Does the Linux desktop really matter in the long run?

Also in today's open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews Tails 2.0, and Stremio is an alternative to Popcorn Time for movies, TV shows, and more

Does the Linux desktop really matter?

Some folks have long expected Linux to one day rule the desktop market, but so far that simply hasn't happened. But does the desktop really matter in the long run to Linux? A writer at TechRepublic recently explored this question.

Jack Wallen reports for TechRepublic:

Linux on the desktop has been a primary driving force for the open source platform for a very long time. I remember having the "World Domination" poster hanging in my old TechRepublic office back in 1999. I picked it up at my first Linux convention (where most of the participants walked around in trench coats, with their sticker-riddled laptops, hardly speaking a word to one another). That was so important to me and every working day I added to that battle cry. I was certain that Linux would some day usurp Windows as the leading desktop platform.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ceased to really matter.

It doesn't matter if Linux has 1% or 99% of the desktop market share. Because of the very nature of the platform, it will always exist. Linux is not beholden to shareholders or boards filled with directors crying out for "Bottom line!" Even if Redhat, SUSE, and Canonical were to fold, the Linux operating system would continue on (Of course, we all know that Redhat, SUSE, and Canonical are going nowhere, but up).

Linux was born of a need. Linux rose to popularity from passion. Linux will exist well beyond mine and your time on this planet out of sheer force of will. Does the fight for Linux on the desktop really matter? From a practical From the perspective of someone who has fought long and hard to help spread the word about the open source does. But being a reasonable man, I know that at some point in time the battle for desktop domination will hold zero relevance. Who know, in the end every single thing we do might be tied up inside a browser and Google will have been right all along.

More at TechRepublic

DistroWatch reviews Tails 2.0

Tails is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to protect their privacy on the Internet. Version 2.0 is the latest release of Tails, and DistroWatch has a full review. Is Tails 2.0 worth installing and using on your computer? Find out what DistroWatch thinks of it.

Joshua Allen Holm reports for DistroWatch:

The newest 2.0 release of Tails brings many enhancements to the distribution. Tails is now based on Debian 8 (Jessie), so packages from the 1.x releases of Tails have been updated to much newer versions. The desktop environment is now GNOME 3.14 running in Classic mode, which is a major advancement over the GNOME 3.4. desktop used in Tails 1.x. However, there is one drawback to this update -- Tails' optional Windows 8 look-alike theme is no longer available. While I normally do not like look-alike themes, having the desktop look like Windows 8 was an understandable and helpful feature in Tails. GNOME 3's Classic mode is a nice, clean environment, but it does not look like Windows or Mac OS X, so using Tails in public is bound to attract some attention.

Tails' primary concern is with making sure the user's privacy is respected, so many of the tweaks and enhancements involve doing that. Some are small or well hidden and might escape notice, while others are highly visible. The web browser available that bypasses Tor is called "Unsafe Browser." Attempting to start this browser results in a dialog box explaining that the browser is not anonymous and asks if the user really wants to run the browser. If the user agrees, the browser that launches has a red theme and starts with a page that, again, warns the user against using it for browsing the web. The page clearly states that Unsafe Browser should only be used to load a login page to enable Internet access when using an Internet cafe or other public network which requires authenticating before being able to browse the web.

Tails is well put together, but not perfect. I did run into a few minor issues, nothing major, but still worth noting. Because there is no administrator password set by default, some things will not work, which is understandable, but not all of them fail in a user friendly manner. For example, trying to launch the "Root Terminal" application, results in absolutely nothing happening. Clicking on the program's icon does nothing -- no dialog box or program window ever appears -- instead of telling the user that they do not have sufficient privileges to use the program. On a similar note, attempting to run the Laptop Mode Tools Configuration results in a slightly cryptic dialog stating that "amnesia [the username of the user account on Tails] is not root. You need to run with root privileges. Please use kdesudo, gksu, or sudo/sux." This dialog shows up even when the administrator password is enabled. The only way to launch Laptop Mode Tools Configuration is to figure out what is the proper command to launch the program from the command line (the command is "lmt-config-gui" and does require root privileges).

Tails 2.0 is great at what it does and, looking at the distribution's development roadmap, it looks like the developers have a clear idea of where it is going and its place in the Linux distribution ecosystem. Configuring a system to do what Tails offers would take a lot more technical know how than people that just want to safely and securely use the web might have time to learn, so Tails fills a valuable niche. Given its specialized nature and live USB design, Tails is not going to supplant Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, or the like as the primary distribution of choice for Linux users, but it is not meant to. It is, however, something that every Linux advocate should be aware of for the times that it is needed.

More at DistroWatch

Stremio is an alternative to Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time has long been a favorite of torrenters, but now there's a new alternative called Stremio. Stremio lets you play movies, TV shows, YouTube videos and TV channels.

Silviu Stahie reports for Softpedia:

Stremio is an application built with Electron that streams and plays movies, TV shows, Youtube channels, and TV channels, from torrents. Sounds familiar?

The idea behind Popcorn Time was a sound one, so it stands to reason that there are other developers out there willing to give it a try. Stremio is built with Electron, and it's been around for a while, but it's not all that famous. It's trying to go far beyond what Popcorn Time was doing, and so far, it seems to have managed.

It's important to note that using Stremio is illegal in some states, it's grey in others, and legal in a few. Streaming torrents is the main reason Popcorn Time was taken down by the entertainment industry, so Stremio is bound to face the same kind of opposition, sooner or later.

As I mentioned above, movies, TV shows, Youtube channels, and TV channels are offered, which is always something different from Popcorn Time. The application also automatically downloads subtitles and can even cast the content to AppleTV, Chromecast, Smart TV (via DLNA), and mobile devices.

More at Softpedia

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