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Article from Issue 233/2020

In the news: LibreOffice 6.4 Released; Official Evernote Client Coming to Linux; Thanks to Linux, Google and Valve are Bringing Steam to Chromebooks; Nine-Year-Old Bug Found and Fixed in Sudo; and Systemd-homed Is Coming to a Linux Distribution Near You.

LibreOffice 6.4 Released

LibreOffice 6.4 (https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/6.4) has arrived for Linux (and other platforms) and is one all users will want on their desktops. Why? Two words: Productivity and compatibility. The developers have gone out of their way to make a number of tasks (such as saving spreadsheets and presentations) faster.

Version 6.4 adds new features and tweaks, making the office suite considerably more efficient. For example, the LibreOffice Start Center now includes thumbnails of previously edited documents, making it much faster to locate the file you want to work on.

One previous feature that has been drastically improved is the redaction tool (which was only recently introduced to LibreOffice). Prior to version 6.4, using the redaction tool was a bit of a challenge. Now, LibreOffice has a new automatic redaction mode that allows users to quickly mask any and all data that matches a specific word, phrase, or expression. The auto-redaction tool allows you to add and save words, phrases, and expressions as targets and then apply them to any document. This way you can save specific phrases you have to frequently redact so that they can be easily applied to documents with which you work.

Finally, the developers have spent considerable time and effort perfecting the compatibility with MS Office documents. In fact, the Document Foundation (https://www.documentfoundation.org/) now claims LibreOffice enjoys "almost perfect support for .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx files."

Other new features and improvements found in LibreOffice 6.4 include:

  • A built-in QR code generator, so you can quickly add QR codes to documents.
  • A Table panel included in the Writer sidebar, for faster table creation.
  • Comments can now be marked as resolved.
  • A much improved help system.
  • The ability to enable/disable the sending of crash reports.

Official Evernote Client Coming to Linux

Evernote has been one of the more popular note taking apps for quite some time. Since the beginning, it was labeled as a cross-platform application. However, the one platform missing from the list was Linux. Evernote has always been available for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. But that will soon be changing, as Evernote recently announced an official Linux client is on the way.

In a blog post (https://evernote.com/blog/2020-update-progress-road-ahead/), Ian Small, CEO of Evernote, said, "The re-engineered web client (in limited release), the new mobile clients (in first preview), and the (as yet unreleased) new clients for Windows, Mac, and (yes!) Linux, along with the ongoing re-architecture and data migration we've been doing in the cloud, will set up Evernote to be able to innovate and ship with quality at a pace we haven't seen in a long time."

The Evernote note-taking client offers features like:

  • Handwriting search: Find your text in any note.
  • Templates: Makes for faster and better note taking.
  • Notes sync: Keep your notes available on all devices associated with your account.
  • Offline notes (premium account required): Makes all of your notes available anywhere, anytime (even without an Internet connection).
  • Uploads (premium account required): Up to 10GB monthly note uploads.
  • Large notes (premium account required): A 200MB maximum note size.

Although there are other third-party Evernote clients for Linux (such as NixNote (http://nixnote.org/), ForeverNote (https://github.com/milan102/ForeverNote), and Tusk (https://github.com/klaussinani/tusk)), this will be the first official client for the platform. As of now, there has been no word on if the Linux desktop client will be released as an Electron or a native application. Nor is there a timeline for the release.

Thanks to Linux, Google and Valve are Bringing Steam to Chromebooks

On many supported Chromebooks, it is already possible to run Linux applications on the Chromebook. For certain user types, this has been a real boon. However, for gamers, not so much. That is about to change, thanks to a joint effort by Google and Valve.

According to Kan Liu, director of product management for Google Chrome OS, Steam is coming to Chromebooks. Steam is a digital video game distribution service, offered by Valve, originally released in 2003 as a means for Valve to provide automatic updates for their own line of games. Eventually the service was expanded to include third-party publishers, and it is now one of the largest digital distribution systems for games.

This new evolution for the Chromebook wouldn't be possible without the addition of Linux compatibility for Chromebooks. So not only will Chromebook users be able to install from the massive catalogue of Linux applications, they will (in the near future) be able to run the same Steam games available to the Linux platform.

There is, of course, one caveat: Many of the Chromebooks on the market today run low-end specs. Those devices will most likely only be able to enjoy the very basic 2D games. In order to run more modern, graphics-intensive games, the Chromebook will require significantly beefier hardware.

At the moment, it is possible to install the Steam Linux client on Chrome OS using the Crostini Linux compatibility layer. However, that installation offers zero support and very poor performance. The official rollout will take some time … maybe even years. Until then, you can satisfy your Linux fix on Chromebooks with the software available via Crostini and the apt-get install command.

Original announcement: https://www.androidpolice.com/2020/01/17/exclusive-google-is-working-to-bring-steam-to-chrome-os/

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