Article from Issue 248/2021

In the news: Armbian 21.05 Now Available; StarLabs has Released Another Linux Laptop; Ubuntu 21.04 Adds Support for Active Directory; Gnome 40 Available on openSUSE; Kernel 5.13 Merges Apple M1 Hardware Support: and KDE Launches the Qt 5 Patch Collection. 

Armbian 21.05 Now Available

For anyone that makes use of ARM-based architecture, you have a friend in Armbian, a Debian-based Linux distribution, purpose-built for ARM and embedded devices (including development boards and Linux phones). Armbian is a simple-to-use, lightweight, secure Linux distribution, optimized for ARM-based hardware. This new release includes the 5.11 kernel, which now includes support for the Orange Pi R1 Plus as well as improved NVidia Jetson Nano support.

But Armbian isn't limited to only single-board computers and other embedded devices. This distribution can also run on ARM-based laptops such as the Pinebook Pro ( Other supported devices include Banana Pi BPI-M3, Firefly, ODROID N2+, ODROID-XU4, ROCKPro64, NanoPi K2, NanoPi M4V2, and Tinker Board computers.

Although Armbian defaults to the Xfce desktop, Armbian 21.05 also brings support for the Gnome desktop environment. You'll also find USB-C DisplayPort and eDP outputs enabled for the NanoPC-T4 board, as well as the usual host of bug fixes, patches, and updates.

Download a version of Armbian for all supported devices from the official download page ( and enjoy Linux on your ARM-based hardware of choice. You'll find support available for over 130 different devices.

Star Labs Has Released Another Linux Laptop

Star Labs ( is not just a research facility in the world of The Flash, it's also a company that sells Linux laptops. Up until now, Star Labs only had one device for sale: the 11" Star Lite Mk III, which offered an 11.6" screen, 1.1GHz quad-core Intel Pentium N5000 CPU, a 240GB SSD drive, 8GB of LPDDR4 onboard memory, and up to seven hours of battery life.

The Star Lite was spec'd to be a low-end machine and started at $478. At the moment, the Star Lite is unavailable for purchase. However, the company will soon release the StarBook (, which can be spec'd quite a bit beefier than the original, with a 14" matte IPS display, an 11th Gen Intel CPU (either i3-1110G4 or i7-1165G7), up to a 1TB NVMe SSD drive, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, a full-sized backlit keyboard, and up to 11 hours of battery life. The base-model StarBook can be purchased now at $929 and a fully spec'd model will run approximately $1,852.

Although the StarBook won't compete with flagship Linux laptops (such as the System76 Galago Pro or Serval WS), it should serve as a quality mobile Linux machine for on-the-go users. When you go to purchase your StarBook, you can select your choice of Linux distribution, from Ubuntu 20.04.2, elementary OS 5.1.7, Linux Mint 20.1, Manjaro 21.0, MX Linux 19.4, or Zorin OS 15.3 (Core or Ultimate).

Pre-order your StarBook now at .

Ubuntu 21.04 Adds Support for Active Directory Plus Other Major Changes

In a move that should surprise no one, Canonical has made it considerably easier for admins to join Ubuntu desktop machines to Active Directory domains and use Group Policy to set password requirements, user access controls, and even tweak desktop environment settings (such as login screen backgrounds and required applications).

Canonical has even made it possible for the integration of a Ubuntu Desktop into an existing Active Directory domain to be an automated and effortless process, with the help of the System Security Services Daemon (SSSD).

Active Directory isn't the only new feature that should be considered a major step forward for Canonical's desktop. The developers have finally shifted over to the Wayland graphics server by default. This change brings considerably faster performance over its predecessor, X.Org.

Finally, one long-rumored feature is the private home directory. Before Ubuntu 21.04, any user could view the contents of another user's home directory (but not make changes). Now, all home directories are private, so the permissions shift from 755 to 750. This particular feature will only be implemented in clean installs and not upgrades. Making this shift is important. According to Ubuntu's Security Tech Lead, Alex Murray (, "…a lot of things have changed in the last 14 years, not least of which that Ubuntu has a significant customer and user-base in the public cloud and server space." Murray continues, "For these users, there is generally 1 admin account and perhaps a number of less privileged worker accounts, and so world-readable home directories now present more like a footgun than a feature – in this case, if a worker account is compromised, an attacker could now more easily access sensitive data from the other worker accounts or the admin account."

Download the ISO of Ubuntu Desktop 21.04 from the official Ubuntu Downloads page (

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