Google+ gets a big redesign

In today's open source roundup: Google debuts a new version of Google+. Plus: DistroWatch reviews openSUSE 42.1. And the future of the Chromebook

Google+ gets a big redesign

Despite many predictions of its death, Google+ is still alive and well. And Google has just done a big redesign that focuses on Communities and Collections.

The official Google blog has details:

Since we last posted, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say. There were two features they kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster. Whether it’s the Nonfiction Addiction Community, where people can be found discussing the best in Crime or Travel storytelling, or the Watch Project Collection, where more than 40,000 people are following an antique watch hobbyist, these are the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love.

And so we’ve reimagined Google+ to help them do that. Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one. You’ll need to opt-in to this new version of Google+ on the web to see the changes—check out our Google+ post for more on how to give it a try.

Creating great products that solve real needs and make life easier for people is something Google is always striving for. Your feedback got us this far—as we continue to refine Google+, we’d love to keep hearing from you. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how today’s changes help kickstart even more conversations around everything from Zombie Cats to Vintage Calculators.

More at The Google Blog

DistroWatch reviews openSUSE 42.1

openSUSE is one of best known Linux distributions, and many users have come to depend on it over the years. openSUSE 42.1 takes the distro in a different direction by providing a more stable core while also giving users more up to date software. DistroWatch has a full review of openSUSE 42.1.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

openSUSE 42.1 is one of the more technically impressive and (to me at least) visually appealing distributions I have used so far this year. The distribution is easy to set up while offering a great deal of flexibility if we want to dig through the system installer's options. The desktop is responsive and easy to navigate and the distribution worked well with my hardware and integrated smoothly with VirtualBox. The YaST control centre is one of the most powerful and extensive configuration panels in the open source community and it makes tweaking the underlying operating system pleasantly easy.

So far as I know, openSUSE is still the only big name Linux distribution to fully embrace the advanced features of Btrfs, making it easy to create file system snapshots and roll back changes to the operating system or data files. Early on I noticed openSUSE was automatically cleaning up old snapshots, which means Btrfs will not eat up a lot of disk space. If we want to, we can adjust the number of snapshots openSUSE keeps, allowing us to revert to even older versions of files.

It took a little more work than usual to get a network printer set up on openSUSE, but otherwise everything on the distribution worked well. I was worried some components on the system would be dated, given that openSUSE 42.1 is partially based on SUSE Linux Enterprise. Such was not the case though. openSUSE's kernel, desktop software and end-user applications were all fairly modern and pleasantly stable. In short, openSUSE offered me one of the best, easiest and more flexible experiences I have had with a Linux distribution this year and I very much enjoyed my time with the operating system.

The best distribution for the job will depend on the person and, of course, the role the distribution is to play. I think Fedora is aimed mostly at more technical users and people who like to tinker. Ubuntu is aimed squarely at Linux newcomers who generally want to just use their computer and openSUSE appears to be aiming at a sort of middle ground: people who have a little Linux experience and want options, but also want reliability and longer support cycles.

More at DistroWatch

The future of the Chromebook

There's been a lot of speculation about the future of Chrome OS, and how it will affect Chromebooks. A writer at Consumer Reports has considered the issue and she thinks that Chromebooks still have a bright future.

Donna Tapellini reports for Consumer Reports:'s not a stretch to say the status of Google's laptop operating system strategy is in flux. And if you're planning to buy a Chromebook, or already own one, you could be wondering whether your laptop is going to stop receiving OS support sometime in the next few years.

A company blog asserts that "there's no plan to phase out Chrome OS." Of course, a little skepticism doesn't hurt when it comes to corporate communications. But new Chromebooks do keep coming, and Google says it's continuing to develop new features for Chrome while emphasizing the security that's built into the OS.

Continued OS support is crucial to keeping your laptop going. Users of Microsoft Windows XP, one of the most popular Windows versions, found this out when Microsoft finally pulled the plug on support for the ancient—in tech terms—OS in 2014. As for Chrome, Google's End of Life policy includes a list of Chrome devices it promises to support until 2020.

Whether Google eliminates Chrome and moves to Android-only devices, or if it somehow merges the two operating systems, the change would make it much easier and more attractive for developers to come up with Android apps for Chromebooks. And that should be good for consumers.

More at Consumer Reports

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