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#803001 Next major Windows 10 update pegged for April release

Posted by sincity on 13 March 2018 - 11:30 AM

As we draw ever closer to the release of Microsoft’s next major version of Windows 10, the info dumps only grow more frequent and more specific. This time, the latest details come directly from Microsoft itself.

A Microsoft Developer blog post name-dropping the operating system (OS) version known internally as ‘Redstone 4’ was updated on March 13 to include an expected launch date of ‘April 2018.’ This update all but confirms that, at the very least, we can expect to see the next major Windows 10 version next month.

Meanwhile, the world expects Microsoft to publicly dub this major revision the ‘Spring Creators Update,’ a name that has appeared in several leaked Windows 10 Insider Preview builds up until this point.

That more than likely name tells us a lot about Microsoft’s intent with this OS version, namely that it aims to further appease the creative professional audience, as the Fall Creators Update and Creators Update have before it. 

Of course, we already know that this next version of Windows 10 will put a magnifying glass on things like artificial intelligence, gaming, HDR video and security, among other features. And, now it looks as if our wait to see this so-called ‘Spring Creators Update’ will be rather short.

  • These are the best laptops on which to run this new Windows 10

#802884 Windows 10 may feature modes for different types of users

Posted by sincity on 12 March 2018 - 11:31 AM

We've just heard another interesting revelation about Microsoft’s alleged future vision for Windows, and it involves an operating system which is fully adaptable and boasts various different modes, like a ‘gaming mode’ which is specifically designed for playing games with an Xbox controller.

In this rumored ‘gaming mode’, you’ll be provided with a tailored environment for playing games using an Xbox controller. Additionally, there will be a ‘quiet mode’ with a productivity-centric desktop, and a ‘kids mode’ which is essentially a highly simplified tablet-style interface.

All of this flexibility comes thanks to a piece of technology Microsoft has been working on called CShell. This is a new Windows Shell which offers a scalable and flexible UI that allows it to work across a whole host of devices.

In other words, it’s a modular version of the Shell capable of utilizing different components to build a desktop which fully suits the device it’s running on – whether that’s a phone, tablet, PC, Xbox console and so on. Think of it as like Continuum – which allows for the UI to transition between tablet and PC desktop, for example, when used with a 2-on-1 – but on a much grander scale.

As to its practical application, Microsoft is reportedly building a new streamlined version of Windows 10 codenamed Polaris which will leverage the adaptability of CShell.

And the latest word from sources who spoke to the Verge is that Microsoft’s vision of this future modular Windows will include various modes for different types of usage of the OS.

Doubtless there will be scope for other modes, too, and the beauty of building all this on the bedrock of CShell is that the different modes will scale seamlessly across a whole gamut of devices – including hardware which hasn’t been released yet.

Shell out for a Surface

We’ll get our first taste of Microsoft’s operating system’s modular future with the release of the Surface Hub 2 which should happen before the end of June (with the unveiling likely to take place at Build 2018 in May). Apparently this will be the first piece of hardware to show off the benefits of CShell, so that will make it an intriguing prospect indeed.

Furthermore, we may see Microsoft’s supposedly incoming dual-screen tablet (or phone) which is codenamed Andromeda sporting this technology to help make it a truly flexible device.

Clearly big things are around the corner for Microsoft on both the software and hardware front, and we should hopefully know a lot more about them in the next few months.

Meanwhile, even Apple is making further moves to blur the lines between its desktop and mobile operating systems, with the recent news that iOS apps may arrive on Mac computers this year.

  • How long will it be before Windows 10 Polaris graces our best laptops?

#802548 Microsoft says Windows Defender saved half a million PCs from crypto-mining m...

Posted by sincity on 09 March 2018 - 11:58 AM

According to Microsoft, Windows 10's built-in antivirus software, Windows Defender, protected a malware epidemic that struck almost 500,000 PCs this week.

Just before midday on March 6, Windows Defender blocked 80,000 suspected attacks by a new group of trojans. They had never been seen before and weren't yet in Microsoft's threat database, but were identified based on their behaviour, which matched patterns commonly seen in malware. Within the next 12 hours, Defender recorded and thwarted another 400,000 instances.

The trojans were new variants of Dofoil (also known as Smoke Loader) – a type of malware that installs other software on the victim's device. Dofoil has been menacing PC users in various forms since 2011, but the payload keeps changing to keep with the times. This time, it was a cryptocurrency mining program that would hijack the host's hardware.

How Dofoil spreads

According to McAfee, Dofoil trojans usually arrive in email attachments – often embedded as macros in Microsoft Word documents. There are other routes though; in January, criminals targeted users in Germany looking for a patch for the Spectre and Meltdown bugs by creating a fake information page that appeared to be hosted by the German Federal Office for Information Security. The site appeared to offer a download link for the latest patch, but actually installed a variant of Dofoil.

Antivirus is essential and there are browser extensions that block webpages from loading cryptocurrency mining software, but the best way to protect yourself is caution – don't open attachments in unexpected emails and always check URLs before clicking.

The sheer scale of this attack makes it unusual, but Windows Defender isn't the only antivirus software to use behavioral analysis (also known as zero-hour protection) – it's something you'll find in all the security suites in our roundup of the best antivirus software.

#802147 Microsoft exec confirms that Windows 10 S will become a ‘mode’ rather than a...

Posted by sincity on 07 March 2018 - 05:33 AM

You may recall that last month, it was rumored that Windows 10 S will be transitioned into a ‘mode’ implemented across the other existing flavors of Windows 10, as opposed to an actual standalone version of Microsoft’s desktop OS. And now that has been confirmed by one of the company’s top executives, although the move won’t happen until next year.

This clarification came from Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, who replied to a tweet by PC World observing that Microsoft had failed to mention Windows 10 S in one of the firm’s blog posts highlighting the success of Windows devices in the education arena (which seemed a little odd seeing as the classroom is the primary target market of Windows 10 S).

This makes it clear that Windows 10 S (which launched last May) won’t be continuing in its current form of a separate version of the OS. Rather, as of next year, it will be a mode that other existing versions of Windows 10 can operate in.

As you’re probably aware, as it stands, Windows 10 S is essentially a lightweight version of the desktop operating system that only allows for the installation of apps from the Microsoft Store.

While that’s obviously restrictive, it confers some advantages on the security front because only apps vetted by Microsoft can be used, as well as offering easy configuration of settings across, say, a bunch of students' laptops.

Primary philosophy

Clearly that ‘low hassle’ pitch is being maintained, and the basic philosophy of Windows 10 S won’t change when it makes the transition to Windows 10 S Mode. This new scheme of things could also allow Microsoft to push S Mode to more folks, given that it should be available across most versions of Windows 10.

However, there are still question marks over the cost of switching. Last month’s rumor claimed that those running Windows 10 Home in S Mode will be able to upgrade to the full-fat version of the OS for nothing, but those who have Windows 10 Pro in S Mode will have to pay $49 (around £35, AU$65) to unlock the full version. Note that this isn’t confirmed though, and it’s just speculation at this point.

Currently, schools can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro at no cost.

#802000 USB devices stopped working last week? Microsoft has released a fix

Posted by sincity on 06 March 2018 - 06:31 AM

Microsoft issues monthly patches to resolve bugs and occasionally add new features to Windows 10, but for many users the latest update, released last week, did more harm than good.

The faulty update uninstalled your existing USB drivers but failed to replace them, leaving connected hardware including keyboards, mice and webcams useless.

Thankfully, Microsoft has pushed out a new update to resolve the problem. The patch (KB4090913) will be downloaded and installed automatically (search for Check for Updates to see if it's installed), or you can download it from Microsoft manually.

More patches on the way

There are a few other issues with this month's scheduled update that might give you a headache. Some PCs could wrongly report that the update failed. This is a minor inconvenience, but performing 'Check for Updates' will soon tell you whether you have KB4090913.

More worryingly, some PCs might fail to start after the patch is installed, giving an error message INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE. Microsoft is still working on solutions to both of these problems.

There's also a chance that the update won't install at all due to an incompatibility with your antivirus software. Microsoft recommends you speak to your antivirus software vendor if this happens.

Via Neowin

#800889 Windows 10 is getting some useful changes for businesses

Posted by sincity on 28 February 2018 - 09:33 AM

Microsoft has released another preview build of Windows 10 which has some interesting new additions for business users.

Build 17110 (for Redstone 4) has hit the fast ring and mainly consists of bug fixes and ironing out various issues ahead of the imminent release of the next big Windows 10 update.

However, there are some fresh introductions for enterprise users as mentioned, including the ability to run custom actions during a feature update. In other words, businesses can run their own custom actions or scripts during an update, with these being executed either pre-install or pre-commit (before the PC reboots into the offline phase of the update).

The new build further allows enterprises to run post rollback scripts in system context or admin context, following feedback from some organizations to Microsoft complaining that most of their staff don’t have admin privileges.

Find out more about these features by reading Microsoft’s blog post here.

Broader bug bashing

The broader fixes applied to Windows 10 in this preview include resolving an issue with the buttons on the Game Bar, and troubleshooting a problem which occurred when dragging a tab out of the Edge browser.

Of the known issues, there’s one noteworthy gremlin in the works, with some testers reporting that the Microsoft Store is broken and no longer works with this build. Microsoft says it’s looking into this.

#799904 Windows 10 updates could be installed much more quickly in the future

Posted by sincity on 23 February 2018 - 08:10 AM

Microsoft is working to make the major updates for Windows 10 more streamlined, so that these currently twice-yearly upgrades don’t take nearly as long to install and configure.

That’s according to Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider testing program, who responded to a comment from a Windows 10 fan on Twitter pleading for a reduction in the time taken to apply an upgrade to a maximum of one hour.

So there you go – this is something that’s being pushed for at Microsoft, and Sarkar’s use of CAPS LOCK (yikes!) hopefully indicates that it is indeed a priority, rather than just an airy statement born of placation. Although obviously no concrete details are given here as to any progress on this front.

To be fair to Microsoft, this is certainly something the firm has always put a premium on. Back in 2016, during the run-up to the Creators Update, the software giant considerably streamlined the size of update downloads (by switching to a differential package, rather than a full download of a fresh build).

A watched update never boils

Whatever progress can be made in terms of reducing download size and install times will obviously be welcome, particularly in the latter case because when the PC is tied up during installation (with lengthy reboots, while watching that percentage counter), there’s nothing you can do with the machine – which can be frustrating.

As we saw at the start of the week, Microsoft is hoping to better hone Windows 10 on all fronts in future updates with the introduction of a new system of ‘Cohorts’ in the testing process.

These are specialized groups of testers dedicated to certain aspects of Windows 10 – for example stylus use – whose feedback will hopefully enable Microsoft to better pick out the most relevant new features which should be developed in these particular areas. That system is only at the experimental stage at the moment, though.

Via Windows Central

#799582 uTorrent vulnerabilities leave users at risk of hacking and snooping

Posted by sincity on 21 February 2018 - 06:57 AM

uTorrent's Windows desktop and web clients both contain vulnerabilities that leave users at risk of hacking.

The problem was discovered by Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero – a team of security analysts who specialize in finding zero-day vulnerabilities (ones that the developers or publishers are unaware of).

According to Ormandy the flaws are easy to exploit, and make it possible for criminals to control key functions in the client, including seeing your downloaded files and downloading malware that will run the next time you boot your PC.

Project Zero gives software vendors 90 days to fix vulnerabilities before making them public. Ormandy originally contacted BitTorrent about the flaw in November, but received no response. Fearing BitTorrent wouldn't make the deadline, he reached out to founder Bram Cohen on Twitter, prompting the company to act.

How to patch uTorrent

BitTorrent has issued a fix in its latest beta release, and plans to push a new stable version of the client out to all users later this week.

The web version of uTorrent has already been repaired, according to Dave Rees, vice president of engineering at BitTorrent. 

"We highly encourage all uTorrent Web customers to update to the latest available build available on our website and also via the in-application update notification," he said in an email to users.

Via Ars Technica

#799258 Facebook is fighting electoral meddling with paper postcards

Posted by sincity on 19 February 2018 - 06:40 AM

As part of its ongoing effort to clean up its reputation, Facebook will soon start using old-school paper postcards to verify the location of anyone buying ads related to US elections.

The postcards will include a unique code, which advertisers will need in order to prove they are in the country. The codes will be necessary for anyone who wants to place an ad mentioning a candidate running for Congress.

It's illegal for foreign nationals to donate or spend money in connection with federal, state or local elections in the United States.

Katie Habarth, Facebook’s global director of policy programs, told Reuters the postcards "won't solve everything", but were the best method for preventing such meddling in future.

Antisocial media

Late last year, Facebook identified at least 470 fake pages and accounts, which had spent a total of US$100,000 on ads. In a statement, the company said the accounts were linked to one another and probably originated in Russia.

These ads didn't mention particular candidates, and therefore wouldn't be covered by the new verification system, but Facebook concluded that they were meant to spread divisive messages on sensitive topics such as gun rights.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot to do“

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Facebook expects the new system to be in place before the mid-term Congressional elections in September, but hasn't mentioned electoral ads in any other countries.

The announcement comes a month after Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that political interference was a real problem on the network, and made a commitment to tackling it.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot to do,” Zuckerberg said. “Whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Via TechCrunch

#798550 Google Chrome’s ad blocker goes live tomorrow to kill annoying online ads

Posted by sincity on 14 February 2018 - 09:10 AM

Google is acting against what it describes as ‘intrusive’ adverts, by firing up an integrated ad blocker in the Chrome web browser as of tomorrow, February 15.

What this means is that, when the feature goes live tomorrow, Google’s browser will target and block advertisements which fail to follow the ‘Better Ads Standards’ as laid out in line with consumer research by an industry watchdog.

In other words, not all advertising will be muzzled. Normal ads will still run, which is handy, as many websites make their money from them in order to remain free to access. Only sufficiently annoying ads will get the boot.

For desktop PCs, that means pop-up adverts, sizable sticky adverts, video ads which autoplay with sound, and ‘prestitial’ ads which present themselves with a countdown, making the user wait for a period of time before they can close them and move on to view the site content.

When it comes to mobile devices, Google is being more stringent, blocking all the above – and all prestitial adverts – as well as flashing animated ads, full-screen scroll over affairs, and ‘dense’ advertisements which take up more than 30% of the vertical height of the web page.

If Chrome does block adverts, it will let the user know that ad blocking has happened, and also present an option to disable the blocking and allow adverts to come through on that particular site.

Advertising standards

More broadly, peeking behind-the-scenes, Google says it will evaluate a sample set of pages from any given site, looking for violations of the aforementioned Better Ads Standards, and awarding the site a ‘pass’, ‘warn’ or ‘fail’ status.

Site owners will be able to review a report and if they fall foul of the regulations, they can address any issues, then request that their site be re-evaluated to attempt to achieve a pass.

So, this seems like a sound move overall, as not many people will argue against having those more frustrating and annoying ads blocked.

As long as the policing of websites is carried out accurately, and there’s not too much red tape when it comes to site owners organizing a re-evaluation should they be affected, this shouldn't massively detriment publishers of your favorite websites.

Hopefully the system will play nice with websites which detect and issue warnings about ad blocking, too, because Chrome can already throw up these sort of warning prompts as it is. Should everything run smoothly, all Chrome users will benefit from a more streamlined web browsing experience with less in-your-face advertisement interruptions.

We also heard recently that this summer, Chrome will move to make the internet a more secure place by labelling unencrypted websites as ‘not secure’.

#798441 Google Fuchsia release date, news and rumors

Posted by sincity on 13 February 2018 - 04:41 PM

In early October 2017, we expected Google to reveal a new operating system that has been rumored and reported for almost two years: ‘Google Andromeda,’ a merging of its Android and Chrome operating systems (OS) in a way we've never before seen. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and today we know that project as ‘Google Fuchsia,’ which is very much still in the works – and publicly.

Fuchsia is expected to become Google’s singular platform for laptops, phones and tablets running its software. 

Whether its running the full-fat version of Google Docs, fully leveraging Google Drive or finding your favorite app from the Google Play Store, you’ll be able to do it all from any Google Fuchsia-powered device. What’s more, you’ll be able to pick up from exactly where you left off on each app easily from any other Fuchsia device.

For as excited as we are about Fuchsia, even with running early versions and the like, we’re still in the early days of Fuchsia – likely a year out from seeing Google laptops and phones alike run on this OS.

That’s plenty of time to gather all the latest info and speculate! So, join us as we explore what Fuchsia is, what its capabilities are and how it might affect both Chrome OS and Android – and Google’s rivals – whenever it releases.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? An Android-meets-Chrome, multi-device operating system
  • When is it out? An early form is available on Chromebook Pixel now
  • What will it cost? Likely nothing, as is with Android and Chrome

Google Fuchsia

A Google Pixelbook running an early version of Fuchsia OS (Image Credit: Ars Technica)

What is Google Fuchsia?

Again, Google Fuchsia is a hybrid OS that is still very much in development. The entirety of Fuchsia OS is comprised of two distinct but connected user interfaces (UI): a phone-centric one codenamed ‘Armadillo’ and a traditional desktop UI known as ‘Capybara’ internally, according to 9to5Google.

So far, more is known about the mobile version of Fuchsia than the laptop one, but ArsTechnica was recently able to get Fuchsia running on a Google Pixelbook in an awfully early state.

'Fuchsia is going to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in Windows 10 and iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way.'

This approach to OS design is very similar to Microsoft’s, in which Windows 10 exists within PCs, phones, tablets and game consoles with very specific interfaces tailored to those devices. However, all of those different interfaces are built upon the same root code, known as a kernel, allowing them to run the same apps.

In the case of Fuchsia, that kernel is known as ‘Zircon’, 9to5Google reports, and it’s designed to be consistently upgradeable and safe from applications accessing it constantly, adding an extra layer of security and eliminating situations in which apps are rendered incompatible with OS updates.

Whether it’s in the mobile or desktop orientation, Fuchsia is laden with Google’s Material design found all over its Android and Chrome OS products. Shadows are a big focus on the design aesthetic, using a new renderer known as ‘Escher’ to do the job. The result is an interface with more depth to its look than traditionally flat OS products.

Google Fuchsia as it appears on a smartphone device.

Fuchsia is also heavily focused on a cards-based interface, in which every app you open appears inside one of these cards – plus, you can place multiple apps into a single card. This orients the user around tasks at hand rather than apps.

From there, the OS revolves quite a bit around Google Assistant more deeply accessing your apps and information to provide even more thorough actions and insights. Google has referred to these apps and pieces of information as ‘entities’, according to a GitHub developer page, and on Fuchsia they’re all accessible by Google Assistant.

Finally, Fuchsia wants to be the best cross-device OS to date. To achieve this, Fuchsia uses a new tool known as ‘Ledger’ by the GitHub community. Ledger, once you’re signed into a Google Account on a Fuchsia device, will automatically save your place in all installed apps across all Fuchsia devices.

All in all, Fuchsia is Google’s attempt to get the best of Chrome and Android into a single operating system that’s more efficient both while you’re using it and when you’re away – not to mention in between those states or between devices.

This is likely where Fuchsia will make its debut.

Google Fuchsia release date

Since August 2016, the Google Fuchsia release date has been rumored several times – only to turn out untrue. These rumors have generally cropped up before Google’s big Google IO developer event in California or, in the case of last October, when we know a big hardware release is imminent.

Sadly, the latest treasure trove of Google Fuchsia information from ArsTechnica’s hands-on time with the OS doesn’t contain any hints toward a possible release date. However, the outlet does go out of its way to note just how early in development the OS looks and feels.

This should help frame our expectations for when we should expect to see Fuchsia on shelf-ready devices: most likely not before 2019. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see the OS at all in 2018, as Google could choose to preview it somehow this year in preparation for a wider release next year.

At any rate, keep it locked to this page as we draw closer to a possible release date and therefore might have some new information for you.

Is Fuchsia the end of Android as we know it?

What could Fuchsia mean for Android and Chrome – and Windows and macOS?

From what we're hearing, Fuchsia seems to be Google's response to Microsoft and Apple's united platforms with one of its own. In turning Android into one of the two biggest smartphone platforms  and later popularizing Chrome OS – and its extensible web-based productivity programs – in the classroom and workplace, Google itself has become a major player on all platforms.

Again, from the sound of it, Fuchsia is going to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in Windows 10 and iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way. It's easy to expect access to Google's inimitable search and data-tracking at your fingertips – Google Assistant and ‘entities’, anyone? – which it would tout as better than Microsoft and Apple's, and an interface that changes based on the device from which it's accessed.

Will this eventually mean the end of Android and Chrome? In name, most likely, but their principles will almost certainly live on – there's too much solid foundation not to build on top of them. Just look at the Material design language found throughout these early builds of either version of Fuchsia.

The end result, likely to be seen in a preview form later this year and in purchasable devices in 2019, will be just one platform for Google to worry about. With Fuchsia, Google will be able to push new updates and features to all versions at once, simplifying support as well as user understanding.

With that, Google will become that much more formidable a foe to Microsoft and Apple, and that much appealing an option to Android and Chromebook users all over. Who knows, perhaps it will be enough to bring people over from the other side of Microsoft and Apple’s fences.

#798385 The best rising Linux distros in 2018

Posted by sincity on 13 February 2018 - 06:59 AM

Linux is built for tinkering and experimentation, which means it’s always morphing and changing. New distros are popping up all the time, because all it takes is a little bit of determination, time and effort to create a custom operating system.

Not all of them hit the mark – there are stacks of Linux distros that have seen little to no action, and we’re almost certain that some have been released and never installed by anyone other than their creator.

Other alternative distros, though, fare rather better. Look at the success of Linux Mint, which spun off from Ubuntu to become (at times) arguably more popular than its own parent. Indeed, Ubuntu itself grew from Debian, and its niche offshoots (distros like Ubuntu Studio) have seen good levels of interest. If there’s a market out there for your distro, there’s traction to be had.

So let’s look at our pick of the five distros moving up swiftly through the ranks in 2018. Some of these might eventually become the best Linux distros out there, whereas some might fade away – but it won’t cost you a penny to try them out.


Antergos is built on top of Arch and like its parent caters to bleeding-edge users. Package updates are made available the moment they’re deemed stable.

Antergos is a rising star thanks to its default configuration options and easy setup process compared to Arch. The custom installer, Cnchi, installs the Gnome 3 desktop by default, but also allows you to select from five other desktop environments if you prefer something else. 

It also downloads and installs the essentials for playing media and other useful applications. Antergos has no default office suite but can make use of the LibreOffice Installer for Arch Linux. The OS is very popular in Spain and throughout Europe as it boasts multi-language support. 

The project has come a long way since its early days, when it was a single-desktop distro known as Cinnarch – an amalgamation of the Arch environment and the easy-to-use Cinnamon desktop. 

Antergos follows a rolling release model, so once you've installed the latest version (currently 18.2), you won't need to perform any large upgrades again. 

Best rising Linux distro


Deepin (formerly known as Linux Deepin and HiWeed Linux) describes itself as ‘outstanding from inside out’.

It's a Chinese-developed distro focusing on simplicity and elegance. Until 2015 Deepin was based on Ubuntu, but it’s now a Debian-based distro. 

The OS uses a desktop environment called DDE (Deepin Desktop Environment) based on the Qt 5 toolkit combined with the Mutter Window Manager – the overall crisp look and feel is very reminiscent of macOS. The desktop supports hot corners and incorporates a number of widgets to display information such as the weather and app notifications. 

The latest release of Deepin (15.5) incorporates HiDPI meaning it supports all HD displays. It also comes with a brand new design for the Control Center and desktop. Deepin is only available for 64-bit systems as a 3.2GB ISO. You can boot this in Live mode and the installer is extremely easy-to-use.

Best rising Linux distro

MX Linux

MX Linux is described as a ‘midweight’ distribution which means it's both easy on the eye and not too hungry when it comes to chomping system resources.

The current version of MX Linux is 17 (codename Horizon). It was released in June 2017 and is based on Debian 9.3 (Stretch). It includes some very respectable default applications such as Mozilla’s Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client. MX also includes both the VLC and Clementine media players making it capable of playing a large variety of media out of the box. The LibreOffice office suite is also included.

You can install extra programs with a click of your mouse using the MX Package installer which contains a mixture of applications from the Debian Stable/Testing repositories, as well as a few others which have been chosen by the developers.

Although the desktop environment uses the simplistic Xfce, you may find this hard to believe at first due to its elegance. This doesn't take away from its speed as menus and windows open almost instantly. 

MX Linux can run from a Live DVD or USB if you want to test it before installing. If you use a USB stick, you can also use Persistence to create a custom OS that you can carry around with you.

MX is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Your machine will need at least 2GB of RAM to run the OS smoothly.

Best rising Linux distro


Subgraph is a bit different in that it’s a rising star of a Linux distro which is designed specifically for privacy. The developers stress that it's still in development but the OS holds great promise for privacy lovers. 

Subgraph's kernel has been hardened using Grsecurity, which is widely regarded as one of the most secure Linux cores in the world today. This hugely reduces the chances of becoming a victim of DMA (Direct Memory Access) attacks, which is one of the most common methods hackers use to attempt to gain control of a computer. 

Applications such as the Tor browser or IceDove email client are sandboxed using a system named ‘Oz’, giving you an extra layer of protection if an app should be compromised. You can also use specialised whitelists and blacklists to determine which applications are allowed to run. 

All internet traffic is routed through the anonymising Tor network, which makes it extremely difficult to trace your location, but will slow down your connection speed to some extent. 

Unlike some other distros of its type, Subgraph is quite easy on the eyes, using the Gnome desktop environment and Xpra to provide a simple but attractive interface.

Despite all its privacy enhancing features which supposedly function out of the box, Subgraph is still alpha software and should not be relied upon to secure any truly important information.

In April 2017, Joanna Rutkowska, the creator of Qubes, together with security researcher Micah Lee, were able to circumvent Subgraph's security by running a malicious app in the Nautilus file manager, which isn't sandboxed. This attack would also work on other privacy-oriented distros such as Tails.

The Subgraph team has yet to develop a patch for this exploit, but has pointed out that the OS is still a work in progress. Subgraph nevertheless remains easy-to-use and works seamlessly, with all the heavy lifting done in the background security-wise.

Best rising Linux distro


We can hear you shouting from here. “But TechRadar,” you bellow, “Debian is massive! How can you call it ‘rising’?” Here’s how: it is definitely a rising distro. While Ubuntu did a great job bringing Linux to the masses, many users brought on board by its orange-and-brown glitz and glamour have moved away thanks to a few controversial changes. The natural post-Ubuntu route, given the huge amount of shared DNA, is its parent OS, Debian.

Debian packages are selected for their stability. Any 'testing' version of Debian must first go through a 'freezing' process where no new packages are added before it is granted the honour of becoming a fully-fledged 'stable' version. This is the case with Debian 9 Stretch (named after the purple octopus from Toy Story), which became the current ‘stable’ distribution of Debian in July 2017.

The new Gnome desktop environment and huge selection of software from the Debian repos mean that Debian 9 is definitely suitable for day-to-day use, although some of the packages are quite dated. If you prefer to remain on the bleeding edge, consider trying out the ‘testing’ distro of Debian which is codenamed Buster.

Debian only incorporates 'free' software which means that if you use proprietary firmware – for example, for your Wi-Fi card – you may need to use the 'non-free' repositories or manually download drivers yourself. (This could be very tricky if the device with missing drivers is the machine you use to connect to the internet, for obvious reasons). If you don't feel comfortable tinkering with drivers, choose a distro with better support for non-free hardware such as Antergos.

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#798210 Teens are fleeing Facebook in record numbers

Posted by sincity on 12 February 2018 - 07:11 AM

Facebook is going grey, losing its teen audience and gaining popularity among over-55s.

According to market research company eMarketer, 2018 will be the first year when less than half of internet users between the ages of 12 and 17 use Facebook at least once a month. Unlike in previous years, when the site managed to hang onto younger users via Instagram, it now seems to be losing serious ground to Snapchat.

eMarketer predicts that the number of US Facebook users under 12 (below the minimum age for registering on the site) will drop by 9.3% this year, while the number of users between 12 and 17, and 18 and 24 will decrease by 5.6% and 5.8% respectively.

Meanwhile, more over-55s are signing up, with half a million new users expected to join by the end of the year.

Snapped up

That might come as unwelcome news to Facebook, which had its sights set firmly on the next generation of users.

In December it launched Messenger Kids – a version of its instant messaging and video chat app designed specifically for kids too young for Facebook itself. Pre-teens can only use the app to communicate with people to a list created and approved by a parent, but once they reach 13 they’ll be familiar enough with the site to make their own account.

Facebook also offers to work with schools to bring online safety lessons into the classroom. This is a sensible move to help kids learn how to protect themselves, but also helps raise the site's profile among school kids.

Facebook is also pouring investment into new technologies like advanced AR and VR, including full-body tracking – tools that might be of less interest to older users.

Via the Guardian

#796883 Windows 10 is now more popular than Windows 7

Posted by sincity on 01 February 2018 - 07:00 AM

Windows 10 has finally pushed past Windows 7 in terms of overall market share, going by the latest figures from one analytics firm.

According to Statcounter, in January’s figures for Windows desktop operating system market share, Windows 10 climbed to reach 42.78%, a jump of 1.09% compared to the previous month.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 dropped just a smidge – by 0.03% – down to 41.86%, meaning that Microsoft’s newest OS has overtaken it by almost a clear percentage point.

In short, Windows 10 is now king of the desktop operating system hill, some two and a half years after its release. Look back to January of last year and the gap was still fairly large, with Windows 7 being the clear leader on 47.46%, compared to Windows 10, which was on 32.84%.

As for the current state of play regarding other versions of Windows, they are all flatlining below 10%, with Windows 8.1 in third place on 8.70%. Windows XP still has a 3.36% market share, and even Windows Vista is clinging on with some users (0.74%).

Note that this is just one company’s snapshot of the market as it currently stands, and rival analytics firm Netmarketshare still has Windows 7 in the lead (by 42.39% to Windows 10’s share of 34.29% at the last count – still a fair gap).

Method, man…

This is because there are various differences in the methodologies that these organizations use to collect and process their statistics, not to mention the fact that Netmarketshare covers all desktop operating systems – i.e. macOS and Linux as well as Windows. Whereas Statcounter just focuses purely on Windows versions, although the latter holds the vast majority of the overall market anyway, at around 90%.

Still, this is clearly a major milestone for Windows 10, with one of the leading number-crunching outfits declaring it in first place for overall user base.

Of course, Windows 10 already became the most popular OS with gamers a long time back according to Steam’s hardware survey, although that isn’t the case currently – because recently, everything has got very muddy regarding that particular report. Seemingly, this is mainly due to the big influx of Chinese gamers addicted to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds majorly skewing the survey results.

As a result, the current state of play according to Steam can’t really be meaningfully compared to the previous landscape since these massive shifts happened last November.

Via: Betanews

#796614 The best free privacy software 2018: top tools for anonymous browsing

Posted by sincity on 29 January 2018 - 04:03 PM

If you're looking for the best free privacy software to help you browse the web anonymously, then you've come to the right place, as we've listed the top choices to help protect your privacy.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons why you'd like to use privacy software to browse anonymously. 

As well as preventing third parties building up a profile of you, the best free privacy software can open up the web, granting you access to sites blocked in your country, to access region-locked content when you're travelling away from home, and to add a layer of protection when you use a public Wi-Fi network.

If you would prefer to keep your personal details private, a VPN or proxy tool will help. You can check out our best VPN buying guide (or our best free VPN guide) or See our guide to setting up and maintaining a VPN.


Download Tor Browser

Tor re-routes data through a series of remote nodes to disguise your location

1. Tor Browser

The super secure Tor browser is the cornerstone of any privacy toolkit

Tor Browser is probably the best-known anonymous browsing tool out there, and it is described as a 'censorship circumvention tool'.

Tor Browser has a vast following in the online privacy and security communities. It works by bouncing your communication through numerous encrypted node on the internet, making it impossible to determine your location or other identifying information.

Tor Browser employs complex technology, but is refreshingly accessible. It's based on the same code as Firefox, and guides you through the process of getting online one step at a time.

It uses different connection methods depending on what you're trying to achieve, but there's no need to understand the details because it's all taken care of for you. This combination of effective protection and ease of use makes Tor Browser the best free privacy software you can download today.

Review and where to download: Tor Browser


Download Privoxy

Privoxy is an extremely flexible privacy tool that you can use with any web browser

2. Privoxy

Privoxy gives you total control, but the options might be overwhelming

Privoxy is a web proxy tool that's available not only for Mac, Windows and Linux, but also Android and iOS. It is a tremendously powerful tool, but you'll need to invest a little time and effort to get it up and running.

Privoxy can be used in conjunction with just about any web browser, which is a big bonus; simply set the browser to run its traffic through the tool.

However, one of Privoxy's key features could also be a drawback for new users: it gives you very granular control over privacy settings, and configuring them is very much a manual process. There's a helpful quick start guide available, but it has the potential to be off-putting.

That said, if you're happy to persevere, this free privacy software lets you set up advanced filters that will not only ensure you remain anonymous online, but also protect you against unwanted ads.

Download here: Privoxy


Download Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield hides your IP address and encrypts data to protect your privacy

3. Hotspot Shield

Protect your identity by hiding your IP address from prying eyes

Hotspot Shield is available in two flavors: a free, ad-supported one, and a paid-for version that offer unlimited bandwidth. Hotspot Shield hides your IP address and provides encrypted traffic tunnelling (ideal for use on public Wi-Fi networks) to improve security and ensure privacy.

You may not want to use Hotspot Shield at all time. For instance, you may only be interested in using it to access certain sites that are blocked in your country. In this case you can create shortcuts to individual sites in the Hotspot Shield window, which will enable protection before launching the sites. Protection can also be toggled on an off with a single click.

The paid-for version, Hotspot Elite, only costs a few pounds or dollars a month, but it's worth trying the free edition first before opening your wallet. Its additional features, including ad-free browsing and dedicated customer support, make it a tempting proposition.

Review and where to download: Hotspot Shield


Download TunnelBear

If you've never used a VPN before, Tunnelbear is the tool for you

4. TunnelBear

TunnelBear is VPN made easy – but keep an eye on the data limit

In addition to anonymous browsing, free VPN client TunnelBear can also be used to bypass traffic-shaping and throttling put in place by ISPs.

The free version of TunnelBear gives you up to 500MB of data each month, but if this isn't enough, unlimited data is available for a subscription fee, with prices starting at US$4.16 per month (about £3, AU$6).

Whether you go premium or stick with the free version, you can share a single account between up to five phones, tablets, Windows PCs or Macs.

Configuration is incredibly simple, and TunnelBear's free privacy software can be used with any browser. It's probably the most accessible VPN tool there is, and is just about impossible not to recommend.

Review and where to download: TunnelBear


Download Cyberghost

CyberGhost re-routes your data through a remote proxy server, but the free version only lets a certain number of users connect at once, so you might have to wait a while to get online

5. CyberGhost

A great way to protect your privacy, but free users have to wait their turn

Another multi-platform VPN tool, CyberGhost is available as a free ad-supported app, as well as a paid-for edition offering better performance and more features.

For day-to-day or occasional use, the free version should be perfectly adequate. Configuration is very simple, with the only potential stumbling block being the installation of a virtual network adaptor.

With a single click, CyberGhost will activate, giving the impression that you're browsing from another country. The free privacy software also lets you keep an eye on how much traffic you've transferred through the service using a handy graph.

The downside of using CyberGhost's free edition is that there's a limited numbers of spaces on the servers, so you may have to wait to gain access (although you're unlikely to be kept hanging for long).

Review and where to download: CyberGhost

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