All posts by Jim Lynch

Ubuntu 12.04

Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) is out. By now there are a zillion reviews of it already, but I wanted to take a little more time to use it before writing one of my own. Before I get into this review, I want to be clear that I’m not going to be reviewing Unity. By now most people know what it is, and either like it or don’t. There really isn’t any point in complaining about it any more. If you hate it then do not use Ubuntu, just find another distro.

Each time Ubuntu does a new release; it uses an animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Precise Pangolin.” I had no idea what the heck a pangolin was so I googled and found this (for those of you who are interested, if not just skip to the What’s New section):

A pangolin ( /?pæ???l?n/), scaly anteater, or trenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. The only one extant family (Manidae) has one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. There are also a number of extinct taxa. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation.[2] They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name “pangolin” derives from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”).

Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.

Pangolin

Pangolins are nocturnal mammals.

For more information about pangolins, see this book:

What On Earth is a Pangolin?

There’s also a cute statue of a pangolin if you’re really into them.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

HUD
Video Lens
Linux Kernel 3.2.14
Rhythymbox is the default music player
GNOME 3.41
Quicklist support added to Unity
LibreOffice 3.5.2
Software Center improvements
Ubuntu One gets a Control Panel

The HUD is an alternative to clicking around on menu items when you want to do something. Just hit the ALT key and you can start typing in a search term related to whatever it is you want to do. If you’re a dedicated mouse clicker, this might seem a bit slower than just clicking an icon. Once you get used to doing it, you will find that it can be much faster. Keyboard junkies will revel in it right from the start though, they’ll get to skip farting around in menus completely.

The HUD isn’t an earth shattering new feature, but it grew on me as I used it more and more. I tend to like having icons handy to click on, so if I grew to like it then I suspect other clickers will probably do the same once they get used to it. Who knew the ALT key could be so useful?

Ubuntu 12.04 HUD

Hit the ALT key to quickly use commands in Ubuntu 12.04.

To use the Video Lens, just click the Dash icon then click on the video icon at the bottom. Or just access the video lens via the quicklist on the Dash icon. This lens will be a huge help to anybody who keeps many videos on their Ubuntu systems. You can also get online search results for your video searches for sites like YouTube, etc. For example, I did a search on the term “how to skin a squirrel” and got back a bunch of results from YouTube.

Video Lens

The video lens makes it easy to find video content on your computer or online.

The HUD and the Video Lens are the two most notable new features in this release. But some of the other things are worth noting as well.

The Nautilus quicklist support makes it very easy to hop around to Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures or Videos. You can also open a new window or hop to your Home folder.

The switch to Rythymbox will please some and displease others. If you prefer to use something else, you’ll find alternatives in the Ubuntu Software Center.

The Software Center has gotten some improvements. I’ll cover those in the software section on the next page.

Ubuntu One has a new control panel that adds an installer, folder & sync management, and a setup wizard.

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One

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

  • While the minimum memory requirement for 32bit is 384 MB, a minimum of 512 MB is needed for the 64bit installation. On systems with only the bare minimum amount of memory, it is also strongly recommended to use the “Install Ubuntu” option as it uses less memory than the full live session.
  • The Ubuntu 12.04 installation image does not include support for old computers that do not support PAE. If your computer is affected, you can either first install Ubuntu 10.04 or 11.10 and upgrade to 12.04 or you can use the Lubuntu or Xubuntu images. The non-PAE version of the Linux kernel will be dropped completely following the 12.04 release.

Ubuntu 12.04 Download
You can download Ubuntu 12.04 from this page. The ISO file weighed in at 735.4 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox, VMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.

You have the option of downloading Ubuntu 12.04 in 32 bit or 64 bit. There’s also a Windows installer available (with instructions), and you can opt to buy CDs if you’d rather do that than a download.

Installation
As you might imagine, installing Ubuntu 12.04 is about as easy as it gets in Linux.

You also have the option of trying Ubuntu 12.04 as a Live CD (burn it to a CD and then boot into that CD) before actually installing it. Note also that you can choose to download updates and install third party software during the install (as shown below in the screenshot). I recommend that you do so, to save yourself time later on.

You can also watch a slideshow that will demonstrate some of the features found in Ubuntu 12.04.

Ubuntu Try or Install

Ubuntu 12.04 is a Live distro, so you can try it before you install it.

Ubuntu 12.04 Install

The Ubuntu 12.04 installer is easy and fast.

Install Slide Show

Watch a slideshow while Ubuntu 12.04 finishes installing.

The Desktop
I really like the Nautilus Quicklists. The Dash icon and the Home icon both have them, and they are quite useful. Click the Dash or Home icon, and you’ll see a list popup as shown in the screenshot of the Home icon below.

You can quickly navigate to various Home folders, or you can access any of Ubuntu’s lenses. It’s much faster to hop around than it was in previous versions of Ubuntu.

I wouldn’t even bother accessing the lenses by clicking the Dash icon and then moving my cursor to the bottom of the page to click on a lens icon. Doing it that way feels like swimming in molasses compared to the quicklist.

Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop

The installed Ubuntu 12.04 desktop.

Home Quicklist

Use quicklists on the Home or Dash icon to quickly navigate to folders or lenses.

System Settings

The system settings menu has gotten some helpful changes in Ubuntu 12.04.

The system settings menu has gotten a few tweaks. Appearance is the new name for the User Interface icon. There are also dividers and category names on the system settings menu. Overall the changes probably make the system settings menu slightly more intuitive and appealing to most users.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
FreeCell Solitaire
Mahjongg Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy
Firefox
Gwibber
Remmina
Thunderbird
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder

Office
Document Viewer
LibreOffice
The Ubuntu Software Center
If you’re new to Ubuntu, you can access the Software Center by clicking the icon on the Dash. Using the Software Center is very easy. Just click the category of software you’re interested in, and you can begin browsing. Or type in an application name in the search box at the top right of the screen.

Once you find an application, you can click on it to see screenshots and user star ratings. You can also read comments from other users. Note that you can change the order of user reviews by Newest or Most Helpful. The application page also contains information about the size of the application, as well as optional addons you can also install.

The Ubuntu Software Center

You’ll find thousands and thousands of different applications in the Software Center.

Adding & Removing Software
Adding or removing software is quite easy. Just find the application you want to add, then click the Install button (or the remove button if it’s already installed and you want to get rid of it). A menu will pop up asking you for your password to begin the install. Once you’ve done that, you can watch the progress indicator as your application is downloaded.

VLC in the Ubuntu Software Center

Top notch apps like the VLC media player are available in the Software Center.

Software Center Changes in Ubuntu 12.04
The Ubuntu Software Center has some improvements added to it, here’s a brief list:

PayPal payment is now supported
Users can opt-in to personalized recommendations
Language support packages are installed automatically
Application sharing with friends via Web Directory
Improved startup time and responsiveness

PayPal users will be happy since they can now  use PayPal to purchase items in the Software Center. If you are looking for software to buy, just click the triangle next to All Software and then select the For Purchase option. You’ll see a list of commercial software you buy right from the Software Center. I like that users have this option, and hopefully PayPal will facilitate developers being able to profit from their software.

To opt-in to recommendations, just click the button at the bottom of the Software Center. Privacy paranoids should note that this means that an anonymous list of software will be sent to Canonical sometimes.

Software Center Recommendations Button

Click the recommendations button to opt-in to personalized software recommendations.

I can’t say I noticed a significant improvement in the responsiveness or startup time of the Ubuntu Software Center. However, it was never really slow starting up for me or while I was using it. So I didn’t have much to complain about before, and I still don’t. Your mileage may vary, however. I’d be interested in knowing if you noticed any significant difference in the Software Center’s performance on your system. Please share your experience in the comments.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice much to complain about in Ubuntu 12.04. The install was easy as it always is with Ubuntu, and everything else worked well for me.

If you ran into any significant issues, please take a moment to share them in the comments. Somebody else might have encountered the same thing, and could have some ideas to help you.

Here’s a list of known issues from the release notes:

Boot, Installation and Post-Installation

  • [Dell Studio XPS 1340,Alienware m17x] Kernel panic and hang on boot due to the ite-cir driver. A patch has been sent upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (984387)
  • When closing the lid on a Unibody Macbook, the screen interacts with the touchpad. This can cause spurious gestures and clicks, and potentially lead to corrupted input driver state if the laptop suspends. To work around the issue, remove and reload the kernel module after resume by running:
    $ sudo rmmod bcm5974
    $ sudo modprobe bcm5974

    Note that this may disable some touchpad options, for example horizontal scrolling. These options can be re-enabled by visiting the Mouse and Touchpad settings. This is planned to be fixed in a post-release update (968845).

  • Importing of existing Windows user accounts fails in some cases. (987902)
  • Wubi (the Ubuntu installer for Windows) is not available as an option on the Ubuntu Desktop/DVD any more. Instead, it is now a separate download.

Upgrades

  • Aptitude does not work on 64-bit systems without disabling multiarch in /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg.d/multiarch . (831768)
  • If you have i386 packages installed on an amd64 system in Ubuntu 11.10, it is strongly recommended that you install the versions of apt and dpkg from oneiric-updates before upgrading. A number of multiarch-affecting upgrade issues have been fixed in those versions. (850264902603)
  • In some cases update-manager might appear to hang indefinitely. In that case, open the expander at the bottom and check if there is a debconf question which needs to be answered. (979661)
  • Upgrades from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to 12.04 LTS do not work using the alternate CD or the server CD as a package repository. It is recommended that users running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS wait for the 12.04.1 LTS point release, scheduled for July, before upgrading. (988941)

Kernel

  • On ARM omap images, the networking support for the Beagle XM board is broken (838200)
  • [Dell Studio XPS 1340,Alienware m17x] Kernel panic and hang on boot due to the ite-cir driver. A patch has been sent upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (984387)
  • Missing support for Sentelic touchpad in Asus K53U notebook. Patches have been backported and will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (969334)
  • Missing support for BCM20702A0 Broadcom bluetooth device [0489:e042]. A patch has been sent upstream. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (980965)
  • Buffer overflows in comedi driver. Patches have been backported from upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (981234)
  • Intel gma 4500mhd external monitor suffers from a scrambled picture. A patches has been backported from upstream. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (796030)
  • Kernel Oops – BUG: unable to handle kernel paging request; RIP: nfs_have_delegation+0x9/0x40 [nfs]. Some users attempting to run NFS clients on 12.04 appear to be affected. A test kernel is referenced from the bug report. Patches have been backported from upstream and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (974664)
  • Patches from upstream stable v3.2.15 and v3.2.16 will undergo a baking period in the precise-proposed pocket during the first kernel SRU cycle. They will then be released as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket approximately 3 weeks after 12.04 releases. (981162987337)
  • hid-logitech-dj driver missing from the installer. It has been added to the d-i input-modules udeb and will be included in the 12.04.1 point release. (975198)
  • rtl8187 driver missing from the installer. It has been added to the d-i nic-usb-modules udeb and will be included in the 12.04.1 point release. (971719)
  • eGalaxis Touchscreen Driver does not work. Patches have been backported from upstream and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (913164)
  • ATI/radeon framebuffers on PowerPC only enabled as modules and not built in. This results in issues such as booting to a command prompt, loss of tty consoles, and loss of suspend. A patch to build these in have been applied and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (949288)
  • On systems with an ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card the system will boot to a black screen. As a work around edit the kernel command line in the boot loader and add “nomodeset”. (725580)
  • Fujitsu Siemens Amilo M 7400 and Maxdata 7000DX wireless RF kill handling triggers a kernel panic preventing wireless from operating correctly. This may be worked around by editing your kernel command line and adding “noexec=off”. (979253)
  • Beagle XM systems which are capable of running at 1GHZ will be initialised at 800MHZ leading to slower than optimal performance. (771537)
  • Some EFI systems fail to boot in EFI mode, BIOS mode is advised in these situations. (721576)

Desktop Interface

  • When using the LiveCD in certain languages such as French and choosing “Try Ubuntu” at the prompt, the keyboard will be brought up with the US keyboard map instead of the correct one for the chosen language. To avoid this bug, users can press any key at the very first splash screen and select their language here instead. (985065)

Please install available updates to ensure that the issues below will be fixed on your system.

  • Unity Dash (opened via the “Ubuntu” button in the top of the Launcher, or after pressing the key) may appear sluggish or slow to respond. This is caused by excessive redrawing of the screen contents in some circumstances. (980924)
  • Unity Launcher. If an application is pinned and then unpinned from the Unity Launcher using right-click->Un/Lock to Launcher repeatedly the application may vanish from the Launcher. It is necessary to log out and login again. This relates to an application monitoring framework called “Bamf” (978401)
  • Window titlebars do not update on ATI graphics hardware with the “fglrx” driver. A solution to this problem will be delivered in an update. (770283)
  • On some NVidia cards, when using the proprietary driver, moving windows and other large screen updates causes some tearing. (600178)

Desktop Applications

  • The mail client Evolution may delete folders and their contents as they are renamed or moved around in IMAP (and IMAP+) accounts. It is recommended to copy folders and contents before attempting to move or rename them. (957341)

I noted earlier that I didn’t want to review Unity, but if you want an easy way to customize Unity then check out MyUnity. It’s free in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can easily customize Unity in various ways. It’s something worth checking out if you find Unity’s default configuration not to your liking.

MyUnity in the Software Center

MyUnity can be downloaded from the Software Center.

MyUnity Font Menu

MyUnity lets you customize Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page, documentation, paid support services, training courses, and community support.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Ubuntu 12.04 is definitely worth an upgrade if you’re running an earlier version.

Unity is finally coming into its own in this release, plus there are other enhancements that make upgrading worthwhile. Ubuntu is getting better and better with each release. I was one of the Unity skeptics initially, but I’ve come to accept it as part of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 12.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu 12.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Price: Free
Pros: New Video Lens; HUD; Software Center enhancements.
Cons: Rhythymbox is the new music player and might not appeal to all users.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5


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Ubuntu 12.04 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

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Trisquel 5.5

When it comes to Linux distributions, it’s truly different strokes for different folks. Some folks want software that is truly free, meaning that they can do with it as they please. That’s where distros like Trisquel come in. Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, but it provides only free software. You will not find proprietary software included with it.

Here is the official Trisquel take on free software:

Linux, the kernel developed and distributed by Linus Torvalds et al, contains non-Free Software, i.e., software that does not respect your essential freedoms, and it induces you to install additional non-Free Software that it doesn’t contain.

Free software, unlike proprietary, respects its users essential rights, to ensure they can:

run the program, for any purpose
study how the program works, and adapt it to their needs (which requires having access to the program’s source code).
redistribute copies so they can help others, with or without a fee
distribute copies of their modified versions to others, so that the whole community can benefit. Again, access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Free software is a matter of freedom, not price, although free software is usually distributed at no charge. Think “free” as in “free speech”, not “free beer”.

Many free software programs are copylefted. Copyleft is used by some free software licenses (most notably the GNU GPL) to protect the freedom to redistribute the program by requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. It is a reversal of the typical use of copyright law (prohibiting others from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of a work), hence the name. Non-copyleft free software also exists. It is better to use copyleft in most cases, but if a program is non-copylefted free software, it is still basically ethical.

I did a review quite a while back of Trisquel, and I’m please to note that they’ve recently released Trisquel 5.5.

Live CD Desktop

Trisquel is a live distro, you can boot into it and try it before you install it.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

GNOME 3
GTK 3
Linux-libre 3.0.0
Abrowser 11
LibreOffice 3.4.4

GNOME 3 has certainly caused its share of controversy since being released. The Trisquel developers have treaded very carefully indeed in this release. Rather than use GNOME Shell, they have opted to use the GNOME 3 fallback interface. I’ll have more to say about this in the desktop section, but it’s something you should be aware of if  you are considering Trisquel as your distro of choice.

Linux-libre 3.0.0 is a project designed to help produce truly free Linux distros:

GNU Linux-libre is a project to maintain and publish 100% Free distributions of Linux, suitable for use in Free System Distributions, removing software that is included without source code, with obfuscated or obscured source code, under non-Free Software licenses, that do not permit you to change the software so that it does what you wish, and that induces or requires you to install additional pieces of non-Free Software.

Our releases can be easily adopted by 100% Free GNU/Linux distros, as well as by their users, by distros that want to enable their users to choose freedom, and by users of those that don’t.

So those of you who are very concerned about free software can rest easier now.

Abrowser is an unbranded browser that uses free add-ons from the Trisquel site rather than Mozilla’s site (since that site may contain non-free add-ons).

ABrowser

ABrowser is an unbranded version of Firefox that uses Trisquel’s free add-on library.

LibreOffice 3.4.4 includes numerous improvements, here’s a brief snippet of highlights from Softpedia:

· ability to work with and import SVG files;
· import filter for Lotus Word Pro documents;
· import filter for Microsoft Works documents;
· easily format title pages and numbering in LibreOffice Writer;
· enhanced Navigator Tool in LibreOffice Writer;
· better ergonomics for cell and sheet management in LibreOffice Calc;
· PDF import support;
· slide-show presenter console;
· better report builder;
· comes bundled with lots of great extensions.

System Requirements
I poked around on the Trisquel site but, oddly, I could not find a specific list of system requirements. Trisquel actually has some good documentation, so I was surprised that I could not find a simple list of system requirements. It’s possible that I may have missed them though. If you know what they are, please post them in the comments section below.

Since Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, use Ubuntu’s system requirements as a general rule of thumb. Please note that there are different versions of Trisquel. The system requirements obviously will differ, depending on which version you choose to run. I picked the home version for this review.

Trisquel, for home users.
Trisquel Edu for educational centers.
Trisquel Pro for small and medium-size businesses or companies.
Trisquel Mini, mainly for netbooks and older computers.

The Desktop
The first thing I always notice in a distro is the desktop wallpaper. I know, I know. Who cares, right? Well, I do. Some of them are great, some are awful, and some are just bland. Trisquel has a very pretty default wallpaper. It’s a shot of some tree tops with an evening sky full of stars. It sets a pleasant tone and feel for this distro. Then again, I’m more of a night person at this point so maybe your mileage may vary. You early risers might not like it.

Trisquel 5.5 Desktop

The desktop after Trisquel was installed.

The Trisquel developers opted not to use the default GNOME 3 interface, fearing that it would require users to install non-free drivers to use it. So, instead it uses GNOME panel 2x.  Here’s the official take from the Trisquel site:

This release is our first to be based on GNOME 3, GTK 3 and also Linux-libre 3.0.0. GNOME 3 was a big challenge, because as it is designed by now, it is not usable for our community. The new default interface of GNOME 3 is GNOME Shell, a program that requires 3D acceleration to work, as it relies on graphics composition. Sadly, many graphics cards today still lack a libre driver providing acceleration, so many users who would choose free drivers will be redirected to a fallback desktop environment. We think that this way many users could feel compelled to install non-free drivers to be able to use the new desktop, so we decided to use the fallback environment as default, and improve it when possible. Luckily this fallback is a GTK 3 implementation of GNOME panel 2x, and not only is it very usable, and even more stable than the original, but it is also accessible, something GNOME Shell is currently lacking.

One other advantage of using the fallback as default is that we were able to use it to provide the same desktop layout that many Trisquel users have become attached to. You can of course adapt and customize it with panels and applets as usual.

I know that some will disagree with this, while others will support it. I think it was a very wise move on their part. Frankly, I think this Trisquel desktop is more usable than GNOME Shell. It’s fast, stable, and you can quickly do what you need to do versus the pain in the ass that is GNOME Shell.

Desktop Panel

The panel on the Trisquel 5.5 desktop.

Panel Menu

The panel application menu.

I’ve gotten less angry about GNOME 3, but I still very much prefer the fallback desktop in Trisquel to GNOME Shell. Everything just works the way it should, so I think long-time Trisquel users will be quite happy about it. I’m not sure what will happen down the road, but for now Trisquel’s desktop is a pleasure to use.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
Document Viewer
gThumb
Simple Scan

Internet
Abrowser
Evolution
Pidgin
Gwibber
Liferea
Remmina Remote Desktop
GNOME PPP
Transmission

Multimedia
Movie Player
Exaile Music Player
Brasero Disc Burner
OggConvert
Pitivi Video Editor
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice
Dictionary

Software Management
Trisquel’s software manager is easy to use. To get started just click the Trisquel button in the bottom panel, and then click the Add/Remove Applications selection on the menu. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for applications. There are star ratings, descriptions, and screenshots available (if you click the screenshot button in an application description).

Add or Remove Applications

The Add/Remove Applications tool is filled with truly free software.

Adding & Removing Software
If you want to add or remove a software application, just find it in the Add/Remove Applications tool. Click the checkbox next to it to add the application, or uncheck it if it’s already installed. Then click the Apply Changes button.

System Settings

The system settings menu for Trisquel 5.5.

Problems & Headaches
Trisquel worked very well for me, I didn’t encounter any noticeable burps or slowdowns while using it.

The only potential problem I noticed was that the install seemed a bit slow compared to other distros based on Ubuntu or Ubuntu itself. I’m not sure why, but I don’t consider it all that big of a deal because I have plenty of other things to do while the installer is running. I just turn my attention to other tasks and let the installer run.

The install itself is quite easy so don’t let my minor nitpick about it here bother you.

Install

You can watch a slideshow that touts the virtues of free software during the install.

Boot Menu

The Trisquel 5.5 boot menu before installation.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Trisquel FAQ, Mailing Lists, Forum and Documentation.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Trisquel 5.5 is a great choice for those who prefer to use only free software, without any kind of proprietary stuff. The developers have clearly taken the time to go out of their way to cleanse Trisquel of potentially offensive proprietary software. While some folks won’t care about this, others certainly will appreciate it. Even if you aren’t a free software purist, Trisquel 5.5 is definitely worth a download.

I found Trisquel to be a genuinely enjoyable distro. It’s what I would call a well-ordered and well developed distro. It accomplishes what the developers set out to do, and it does it in a very attractive package.

Trisquel is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Trisquel 5.5
Web Site:  http://trisquel.info/
Price: Free
Pros: Provides fully free software; uses GNOME 3 fallback interface instead of GNOME Shell.
Cons: The installer seemed a tad bit slow; those wanting to use GNOME Shell might be disappointed.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users who prefer truly free software.
Rating: 4/5


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Amazon Warehouse
Find deep discounts on open-box, like-new, and used products.

Trisquel 5.5 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

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Siduction 11.1

Siduction 11.1 is a fork of the Aptosid distro. Siduction comes in KDE, Xfce or LXDe spins. You can get 32-bit or 64-bit versions of each spin. Siduction is based on Debian Sid and includes Linux Kernel 3.1-6 and X.Org server 1.11.2.902.

For this review I opted for the Xfce version.

Siduction 11.1 Desktop

The default desktop wallpaper didn’t float my boat much.

Some of you might wonder why there was a need to fork Aptosid in the first place. The developers of Siduction posted an explanation for why they decided to do it. I’ll just let you read it in full and make up your own mind, as I prefer to focus on the features of a distro rather than the intrigue related to its creation or demise.

From Knoppix to sidux

Anyone who has been lingering around in the orbit of Sid-based Distros for some time, will know the history from Knoppix over KANOTIX to sidux and aptosid.

There isn’t much to say against aptosid (on the technical side of things), it’s solid, released on a regular basis, maintained responsibly. In two words: it works. What hindered aptosid from having the success that sidux promised it would have is firstly the discourse with users, which implies that a community is not really wanted and rather cumbersome. Evolving from this latent feeling was a group of users deemed as renitent, which have been consequently expelled due to their criticism. Finally I as well had to realize, that despite it’s technical brillance, which up to that point still kept me in their ranks, there was no future there for me.
From sidux to aptosid

Many among those users who now participate in this new reboot hadn’t taken the step from sidux to aptosid anymore. At that time, I hadn’t lost all hope yet and have tried to give a platform to the German users, that wasn’t restricted by, from my point of view, absurd and excessive censorship and would instead favor respect and free speech. As long as this forum exists, this concept proved to be unproblematic. What was to be expected, as aptosid.com is the only forum I know of, incapacitating and expelling it’s users in such a rigid way.

From aptosid to a friendly OS

The things stated above don’t fully legitimate a fork in my opinion, and our ideas don’t end here. But we are convinced, that a distribution should first of all live by involving it’s users. After all the give & take is a basic principle of free (and open) software. This principle is also valid for the upstream direction. We should give back as much as possible to Debian. At aptosid, my efforts to get closer to Debian have always been eyed suspiciously. Whenever practical results were possible, there was retreat. For example ceni is still not in Debian, despite some lively interest. There was also never an infrastructure to ease bug tracking and triage, to work towards Debian. This shall now change.

The aptosid artwork got worse and more inconsistent in recent releases, a concept is not perceivable anymore. The attempts to create a Corporate Design at sidux failed due to the departure of two members of the art team. aptosid design has a recognition value by now, but rather for bad design.

We will not force our own preferences on our future users with kernel options, package selection and pre-configurations, like for example with aptosids K-menu defaults. Wherever it seems wise, the community shall co-decide. We will always prefer free software and drivers, but in no way prevent nonfree variants. It’s important for the user to know, what free and proprietary means in this context. From there on, he/she has to decide on his/her own.

We are siduction, your friendly aptosid fork 2011 :)

So there you go, those are the reasons why Siduction was created.

Before I get into the review, let me do a bit of blog housekeeping. I’ve changed the format of the reviews. I removed the separate install and multimedia pages, and I’ve gotten rid of the screenshot section for booting and login. I’ve also added system requirements to the what’s new page.

This has shortened the number of pages of each review and eliminated some of the unnecessary screenshot production I was doing for each review. The multimedia section was redundant since that software is listed already on the software page, and I doubt many readers really want to see a step by step of each install.

For me this makes it much easier to focus on the new features and lifts the burden of having to do tedious and probably unnecessary screenshots for each review. For the readers it eliminates some fluff from the reviews while also shortening the number of pages for each review.

I hope you like the changes. Now on to the rest of this review.

What’s New
Since this is a first release, there really isn’t a list of what’s new. So I’ll just list the system requirements and then move right into the Desktop & Software section.

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

AMD64

  • CPU requirements:
    • AMD64
    • Intel Core2
    • Intel Atom 330
    • any x86-64/ EM64T capable CPU or newer
    • newer 64 bit capable AMD Sempron and Intel Pentium 4 CPUs (watch for the “lm” flag in /proc/cpuinfo or use inxi -v2).
  • RAM requirements:

    VGA graphics card capable of at least 640×480 pixel resolution.

    • KDE: ?512 MByte RAM (?1 GByte RAM recommended), ?1 GByte RAM for liveapt.)
    • XFCE: ?512 MByte RAM.
    • LXDE: ?512 MByte RAM.
  • Optical disk drive or USB media.
  • ?3 GByte HDD space, ?10+ GByte recommended.

i686

  • CPU requirements:
    • Intel Pentium pro/ Pentium II
    • AMD K7 Athlon (not K5/ K6)
    • Intel Atom N-270/ 230
    • VIA C3-2 (Nehemiah, not C3 Samuel or Ezra)/ C7
    • any x86-64/ EM64T capable CPU or newer
    • the full i686 command set is required.
  • RAM requirements:

    VGA graphics card capable of at least 640×480 pixel resolution.

    • KDE: ?512 MByte RAM (?1 GByte RAM recommended), ?1 GByte RAM for liveapt.
    • XFCE: ?512 MByte RAM.
    • LXDE: ?512 MByte RAM.
  • Optical disk drive or USB media.
  • ?3 GByte HDD space, ?10+ GByte recommended.

The Desktop
As I noted earlier, I opted for the Xfce version of Siduction 11.1.

When you first load Siduction’s desktop you’ll see the “one step beyond” wallpaper with some dice and the Siduction logo and slogan. Blue and orange aren’t my favorite color combination, but your mileage may vary. There are some very attractive wallpapers included though so just right-click your desktop and choose Desktop Settings. I thought the squirrel wallpaper was very cute.

Siduction 11.1 Squirrel Desktop

The squirrel wallpaper was very cute.

Siduction 11.1 Wallpaper

There are some great alternative wallpapers available if the default one leaves you cold.

You’ll also note the following icons on the desktop:

Home
File System?Trash
Bluewater Manual
Siduction IRC

I wasn’t sure what the Bluewater Manual referred to so I clicked it and then a web page loaded in Iceweasel. Apparently, it’s the Siduction manual. So bear that in mind if you decide to try Siduction. Once the web page loads you’ll need to choose your language and then you can start reading the manual.

To access application categories, help, log out, etc. you just need to click the Xfce button at the far left of the top panel. Everything is laid out as you’d expect, and it’s quite easy to navigate around to open applications, use accessories, or do some system management.

At the bottom of the desktop is a panel that contains a number of icons for system management and various applications.

Siduction 11.1 Panel 2

The bottom panel comes populated with useful applications.

Here’s a list:

Terminal Emulator
File Manager
Web Browser
Application Finder
Minitube
AbiWord
DeadBeef Music
XChat IRC
Brasero
Gnumeric
Xarchiver
Orage Calendar

There’s quite a bit of the functionality that most people would need if they used Siduction on a daily basis. You can easily edit the bottom panel by clicking on the Xfce menu button in the top panel, selecting Settings then Panel, and then go to Panel 2. Click the Items tab after the Panel 2 menu loads to add or remove items to the bottom panel. You can also right click on the items in the panel for a faster way to remove, add items, etc.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No Games Included

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
Ristretto Image Viewer
XSane Image Scanning Program

Internet
Ceni
Elinks Web Browser
Iceweasel
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
DeaDBeeF
Minitube
Mixer
Pragha
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Software Management
Siduction comes with a useful, but limited amount of software. Most of the necessary application functionality is covered, but you might not like the choices presented for applications.

Siduction 11.1 Synaptic

Synaptic needs to be installed from the command line.

There is no GUI software management tool included with Siduction. So you will need to add Synaptic yourself via the terminal. I’ll have more to say about this in the problems section of the review.

Next, I’ll share some of the problems I encountered, show you where to get help, and I’ll share my final thoughts.

Problems & Headaches
Siduction wasn’t the speediest distro for me. It seemed a bit slow at times when I was loading applications. This surprised me since I was using Xfce, which is usually quite speedy about such things.

The installer may also be a bit daunting to Linux newbies. I had no problem with it, but I’ve been installing distros for years. There were certain parts of the install that could confuse some of the newer folks. I’d like to see a simplified install process that is similar to some of the more newbie-friendly distros like Ubuntu.

Siduction 11.1 Installer

The installer could use a bit of streamlining to make it easier for newbies.

I was also surprised to see that LibreOffice didn’t come installed. AbiWord and Gnumeric are okay, but I suspect many users would like to be able to use a more comprehensive office suite.

This leads me to what is probably the biggest problem with Siduction. There is no GUI software management tool included with it. I was surprised that Synaptic wasn’t installed by default at the very least. You can install it via the command line yourself.

But, given that Siduction is supposed to be a desktop distro, I expected some sort of GUI based software management tool. Yes, there are folks who prefer the command line. There is nothing wrong with that and more power to them.

There are other folks, however, who have come to expect some sort of basic GUI software management tool to be included. Maybe they have been spoiled by Linux Mint or Ubuntu, but such is the time we are living in. The days of the dominance by command line software management are over.

Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazy? I’d be curious to read your thoughts about this in the comments section. Should we expect all desktop Linux distros to offer a GUI based software management tool? Or should people be left to fend for themselves at the command line? These questions and your answers could be good column fodder.

Synaptic itself, while very powerful, is not the most attractive software management tool these days. Still, it does provide software management tools in a GUI package so adding it might be a good idea in a future release.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.


You might also want to check out the Siduction forum, blog, and bug tracker pages. You can also use IRC channels #siduction for English support, and there is the option of #siduction-core.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I think it’s still early for Siduction. It seems off to a good start, but it could use some more polish to catch up with other desktop distros. The installer and the software management issues might turn off some potential Siduction users.

It will be interesting to see how many of the Aptosid users move over to Siduction. One of the nicest things about Linux is that there really is a distro for everybody. So Aptosid users that feel the same as the Siduction developers can jump ship and move on.

Siduction is definitely best suited for intermediate or advanced Linux users. Beginners will probably find the lack of a GUI software management tool to be a deal breaker. I suggest one of the buntus or Linux Mint if you’re new to Linux.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Siduction 11.1
Web Site: http://siduction.org 
Price: Free
Pros:  Fork of Aptosid; comes in KDE, LXDE or Xfce spins.
Cons:  No GUI software manager; installer could be more intuitive and slicker.
Suitable For: Intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 3.5/5


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Siduction 11.1 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Read More

Fedora 16 KDE

Fedora 16 was released a while back, and I’ve finally gotten around to checking it out. For this review though I’ve opted for the KDE version of Fedora. As you may already know, Fedora comes in multiple spins including GNOME, Xfce, KDE and others.

If you’re interested in checking out other versions of Fedora, you can see a full list on the Fedora Spins page. There are ten different versions of Fedora listed there, so chances are that you’ll be able to find one that might work well for you.

Fedora 16 KDE Desktop

Fedora 16 KDE Desktop

Software Manager

Software Manager


What’s New In This Release

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

KDE 4.7
DigiKam 2.0
Updated KWin
New shutdown dialogue

One of the things that annoys me about Fedora is that it’s more of a headache to track down the new features that are specific to each spin. The Fedora developers do not do a good job of easily documenting them the way the Linux Mint developers do. It would be extremely helpful if the Fedora folks would have a What’s New section or link on the page of each spin.

Okay, my griping aside, I’ve listed what I could dig up on Fedora 16 KDE. There’s not a huge amount of stuff to get excited about in this release.

KDE 4.7 does have some interest features. If you aren’t familiar with it you should check out the KDE 4.7 announcement page to familiarize yourself with all of the new stuff.

The DigiKam update adds geotagging, face detection and recognition, and some other new features.

The shutdown dialogue will be useful for those running multiple operating systems since it lets you choose the next OS you want to boot into and run.

Next, I’ll look at the hardware requirements and I’ll show what the install routine looks like in this distro.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • a CD or DVD drive, and the capability to boot from this drive.
  • a 400 MHz processor or faster
  • at least 1 GB of memory (RAM)
  • at least 10 GB of permanent storage (hard drive) space.

Installation
The install is easy, as you’d expect. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9a

Install 9a

Install 9b

Install 9b

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Grub

Grub

Login

Login

 

The Desktop
The desktop is…well…it’s a bit drab looking if you just go by the wallpaper. I generally prefer something a bit more upbeat and colorful when I first boot into a desktop. Fedora’s wallpaper leaves a little to be desired. However, it’s obviously very easy to change it and wallpaper preferences are very subjective. I’m sure there are some out there who would like the little submarine floating in a dreary looking ocean.

If you’re new to KDE, take note of the Desktop link in the upper right. Click it and you can begin using helpful widgets on your desktop. Widgets are small applications that do various things. Click the + sign after you click the Desktop button to add widgets. You’ll see a big list of them pop up at the bottom of your screen.

Here are some of the widgets that are available:

Bookmarks
Bouncy Ball
Comic Strip
CPU Monitor
Current Applications
Calendar
Hardware Temperature
Keyboard Layout

That’s just a few, there’s quite a bit more to choose from. So take a moment and browse around. You can probably find some very useful widgets to run on your Fedora 16 KDE desktop.

Fedora 16 KDE Desktop

Fedora 16 KDE Desktop

Widgets

Widgets

Admin Tools

System Management
Here’s a look at the system settings menu.

System Settings

System Settings

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KMahjongg
KPatience
KMines

Graphics
Gwenview
Kamoso
KolourPaint
Ksnapshot
Okular
KColorChooser
KRuler

Internet
Akregator
Blogilo
BlueDevil
KGet
KMail
KNetAttach
KNode
Konqueror
Konversation
Kopete
KPPP
KRDC
Krfb
Ksshaskpass
Ktorrent

Multimedia
Amarok
Dragon Player
JuK
K3b
Kmix
KsCD

Office
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KPresenter
KSpread
KTimeTracker
KWord
KThesaurus

Software Management
Apper is the software management tool for Fedora 16 KDE. It’s…um…okay. I really can’t put it in the same category as Linux Mint or Ubuntu’s software management programs. It feels outdated and the interface seems somewhat non-intuitive by comparison. But it is very functional and it will no doubt get the job done for most users. I’d like to see a bit more polish in future releases though, the user experience should be better than this, given how other distros have progressed in that area.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Software Categories

Software Categories

Updates

Updates

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
You’ll need to install the flash plugin to watch flash content in Konqueror. It’s not there by default so fire up Apper and go get it.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
There’s a reasonable mix of multimedia applications included with Fedora 16 KDE. Amarok, Dragon Player, JuK, K3b, KMix and KsCD will perform many of the functions needed by users. However, I also recommend that you spend some time browsing Apper’s Sound and Video section. There are other programs that you might useful listed there.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t run into a lot of problems with Fedora 16 KDE. It installed well and ran fine for me. If you notice any problems, please list them in the comments section below. Others might benefit from your experience. Thanks in advance.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Fedora KDE spin support page. It has links to various support mechanisms.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Fedora 16 KDE is fine for what it is, but frankly it left me feeling rather ho-hum. There’s not a heck of a lot to complain about, but there’s also nothing to get really fired up about either. It’s a competent version of KDE, but it’s not something I would opt to run. I’d much prefer Kubuntu or Linux Mint KDE.

Fedora 16 KDE is probably best suited to those who are true Fedora fans, and who prefer the KDE environment. Others should look elsewhere as there are other distros are less blah than Fedora 16 KDE.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Fedora 16 KDE
Web Site:  http://spins.fedoraproject.org/kde/
Price: Free
Pros: Includes KDE 4.7, updated version of DigiKam.
Cons: Software management interface is somewhat outdated, wallpaper is dreary.
Suitable For: Fedora 16 KDE is best suited for true Fedora fans that also prefer the KDE environment.
Rating: 3/5


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Fedora 16 KDE comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Read More

Linux Mint 12 MATE

The recent release of Linux Mint 12 has gotten quite a bit of attention. Most reviews of Linux Mint 12 have focused mainly on the GNOME 3 desktop (as pointed out in the comments of my Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 review by reader liquidkermit). But there’s another desktop environment included in Linux Mint 12 called MATE.

MATE is a fork of the venerable GNOME 2 desktop environment. MATE is a much more task-oriented desktop environment, unlike GNOME 3 and Unity which are more application-centric.

Why would people be interested in MATE rather than the new GNOME 3 desktop? Well some folks simply do not like GNOME 3, even with the extensions the Linux Mint developers have added to improve it. MATE offers the chance for users to stick with the tried and true interface of GNOME 2.

The Linux Mint 12 MATE Desktop

Linux Mint 12 MATE

You can access MATE by choosing it on the Linux Mint 12 login screen. Just click the little gear icon near the login box and choose MATE. You’ll load MATE instead of the default GNOME 3 desktop.

Before I get into this review, please bear in mind that it’s early for MATE. The Linux Mint developers have posted a message warning users that MATE may not be as stable as they like since it’s so early. Here’s that message, please bear it in mind if you try to use MATE in Linux Mint 12:

MATE is brand new, it’s not completely stable yet, and it’s missing a few parts. It’s being actively maintained and with close collaboration between the MATE developers and Linux Mint. With time the project will gain maturity and provide users with a traditional and solid desktop experience.

Eventually, MATE will be in every way identical to Gnome 2 and represent the future of traditional desktops within Linux.

What’s New In This Release
Since MATE is new, there’s not really a “new features” list for it. However, there are a couple of new features in Linux Mint 12 that also apply to MATE. Some things that are new apply only to GNOME 3 so I haven’t included them here. If you want to see those, please see the Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 review that I did earlier.

Two new features in this release:

New wallpaper
Duck Duck Go as the default search engine

The new wallpaper offers an attractive Linux Mint logo as the default selection. There are also some nature scenes from places like Yellowstone National Park and India available as well.

Duck Duck Go is part of Linux Mint’s new business model. It’s very different than Google, it doesn’t change search results depending on who’s doing the search. Nor does it track or record user information. It’s built on open source code as well, and it contributes to open source development. I tried it out and it seems to work very well. Give it a shot and see how you like it before considering switching back to Google or whatever search engine you usually use.

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

Here’s the blurb from the LM developers about it:

Duck Duck Go: The new default search engine is Duck Duck Go. It doesn’t show different results depending on who’s making the search, it doesn’t track or record user information, it provides you with optimized results and it’s built on and contributes to Open Source.

Development of a new business model: Search engines will share with Linux Mint the revenue generated for them by Linux Mint users. Some search engines partnered with Linux Mint already and are present in Linux Mint 12.

Easy installation of other engines: The way you install search engines in Linux Mint 12 is radically different than in previous releases. Clear explanations and easy instructions are there for the user to understand how search engines help Linux Mint and to decide what to do. The installation of additional search engines is also now much easier than before.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Installation

The installer is obviously the same for MATE as for the GNOME 3 version of Linux Mint. I loved that since all I had to do for this review was paste in the screenshots from the other review. Boy, I wish it was that quick for every review. Ha, ha!

:biggrin: :whistle: :wink:

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

As I noted earlier, you can access MATE via this login screen. Click the little gear in the upper right corner of the login box and select MATE. You will then load the MATE desktop instead of the default GNOME 3 version.

The Desktop: Home Again!
When I booted into the MATE desktop, it felt like I’d come home again. I kid you not. If you have been discombobulated or disgusted with GNOME 3, then you will feel yourself start to relax the instant the MATE desktop loads for you. It’s as though you never left your previous version of Linux Mint.

There are no kooky GNOME 3 menus in MATE. You can do all of the same things you could before in terms of window management, etc. It’s really your Linux Mint desktop the way it was truly meant to be, with no compromises to suit the insane GNOME developers who have unwisely tried to foist a mobile interface onto a desktop operating system.

You are probably getting the idea that I like the MATE desktop better than even the modified GNOME 3 desktop in Linux Mint 12. Yep, you’re absolutely right. You can just slide into the MATE desktop with true ease and comfort. It’s all there for you and you don’t need to fiddle around with the madness of GNOME 3 at all.

The desktop comes with the usual Home, Trash and Computer icons. The familiar MintMenu is there in all its glory and without any vile GNOME 3 corruption whatsoever.

Desktop

Desktop

MintMenu

MintMenu

Themes & Wallpaper
You get the lovely new Linux Mint wallpaper when MATE loads up. It’s quite attractive. It doesn’t look like the new themes are available, but who cares? There are plenty of other themes available and you can get more online if you want. Note the error message about a theme not looking right though.

Themes & Background

Themes & Background

Admin Tools

System Management
Here’s a look at the Control Center.

Control Center

Control Center

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No games, they are available in the Software Manager though.

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Software Manager is the same in MATE as it is in GNOME 3. So it’s just as easy to find and install (or remove) applications. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Software Manager has about 36,000 applications in it. There’s quite a lot to check out. You can see star ratings of applications and read user comments as well.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Featured Applications

Featured Applications

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button. Then type in your password into the verification menu and your install/remove will begin.

Install Frostwire

Installing Frostwire

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash is installed by default, so I had no problems with that sort of content.

Flash Video Content

Flash Video Content

Multimedia Applications
You get the same multimedia applications in the MATE desktop as you do with GNOME 3. Banshee, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer, Movie Player and VLC are all there. And there’s plenty more in the Software Manager if you need something else.

Multimedia Section of the Software Manager

Multimedia Section of the Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
This is where this review gets rather weird, or perhaps weirder than usual. :wink:

Even though MATE is early and the Linux Mint developers have warned against possible problems, I actually noticed fewer problems with MATE than I did with the GNOME 3 environment in Linux Mint 12. If you read the problems section of my review of that desktop, you’ll know that I encountered some weird rendering problems of the application menu.

I encountered nothing of the kind in Linux Mint 12 MATE. It ran very well for me. I deliberately went on an application-opening rampage and opened up a bunch of applications to see if I’d get any crashes, lockups, slowdowns or other noticeable problems. Nothing happened, the applications all opened quickly and didn’t crash or slow down.

My experience may have been exceptional or perhaps MATE is farther along than we realize? I’m just not sure.

So I’m very keen to know if others have seen any burps or problems while running Linux Mint 12 MATE. Please post your experiences in the comments so we can all benefit from them. And if it ran great for you, then post that too. It’s good to know if perhaps it’s more stable than indicated in the Linux Mint developer’s note I included at the beginning of the review.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.


You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community site or forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Well it’s pretty clear that I prefer MATE to even the modified version of GNOME 3 in Linux Mint 12. If you have a similar perspective then I think MATE is for you. I say that with the earlier caveat about MATE being very early in its development, so don’t get too upset if you try it and you encounter a burp or two.

Still, even though it’s early I’m excited and happy about Linux Mint 12 MATE. My experience was quite positive and I think that’s a good harbinger of things to come for it in Linux Mint. I’m very glad the developers decided to include it.

Linux Mint 12 MATE is probably best suited – whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced user – to those who truly dislike GNOME 3 and prefer a more task-centric, GNOME 2 desktop environment.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 12 MATE
Web Site:  http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Fork of GNOME 2. Offers a task-centric desktop. Includes the original MintMenu.
Cons: It’s still early in MATE’s development; it might be unstable at times.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced users who prefer the GNOME 2 desktop interface.
Rating: 4.5/5

 


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Linux Mint 12 MATE comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Read More

Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3

The moment so many have waited for is finally here. Linux Mint 12 has been released! This update to Linux Mint has had many people on edge since it marks the move from the older version of GNOME to GNOME 3.2. GNOME 3.2, as you might already know, has had many detractors. Linux Mint users have wondered how on earth such a popular distribution would make a transition to such a reviled and hated desktop interface.

Well I’m happy to say that Linux Mint 12 has survived the move to GNOME 3, thanks to the ingenuity of the Linux Mint developers. Until I saw how the Linux Mint developers implemented GNOME 3, I’d feared that Linux Mint might become another GNOME 3 casualty. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened and you’ll find out why in this review.

Live DVD Desktop

Linux Mint 12 Live DVD Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 11.10
Linux 3.0
GNOME 3.2
Mint GNOME Shell Extensions (MGSE)
MATE (fork of GNOME 2)
Two new themes (Mint-Z and Mint-Z-Dark)
Backgrounds (includes photos from India and Yellowstone National Park)
New default search engine is Duck Duck Go

Mint GNOME Shell Extensions make it possible to use GNOME 3 the same way you used previous versions. It includes a bottom panel, application menu, window list and it makes GNOME 3 into a more task-oriented desktop. I’ll have much more to say about them in the desktop section of the review. Suffice to say that they are the biggest things in Linux Mint 12, in my opinion. Other developers using GNOME 3 should add something similar in their distros.

Application Menu

Application Menu

MATE is a fork of GNOME 2 that some users might find helpful. The Linux Mint developers warn on their What’s New page that MATE is still new and is thus not completely stable. So be aware of that if you decide to experiment with it.

I didn’t spend much time with MATE since the focus is really on GNOME 3 for this release. However, I expect that some users might gravitate toward MATE if they still dislike GNOME 3 even with the extensions included. If you spend any time with MATE, please post your experiences with it in the comments. I’d be curious to know how well it worked for you. You can choose MATE from the login menu.

(Edit: I just did a full review of Linux Mint 12 MATE. So that should give you a better idea of what you can expect from it.)

MATE

MATE

Linux Mint 12 comes with two new themes. Mint-Z and Mint-Z-Dark are based on Mint-X and Zukitwo.

Themes

Themes

The new default search engine is Duck Duck Go. This is part of the Linux Mint developer’s strategy of using search engines as a business model to help support Linux Mint financially. Duck Duck Go doesn’t track or record user information, nor does it show different results depending on who does the search.

Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck Go is Linux Mint 12’s new default search engine.

No worries if you prefer to use a different search engine, you can easily switch Duck Duck Go for another search engine. I actually like it and I urge you to give it a try for a while before deciding to change it. It works well and it has the extra benefit of helping to finance Linux Mint. So check it out and see how you like it.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Installation
The installer is very easy to use, as you might expect. Newcomers to Linux Mint should not have a problem using it. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The first thing you’ll see when you boot into your desktop is the usual Welcome to Linux Mint menu. Newcomers to Linux Mint should pause for a moment and check out the links in the menu. You’ll find quite a few helpful things there that can get you started using Linux Mint, and can also help you if you run into any problems. Give it a read and take note of what it has to offer.

Welcome to Linux Mint

Welcome to Linux Mint

The second thing you’ll notice is that GNOME 3 in Linux Mint is a bit different than GNOME 3 in other distros. I mentioned the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions earlier in the review but let me elaborate on why they are so important. They add a bottom panel, a window list, an application menu, tray icons and a task-oriented desktop. All of this was sorely missing in GNOME 3 and my hat is off to the Linux Mint developers for having the wisdom to see what was wrong it. There’s even a media player indicator included.

Application Menu

Application Menu

The application menu in the screenshot above is particularly helpful and I find it much faster than using the GNOME 3 menu (in the screenshot below) to open applications. I understand though that others might feel differently. If that’s the case then you might consider Fedora 16 instead of Linux Mint 12 since Fedora uses the generic GNOME 3 desktop rather than the extensions found in Linux Mint.

GNOME 3 Menu

GNOME 3 Menu

The larger issue here, of course, is the stupidity of various developers who seem intent on foisting dreadful mobile interfaces on desktop users. We’ve seen this with Unity and GNOME 3, of course. But we’ve also seen Microsoft fall prey to it with the horrific “Metro” interface mess in Windows 8. Mobile is mobile and the desktop is the desktop. There’s absolutely no need to try to mix the two; it just ends up making a horrible experience for desktop users who work in a task-oriented way not an application-oriented way.

Thankfully the Linux Mint developers understood this and fixed GNOME 3 by including the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions. Now I wish other developers would get a clue and emulate them. I tried the Fedora 16 version of GNOME 3 and found it absolutely awful to use for any length of time.

Linux Mint 12 Desktop

Linux Mint 12 Desktop

The desktop itself features the usual Computer and Home icons, and that’s about it. You won’t find a zillion icons cluttering it up.

Themes & Wallpaper
To change your wallpaper, just right-click the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background. Linux Mint 12 comes with a nice selection of wallpaper. The wallpapers are mostly Linux Mint themed, but there are a few nature scenes as well.

Themes and Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Themes

Themes

Admin Tools

System Management
Here’s a look at the system settings menu. It covers all of the usual things.

System Settings

System Settings

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No games are included but you can download them from the Software Manager.

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
As far as I can tell, there were no changes to Linux Mint’s software manager. That’s not a problem though as it works very well just as it is. If you’re new to it then I think you’ll find that it offers an amazing amount of software (more than 36,000 packages). I suggest spending a few minutes browsing around to familiarize yourself with its interface. It’s quite easy to use and you’ll find plenty of applications to add to your Linux Mint system.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Software Manager Internet Category

Software Manager Internet Category

Chromium Browser

Chromium Browser

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button. You can also view user reviews and ratings of a particular application before deciding to install it on your Linux Mint system. I opted to install Chromium, as I generally prefer it to Firefox. Firefox is still a fine browser but Chromium just floats my boat a bit more.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I had no problem running flash based content. Flash was installed by default so I didn’t have to do any fiddling to get things to work in my browser. I opted to try Carly Simon’s video “You’re So Vain” and it ran fine.

I met Carly Simon when I was in my 20s and working at a movie theater on Martha’s Vineyard. She was coming out of the theater and I chatted with her briefly. I asked her who her song “You’re So Vain” was about – Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty. She gave me a witty answer that, alas, has been lost in the mists of time. I suspect that the song was about Warren Beatty though. And who could blame her? Back in his “Bonnie and Clyde” days, he was a great looking guy.

Okay, that’s it for my trip down memory lane. Back to the review. :angel: :lol: :tongue:

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
Linux Mint 12 comes with Banshee, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer, Movie Player, and VLC. So you’ll get a good default selection of software to use for multimedia content. If you need more, just check the Sound and Video category in Software Manager. There are more than 100 applications available there, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for and then some.

Banshee

Banshee

VLC

VLC

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Linux Mint 12 was mostly very positive. It was quite stable and seemed relatively speedy. I did not experience any application crashes.

I did, however, notice some odd rendering behavior by the applications menu at the bottom of the screen. Certain categories did not display properly. Here are two screenshots that show the problems. The first screenshot should show the applications menu, but as you can see most of it isn’t showing. The second shows the menu but some stuff on the right isn’t rendering properly.

I’m not sure what the problem is here. I installed Linux Mint 12 into VirtualBox so perhaps it’s a VirtualBox problem? I’d be interested in knowing if others have seen something similar on their hardware. If so, please post your experiences in the comments section.

It was still possible to use the applications menu by simply moving the cursor around (most of the categories do show up), but it’s definitely something that should be fixed.

Application Menu Error 1

Application Menu Error 1

Application Menu Error 2

Application Menu Error 2

There is a list of known issues available on the Linux Mint site in the release notes. You may want to browse this before installing Linux Mint 12 on your system, just in case any of the problems might be issues for you.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forums, tutorials, community site, and the documentation page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
The Linux Mint developers have really done what I thought would be impossible. They’ve taken GNOME 3 and managed to make it usable. Linux Mint 12’s implementation is the best version of GNOME 3 I’ve seen in any distro, and other developers should borrow from Linux Mint 12 in their own distros. I’d wondered for a while what would happen to Linux Mint when it finally moved to GNOME 3. I’m pleased to say that it has made the transition quite well.

As good as Linux Mint 12’s implementation of GNOME 3 is…well, it’s still GNOME 3. So the desktop doesn’t function quite the same as GNOME 2. There are certain things you can’t do and certain things that are just different. This could be a significant problem for those devoted to the GNOME 2 type interface and you should think carefully before doing an upgrade to Linux Mint 12 if you are happy with Linux Mint 11 or other prior releases.

Other desktops such as KDE, Xfce and LXDE also offer viable alternatives to GNOME 3. So you might consider checking some of those out if you decide that you can’t stomach GNOME 3 in any form. You could also try using MATE to see if it will work well enough for you.

While there are a few warts in Linux Mint 12, it’s better than I had hoped for considering the move to GNOME 3. If you aren’t sure if it’s for you then try running it in VirtualBox before you make a decision to install it on your system.

Linux Mint 12 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 12
Web Site:  http://linuxmint.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Mint Gnome Shell Extensions help make GNOME 3 usable by providing a bottom panel, application menu, system icons and a window list. MATE has potential for those who prefer GNOME 2. New artwork and backgrounds. Duck Duck Go default search engine.
Cons: Applications menu rendering problem. MATE is still early and could be unstable. MGSE helps but might not be enough for those who truly despise GNOME 3.
Suitable For:  Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 


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Find deep discounts on open-box, like-new, and used products.

Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

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openSUSE 12.1 KDE

openSUSE is one of the most popular desktop distros available. This time around it’s version 12.1 that has been released. If you aren’t familiar with openSUSE then you should know that it comes in KDE, GNOME, Xfce and LXDE versions. For this review I’ve picked the KDE version of openSUSE 12.1. I may do a quick look at the GNOME version on Eye On Linux later though.

Speaking of the GNOME version of openSUSE 12.1, I took a quick peek at it to see if the openSUSE had made any significant changes to the dreadful GNOME 3 desktop. Unfortunately, they didn’t though they should have. The Linux Mint developers did a good job on altering the GNOME 3.2 desktop to make it usable; I had hoped the openSUSE developers would do the same. Alas, perhaps they will in the next release. The lack of GNOME 3 tweaks is one of the reasons why I decided to review the KDE version instead.

Okay, enough babble about GNOME. Let’s get on with this review of openSUSE 12.1 KDE.

OpenSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop

OpenSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.1
KDE 4.7.2

Apper software manager (renamed KPackageKit)
KolorManager + Oyranos (color management tools)

Chromium added to the repositories (but not included in the default install)

Firefox 7

Support for ownCloud including the Mirall tool

Samba 3.6.1
Systemd for booting
Snapper for system snapshot functionality
Sax3 for keyboard, mouse, monitor, touchpad configuration

YaST bug fixes and tweaks
Latest desktop environments

openSUSE comes with Linux kernel 3.1 and KDE 4.7.2. You can find a summary of changes to the kernel here, and the KDE 4.7.2 announcement here. Highlights for the kernel update include better ext4 and btrfs file systems, as well as better memory management and data handling.

Systemd now handles the booting of openSUSE 12.1 and promises faster boot times. I didn’t notice a difference, frankly. But then again I’ve never really cared about boot times when using Linux. For the most part I rarely have to reboot anyway so I don’t really care if the boot time is a few seconds or whatever faster. But your mileage may vary and you may appreciate the inclusion of systemd in openSUSE 12.1.

The Apper software manager replaces KPackageKit in this release. Well actually, it is KPackageKit but it’s been renamed to Apper. I’ll have more to say about that in the software section of the review.

Apper

Apper

Chromium has been added to the repositories but, unfortunately, is not included as the default browser. For that you’ll find Firefox 7.1. While I still like Firefox, I’ve pretty much settled on Chromium/Chrome as my default browser on all operating systems.

This release also now supports ownCloud and includes the Mirall tool. I have more to say about them in the problems section of the review. Suffice to say though that I don’t think they are very relevant right now for most desktop users.

openSUSE 12.1 also supports the latest KDE, GNOME, Xfce and LXDE desktops. This review covers the KDE version, but you should check out one of the others if you prefer it to the KDE version of openSUSE 12.1.

Snapper lets you manage system snapshots if you’ve used btrfs for your root and home file system. Next, I’ll look at the hardware requirements and I’ll show what the install routine looks like in this distro.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
Main memory: 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
Hard disk: 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)

Sound and graphics cards: supports most modern sound and graphics cards, 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

Booting from CD/DVD drive or USB-Stick for installation, or support for booting over network (you need to setup PXE by yourself, look also at Network install) or an existing installation of openSUSE, more information at Installation without CD

Installation
The install is easy though not as elegant as Ubuntu’s installer. Newbies should be able to get through it without a problem though. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
When you first boot into your openSUSE 12.1 desktop, you’ll get a welcome message that contains helpful links to information about the openSUSE project, as well as community support and the openSUSE Build Service. If you are new to openSUSE, it’s certainly worth your time to check out some of those links. There’s a lot of helpful information there that will help you learn about openSUSE.

The desktop itself contains icons for Firefox, My Computer, LibreOffice, Online Help and the welcome message.

OpenSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop

OpenSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop

Themes & Wallpaper
The wallpaper is vintage openSUSE, with the green colors with a whitish swirl and the openSUSE mascot in the bottom right corner. You can easily change the theme and wallpaper to suit your tastes. openSUSE doesn’t come with much in the way of choice, but it’s easy to go online to get more themes and wallpaper.

Default Wallpaper

Default Wallpaper

More Wallpaper

More Wallpaper

More Themes

More Themes

Admin Tools
System Management

YaST2 is openSUSE’s system manager and it’s a very comprehensive tool. In this release YaST2 has gotten bug fixes and some small improvements. If you haven’t used YaST2 before, take a few minutes and browse around it to get used to its interface. It will be helpful to you later if you decide to change your system and need to make the adjustments in YaST2.

YaST Control Center

YaST Control Center

Bundled Software
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KMahjongg
KReversi
KMines
KSoduko
KPatience

Graphics
GIMP
LibreOffice Draw
Gwenview Image Viewer

Internet
Firefox
Konqueror
KMail
KTorrent
Akregator
Choqok
Konversation

Multimedia
K3b
KsCD
KMix
Amarok
Kaffeine

Office
KAddressBook
KOrganizer
LibreOffice
Okular

Software Management
As I noted earlier in the review, Apper is the latest and renamed version of KPackageKit. Apper promises to be faster than KPackageKit and offer greater stability as per the blog of its developer:

First Apper is based on my rework of packagekit-qt which is called packagekit-qt2, and this rework makes Apper much faster than KPackageKit was, the inner details is that we don’t use the huge QSharedPointer for packages and don’t create a bunch of useless stuff unless the user asks, I didn’t measured the time but first time you run it you will surely notice. This also means Apper is more stable since packagekit-qt2 has a cleaner code and a nicer API. Second Apper has several user interface changes and a much nicer integration with KDE.

It’s hard for me to say whether or not there really has been a noticeable speed increase since I never used KPackageKit for very long in the past. I’d be very interested in hearing the thoughts of regular KDE users in the comments below. Let me know if Apper is indeed faster and more stable than KPackageKit was. If so then the developer certainly deserves some praise for improving it.

I do like the fact that the left frame is gone. It makes the interface look a lot better and more cohesive. On the whole, Apper seems to be a good update of KPackageKit.

However, if you are going to install or remove software in openSUSE 12.1 you should use YaST2 instead of Apper. When I tried to install applications using Apper, I got a “simulating the install” message but the application didn’t get installed. I was able to install it via YaST2 though.

It’s potentially confusing to have what seem to be two different software management tools in a desktop distro like this. Newbies might not understand why two of them are included. So if you are going to use openSUSE 12.1, you’re probably better off skipping Apper and just going ahead with YaST2 as your software manager. Just open YaST2 and then click the Software Management icon to get started.

Apper

Apper

YaST2 Chromium Install

YaST2 Chromium Install

YaST2 Chromium Install Download

YaST2 Chromium Install Download

Chromium Install

Chromium Install

Chromium Install

Chromium Install

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash isn’t installed by default so you’ll have to open YaST2 and do a quick search for it in the software management menu. Install it and then restart your browser and you should be able to run YouTube videos, flash games, etc.

YouTube

YouTube Without Flash

Flash Install

Flash Install in YaST2

YouTube with Flash Installed

YouTube With Flash Installed

Multimedia Applications
openSUSE 12.1 comes with a pretty basic number of multimedia applications. Amarok, K3B, KsCD, and a couple of others are installed by default. Don’t worry though, you can fire up YaST2 to find many more in the Multimedia section of its software management page.

Amarok MP3 Message

Amarok MP3 Message

Amarok

Amarok

Multimedia applications in YaST2

Multimedia applications in YaST2

Problems & Headaches
Software management was not a pleasant experience in openSUSE 12.1. I initially tried to install Chromium in Apper. I got some sort of message saying that the install was being simulated or something. Huh? The install never actually seemed to happen.

I gave up on Apper and tried to install it via YaST2. The install seemed to work but I didn’t notice Chromium in the Internet applications menu until after I ran software update and then restarted openSUSE 12.1. The same went for Banshee, it didn’t seem to appear in the menus until after I restarted openSUSE 12.1.

I’m not really sure what the problem was with the software installs, but it was a bit odd to see that happening. Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen anything similar or perhaps I was just cursed this time around with openSUSE 12.1.

One of the more interesting new features is openSUSE 12.1’s support for ownCloud. Part of its support includes the Mirall tool. However, this tool does not seem to be installed by default and there seems to be no easy or quick way to set up ownCloud without it. While I’m happy that openSUSE is supporting ownCloud, what good is it if there’s no easy way for desktop users to use it? You can get more information here about ownCloud and Mirall. Right now I don’t see it as being particularly useful for most desktop users since it’s not installed by default.

The burps above aside, I didn’t notice anything else in the way of problems with openSUSE 12.1. It was stable and relatively speedy for me. I didn’t see noticeable application or system crashes while I was using it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the OpenSUSE support portal page. You’ll find documentation, a support database, mailing list archives, forums and a link to IRC channels.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
openSUSE 12.1 is a fine desktop distro. The fact that it comes in a range of different desktop environments adds to its appeal. With the exception of the Apper software oddities, it performed very well for me.

openSUSE 12.1 is certainly worth a look if you are looking for an alternative to Ubuntu or if you’re just a curious distro hopper that hasn’t yet used openSUSE.

Beginner, intermediate or advanced users can use openSUSE 12.1. Beginners should take time to familiarize themselves with the system management tools found in YaST2 after installing openSUSE 12.1.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage. Summary Table:

Product: OpenSUSE 12.1
Web Site: http://www.opensuse.org
Price: Free
Pros: Comes in KDE, GNOME, Xfce and LXDE versions. Includes updated Linux kernel, KDE 4.7.2. Mirall tool provides support for ownCloud. Includes Snapper for snapshot functionality.
Cons: Newbies could be confused as to whether they should use Apper or YaST2 for software management.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users. Support for ownCloud and the Mirall tool will be appreciated by advanced users.
Rating: 3.5/5

 


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Amazon Outlet
Online shopping for overstock, clearance, and closeout products.

Amazon Warehouse
Find deep discounts on open-box, like-new, and used products.

openSUSE 12.1 KDE comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Read More

Reset MySQL Root Password Easily

Background:
Sometimes a system administrator forgets the MySQL root password! It happens, but what to do when you’re unable to login to your MySQL server? It’s simple!

All it takes is 5 simple steps!

Step 1: Stop the MySQL Server

We do this with:
/etc/init.d/mysql stop or service mysql stop

Step 2: Start the MySQL Server

mysqld_safe –skip-grant-tables &

We do this so MySQL ignores the root password we do not have! If you do not launch this command, resetting the MySQL password will not work!

Step 3: Login to MySQL Server

mysql -u root

Everything should be fine if you get the MySQL prompt!

Step 4: Change the MySQL Password

mysql> use mysql;
mysql> update user set password=PASSWORD("NEW-ROOT-PASSWORD") where User='root';
mysql> flush privileges;
mysql> quit

NEW-ROOT-PASSWORD is your new root password that you want!

Step 5: Restart MySQL Server

/etc/init.d/mysql stop
/etc/init.d/mysql start

Now, you should have your new MySQL root password! I recommend you write it down this time!

Slackware Linux 1337 installed and the Network card does not work!

I just installed Slackware Linux 1337 and the network card does not show up even though it was configured on setup. I looked around restarted the network and nothing worked. After trying to figure it out I googled around for slackware 8139too wont start and some other phrases. I found someone saying it was the blacklist file.

Sure enough I look in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and there is
blacklist 8139cp

I comment it out
#blacklist 8139cp

Then I reboot and it works.

Linux admins!