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5 Advanced Linux Distributions you should try

5 Advanced Linux Distributions you should try

There are over a hundred Linux distributions and more come out every year. Linux gives users the freedom to setup their computer almost any way they want. They are generally more secure and lighter than their Windows and OS X counterparts. Most advanced Linux distributions give users the opportunity to dig deep into their computer to find out exactly what’s happening underneath the hood, and they provide a great way to learn a lot more about how computers work.

Here are 5 advanced Linux distributions that you should try if you are up for the challenge:

1. Arch Linux

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    Photo by Dxiri Via Flickr Creative Commons

    Arch Linux is known for being one of the more “Bleeding edge” linux distributions, meaning it gives users access to software that is still in development, beta, or for some reason has not been released yet on other systems. If you like being the first to have access to technology and are willing to potentially encounter and fix bugs, then you will probably love Arch. Arch Linux is also one of the few “Rolling Release” Systems in use. This setup is awesome because there is no such thing as an “Arch XP”, or “Arch 8”. Arch gets updated on a day by day basis and the user is always running the latest and greatest packages.

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    Don’t just think you can pop in an Arch disk and be ready to go. Arch starts as bare bones and forces you to install everything manually. You are greeted with the command line, and will pretty much have to do the entire installation inside your terminal. Give Arch Linux a try and you will soon be the owner of a secure, lightweight and ultra customizable computer, making this one of the greatest linux distributions. Their main IRC channel is #archlinux

    2. Slackware

    slackware

      Photo by Roger Will Comply via Creative Commons

      Created in 1993, Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux Distribution, and still going strong. Slackware is known for it’s rock solid stability and security. This distro releases updates slowly compared to other systems, but it’s also released with far fewer security holes making it an excellent option for use as a server. Slackware is one of the harder to install linux distributions and provides ample bragging rights for those who are able to use it as their primary system. Once you learn how to use Slackware, you’ll be rewarded with a system that works almost perfectly, and is “simple” to use, highly secure, and customizable. Give this linux distribution a try and you will not be disappointed. Check out their IRC channel: #slackware

      3. Kali Linux

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        Kali Linux is a very specialized Linux distribution. The sole intention for using Kali Linux is “Offensive Security”. This is the tool that both good and bad guys use to break into and exploit other peoples restricted areas. The good guys use this tool to make their own systems and their clients systems more secure, while the bad guys do bad things that we won’t talk about. Kali provides hundreds of tools out of the box for the security professional – Metasploit, SqlNinja, and WireShark to name a few.

        This linux distribution is NOT for general purpose use, and users will most likely use Kali only when doing penetration testing related activities, and then switch to something else for watching cat videos.

        If you want to become a successful security professional, or learn how hacktivist groups like “Anonymous” and “Ghost Security” use their hacking skills to fight terrorism online, then you could greatly benefit from learning about “Social Engineering”, using Kali Linux, and learning a programming language like Python or C.

        You should definitely give Kali Linux a try! Check out their IRC channel here: #kali-linux

        4. Gentoo

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          Gentoo is known for being extremely difficult to install. When the topic of installing Gentoo comes up, the average time seems to be around three full days to just get the system installed. Once it’s installed you still need to setup programs for your desktop, sound, wifi, the ability to watch videos, etc… Oh, and every single program is installed and compiled from source, but it’s not always as scary as it sounds. This is probably the most difficult linux distribution that people actually use on a regular basis.

          So why would anyone in their right mind use Gentoo? For starters, it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about the intricacies of how Linux works. About half-way through the installation you decide whether you want to manually configure the “Kernel” or if you prefer to use the “General kernel”. The Kernel can be considered sort of like the heart of linux. It’s also great if you need a very small system. Gentoo is extremely well documented and very flexible. You get to make a decision for what you want on just about everything, including which bootloader you would like to use.

          What you end up with is a 100% customized computer that has exactly what you want and use, and nothing more. It’s lightweight, fast, secure, and there’s no other system just like it. Once you have installed Gentoo you already deserve bragging rights, but being able to use it puts you in the ranks of “Super Powered Hardcore User”.

          Most of the benefits of Gentoo mean nothing more than mumbo jumbo to a mere mortal, however, ask a Gentoo user why they like the distro and you’ll hear nothing but praises for this advanced linux distribution. Check out their IRC channel at #gentoo and say hello!

          5. Linux From Scratch (LFS)

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            Linux From Scratch is the ultimate educational opportunity. With LFS (Linux From Scratch) you are essentially building your very own linux distribution similar to how you would make your own bread from flour, yeast and anything else that is in bread. Nothing is done for you, and you don’t even have a package manager. LFS is good for university students doing computer projects, or any geek looking to learn more about how a computer system is put together. LFS is not something you would want to use on a day to day basis unless you were to go beyond Linux From Scratch with the next step called “BLFS” (Beyond Linux From Scratch), and even then it’s still not a secure system until you do a lot more work. If you’re wanting to geek out on some computer stuff then head over to Linux From Scratch and get started! Check out their IRC channels #lfs and #lfs-support

            No matter what Linux distribution you use, there is plenty of fun stuff to learn and do. Linux offers you plenty of challenges and gives you the freedom that Windows and OS X simply don’t have. Only about 3% of the population uses one of the linux distributions as a desktop, but many people are using Linux in some form and don’t even realize it. If you use a TV, microwave, refrigerator, or some other sort of technology then you’ve been using Linux for a long time and probably had no idea.

            There are many benefits to using Linux, especially if your in the tech field, so pop an installation cd into your computer and have fun!

            Featured photo credit: dxiri via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on November 3, 2020

            20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

            20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

            Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

            There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

            This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

            What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

            Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

            • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
            • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
            • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

            1. Todoist

              Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

              Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

              If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

              Download: Todoist

              2. 1Password

                You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

                1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

                You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

                Download: 1Password

                3. Bear

                  Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                  It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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                  Download: Bear

                  4. Hazel

                    Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                    For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                    Download: noodlesoft

                    5. Alfred

                      Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                      For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                      It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                      Download: Alfred

                      6. TextExpander

                        TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                        For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                        An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                        Download: TextExpander

                        7. Backblaze

                          If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                          Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                          Download: Backblaze

                          8. Keyboard Maestro

                            Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                            Download: Keyboard Maestro

                            9. Snagit

                              There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                              Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                              10. Bartender

                                Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                                If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                                Download: Bartender

                                11. Otter

                                Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                                Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                                Download: Otter

                                12. Flux

                                  Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                  Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                                  Download: Flux

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                                  13. PDFpen

                                  If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                  PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                  Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                  14. OmniFocus

                                    OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                    It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                    A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                    Download: OmniFocus

                                    15. Franz

                                      It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                      Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                      Download: Franz

                                      16. MindNode

                                        If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                        The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                        Download: MindNode

                                        17. Focus

                                          The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                          This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                          Download: Focus

                                          18. CleanMyMac

                                            Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                            Download: CleanMyMac

                                            19. Grammarly

                                              A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                              This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                              A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                              Download: Grammarly

                                              Focus To Do

                                                Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                                There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                                Download: Focus To Do

                                                The Bottom Line

                                                These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                                Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                                More to Boost Productivity

                                                Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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