuntu desktop (xubuntu-package).

What is the difference between xfce4 and xubuntu-desktop packages? Installing Xfce on Ubuntu will turn it into Xubuntu, won’t it?

If you install the xfce4 package, you just get the Xfce desktop and some basic packages included in the Xfce desktop such as Thunar file manager. The rest of the things remain the same. For example, if you use a terminal, it will still be the GNOME terminal.

However, if you choose to install the xubuntu-package, it will have Xfce desktop, all the packages in xfce4 and additional packages that are provided by Xubuntu distribution. You’ll have Xubuntu’s own terminal instead of GNOME terminal. You’ll see Xubuntu wallpaper at the boot time (Plymouth) even when you are not using the Xubuntu session.

It will sort of change your current Ubuntu flavor to Xubuntu.

So, which one should you use? xfce4 or xubuntu-desktop?

The answer depends on your need. If you just want to experience Xfce desktop and don’t care for aesthetic experience with Xfce, you can use xfce4.

But if you want the complete Xubuntu desktop experience as if you were using Xubuntu itself, go for xubuntu-desktop. You can also remove all traces of Unity to convert your Ubuntu install to Xubuntu.

Warning! Don’t install xfce4 and xubuntu-desktop both on the same system. There might be conflict as both would use the same Xfce session files. If you want to try out both, purge the one already installed.

Install Xfce desktop on Ubuntu using xfce4 package

That’s really simple. All you need to do is to open a terminal and use the command below:

sudo apt install xfce4

You can see the new packages that will be installed. It takes around 112 MB in size.

Installing Xfce on Ubuntu
Installing xfce4 on Ubuntu

Once installed, restart your system (simple log out didn’t work for me in Ubuntu 17.10). At the login screen, click on the user first and then click the gear symbol and select Xfce session to login to use Xfce desktop.

Change desktop environment to Xfce
Logging into Xfce desktop

You can use the same way to switch back to the default Ubuntu desktop environment by selecting Ubuntu Default.

At the first run, it will ask you to set config. You can opt for the default configuration.

First run of Xfce desktop
Go with the default settings

Install Xfce desktop on Ubuntu using xubuntu-desktop

To get the actual Xubuntu experience, you can install xubuntu-desktop package that offers several applications of its own.

sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop

It will install files of size around 300 MB, an indication that there are more packages here than xfce4.

Installing Xubuntu desktop on Ubuntu
Installing Xubuntu desktop

This process will ask you to choose the display manager as well. I chose gdm3.

Choose display manager while installing Xfce on Ubuntu
Choose display manager

Once installed, restart your system. At the login screen, click on the user first and then click the gear symbol and select Xubuntu session to login to use Xfce desktop.

Switch to Xubuntu

You’ll also see Xfce session that gives you vanilla Xfce desktop session.

Completely remove Unity to turn it into Xubuntu (for experts)

If you opted for Xubuntu desktop and you liked it so much that you would keep it as your main and only desktop, you may opt to remove Unity from your system.

I won’t advise it for everyone though. Not that it is extremely risky but if some crucial packages are removed, I believe that an expert Linux user won’t panic in fixing the messed up system.

Easy Linux Tips Project has created a list of packages that you can remove to clear your system of Unity traces.

Make sure that you have logged into Xubuntu session and then use the following command to remove all the packages associated with Unity.

sudo apt remove nautilus gnome-power-manager gnome-screensaver gnome-termina* gnome-pane* gnome-applet* gnome-bluetooth gnome-desktop* gnome-sessio* gnome-user* gnome-shell-common compiz compiz* unity unity* hud zeitgeist zeitgeist* python-zeitgeist libzeitgeist* activity-log-manager-common gnome-control-center gnome-screenshot overlay-scrollba* && sudo apt-get install xubuntu-community-wallpapers && sudo apt-get autoremove

You may have to install the Software Center afterwards:

sudo apt install gnome-software

Removing Xfce desktop and getting back your regular Ubuntu system

If you didn’t like Xfce, perhaps you would want to remove it. It is important to remove a few additional packages that get installed with it automatically but need manual removal.

Do make sure that you have not removed the default Ubuntu session. At the login, select the Ubuntu default session and log into it.

If you used xfce4 package, use the following commands to remove Xfce:

sudo apt purge xubuntu-icon-theme xfce4-*

sudo apt autoremove

If you used xubuntu-desktop package to install Xfce, use the commands below:

sudo apt purge xubuntu-desktop xubuntu-icon-theme xfce4-*

sudo apt purge plymouth-theme-xubuntu-logo plymouth-theme-xubuntu-text

sudo apt autoremove

Make GRUB purple again (for intermediate to expert)

You’ll also notice that the color of your GRUB screen has been changed to black from the usual purple. This is because /boot/grub/grub.cfg file has been changed. The part that determines the color of the GRUB screen has been removed. You can add it back to get back the purple colored GRUB screen again.

Now, this involves editing the GRUB config file. Editing this file should be done with cautious. If you are not comfortable with command line, I say don’t care about the color of the GRUB screen.

For those who are comfortable with editing files in the command line, make a backup of the current GRUB configuration file:

cp /boot/grub/grub.cfg /boot/grub/grub.cfg.backup

And after that, use a command line text editor like Vim to edit the /boot/grub/grub.cfg file. Look for the lines that are between ### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme ### and ### END /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme ###. Add the color information to it. It should now look like this:
fi

### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme ###
set menu_color_normal=white/black
set menu_color_highlight=black/light-gray
if background_color 44,0,30,0; then
clear
fi
### END /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme ###

What do you think?

I hope this detailed tutorial not only helped you to install Xfce desktop on Ubuntu, it also teaches you a few more things about installing additional desktop environment.

If you have some questions or tips to add, please feel free to use the comment section below.

From: It’s FOSS

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Mycroft Mark II: The Open Source Answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home That Doesn’t Spy on You

By Abhishek Prakash

Mycroft Mark II

Brief: If you want a smart speaker cum virtual assistant like Amazon Echo and Google Home that doesn’t spy on you, Mycroft Mark II is what you are looking for. The open source device is open for pre-order via its crowdfunding campaign.

This is the era of virtual home assistants. From setting alarms to get weather information, from playing your favorite music to play Netflix for you, these virtual assistants do it all. You just need to call their name and ask them the questions. You don’t even have to be nice to them, not that it hurts. All you need is a device that uses these virtual assistants.

Big names like Amazon, Google and Apple have their own virtual assistants coupled with their own smart speaker devices. The year 2017 has seen a big jump in the sales of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home. And the trend will continue upward.

As a tech enthusiast, I wanted to buy Echo or Mini to experience this kind of gadget trend. But there is a big problem with these smart devices and that’s privacy.

Problem with popular virtual home assistants: Privacy

Amazon Echo and Google Home listen to you and record everything you say. It was reported that these devices listen to the conversations, even when they are not active.

Moreover, Amazon will soon be using these devices to serve you ads. Imagine asking the device for the weather information and it tells you what kind of umbrella people are buying.

On the other side, Google can never be trusted with your data.

So, what do the privacy aware people like you and me do?

Meet Mycroft: An Open Source Virtual Assistant

Thankfully, we have an open source virtual assistant called Mycroft. It doesn’t violate your privacy, it is open and customizable. You can get the source code of Mycroft on GitHub.

Mycroft also has their own set of smart speakers range called Mark.

They have just launched a new crowdfunding campaign for its upcoming second-generation smart speaker Mark II (read Mark 2). Unlike the previous model, the Mark II is a vertical device and resembles Google Home.

Mycroft Mark II

Mark II is technically advanced than its predecessor. While the first version was more focused on developers and DIY enthusiasts, Mark II has been matured to become a consumer-ready product.

Hey Mycroft, What can Mark II do?

Mycroft Mark II is capable of doing 140 kinds of tasks. These tasks are called ‘skills’ in Mycroft term.

You can use it for creating shopping lists, playing music, telling jokes. You can also use it to play internet radio on Pandora and NPR or even YouTube.

It can also be used to control Philips Hue, the smart lighting from Philips.

All you need to do is to say “Hey Mycroft” and your virtual home assistant Mark II will be at your service.

New ‘skills’ are being added by an active developer’s community. You can discover those new ‘skills’ by asking it “what’s new today”. You can, of course, get the updates from Mycroft website.

Not just audio! Mark II has a screen as well

Mycroft Mark 2 with screen
Simple and clean display

Neither of Amazon Echo and Google Home has a display on it. Mark II clearly has an advantage here with its simple and clear display.

Want to know the time or the weather, it’s simply on the display. This is a good candidate to replace your digital clock or radio.

You can customize the looks of the screen, its display color etc. Cool, isn’t it?

Mark II respects your privacy

Mycroft doesn’t store every voice snippet it hears. It deletes the recordings as they come in.

Your data is safe by nature. It won’t result in you seeing ads on the internet about pizza just because you asked it about the best pizzeria in town.

You can, of course, opt to share your data for the improved development of Mycroft but this is NOT enabled by default.

Mycroft Mark II Technical Specifications

Here’s what Mark II is made of:

  • Xilinx quad-core processor
  • Far-field 6-microphone array
  • Hardware AEC, beamforming and noise reduction
  • Stereo sound with dual 2″ drivers (10W)
  • 4″ IPS LCD touchscreen
  • USB Type A
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Bluetooth in
  • Wifi
  • 3.5mm audio out
  • 18W power supply with international adapters

Mark II officially speaks English. It is claimed to be working in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German as well, but that’s in community mode for now.

Mycroft Mark II Pricing and availability

Mycroft has just launched a crowdfunding campaign. The initial goal of 40,000 Euro has already been achieved within a day.

Mycroft Mark II costs $129 and should be available in December 2018 for those who pre-ordered it via the crowdfunding campaign.

You can find more details Mark II and pre-order it on the Kickstarter page.

Mycroft Mark II on Kickstarter

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How Much Swap Should You Use in Linux?

By Abhishek Prakash

How much should be the swap size in Ubuntu and other Linux?

How much should be the swap size? Should the swap be double of the RAM size or should it be half of the RAM size? Do I need swap at all if my system has got several GBs of RAM?

Perhaps these are the most common asked questions about choosing swap size while installing Linux.

It’s nothing new. There has always been a lot of confusion around swap size.

For a long time, the recommended swap size was double of the RAM size but that golden rule is not applicable to modern computers anymore. We have systems with RAM sizes up to 128 GB, many old computers don’t even have this much of hard disk.

But what swap size would you allot to a system with 32 GB of RAM? 64GB? That would be a ridiculous waste of hard disk, won’t it?

Before we see how much swap size you should have, let’s first quickly know a thing or two about swap memory. This will help you understand why swap is used.

The explanation has been simplified for (almost) everyone’s understanding.

What is swap? When is swap used?

Your system uses Random Access Memory (aka RAM) when it runs an application. When there are only a few applications running your system manages with the available RAM.

But if there are too many applications running or if the applications need a lot of RAM, then your system gets into trouble. If an application needs more memory but entire RAM is already in use, the application will crash.

Swap acts as a breather to your system when the RAM is exhausted. What happens here is that when the RAM is exhausted, your Linux system uses part of the hard disk memory and allocates it to the running application.

That sounds cool. This means if you allocate like 50GB of swap size, your system can run hundreds or perhaps thousands of applications at the same time? WRONG!

You see, the speed matters here. RAM access data in the order of nanoseconds. An SSD access data in microseconds while as a normal hard disk accesses the data in milliseconds. This means that RAM is 1000 times faster than SSD and 100,000 times faster than the usual HDD.

If an application relies too much on the swap, its performance will degrade as it cannot access the data at the same speed as it would have in RAM. So instead of taking 1 second for a task, it may take several minutes to complete the same task. It will leave the application almost useless. This is known as thrashing in computing terms.

In other words, a little swap is helpful. A lot of it will be of no good use.

Why is swap needed?

There are several reasons why you would need swap.

  • If your system has RAM less than 1 GB, you must use swap as most applications would exhaust the RAM soon.
  • If your system uses resource heavy applications like video editors, it would be a good idea to use some swap space as your RAM may be exhausted here.
  • If you use hibernation, then you must add swap because the content of the RAM will be written to the swap partition. This also means that the swap size should be at least the size of RAM.
  • Avoid strange events like a program going nuts and eating RAM.

Do you need swap if you have lots of RAM?

This is a good question indeed. If you have 32GB or 64 GB of RAM, chances are that your system would perhaps never use the entire RAM and hence it would never use the swap partition.

But will you take the chance? I am guessing if your system has 32GB of RAM, it should also be having a hard disk of 100s of GB. Allocating a couple of GB of swap won’t hurt. It will provide an extra layer of ‘stability’ if a faulty program starts misusing RAM.

Can you use Linux without swap?

Yes, you can, especially if your system has plenty of RAM. But as explained in the previous section, a little bit of swap is always advisable.

How much should be the swap size?

Now comes the big question. What should be the ideal swap space for a Linux install?

And the problem here is that there is no definite answer to this swap size question. There are just recommendations.

Different people have a different opinion on ideal swap size. Even the major Linux distributions don’t have the same swap size guideline.

If you go by Red Hat’s suggestion, they recommend a swap size of 20% of RAM for modern systems (i.e. 4GB or higher RAM).

CentOS has a different recommendation for the swap partition size. It suggests swap size to be:

  • Twice the size of RAM if RAM is less than 2 GB
  • Size of RAM + 2 GB if RAM size is more than 2 GB i.e. 5GB of swap for 3GB of RAM

Ubuntu has an entirely different perspective on the swap size as it takes hibernation into consideration. If you need hibernation, a swap of the size of RAM becomes necessary for Ubuntu.

Otherwise, it recommends:

  • If RAM is less than 1 GB, swap size should be at least the size of RAM and at most double the size of RAM
  • If RAM is more than 1 GB, swap size should be at least equal to the square root of the RAM size and at most double the size of RAM
  • If hibernation is used, swap size should be equal to size of RAM plus the square root of the RAM size

Confused? I know it is confusing. This is why I have created this table that will tell give you the Ubuntu recommended swap size based on your RAM size and hibernation need.

RAM Size Swap Size (Without Hibernation) Swap size (With Hibernation)
256MB 256MB 512MB
512MB 512MB 1GB
1GB 1GB 2GB
2GB 1GB 3GB
3GB 2GB 5GB
4GB 2GB 6GB
6GB 2GB 8GB
8GB 3GB 11GB
12GB 3GB 15GB
16GB 4GB 20GB
24GB 5GB 29GB
32GB 6GB 38GB
64GB 8GB 72GB
128GB 11GB 139GB

How much swap size do you use?

The answer is never simple. As I stated earlier, for a long time, swap has been recommended to be of double the size of RAM. In fact my Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu edition has 16GB of swap size for an 8GB of RAM. So even Dell decided to go with the golden rule of swap=2xRAM.

What swap size do you prefer for your Linux system?

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OCS Store: One Stop Shop All of Your Linux Software Customization Needs

By Aquil Roshan

Brief: OCS Store allows you to search and install various Linux software, themes, icons etc that you might not even find in your distribution’s software center.

One of the biggest selling points of desktop Linux, for me, is the centralized software distribution system. Ubuntu has Apt, Arch Linux has Pacman and Fedora’s got RPM. This centralized distribution means an increased stability, a superior integration between the apps and the operating system, and an enhanced security factor.

But the Linux world has been moving in a different direction lately. Snaps, Flatpak, and AppImage are the next big things. These ‘unified’ packaging methods release the developers from going through distro specific software packaging and support related tasks. A huge burden mind you. These newer packaging methods also provide a uniform experience throughout all the distros. openDesktop.org store is a great place to get Flatpaks, AppImages and more.

OCS Store

openDesktop.org is an open source market, an unofficial app store of sorts. It has a huge collection of apps, desktop themes, icon packs, free games, wallpapers and desktop extensions. The applications here are packed into distro independent formats such as the AppImage and the Flatpak. openDesktop.org is a part of a family of such content sharing websites.

The content that you upload on one site gets shared on all the other sites such as GNOME-Look.org, XFCE-Look.org, KDE-Look.org, and many other Linux related sites.

OCS Store is an application that allows you to download, install and manage the content that is available on openDesktop.org, all through one application. OCS Store desktop application is basically a container which opens the openDesktop.org site but provides additional features such as installing themes directly from the application.

How good is it?

Any application that is packaged into Flatpak or AppImage is downright available on OCS Store. So whenever you need an application, you can open OCS Store, use the search box or browse categories and download the software right from OCS Store. It’s convenient.

But, yes there’s a but. AppImages and Flatpaks are not mainstream yet. I honestly feel that they do not gracefully integrate with the operating system, yet. I said ‘gracefully’. And I know most of you prefer the Apt or the Pacman over AppImage anyway. So what good is OCS Store you ask? Desktop customization I say.

Themes and Icons

Many users often asked where can they find themes and icons for Linux desktop. OCS Store is an answer to that question.

OCS Store has a plethora of desktop themes and icon sets. I mean it’ll have you window shopping for hours. Apt is great, RPM is awesome, but you can’t browse themes and icon packs on them. On OCS store you can and you will. The quality is great. Since there’s a voting system on OCS store, high-quality content moves to the top.

The themes are what you’ll absolutely love about OCS Store. There are a ton of amazing themes here. Most of them are not even available outside of OCS Store. Existing themes are modded and customized and put in OCS Store. Open source enthusiasts put out their proverbial art for others to appreciate here. I mean, just look at this Gnome Shell theme and tell me it’s not stunning.

Coming to the icons department, OCS Store is an icon pack heaven. While browsing OCS Store to write this article, I ended up installing tens of icon packs and honestly, I’m confused which one to use now. It’ll have you hooked, I’m telling you.

And after you’ve finally decided on which icon pack to use, there are more than 70,000 wallpapers to add the final touch to your desktop. Again these can be browsed categorically.

Other goodies

A good number of fonts, desktop extensions, launchers and docs, system sounds, and lot of other stuff are available on OCS Store. You gotta browse and take what you want. And if you create any of the above content or mod themes or extensions, OCS Store is the perfect place for you to share your creations. The community is appreciative and supportive.

The con

OCS Store provides the ‘Install’ button. Which of course, is supposed to install the themes or icons directly from the Store. But in my experience, this didn’t work out as advertised consistently. I had to manually place the themes in the .themes folder for them to be applied from the tweak tool. Same with the icon packs. Still not a deal breaker.

Install OCS Store

Use the link below to download the appropriate installer file for your distro. The installers are stored under the ‘Files’ tab.

Download OCS Store

The installers for OpenSUSE, Fedora, Arch Linux, Ubuntu are provided. There’s also an AppImage. Use it to test drive the OCS Store app without installing it. After downloading the appropriate file, open a terminal in the download location and run the command specific to your distro as given below. For other distros, use AppImage.

Install on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install ocsstore_2.2.1-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb

Install on Fedora:

rpm -U ocsstore-2.2.1-1.fc20.x86_64.rpm

Try out using AppImage:

sudo chmod +x ocsstore-2.2.1-1-x86_64.AppImage

Then click on the file in file manager to launch OCS Store.

Wrapping up

OCS Store is a pretty good tool to find the elements to customize your desktop. It’s convenient too. However, I would still prefer to visit Open Desktop website rather than installing the desktop version of the website.

Do give it a try. Got any questions or opinions? Use the comments section below. We’d be glad to hear from you. Cheers.

From: It’s FOSS

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Linus Torvalds is Furious at Intel as Linux Kernel 4.15 Release Gets Delayed

By Abhishek Prakash

Torvalds is angry with Intel

Brief: Linux Kernel 4.15 release has been delayed because Intel has not yet provided a proper fix for the nasty CPU bugs. And that has made Linus Torvalds go into swearing mode, again.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds is furious. He is frustrated. He is using lots of cuss words as well.

The year 2018 started on a bad note as the computing world has been rocked by Meltdown and Spectre bugs. These kernel memory bugs open the possibilities of malicious scripts stealing secret data such as passwords. It’s not only Linux that has been impacted. Windows, macOS, BSD etc have been equally impacted.

Google found these vulnerabilities in Intel, AMD and ARM processor mid-last year. Intel was notified along with AMD, several Linux distributions, Microsoft, Apple and many other big players.

While the operating system vendors are providing the software updates for the vulnerability, it is Intel who is responsible for fixing the issue at the firmware level. And apparently, Intel is not doing its job properly.

Kernel 4.15 gets delayed because people were busy with Meltdown and Spectre

Linux Kernel 4.15 was supposed to be released today i.e. 22 January 2018. But that didn’t happen because Torvalds is not feeling comfortable with its development.

As most people were busy dealing with Meltdown and Spectre, the development of 4.15 got impacted. There are still pending fixes in the upcoming release.

Torvalds mentions in Linux Kernel mailing list:

I really really wanted to just release 4.15 today, but things haven’t calmed down enough for me to feel comfy about it, and Davem tells me he still has some networking fixes pending. Laura Abbott found and fixed a very subtle boot bug introduced this development cycle only yesterday, and it just didn’t feel right to say that we’re done.

Kernel 4.15 becomes the slowest release since 2011

Because of the pending fixes, Torvalds announced Release Candidate (RC) version 9 instead of the final Kernel 4.15.

So I’m doing an rc9 instead. I don’t particularly like to, but I like it even less releasing something that doesn’t seem baked enough.

The last Kernel release to have RC 9 was version 3.1 back in 2011.

the patches are COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE

Linus Torvalds hasn’t been happy about how Intel tried to downplay the Spectre vulnerability. He is clearly not happy how Intel is dealing with the fixes.

While Kernel 4.15 release got delayed, Torvalds had some nasty words for Intel development team over the Spectre bug fixes. You can read his unhappiness in the Kernel mailing list.

Some of the highlights are:

So somebody isn’t telling the truth here. Somebody is pushing complete garbage for unclear reasons. Sorry for having to point that out.

And then he goes on to call the fixes from Intel “COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE”. Yes, that was in caps.

F word was also mentioned in the mailing list. However, it seems that Torvalds has new year resolution of swearing less and hence he used asterisks instead of using the expletives uncensored.

WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON?

And that’s actually ignoring the much _worse_ issue, namely that the
whole hardware interface is literally mis-designed by morons.

Lots of caps lock, lots of swearing. That’s classic Torvalds. Considering that Intel hasn’t been able to fix the issue even after six months, it is only natural that Torvalds get frustrated as he likes to keep the Kernel secure and vulnerability-free.

What do you think of the entire episode?

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7 Essential Things To Do After Installing Arch Linux 

By Ambarish Kumar

Things to do after installing Arch Linux

Brief: This tutorial shows you a few essential things to do after installing Arch Linux. This will help you get started with Arch Linux so that you can explore it further.

Earlier I showed you how to install Arch Linux. Today, I am going to list a few basic and yet important things to do after installing Arch Linux.

By this time, you probably already know that Arch Linux comes with a minimal installation and lets you build your own system on top of it. From installing desktop environments to media codecs and your favorite applications, everything has to be done by you.

This do-it-yourself (DIY) approach is what many Arch Linux users prefer. If you want things running out of the box, you should use Manjaro Linux. Manjaro is based on Arch minus the hassle.

Cutting down the chit-chat, let’s see what to do after installing Arch Linux.

Must to do things after installing Arch Linux

While at It’s FOSS, we focus on beginner centric approach and hence we suggest plenty of GUI based approach, this won’t be the case here.

Arch Linux is sort of expert domain and we believe if you use Arch, you are not afraid of using the terminal. This is why the steps mentioned here are command line based.

0. Update your system

You might already have used the latest release, but it’s advisable to check for the latest update for your Arch System:

sudo pacman -Syu

1. Installing X server, Desktop Environment and Display Manager

Before installing a desktop environment (DE), you will need to install the X server.

sudo pacman -S xorg

Once it’s completed, use any of the below commands to install your favorite desktop environment.

To install GNOME:

sudo pacman -S gnome gnome-extra

To install Cinnamon:

sudo pacman -S cinnamon nemo-fileroller

To install XFCE:

sudo pacman -S xfce4 xfce4-goodies

To install KDE:

sudo pacman -S plasma

To install MATE:

sudo pacman -S mate mate-extra

You will also need a display manager to log in to your desktop environment. For the ease, you can install LXDM.

pacman -S lxdm

Once installed, you can enable to start each time you reboot your system.

systemctl enable lxdm.service.

Reboot your system and you will see the LXDM login screen, select your desktop environment from the list and login.

This is how my system looks like with LXDM and GNOME.

Arch Linux with GNOME and LXDM

2. Install an LTS kernel

Why should you install LTS kernel in Arch Linux when it is supposed to be cutting edge?

Installing an LTS kernel means you have a more stable kernel with better support to older hardware. Also, the LTS kernels are supported for at least 2 years with bug fixes and performance enhancements.

If you rather choose to use the latest Linux kernel, you may find regression and bugs introduced by the latest kernel updates to your existing software and system. It’s not a certainty but it is definitely a possibility. For example, a Kernel update broke GNOME in Arch based Linux some time back.

This is why it is advisable to use an LTS kernel if you prefer a more stable system and/or have an older one. But the decision is yours to make.

Before you install an LTS kernel, check the Linux kernel version you are using.

uname -r

To install the LTS kernel and Linux LTS headers, type the below command:

sudo pacman -S linux-lts
sudo pacman install linux-lts-headers

At this point, the LTS version is the default one.

Once done, you can remove the older kernels by typing the below command. However, I prefer to keep it in “case” something goes wrong, I can boot into the other Linux kernel version.

sudo pacman -Rs linux

3. Installing Yaourt

Yaourt stands for Yet AnOther User Repository Tool which can be used to search, download and install packages from the official repository as well as AUR.

Arch User Repository or AUR is a community-driven repository for Arch users and contains package descriptions to compile a package from source and install it. Most of the packages that make to the official repository start in the AUR first. Users contribute their own applications which are voted for or against and once it becomes popular enough, they are included in the official repository.

AUR contains lots of useful applications that are not found in the main repo can be installed from AUR with help of Yaourt. Yaourt is similar to what Synaptic Package Manager does, and can be installed by following these steps:

Open /etc/pacman.conf file and add these lines at the bottom:

[archlinuxfr]
SigLevel = Never
Server = http://repo.archlinux.fr/$arch

Save the change. Install Yaourt with the below command

sudo pacman -Syu yaourt

Use the command below to sync Yaourt with AUR:

yaourt -Syy

To search AUR package, you can the below commands :

yaourt -S package-name

4. Install GUI Package Manager Pamac

The default package manager for Arch Linux is Pacman (Package Manager) and using Pacman is quite easy to install or remove a software.

However, it’s sometimes difficult to talk in commands. Pamac provides a GUI option for Pacman and works like Synaptic Package Manager or GNOME Software.

Pamac serves as a GUI tool for installing or updating packages and works well with Arch User Repository AUR.

How to install Pamac

Before you can use Pamac, you will need to have Yaourt (or Packer) installed first. Once done, type the below command in terminal to install Pamac.

yaourt -S pamac-aur

You can launch the GUI by searching for Add/Remove Software. It will so different packages that are available and installed and which all updates are needed.

Pamac Package Manager

However, by default, the AUR packages are not enabled. To enable it, click on the options justt beside the search option) and choose Preferences. Under the AUR tab, Enable AUR support.

Enable AUR support in Pamac

Installing software through Pamac is as easier as searching it through the GUI (which searches the community and AUR) and installing it with a click.

5. Installing Codecs and plugins

Of course, you are going to use your personal system for recreational works like watching videos and listening to your favorite song. But before that, you will have to install codecs for these audio and video files.

Type the below command in the terminal:

sudo pacman -S a52dec faac faad2 flac jasper lame libdca libdv libmad libmpeg2 libtheora libvorbis libxv wavpack x264 xvidcore gstreamer0.10-plugins

However, installing a media player like VLC imports all the necessary codecs and installs it.

sudo pacman -S vlc

You may add a music player too:

sudo pacman -S amarok

6. Installing productive software

For day to day use and setting up your Arch system for productive use, you need some basic applications like an office suite, email client, a web browser etc.

sudo pacman -S libreoffice thunderbird firefox gedit flashplugin skype dropbox aria2

Aria2 is a download manager, LibreOffice is the most popular open source office suite, Thunderbird is a cross-platform mail and chat client, Firefox is an open source and free web browser, Gedit is an editor, flashplugin installs flash, Skype is a popular messaging and video calling software and Dropbox – to store your file for anytime access.

Along with these, you will need archive managers

sudo pacman -S p7zip p7zip-plugins unrar tar rsync

This is of course just a suggestion. You can install essential Linux applications of your choice and your requirement.

7. Customizing the looks of your Arch Linux desktop

You can customize your Arch Linux by installing some nice flat themes or the conky monitoring tool.

Installing themes

Some of the most liked themes are Arc GTK, flatplat, Vertex and Numix, which can be installed by below command:

yaourt -S arc-gtk-theme flatplat-theme-git vertex-themes
sudo pacman -S numix-themes

Go to settings > Appearance and change the default theme from there.

Installing Conky

Conky is a free system manager application which can monitor and display memory usage, CPU statistics, disk storage, swap, CPU temperature and more.

To install conky, use below command :

sudo pacman -S conky

You can configure conky yourself which will need some digging into the ~/.conkyrc file or you can download your favorite one from web and replace the default conkyrc file. There is a detailed tutorial about conky and its configuration on the Arch Linux website.

Additional tip:

At any point in time, if you feel like removing any application (and its dependencies), you can use these commands:

sudo pacman -R package-name

It removes the package without removing the dependencies. If you want to remove the dependencies but leaving out the ones which are being used by some other application, below command will help:

sudo pacman -Rs package-name

Final Words

Arch Linux is a great distribution if you want to take control of everything, from setting up your favorite desktop environment to the tools you want to use. The Arch Wiki is a great place to learn these things and in itself more than sufficient.

In this article, we have just listed out the most important things to do after installing Arch Linux. The rest is up to you to explore.

By the way, what are the things you do after installing Arch Linux?

From: It’s FOSS

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Wine 3.0 Release Lets You Run Windows Applications on Linux More Effectively

By Derick Sullivan M. Lobga

Wine lets you run Windows software in Linux

The Wine team has announced the release of Wine 3.0. This comes after one year of development and comes with 6000 individual changes with a number of improvements and new features. ‘This release represents a year of development effort and over 6,000 individual changes. It contains a large number of improvements’.

The free and open source compatibility layer, Wine lets you run Windows applications on Linux and macOS.

The Wine 3.0 release has as major highlights Direct3D 10 and 11 changes, Direct3D command stream, graphics driver for Android and improved support for DirectWrite and Direct2D.

New Features and Improvements in Wine 3.0

Direct3D

There are a significant number of changes on Direct3D 10 and 11 features. Some major changes include:

  • Compute shaders
  • Layered rendering to 3D textures
  • Improved support for OpenGL core contexts in Direct3D as the core contexts can now be used by default for both Direct3D 10 and 11 on Intel and AMD graphic cards.
  • More graphics cards are now able to be recognized by the Direct3D graphics card database.

Android Graphics Driver

For Android users and developers, Wine can now be built as an APK package that will behave like a real Android application. A full-screen desktop mode is now supported for Android as a full graphics driver has been implemented.

There is also a full audio support and a limited support for OpenGL (OpenGL ES API) with Direct3D not yet supported since it cannot run on OpenGL ES.

User Interface

The built-in mouse cursors can now work on high DPI screens with higher resolution.

Other changes and improvements include DirectWrite, support for D3DX 9, Internet and Networking, ARM platforms, Kernel and many others which can be seen in the Wine Announcement.

According to the announcement, ‘a number of features that are being worked on have been deferred to the next development cycle’ because they wanted to meet up with the annual release schedule. ‘This includes in particular Direct3D 12 and Vulkan support, as well as OpenGL ES support to enable Direct3D on Android’.

Install Wine 3.0

The Wine 3.0 source is ready for download meanwhile the binary packages for macOS and Linux distros will soon be available in their respective download locations, the release said.

Download Wine 3.0

I advise you to remove any existing version of Wine already installed on your system before installing the new version.

If you are looking for professional Windows software support on Linux, you can try CrossOver 17.

Have you tried the latest release of Wine 3.0? Share your experience with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.

From: It’s FOSS

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