All posts by LJ Staff

Kubuntu 13.10


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The release of Ubuntu 13.10 has brought with it updates to the various Ubuntu spins. Kubuntu 13.10 is certainly one of the most important so it’s time to take a look at it. I haven’t done a full review of Kubuntu in quite a long while, so I was very curious to see how it had changed and what it had to offer.

I’m happy to say that Kubuntu 13.10 didn’t disappoint, I found myself liking it much more than Ubuntu 13.10.

What’s New in Kubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

KDE 4.11 Plasma and applications
Muon Discover software center
User Manager menu
Wireless setup in installer
KDE Telepathy chat application improvements
Improved network manager applet
New About System page in System Settings

The KDE 4.11 Plasma desktop and applications have been updated in this release. You can get a full list of changes on the announcement page.

The big highlight in this release is the Muon Discover software center. I’ll have more to say about that in the software section of the review, but the short version is that I like it. I like it a lot, and I’m very glad to see it in Kubuntu 13.10.

This release provides a User Manager menu with a simpler interface.

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

Kubuntu 13.10 now also offers wireless setup during the install. This should make it easier for Wi-fi users to add the third party software and updates from the install menu, instead of having to wait to do it later.

KDE Telepathy, Kubuntu’s chat application, has been bumped up to 0.6.2 and includes a number of improvements.

The Network Manager applet offers a better user interface for connecting to networks.

The About System page provides you with a summary of your Kubuntu 13.10 system. You can find it in System Settings.

Kubuntu 13.10 About

Kubuntu 13.10 About

System Requirements for Kubuntu 13.10
You can get a full list of system requirements on the Ubuntu system requirements page.

Kubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Kubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.02 GB. Kubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Kubuntu 13.10 Installation
Installing Kubuntu is very easy and fast, no manual disk partitioning is required.

During the install you have the option to download updates while the install completes, and you can install third party software as well. I opted for both since I hate doing that stuff after loading my desktop. It’s just easier and faster to get it out of the way during the install.

You can watch some slides while your install completes.

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop

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Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander


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In my last review of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 13.04) I noted that Ubuntu has become a bit boring to review. I had hoped that Ubuntu 13.10 would fix that, and that there would be some terrific new features to comment on.

Alas, Ubuntu 13.10 follows in the footsteps of Ubuntu 13.04. The big new desktop feature is Smart Scopes (more on that below). Beyond that there’s not a whole lot that is interesting or exciting to talk about. It turns out that Saucy Salamander is one truly dull amphibian.

Canonical really should rename this release to “Snoozing Salamander” instead.

A Boring Salamander

Zzzzzzzzzzz!

What’s New in Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.11
Smart Scopes
Ubuntu One login in installer
New keyboard applet
LibreOffice 4.1.2.3
Firefox 24

Smart Scopes
Smart Scopes is probably the biggest new feature for desktop users. It has generated a fair amount of controversy and rancor in the Linux community. Smart Scopes functions much like searching in your browser. Just start typing a search term and you’ll see a list of results appear that comprise local data or various online sources. Click on the result that interests you and a browser window will open where you can get more information.

This is a very useful function, and it can save you a lot of time when looking for information. I understand that some people will regard this as a privacy violation, no problem. There’s an easy way to disable Smart Scopes, here are the instructions to do so:

1. Click on Settings.

2. Click on Security and Privacy.

3. Click on the Search tab.

4. Click the “Include online search results” toggle to change it to the off position.

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

Personally I’d keep it on, but others may feel very differently. Canonical has done the right thing by giving people a choice, and by making it so easy to turn off if the user doesn’t want to use Smart Scopes.

New Keyboard Applet
Ubuntu 13.10 comes with a new keyboard applet that makes it easier to switch layouts and languages.

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

Ubuntu One Login During Install
You can now login to Ubuntu One during your install so it will be ready when you load your desktop.

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

System Requirements for Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Ubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at around 925.9 MB.

Ubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

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Mageia 3


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Mageia 3 has been out for a while, and I’ve finally had time to do a review. Mageia is a fork of the Mandriva distribution, and offers quite a bit to desktop Linux users. It comes with a great selection of preinstalled software, and it is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions on DVD (3.96 GB). You also have the option of getting it on CD (700 MB).

Mageia offers a number of different desktops including KDE, LXDE, XFCE, Razor-QT, Enlightenment and GNOME. I picked the KDE version for this review. You have the option of choosing your desktop environment during the install.

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

What’s New in Mageia 3
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.8.13
Updated installer
Firefox 17.09
Grub 2 available
KDE 4.10.2
GNOME 3.6
LibreOffice 4.0.3
Steam for Linux in repositories

System Requirements for Mageia 3
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • Processor: any AMD, Intel or VIA processor;
  • Memory (RAM): 512MB minimum, 2GB recommended;
  • Storage (HDD): 1GB for a minimal installation, 6GB for a full setup;
  • Optical drive: CD or DVD depending on the ISO you use (network, USB key installation available);
  • Graphic card: any ATI, Intel, Matrox, nVidia, SiS or VIA graphic card;
  • Sound card: any AC97, HDA or Sound Blaster sound card.

Mageia 3 Download
You can download Mageia 3 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 3.96 GB.

In addition to the classical install downloads, you can also download live DVDs and CDs for GNOME and KDE. The live DVDs weigh in at about 1.4 GB, and the live CDs are about 700 MB. The live CDs are 32-bit only, however, while the live DVDs come in 32-bit or 64-bit.

There are also 32-bit and 64-bit network install options available for download as well. They range in size from 35 MB to 55 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Mageia 3 Installation
The Mageia installer is quite easy to use. There’s no manual partitioning required though you can do so if you prefer it. At one point you’ll have the option of choosing your preferred desktop environment. You can pick GNOME or KDE, or choose the Custom option in the desktop  selection menu if you want something else.

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

It’s not quite as slick as Ubuntu or some other distros since there’s no slideshow to watch while you do the install. But this is a minor point, and I wonder how many people bother to watch slideshows while installing a distro anyway.

I opted, by the way, for the classical installer and skipped the live version. My install took about twenty minutes or so. Please note that toward the end of the install you have the option to download updates, I recommend that you do so you don’t have to bother updating after your system is installed.

The Mageia 3 Desktop
One thing I really liked about the Mageia KDE desktop is that it defaulted to the classic KDE menus. There are no “sliding menus” to be found when you boot into your KDE desktop. I’ve always loathed the sliding menus, they just seem too inefficient to me compared to the classic ones.

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

The Mageia 3 desktop is uncluttered with icons, and it’s quite easy to find your way around. Just click the blue button on the far left of the panel to access application menus, the software management tool, and the Mageia control center.

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Distro Astro 1.0.2


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One of the great things about Linux is that there really is a distribution for everybody, even astronomers or folks who would just like to learn a little bit about astronomy. If that’s you then you’ll want to take a peek at Distro Astro 1.0.2. Distro Astro is all about learning about our solar system and the universe itself.

Distro Astro comes bundled with a great selection of astronomy applications (more on that in the software section), and it’s based on Ubuntu and Linux Mint. So it’s easy to install and use, even if you’re new to Linux.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Boot Menu

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Boot Menu

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Live Desktop

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Live Desktop

What’s New in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Here’s a sample of the changes in this release:

Upgraded software:
INDI Library 0.9.6 now includes all the latest drivers as of July 18, 2013.
Mint Display Manager upgraded from 1.0.8 to 1.2.5.
LibreOffice 4 upgraded from 4.0.1 to 4.0.4.
Gimp 2.8 upgraded from 2.8.4 to 2.8.6.
Linux Kernel upgraded from 3.2.0-40 to 3.2.0-49
Internal packaging changes:
LibreOffice has a new icon theme that is consistent with the rest of the distribution.
Mint Display Manager has a new HTML theme with Hubble UDF background.
IRAF shortcut icon now opens it as the current user instead of user ‘iraf’.
Fixed a few (mis)alignments in current default login screen.
Optimization tweaks.
VirtualBox guest packages removed from local repository because it is not needed and merely occupies space.
Inherits updated packages from Ubuntu and Linux Mint repositories as of July 25, 2013.

This is a point release, so there’s not an enormous amount of new features in it.

System Requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2
I was not able to find a detailed list of system requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2. However, it was originally based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 13 Maya, and has been updated as noted above in the What’s New section. So if your system can run either of those distributions, you should be able to run Distro Astro as well.

If you come across a specific list of requirements for Distro Astro, please post them in the comments below. Thanks.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Download
You can download Distro Astro from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.02 GB, so it’s not a small download by any means. Don’t let that throw you though since it comes with some great software.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Installation
As I noted earlier, Distro Astro is based on Linux Mint and Ubuntu. It uses the same installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install it. You can watch a slideshow of Distro Astro features and software while your install happens. I recommend going through the slideshow since it introduces you to some of the astronomy applications included with Distro Astro.

Note also that Distro Astro is a live distribution, so it’s possible to run it off a disc to check it out without having to do an install.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Type

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Type

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Erase Hard Disk

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Erase Hard Disk

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Slideshow

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Slideshow

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Login

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Login

The Distro Astro 1.0.2 Desktop

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Kwheezy 1.2


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Debian has not always had a good reputation when it comes to being welcoming to new Linux users. Kwheezy is a Debian-based distribution that aims to change that by making Debian easier to install, and by offering the slick KDE desktop environment. Kwheezy is a blend of Debian 7.1 (Wheezy) and KDE 4.8.4.

Kwheezy 1.2 Live Desktop

Kwheezy 1.2 Live Desktop

What’s New in Kwheezy 1.2
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Incorporates a couple of remaining installer bug fixes.
Kwheezy Profiler, a new GUI tool to backup and restore user profiles.
Rekonq browser updated to 2.3.2.
Steam client installed by default.
PlayOnLinux installed by default.
Some open source games (kdegames, dreamchess) included.
deb-multimedia.org packages replaced by official Debian packages. The necessary codecs / decoders included from Kwheezy repo instead.
Some minor tweaking here and there.

System Requirements for Kwheezy 1.2
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

Minimum
CPU: Intel Pentium or above, AMD K5 or above
RAM (memory): 500MB (32bit) , 1GB(64bit) or above
HDD (free disk space): 18GB or above
Graphics: VGA capable of 1024×768

Recommended
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo or above, AMD K10 (Phenom) or above
RAM: 1GB (32bit), 2GB (64bit) or above
HDD (free disk space): 30GB or above
Graphics: 64MB with OpenGL 3.0 or above
Audio: 16bit audio, AC’97 or above

Kwheezy 1.2 Download
You can download Kwheezy 1.2 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 4.05 GB, so it’s not the smallest distro to download. However, you do get a lot of software included by default (more on that below).

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Kwheezy 1.2 Installation
One of Kwheezy’s strengths is that it is generally easier to install than vanilla Debian. Newbies will particularly appreciate this.

Be warned, however, that the install is not quick. It took quite a while to complete. I didn’t time it exactly as I had other things to do, so I took off to do them while the install completed. Given the amount of software it comes with, the slow install was not a surprise to me.

Please note that if you need to upgrade from a previous release of Kwheezy, you’ll find instructions here to help you.

Kwheezy is also a live distro, so you can run it off the CD before trying to do an actual install on your computer.

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Selection

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Selection

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Partitioning

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Partitioning

The Kwheezy 1.2 Desktop
Kwheezy has a very busy desktop, there are a lot of icons on the desktop. You’ll also see stats about your system on the right side of the desktop.

I generally prefer desktops without a lot of icons all over the place. I think it might make sense for some of the icons such as Apper to be placed in the panel and removed from the desktop. This would remove some of the clutter and give Kwheezy a tidier appearance when you first boot it up and see the desktop for the first time.

Kwheezy 1.2 Installed Desktop

Kwheezy 1.2 Installed Desktop

Linux Software Included in Kwheezy 1.2

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Bodhi Linux 2.4.0 Released

It has been close to six months since our last Bodhi Linux release – far too long! This is just our normal update release – meaning if you are already a Bodhi user and have been running your system updates then you already have all these additions running on your system!

To cut right to the chase – you can find direct downloads of the ISO images on Source Forge here. You can obtain torrent downloads for the ISO images later today.

Before I talk about the small details of this release, I’d like to remind folks that Bodhi is moving to a three times/year update cycle as opposed to the previous four times/year updates we’d been doing. Since E17 stabilized we have less of a reason to power out ISO images as often. Expect new releases in January/June/September from now on.

Also – can you believe it is almost the end of 2013 already? That means Bodhi 3.0.0 is less than twelve months away! It will be out sometime in the summer after Ubuntu 14.04 releases.

Back to the here and now – our 2.4.0 release features three ISO images to install from:

  • 32bit featuring a current PAE enabled kernel
  • 32bit featuring a non-PAE kernel with older hardware support
  • 64bit featuring a current kernel
This release features the E17.4 desktop, version 0.5.5 of the Midori webrowser and the 3.8 Linux kernel. As always – our default theme selection is shaken up.



On a non-Bodhi related note, I’d like to apologize for the lack of new content on my blog for the last few months. Between moving, a new position at work, keeping my wonderful wife happy, and trekking all over the US for my hobby I haven’t had nearly as much time to keep up with the latest technology. Hopefully I can find some time in the future to give my musings on things again.
~Jeff Hoogland

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