Linux: The best distros for newbies?

Also in today’s open source roundup: How Android devices get hacked, and Munich’s IT provider says there’s no technical reason to switch back to Windows

Linux: The best distros for newbies?

Linux offers an amazing range of distributions for all users, but for newbies it can be difficult to decide which distro to start with on their computers.

A writer at Network World has a helpful roundup of the best Linux distributions for new users. In the roundup he rates some of the best known distros for their suitability for newbies.

Jon Gold reports for Network World:

Linux has a bad rap as a daily driver – the programs aren’t written to run on Linux, it’s tricky to install stuff, and so on. But it might surprise people who think along those lines to learn that plenty of the distributions out there are actually quite simple to use. Here’s our latest appreciation of the desktop Linux landscape.

Ubuntu: NEWB-FRIENDLY? And how.

Debian: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Sure, even if it’s not designed expressly for it.

CentOS: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Reasonably, sure.

Arch: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Nope.

LXLE: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Quite so.

OpenSUSE: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Certainly, yes.

Fedora: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Pretty much – blocking off access to software that doesn’t meet strict free software requirements might irk some, but the system itself is easy enough to use.

Manjaro: NEWB-FRIENDLY? Absolutely.

Mint: NEWB-FRIENDLY? You bet.

More at Network World

The question of which distro is best for newbies also came up in a thread recently in the Linux Master Race subreddit and the folks there weren’t shy about sharing their opinions:

Topias123: “Ubuntu is probably the best noob distro.”

Yithar: “I would second Ubuntu as it really has the best amount of community support.”

Wojtek242: “I would also add Mageia which isn't very popular on this sub, but ranks quite high on distrowatch (which means it is popular, just not here). For me it was the easiest and nicest distro to use - never had a problem.”

Plebdev: “Never really used them myself, but I hear lots of good things about OpenSUSE and Fedora (the latter especially for developers)”

PityUpvote: “I'm going to say that the best way to get started with Linux has not changed in a few years, and it is Knoppix.

Knoppix is a "distro" focussed creating the best live session Linux can offer.

In this way, it is a showcase for new users and a way to try Linux without any risk or commitment.

After having spent ~5 sessions in Knoppix, the user will be able to decide whether they actually want to use Linux, and no time is wasted with formatting, installing and reinstalling OSes.”

Linuxlic: “Linux Mint any flavor…The main reason I switch to Linux, is to get away from Windows.”

Real_luke_nukem: “I'd say openSUSE Leap. It's rock solid, and has an excellent configuration utility; YaST.”

Invisabit: “Ubuntu will provide the most complete option right out the gate (and is what many new users start with). Mint is a very close relative with a few small differences.”

More at Reddit

How Android devices get hacked

There’s been quite a lot of media coverage about Android (and iOS) devices being hacked. But how does it actually happen? A writer here at InfoWorld has a good overview about mobile device hacking.

Fahmida Y. Rashid reports for InfoWorld:

Amidst all the fear and hype generated over the past few days as a result of Wikileaks and its precipitous Vault 7 dump, one thing was crystal clear: People have no idea what hacking an Android smartphone or an iPhone means, or what it entails.

News headlines warned of hacking tools that let CIA agents break into anyone’s iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Wikileaks claimed that there were tools that let agents bypass secure messaging apps like Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Confide to intercept encrypted messages.

Much of the purported hacking arsenal was composed of bugs not in the mobile OSes but in mobile apps. And the OS bugs that Wikileaks claimed gave it access had previously been fixed by Apple and Google, leaving just older Android devices still vulnerable to them. And many of the hacks require a CIA agent actually get hold of your device to exploit it.

When it comes to mobile hacking, there are essentially four avenues of attack:

1. Exploits targeting operating system or hardware vulnerabilities to gain full control over the device

2. Malicious apps that can perform certain tasks without the user’s awareness

3. Man-in-the-middle attacks intercepting network traffic

4. Social engineering tricks targeting the user.

More at InfoWorld

Munich’s IT provider says there’s no technical reason to switch back to Windows

Munich is in the press again. The city’s politicians want to switch back to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, but Munich’s IT provider says there is no compelling technical reason to do so.

Nick Heath reports for TechRepublic:

Last month, the general council backed a proposal that the administration should investigate how long it will take and how much it will cost to build a Windows 10 client. Once the details are known, the council will vote on whether Windows should replace LiMux, a custom version of the Ubuntu OS that is used by more than 15,000 staff across the authority. The changeover would take place by 2021.

But now the man in charge of Munich's central IT provider, IT@M, has said there is no technical reason to switch back to Windows, expressing surprise at the decision that the city should prepare to return.

"We do not see any compelling technical reasons for a change to Windows and Microsoft Office," IT@M head Karl-Heinz Schneider told German publication Heise.

Schneider said Munich had solved compatibility problems related to running line-of-business software on LiMux and swappping documents with outside organizations. These compatibility issues were cited by CSU politicians as being a key reason why Munich needs to change OS and to drop LibreOffice and other open-source software in favor of "commonly-used" alternatives.

More at TechRepublic

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