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8 Surprising Uses for Linux That You Can (Mostly) Try Yourself


Linux is highly configurable and adaptable. Plus, it’s free! With all of these qualities, it may not be a surprise to hear that people use Linux to do all kinds of tasks 8 Ways Linux Is Taking Over the World 8 Ways Linux Is Taking Over the World Linux doesn’t only run on home computers and web servers.

Here are some of the most unusual ways Linux is being used around the world. Read More . Still, you may be surprised by some of the niche ways that people have put Linux to use. You may even want to take on some of these projects yourself.


Run a Radio Station

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Have you ever thought about what goes into running a radio station? While this form of media has been around for over a century, these days operators use computers to make the magic happen.

If you’re looking to get into this line of work, you may be able to save some money by using free software. The Open Source Radio project has a Wiki and a GitHub page packed with resources for people looking to create and run their own stations. There you can find example studio setups, see what operating systems people have installed, get help creating low power FM stations, and more. GNU Radio is another community to add to your list.


Create Your Own Car Dashboard

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Cars have long come with gauges that show how fast you’re moving and other important metrics. Newer cars often display that information digitally.

They also come with other bells and whistles that are nice-to-haves, such as Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreens, and built-in navigation. Many car manufacturers use Linux to power these systems. Not only that, you can use Linux to create your own.

A few developers have experimented with the idea using Linux and the Qt toolkit, or you can cobble together something using a Raspberry Pi (shown in the video above). Though you may find pairing an OBD2 dongle with an Android app to be a more pragmatic option Use Any Android Device to Fix the Check Engine Light in Your Car Use Any Android Device to Fix the Check Engine Light in Your Car Have a Check Engine light in your car? Using a free Android app, you can see what’s wrong and clear the light without visiting a mechanic. Read More .


Monitor and Analyze Your Solar Panels

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The cost of solar panels is dropping rapidly. While turning to the sun for energy still requires a costly upfront investment, doing so can save you money in the long-run How to Calculate True Solar Panel Cost For Your Home How to Calculate True Solar Panel Cost For Your Home Perhaps you need to figure out what the cost of a home solar system will be after federal, state, and municipal incentives?

Let’s take a look at how to figure that out. Read More . This is the case even in many less-than-sunny regions. How much energy are you getting from your panels?

Are you getting a solid return on your investment? The US Department of Energy provides the PVWatts site as a free way to answer these questions. But if you want to go more in depth, the department has released its System Advisor Model tool as open-source software for Windows, Mac, and Linux.


Water Your Yard or Garden

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Is your existing sprinkler controller incompetent at the job of spraying water across the plants in your yard? With Linux and an old computer or a small single-board PC (such as Arduino hardware or a Raspberry Pi), you can take matters into your own hands 7 Geeky Ways to Automate Your Gardening This Spring 7 Geeky Ways to Automate Your Gardening This Spring Gardening is often enjoyable, but always time consuming.

So why not automate the more demanding gardening tasks to claw back some of that free time? Read More . Instructables has a guide for people looking to make use of an old PC. The video above shows what you can do using OpenSprinkler, which now lets you control your system using a smartphone.

Don’t want to make your own? You’re in luck. Now you can buy a Linux-powered one.


Provide In-Flight Entertainment

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Airlines have to deal with some of the most peculiar technical constraints of any place “on” the planet. One question that eventually comes up: What software should you use to power the in-flight entertainment systems?

Turns out, many airlines use Linux. According to the Linux Insider, Linux in-flight entertainment systems have appeared on airlines ranging from US-based United to Dubai-based Emirates and Air New Zealand. If you happen to have private jet money, maybe you can do the same.

CoKinetic is one company that specializes in predominantly Linux-powered in-flight entertainment (versions of its products are also available for Windows and Mac).

6. Automate Drones

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You know drones are coming 4 Ways Drones Will Actually Benefit Your Day-to-Day Life 4 Ways Drones Will Actually Benefit Your Day-to-Day Life Drones are more than just toys.

In fact, in just a few more years, they will actually make your life better and more comfortable. Read More , but did you know many of them rely on Linux? Of course, the extent to which they depend on Linux varies. Some combine Linux with a real-time operating system subsystem.

Often Linux powers the controller program on your PC, rather than the code on the drone itself. However you shake it, Linux is an active part of the drone ecosystem. ArduPilot is a popular open source autopilot program that you can run on Linux.

With open or supported hardware, such as the Pixhawk series, you can configure your own autonomous vehicle to take to the skies. Check out for a lengthy list of projects.

7. Monitor Earthquakes

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When you live in an earthquake prone area, natural disasters may be as likely to come from below as above. While we can’t prevent them from happening, you can get a heads up when one is about to impact your home or business. The United States Geological Survey provides a program called ShakeCast that can send notifications within minutes of an earthquake.

The software depends on ShakeMap, which shows the magnitude of an earthquake and the affected area. For this, you want a server version of Linux (CentOS 6 is explicitly supported). If you prefer Windows, you can go that route as well.


Control Your Home’s Indoor Climate

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You can’t buy a thermostat from a hardware store these days without seeing a selection of “smart” options front and center. Yet there are various reasons to view these products with skepticism Smart Home Data Collection: Are Companies Going Too Far? Smart Home Data Collection: Are Companies Going Too Far? Sure, Smart Home devices make our lives easier.

But they also turn every detail of our lives into data. How much invasion of privacy is too much? It’s hard to say. Read More .

Even if you don’t, the cost may be off-putting. Either way, Linux lets you take the DIY approach. Someone has made their own using a Raspberry Pi, and you can do the same.

You do also need a relay module for HVAC controller and a digital temperature sensor, plus a willingness to learn some code.

What Has Linux Helped You Do?

There are countless ways to put Linux to use.

What projects have you tackled, either for fun or for work?

If you’re feeling inspired to experiment and you’re looking for ideas, here are more impressive (or amusing) things you can do with a Raspberry Pi The 13 Best Raspberry Pi Projects of 2017 The 13 Best Raspberry Pi Projects of 2017 You’ll be blown away by these impressively creative Raspberry Pi projects. Read More .


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Sony Xperia Ear Duo review

The line between headphones and hearables is blending together now more than ever, and Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo is one of the most innovative products we’ve seen on the market that tries to push those two ideas together. Hearables are devices that can offer similar functionality to a smartwatch, such as giving you notifications from your phone, updates from apps and other functionality, but this all comes directly into your ear through audio rather than on a display as on a watch or phone.

The Xperia Ear Duo follows on from 2017’s debut product in this category for Sony, which was the Sony Xperia Ear open-style and which wasn’t a particularly popular product and which we didn’t get to test properly. This new product brings two hearables to the mix in one package.

The Xperia Ear Duo is similar to true wireless headphones we’ve seen in the past, such as the Apple AirPods, where there’s no wire between the two Bluetooth earpieces. This looks different though as it hooks around your entire ear and looks more like a Bluetooth headset from the late noughties rather than offering a stylish and distinctive look. Here’s our full verdict on the Sony Xperia Ear Duo and whether it’s worth picking up to hear your notifications and listen to music.

Sony Xperia Ear Duo price and release date

  • Announced at MWC 2018, released in June 2018 in the US and UK
  • Price set at £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380)
  • Quite expensive considering competition

Announced at MWC 2018, the Xperia Ear Duo was one of few wearable devices announced at the show and it was particularly eye-grabbing as it’s such as strange idea to begin with.

Those in the US can buy the Xperia Ear Duo, but it’s not particularly cheap with an RRP of £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380). The Xperia Ear Duo is hard to find online in the UK right now, but you can buy it from select retailers in store and we hope it will appear at more online retailers soon. An Australian release hasn’t been made clear yet, but we’d also hope for Sony to bring the hearable to that market as soon as possible

In terms of compatibility, the Xperia Ear Duo will work with any phone that’s running Android 5.0 or higher, while those with an iPhone will be able to use it if their phone is running iOS 10 or later.


  • An outright odd design that’s difficult to put into your ear
  • Hook around your earlobe with touchpads on the sides to interact
  • Comes in a wireless charging case that’s large but portable

There’s no getting away from the odd design Sony has chosen for the Xperia Ear Duo, so we’ll start with that. This is a headset that looks unique, but also reflects a lot of what we’ve seen change in recent years with the introduction of true wireless headsets. The Ear Duo is made up of two earpieces that aren’t connected by a wire, which is what true wireless means.

These both sit within a wireless charging case – more about that later – so you can carry them around and ensure you don’t lose one when you’re walking around.

Unlike Apple AirPods and most other true wireless headphones we’ve used, the Sony Xperia Ear Duo actually looks more like the Bluetooth headsets you used to see wrapped around the ears of business people. There’s a thick piece of tech that houses the battery, the touchpad to interact with it and a variety of other sensors. That sits behind your ear, then a small metal band bends around your ear and provides the earpiece so you can hear the audio.

When we first took the Xperia Ear Duo out of the box we were a little confused by how to wear them.

There’s a handy guide in the box to demonstrate the way you’re meant to put them in, but it’s inherently a problem that they’re so confusing looking that the company has to include that message. We asked other people to try and wear them in the TechRadar office, and often people found them uncomfortable to put into their ears even when they knew how to do it. We’ve been wearing the headphones for over a week, but we still struggle to put them in our ears.

Once you’re used to how the headphones work, it’ll still take you around 10 seconds to hook each one around your ear.

Perhaps we have particularly long earlobes, but we often found ourselves struggling to get the earpiece around the bottom of our ear comfortably on the first go. It’s an odd feeling to have this large piece of tech sitting behind your ear, but it’s not particularly uncomfortable. Each is light, so they sit in your ear well and won’t weigh down either side of your head.

As it’s such a complicated thing to explain, we’ve shared this video that may help you understand exactly how the Xperia Ear Duo sits around your ear.

I’ve been using the Sony Xperia Ear Duo for almost two weeks and I’m still struggling to put them in. Here’s my best attempt so far: June 2018

You have three choices of inner ear pieces with small, medium and large being the options. We took some time to figure out that medium was the perfect size, but so far the inner part of the headset has been comfortable.

We’ve also never felt like they could fall out of our ears, which is something that can’t be said of Apple AirPods. To access the smart features, you use your finger along the sides of the bits that sit behind your ears. This is easy to reach and works well.

You can adjust the volume (by running your finger up one of the touchpads) as well as pause and play your music by tapping on them. One interesting quirk is that you can only pause by tapping on the left earpiece, so you have to wear both earpieces to be able to use the headset properly. You can change the volume on both, but if you’re only wearing the right one for some reason it means you’ll lose the ability to quickly pause the music.

Instead, you can long press on the right one to open up Google Assistant, while a quick tap on this one will offer your notifications.

There’s no getting around the fact the Xperia Ear Duo headset looks silly. That said, we also don’t particularly love the look of Apple AirPods, but those have become a popular choice for iPhone fans so it may be that the Sony Xperia Ear Duo is a look many begin to adopt. If you do plan to buy the Xperia Ear Duo, you can buy it in either black (pictured throughout this review) or in a gold color.

When we originally tested the Xperia Ear Duo we saw them in silver too but it looks like Sony decided against that color for the full release. The charging case that comes with the Xperia Ear Duo is large, but it’s easy to slot into a small bag or even your back pocket. It’s thin, and while the round design is large it’s not an oversized case.

This isn’t as slim and easy to carry around as Apple AirPods and its charging case though, so if you’re looking for an easily portable device this may not be right up your street.

The 7 Best GitHub Alternatives for Hosting Your Project’s Source Code


Ever since Microsoft purchased GitHub Microsoft Just Bought GitHub: Pros, Cons, and What It Means for You Microsoft Just Bought GitHub: Pros, Cons, and What It Means for You Microsoft acquired GitHub in a £7.5 billion stock deal. Is this a good deal for developers, or is it time to leave GitHub? Read More , many people have been searching for alternative places to host and share their code. Is switching from GitHub absolutely necessary?

Probably not. But Microsoft brings with it a reputation for the occasional takeover disaster, as well as some privacy concerns. So if you’re looking to jump ship, we don’t blame you.

Whether you’re trying to evade Microsoft or you just want to try something new, here are some of the best GitHub alternatives that provide similar functionality. As one of GitHub’s most significant competitors, GitLab is having a field day with the GitHub exodus. They’ve even made it easy to migrate projects from GitHub:

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As it’s designed for the entire DevOps cycle, GitLab lets you do everything from plan to release to monitor your software. Powerful planning tools mean you don’t need to use another system to keep everyone on track.

And GitLab’s branching system makes it easy to design, test, and manage code. You can download an instance to host on your own server or use GitLab’s SaaS hosting. Both options have different price points ranging from £0 to £99 per user.

This pricing system gives you more flexibility than you get with GitHub, and allows GitLab to provide full DevOps capability to any company. You might end up paying more, but you’ll get everything you need.

Atlassian’s Git-based repository system integrates with its other products, like Trello and Jira. This can be a huge bonus to teams that are already using these apps (which are common in the development world). It also integrates with Slack and HipChat.

Developers can create their own integrations within the user interface, adding more flexibility. Two-factor authentication and Soc 2 Type II security keep your code secure. And if you’re already using GitHub, BitBucket has a walkthrough for importing your repositories.

BitBucket offers a wide range of pricing options for both self-hosted and cloud instances, including one-time and yearly payment plans. You can also pay extra to scale your build minutes and storage if you need more without adding more users. Also, BitBucket has a free plan for small groups.

With support for both Subversion and Git, Beanstalk is a versatile platform. And because you can create branches and edit directly in your browser, it’s good for developers on the go.

Beanstalk also has robust code review options and reports that tell you how much of your repository has been reviewed. This can be especially useful for teams that contract with outside coders. No necessary client means Beanstalk makes life easier for highly mobile teams.

And there are enough security features that large corporations like Philips, Intel, and Whole Foods feel safe storing their data on the company’s servers.
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Amazon’s Git-based source control service is a solid choice for companies that are already using other AWS services.

With scalable cloud storage and no size limits, it’s also a good choice for anyone who’s likely to need a lot more server space in the near future. CodeCommit has the advantage of an extremely straightforward pricing system. The first five users are free, and after that, you’ll pay £1 per user per month.

That comes with 10GB per month of storage and 2,000 Git requests per active user. If you need more storage of requests, you can easily pay for them. CodeCommit is also part of the AWS Free Tier, so you can try it out and get used to it before fully committing.

The 7 Best GitHub Alternatives for Hosting Your Project’s Source Code Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) lets you collaborate, store, review, and deploy your code. Of course, if you’re leaving GitHub because you don’t like Microsoft, you’re not likely to want to use Visual Studio.

Still, VSTS aims to help you with a wider variety of development tasks. It provides Kanban boards for agile planning How to Manage Tasks Using Japanese Kanban Technique How to Manage Tasks Using Japanese Kanban Technique Kanban is a Japanese recipe for getting things done. It’s an organization technique originally developed for Toyota’s production line.

We show you how you can implement it for yourself or in your team. Read More , support for Scrum, testing and deployment infrastructure, and package sharing. Guaranteed uptime, 24/7 support, and a regular update schedule are all perks of working with VSTS. Up to five users can work with VSTS for free, and you’ll pay a monthly fee based on the number of users beyond that.

The 7 Best GitHub Alternatives for Hosting Your Project’s Source Code If your organization uses different version control technologies, RhodeCode might be a good choice. It supports Mercurial, Git, and Subversion, giving you the widest variety of options on this list.

Code review, workflow automation, and permission management help you monitor and run DevOps in your group. And the built-in SVN-to-Git migration is a great help when transitioning your team. RhodeCode’s Community Edition is totally free, while the Enterprise Edition gives you integration with enterprise tools, premium support, more collaboration features and multiple instances.

The Enterprise Edition is £75 per user per year, and licenses are offered in 10-packs. There’s a good chance that you’ve downloaded free software from SourceForge sometime in the past. And if you’re working on an open-source project, it’s a great alternative to GitHub.

There’s not much in the way of features, and the site itself is pretty strange (there are articles about cloud storage and business VoIP on the front page), but it’s also free. So if you’re on a shoestring budget and developing an open-source app, it’s worth considering. SourceForge has caused some controversy The SourceForge Controversy, and the Ongoing Fall of Slashdot Media, Explained The SourceForge Controversy, and the Ongoing Fall of Slashdot Media, Explained Over the past few days, one of the world’s premier download portals has been in the middle of a controversy – and one of the web’s first geek communities is being dragged down with it. Read More in the past when they bundled their own software with open-source downloads.

They seem to have cleaned up their act, but it also appears to be somewhat cyclical. Check their current practices before hosting your code there.

Choosing the Right GitHub Alternative for You

With all of these choices, it can be tough to find the best alternative to GitHub. But because most services offer either a free plan or a free trial, you can check them out to see which one works best.

If you just want basic functionality, and you aren’t worried too much about the interface or enterprise features, choosing one based on your budget is a viable option as well.

And don’t forget that version control can be used for more than code Not Just For Coders: Top Version Control Systems For Writers Not Just For Coders: Top Version Control Systems For Writers The mention of version control or revision control makes it seem like something for geeks.

You will be surprised to know that version control systems have their place not only in academic writing but in… Read More .

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