Category Archives: Desktop Linux Reviews

Desktop Linux Reviews

Here Are the Best Versions of Linux to Run On Your Desktop

4.) Parrot Linux

Administrators are hit with so much on a daily basis. Without a key set of tools, that job can become incredibly difficult. This is because there are a host of Linux distributions ready to serve. It is believed that the one distribution that will find a significant rise in fame for the coming year will be Parrot Linux. This very distribution is based on Debian and provides nearly every penetration testing tool you could ever need. You will also be able to find tools for cryptography, cloud, anonymity, digital forensics, programming, and even productivity as well. All of these particular tools, of which  there are many are connected with an already rock-solid foundation to develop a Linux distribution that is just right for the security and network administrator.

3.) LXLE

Without question, it is a known fact by now that LXLE will most definitely be the lightweight distribution of choice in 2017. Why is this? Well, it’s simple. LXLE has the ability to blend a perfect mix of small footprint with large productivity. In other words, this is a smaller distribution that will never distract you from getting all of your work done. You’ll find every single tool will you need in a desktop Linux release that will feel just right on older hardware and on the newer machines. LXLE is based on Ubuntu 16.04 so it will definitely enjoy some long-term support and takes advantage  of the LXDE window manager, which brings with it an instant ease to utilize. LXLE comes with many of the typical tools such as LibreOffice and GIMP. The only struggle could be having to install a more modern and up-to-date browser

2.) Snappy Ubuntu Core

Alright so we’re talking really, really tiny form feature. The Internet of Things category is where embedded Linux truly does the best, and there are so many more distributions ready to take on the challenge. It is believed 2017 will be the year of Snappy Ubuntu Core. Ubuntu Snaps have already made it so, so easy to install packages without having to fret about dependencies and breakage due to upgrades.

1.) CentOS

It should come as no surprise here that CentOS is still the Linux love of the server room for small and medium sized businesses. There’s a very logical reason that CentOS continuously stands out at the top of this mountain, it’s a derivative of the sources of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux otherwise known as RHEL. For all of this, you now know that you are getting as dependent a server platform as you can find. The biggest difference between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS besides the branding is support. With RHEL, you advance from official Red Hat support. However, since 2004, CentOS has held a gigantic  community of its own driven support system. So, if your small- or medium-sized business is looking to move a data center to an open source platform, your first bet is definitely CentOS.

Watch the video below to see which Linux version is best for you!

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Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1

There are many different distributions that use Ubuntu as a base, but one you might not have heard of is Black Lab Linux. Black Lab Linux uses…you guessed it…a cute black labrador retriever as its mascot, and the distro itself is focused on providing a compelling and easy to use desktop version of Linux. Toward that end they’ve tried very hard to create a desktop distro that someone coming from a Mac or Windows could jump in and use, even if they are completely new to Linux.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Boot Menu
Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Boot Menu

Since Black Lab is based on Ubuntu, you might be wondering why you should even consider it instead of Ubuntu. Well, Black Lab has a section on its site that explains the advantages of Black Lab Linux:

With Windows and Mac OS X you get support from Microsoft or Apple. When you contact them they don’t ignore you, they don’t say “Too bad”. With Black Lab Linux you get the same type of dedication that you get with Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. We will help you with any problems or missteps you may have. We are 100% dedicated to you to make sure your experience is the best you ever had and we have phenomenal response times. Many inquiries and results are handled the same day. We have the most dedicated and friendly staff you can find.

Most Linux distributions, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE don’t come with any multimedia playback possible or they are very limited in functionality. With Black Lab Linux you get full multimedia playback of various formats: Windows Media, Apple Quicktime, Flash, HTML 5 as well as DVD and Blu-Ray. For audio playback you also get full functionality including: Windows Audio, Apples AAC and Real Media. This allows you to play all multimedia either hard drive based or on the web. For web browsing we use the popular Google Chrome browser so compatibility is ensured with all of your banking or personal sites. We are also one of the first Linux distributions to bundle the popular Steam gaming client. With HD capable graphics we offer a stunning user interface with unprecedented clarity and crisp graphics that’s unseen with anything on the Linux market today.

Black Lab Linux is designed for users by users. We understand that coming from a different operating system sometimes incorporates a rigid retraining process. You have to rethink your workflow and how you do things. Black Lab Linux is one of the only Linux distributions that users say is just as easy to use as a Mac. We designed the user interface so users can jump in without a manual and feel comfortable and knowledgeable on how the system works. Every part of the system is recognizable for any novice or advanced user.

Obviously, some of the quote I included leans a bit toward marketing-speak, but it gives you an idea of why Black Lab Linux might be a better choice for some users than Ubuntu. Do click through to the Black Lab site though to read much more than the three paragraphs I’ve included here. Black Lab is clearly taking the Ubuntu base and building on it to offer an experience comparable to commercial operating systems like OS X and Windows.

The MATE desktop is a new iteration of Black Lab Linux that was released mostly due to user demand, according to an interview with one of the developers on the Black Lab site:

We are releasing Black Lab Linux MATE because of user demand. Aside from KDE it has been one of the most requested desktop environments from our users.

We have actually produced a Mate build since Black Lab Linux 5 but that was produced for 1 specific customer. We had updated it to 6.0 to bring that customer up to date with what we were doing with 6.0. But the conversation about using Mate really started when we released Black Lab Linux 6.0 with GNOME3 which was a very popular release we had users write us and ask us if we wouldn’t mind doing a Mate or Cinnamon build. I gave one of our Facebook users a copy of the Mate build we were doing (without that customers customizations and specific apps) and it got passed around and so we decided to release an official build.

Mate is a great desktop. Its like XFCE on steroids…Mate is very compelling because of its speed, its beauty and its all around functionality.

What’s new in Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux Kernel 3.13.0-45
Mate Desktop 1.8.1
Firefox 35
Thunderbird 32
Steam Gaming Desktop
LibreOffice 4.4
Gimp
Scribus
Pidgin IM client
OpenShot
VLC
App Grid appstore

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 download and install
You can download Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 from the official downloads page. You can get Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Black Lab is a live distribution, so you can run it without doing an install on your system. The ISO file I downloaded weighed in at about 1.77 GB.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s about as easy as it gets. You have the option during the install of using the default hard disk partitioning or you can set up your own. You can also opt to download updates and have third party software installed by default. I did both things since I hate having to bother with updates or installing additional software after my installation is complete.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Install
Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Install

Note that this version of Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 currently uses the default Ubuntu slide show during the install. The developers noted on the Black Lab site that the next release should have a customized slide show instead of the default Ubuntu one. My install went perfectly, and it was very quick. If you’ve ever installed Ubuntu then you should have no problems with Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Install Slideshow
Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Install Slideshow

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 desktop
The Black Linux MATE 6.1 desktop is about what you’d expect from a distro based on Ubuntu. You’ll find the Home, Computer, Trash and Network Servers icons on the desktop itself. At the bottom is the panel where you’ll see a Menu button (complete with a cute paw icon), a hide/show desktop icon, Firefox and Thunderbird. Over to the right you’ll see a networking icon, volume and also your multiple desktops.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Desktop
Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 Desktop

If you click the Menu button you’ll see the usual MATE menu. You can quickly access your Computer, Home Folder, Network, Desktop or Trash. The Control Center, Logout and Quit icons are also on the menu. The menu defaults to showing Favorites, but you can click All Applications to see a list of applications broken down into categories such as Education, Games, Internet, Sound & Video, etc. It’s very easy to find your way around the Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 menu, even if it’s your first time with this distro.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 MATE Menu
Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 MATE Menu

The only issue I really noticed with the Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 desktop is that the App Grid application isn’t on the desktop or panel by default. I’ve noticed this lately with a number of distributions. For some reason developers seem to forget that it should be easy to find the software management tool when you first load up a distro’s desktop. Instead of making it easy to find, some developers have tucked it away under the Administration category or some other category.

In the case of Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1; if Firefox and Thunderbird are going to be on the panel, then I think it makes sense for an App Grid icon to appear there as well. It’s better not to force users to poke around to find out how to add or remove software to their distributions.

Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 system settings
You can tweak your Black Lab system settings via the Control Center. Just click the menu button on the panel, then click Control Center. You’ll find the following categories:

Personal
Hardware
System
Other

The Personal section includes language, appearance, main menu, popup notifications, screensaver, as well as a few other options including MATE Tweak. MATE Tweak will let you alter the Desktop, Interface and Windows settings on your system.

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Bodhi Linux 3.0

There are times in life when less is really more, and that’s quite true with certain Linux distributions. Bodhi Linux 3.0 is a desktop distribution that uses the Enlightenment window manager to provide a light-weight alternative to other distros that use full-blown desktop environments such as Cinnamon, MATE, Unity, etc.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 is also quite sparing in its inclusion of desktop applications compared to other distributions. I’ll have more to say about that in the software section, but the bottom line is that Bodhi is geared toward minimalists rather than users who want tons of software installed by default.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Desktop
Bodhi Linux 3.0 Desktop

What’s new in Bodhi Linux 3.0
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Enlightenment E19.3
Terminology 0.8.0
ePad 0.9.0
Numix Icons
Linux Kernel 3.16
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Core

Bodhi Linux 3.0 download and install
You can download Bodhi Linux 3.0 from the official download page. You can get Bodhi Linux 3.0 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. There’s also a legacy version, and a version for Chromebooks. Bodhi Linux 3.0 is a live distribution, so you can check it out without having to do an install on your computer.

The Bodhi installer is easy to use and you will see a slideshow while your install completes. The slideshow provides some basic information about Bodhi, and it will probably be appreciated by those who are completely new to this distribution.

During the install you’ll have the option to completely erase your disk by using the default partitioning, or you can opt to set up your own preferred partitions. For this review I opted to use the default partitioning.

My install was quick, and I had no problems with it.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Install
Bodhi Linux 3.0 Install

Bodhi Linux 3.0 desktop
The first thing you’ll see when your desktop loads is a browser window that pops up with the Bodhi Linux Quick Start Guide loaded in it. Don’t just close this window if you are new to Bodhi, take a moment to look at what’s listed there as it covers some important things such as how to use the Enlightenment window manager, and how to install software. There are also links to an FAQ and other helpful resources.

If you’ve never used the Enlightenment window manager then you’re in for a bit of a treat. It’s quite different than Cinnamon, MATE or other desktop environments. Speedy is one word to accurately describe Enlightenment. It is very fast indeed compared to some of the chunkier desktop environments found in other distributions.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Quick Start Guide
Bodhi Linux 3.0 Quick Start Guide

You’ll find a panel (called shelf in Enlightenment) at the top with the usual icons such as the menu, web browser, file manager, updates, multiple desktops, volume, date/time and shutdown. If you prefer you can simply left-click the desktop to pull up the same menu that appears when you click the white arrow in the panel.

The menu lets you access applications, navigate, take a screenshot, tweak your desktop or Windows, access system settings and other useful items. If you’re new to Bodhi then it’s worth browsing the main menu to familiarize yourself with what’s there because you’ll probably need one thing or the other at some point.

If you prefer, you can move the shelf by right-clicking it, then clicking shelf then on orientation. From there you can move it to the bottom or wherever else you feel like putting it. I left it at the top as I found that it worked fine for me there. But others users might feel more comfortable with it in a different spot on the desktop.

The desktop itself has three icons on it: Home, Root and Temp. The wallpaper is dark, as is the theme, and the Bodhi Linux logo appears in the center of the wallpaper. If you find that you want a change in scenery, pull up the Settings panel and then click on Wallpaper. There are a number of colorful wallpapers you can choose from that will brighten up the Bodhi Linux 3.0.0 desktop.

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Korora 21

Fedora has always been a popular desktop Linux distribution, but it has not always had the reputation of being welcoming to new Linux users or to those who just want it to work right “out of the box” with multimedia codecs or proprietary software. Korora is a Fedora spin that tries to provide a user-friendly desktop experience with little or no additional work needed by the user. Korora 21 is the latest release and it offers a number of improvements for users.

Note that Korora is offered in a variety of options in terms of the desktop environment. You can get it with GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon or Xfce. For this review I opted to install the Cinnamon version of Korora 21.

Korora 21 Desktop
Korora 21 Cinnamon Desktop

Before I get into the review, here’s a brief explanation about how Korora differs from Fedora:

Korora is a Fedora Remix, which means it ships with regular Fedora packages along with others that Fedora cannot ship. We also make changes to the system, so exactly how does Korora differ from Fedora?

Firstly, all our code is open source and freely available to anyone via our GitHub account. We also provide a tool called kp which will let anyone rebuild all of our packages and an entire Korora image, or modify these to build their own variation. That’s the tool we use to build all of the Korora packages and images.

We do however ship some software that is proprietary, such as Adobe Flash, and others are installable, such as Google Chrome. We don’t have source code for these as they are not open source; however, anything we create, or modify is.

The base kickstart also spells out the repositories to pull packages from. Many of these, and in particular RPMFusion, are added by most Fedora users and we can do this out of the box because we aren’t restricted by Fedora’s own project rules. They include:

Adobe
Fedora
Fedora Updates
Korora
RPMFusion Free
RPMFusion Non-Free
RPMFusion Free Updates
RPMFusion Non-Free Updates

Korora is an open source project and we do support open source software, even though some of the software we ship is proprietary. What we have done is to put all the pieces together and try to make a Fedora Remix that is useful for anyone out there, but there’s nothing that we do that you couldn’t do yourself.

What’s new in Korora 21
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Cinnamon 2.4
GNOME 3.14
KDE Software Compilation 4.14.3
Xfce 4.10.1

Korora 21 download and install
You can download Korora 21 from this page. You can get Korora 21 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Korora 21 is a live distribution, so you can create bootable media and boot into it without having to do an install on your system. Please note that Korora’s speed might be slower in the live desktop than if you are running an actual install, so bear that in mind if you opt to try the live desktop.

Korora 21 also uses Fedora’s Anaconda installer. So if you are familiar with that then you should have no problems installing it on your system. If you’re new to the Fedora installer, don’t worry. It’s quite usable but it’s a bit different than the installers used for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and some other distributions. The Fedora Project has an install guide for Anaconda that you might want to check out before doing an install of Korora 21.

Korora 21 Install
Korora 21 Install

My install went quite well, I had no problems and the install itself was relatively speedy. Bear in mind, however, that I have used the Anaconda installer often in the past. So I’m quite familiar with how it is laid out and what it has to offer. Use the Fedora install guide for Anaconda I linked to above if you’re new to it as it might save you some time when installing Korora 21.

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MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0

Once in a while I run into a Linux distribution that surprises me in terms of how much I enjoy using it. MakuluLinux is definitely one of those distros. I found an article about it when I was doing my usual news roundup article for my blog Eye On Open on ITworld. I was intrigued enough to want to do a full review here on Desktop Linux Reviews.

Here’s some basic information from the Makulu site:

Makululinux ( Pronounced “Ma-Cool-Loo” ) Means “big Chief” in the Zulu Language is Debian Based, running on a PAE Kernel, provides a Sleek, Smooth and Stable user experience that is able to run on any computer from old to new, from netbooks to notebooks, desktops to server stations.

Makulu provides software and codec’s pre installed on the OS, to provide an out of the box experience for the end user and his day to day tasks.

Steam is pre installed on Makulu, you can simply log into steam and start playing your favorite game titles. Wine is pre installed on Makulu, installing windows software has never been easier, simply double click your installer or exe files and they will operate in linux much the same way they do in windows.

You can get MakuluLinux in Xfce, Cinnamon or KDE versions. I’m a big fan of Xfce so I downloaded that version for this review.

What’s new in MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0
Here’s a sample of the new features and changes in this release:

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 was built from the ground up
Based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS PAE 3.13.xx I686 Kernel, 5 year support life
A blend of Xfce 4.10 and 4.11 packages
Speed improvements
Smaller ISO file
Beautiful theme
Settings center improvements
Compiz improvements
Emerald theme manager
Steam and PlayOnLinux included
WPS office suite
Wine included
Variety wallpaper changer
Alternative Whisker Menu
Synapse replaces Slingscold
Docky included but not on by default
More PPAs

This is the first time I’ve reviewed MakuluLuLinux so I am not sure how much it has improved in terms of speed from previous releases. My experience with it was that it seemed quite speedy when opening or closing applications, and I saw no signs of overt slowdown or hesitations. So I have no reason to doubt the developers claims of improved speed in this release.

The inclusion of the WPS office suite definitely sets Makulu apart from some other distributions that include LibreOffice. Which one is better? Well, I suspect that the answer depends solely on your individual needs and preferences. Bear in mind though that the version of WPS available for Linux is in alpha as a I write this, so it’s probably a good idea to install LibreOffice. Running an alpha version of an office suite might not be a good idea if you are trying to get work done.

Wikipedia has a good background article on WPS:

WPS Office (an initialism for Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets,[1] previously known as Kingsoft Office) is an office suite for Microsoft Windows, Linux (currently in Alpha state), iOS[2] and Android OS,[3] developed by now Zhuhai based Chinese software developer Kingsoft. Kingsoft Office is a suite of software which is made up of three primary components: Kingsoft Writer, Kingsoft Presentation, and Kingsoft Spreadsheet.[4]

The basic version is free to use,[5] but a fully featured professional-grade version is also available. The current version of Kingsoft Office is KSOffice 2014.[4]

The product has had a long history of development and success in the People’s Republic of China under the name “WPS” and “WPS Office”, and under the “KSOffice” brand is currently attempting to gain a foothold in international markets. Since WPS Office 2005, the user interface is similar to that of the Microsoft Office products, and supports Microsoft document formats besides the native Kingsoft formats.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 download and install
You can download MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 from this page. Makulu is also a live distribution, so you can run it off a disc to check it out without having to do a full install on your system.

The installer itself is basically a tweaked version of Ubuntu’s, so it’s quite easy and fast to get it running on your system. When you first begin your install you have the option of downloading updates and adding some third-party software. I did this as I usually do since it helps save me time later on.

The rest of the install was quite painless, and there is the usual kind of slideshow you can watch while waiting for the installer to finish it’s job.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 desktop
When you first load Makulu’s desktop you’ll see a gorgeous wallpaper and a quote in the bottom right. I must admit that I enjoy such eye candy, and I like the added flavor of having an amusing or informative quote to read. While the default wallpaper is quite attractive, there are others included that are just as beautiful (two screenshots of desktop wallpapers are included below with the rest of the screenies for this review).

The panel at the bottom contains icons on the left for the menu, minimize/show desktop, updates, the Software Center (App Grid), the terminal, Firefox and the file manager. On the right you’ll find icons for languages, networking, the Variety wallpaper manager, sound, time and the Synapse search popup.

MakuluLinux Xfce uses the Variety wallpaper manager by default. You can access it in the menu on the panel (click the menu button and then go to All then scroll down) as well as via the icon on the far right on the panel, and it’s worth taking a few minutes to check it out. There are eight different tabs: General, Effects, Sync and Social, Manual Downloading, Color and Size, Customize, and Tips and Tricks. Variety offers quite a bit of control over how your desktop wallpaper looks so do take a peek at it after you’ve installed Makulu.

Compiz is also available if you want to use it. Just look in the menu for a toggle switch to turn it on or off. I opted to skip it as I’m not a big fan of the doodads that Compiz offers. But I’m glad to know it’s available for those who choose to use it on their systems.

Docky is also included, but it’s not turned on by default. To change that just go to the menu, click on the Docky On/Off menu item and then you’ll need to restart your computer for the change to take effect. I also skipped it since it’s not something I’m likely to use.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 uses Whisker Menu and it works very well on the desktop. As I noted above, Slingscold has been removed in favor of Synapse. The combination of Whisker Menu and Synapse provides a great experience. It’s very easy and fast to find and launch applications in MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0.

Overall, I think the Makulu desktop is set up quite well for most users. It won’t take you long to find your way around even if you’ve never used Makulu or Xfce before, and you should settle in very comfortably after spending a little time on your desktop.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 system settings
You can access the Settings menu via the icon on the bottom right on the menu. Settings lets you control all of the usual things including preferred applications, screensaver, Compiz and many other options. You can also configure Wine, your Display settings, and you can customize Grub.

The Settings menu is broken down into Personal, Hardware, System and Other sections so it’s easy to locate the icons you need to click to make the changes you want for your system. You should check out Settings right after you install Makulu to make sure everything is set up just the way you prefer it.

Linux software included in MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
PlayOnLinux
Steam
Sudoku

Graphics
ImageMagick
Nomacs
Pinta
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail

Multimedia
Rhythmbox
Videos
Xfburn

Office
FoxitReader
Orange Calendar
Orage Globaltime
WPS Presentation
WSP Spreadsheets
WPS Writer

As you can tell from the list above, Makulu has an interesting and somewhat different selection of software. LibreOffice is nowhere to be found and neither is GIMP. But the software that is included represents a fairly good selection that should fit the needs of most desktop users, even if it does differ a bit from what you’d get in Linux Mint or Ubuntu.

If you need more software you can get it from the App Grid (Software Center). I must admit that the interface for Makulu’s App Grid surprised the heck out of me when I first saw it. When you first launch it you’ll notice that it doesn’t look anything like Ubuntu’s or Linux Mint’s. The title of the window is “App Grid” and that’s exactly what it seems to be.

At the top of the App Grid is a search box, as well as tabs for Category, State and Sort. The Category tab breaks applications in the following categories: Arts, Games, Productivity, Programming, Sciences and System. The State tab lets you see which applications you have currently installed on your system. And the sort lets you filter applications by Top Rated.

If you click on an application, you’ll see a large image, with a description and some other information right below it. On the right side you will see user reviews, complete with smilies to indicate whether or not the user liked the application.

To install or remove an application, just click the Install or Remove link at the top right of the application’s page in App Grid. After the application is installed you can click the Launch link to start using it right away.

The App Grid in MakuluLinux takes a bit of getting used to if you are coming from another distribution. And yet I think it mostly works well because the layout is easy to read and understand. The colors and fonts are attractive and easy on the eye, and it’s simple to find your way around once you start using it.

I do think that the developers might want to add an easier to see Install or Remove button under the identifier/addons/etc part of each application’s description. The text link at the top works fine but it’s somewhat unintuitive to look up there after you’ve read the description of the app lower down on the page.

I’m nitpicking a bit here about the lack of download buttons. Adding them would be nice but it’s certainly not required to enjoy using the App Grid to install or remove software.

The Software Updater is the other important tool for managing software. I ran it and had no problems while my system and applications were updated. It notified me when I had updates and I just had to click to install them and then type in my password.

Where to get help for MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. You might also want to check out these MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 resources:

MakuluLinux Forums
MakuluLinux Contact

Final thoughts about MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0
As I noted above, this is the first time I’ve reviewed any version of MakuluLinux. I must admit that I am very impressed with it. It was quite stable for me, I didn’t experience any crashes or other problems. And it was also very speedy when it came to launching and running applications.

Makulu’s desktop also worked very well for me. Not only does this version use Xfce, but it adds some additional value to the overall Xfce experience by including Whisker Menu and Synapse. I also really liked the wallpapers bundled with this distro, and the Variety wallpaper manager made it very easy to manage them while also providing some additional functionality.

If there’s one tiny onion in the ointment here, I think it might be the App Grid (Software Center). It’s definitely a different cup of tea than what most people are probably used to in terms of software management (at least visually). Adjusting to it might take a little bit longer than going from the Ubuntu Software Center to Linux Mint’s Software Manager. But don’t let it keep you away from MakuluLinux, it’s definitely something that you can get used to fairly quickly.

Overall, I was very pleased indeed with MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0. It’s definitely worth considering if you need a new desktop distribution. And it should certainly be added to any distrohopper’s list of distros to run regularly.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0? Tell me in the comments below.

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 screenshots:

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 VLC Media Player

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 VLC Media Player

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Top Rated Software

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Top Rated Software

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Software Updater

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Software Updater

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Software Center App Grid

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Software Center App Grid

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Settings

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Settings

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Menu

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Menu

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Login menu

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Login menu

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Installer Slideshow

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Installer Slideshow

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Installed Software

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Installed Software

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Install 2

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Install 2

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Install 1

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Install 1

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Desktop

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Desktop

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Desktop 2

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Desktop 2

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Variety Wallpaper Manager

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Variety Wallpaper Manager

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Boot Menu

MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 Boot Menu


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MakuluLinux Xfce 7.0 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

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Linux Lite 2.2


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Linux Lite 2.2 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

It’s been quite a while since I last looked at Linux Lite, the last version I reviewed being 1.0.6. Much has changed in Linux Lite since that release and now it’s reached version 2.2. If you aren’t familiar with it, you should know that Linux Lite is a distribution geared toward helping current Windows users transition to the Linux desktop.

What’s new in Linux Lite 2.2
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

New Program locations:

Backups – Menu > Accessories > Backups
File Search – Menu > Accessories > File Search
Date & Time – Menu > Settings > Date & Time
Lite Cleaner – Menu > System > Lite Cleaner
Light Locker Settings – Menu > Settings > Light Locker Settings
Linux Lite Welcome – Menu > Settings > Linux Lite Welcome

Other Changes:

New adjustable size mouse theme added.
Added File Roller as the default archive manager.
Added Light Locker.
Added new Login theme.
Clementine added to Install Additional Software.
Create System Report has been converted to GUI.
Added md5sum check to right click menu.
Added libreoffice-gnome to open files on a NAS.
Launchers now use exo-open instead of xdg-open.
Fixed power settings/screensaver conflict.
Mumble has been dropped.
inxi has been added by request.

Linux Lite 2.2 download and install
You can download Linux Lite 2.2 from the downloads page on the Linux Lite site. You can get Linux Lite 2.2 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The ISO file for the 32-bit version weighs in at just 737 MB, and the 64-bit version is just 738 MB. For this review I opted for the 64-bit version of Linux Lite 2.2.

Linux Lite uses the same installer as Ubuntu, so it’s a piece of cake to install. During the install you have the option of downloading updates during the install, and also adding third-party software. I opted to do both so I didn’t have to bother doing them later on. You also have the option of encrypting your install, using the default partitioning or setting up your own. I went with the default partitioning setup and skipped the encryption.

The Linux Lite 2.2 installer is also fast, it didn’t take long at all for my install to finish. During the install you can watch a slideshow about some of the features found in Linux Lite 2.2. I had no problems with my install and when it was completed I rebooted to the Linux Lite boot menu.

Linux Lite 2.2 desktop
When your Linux Lite 2.2 desktop loads, you’ll notice a very helpful welcome menu that appears on the screen. The menu is broken into three sections: Start Here, Support and Contribute. Start Here contains links to install updates, read the release notes or see hardware recommendations. Support will link you to online support, a help manual and a hardware database. Contribute lets you access code, donate to Linux Lite 2.2 or find the distro on social media.

I’ve always been a big fan of these kinds of welcome menus. Yes, it’s true that experienced Linux users might not need or care about them. But for people new to a distribution or to Linux in general, they can be a huge help. Linux Mint was one of the first distributions to do this, and it seems that the Linux Lite developers have followed in their venerable footsteps.

Linux Lite 2.2 uses the Xfce desktop environment (and includes the Whisker menu), which is pretty much my favorite desktop. The panel at the bottom of the screen contains a menu link, an icon to show the desktop, Firefox, an icon for the Thunar file manager and an icon to open a terminal window. Farther to the right you’ll see multiple desktops, keyboard, networking, volume and the date/time.

The Linux Lite 2.2 desktop itself is completely devoid of icons. All you’ll see is what looks like a feather caught in free fall in the center of your screen. It’s a simple visual but it’s also quite elegant in its own way.

Clicking the Menu button will let you access settings, favorite applications, recently used applications, all applications, and applications broken down into various categories. Also at the bottom right of the menu you’ll find additional icons for All Settings, Lock Screen, Switch Users and Log Out. And there is also a search box available at the bottom of the menu.

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Fedora 21


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Fedora 21 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Fedora 21 is out and I’ve been able to spend some time with it. The last version of Fedora I looked at was more than two years ago, so there have been quite a few changes since then. The new version of Fedora comes in three basic options: Fedora Cloud, Fedora Server and Fedora Workstation.

For this review I opted to use the GNOME version of Fedora 21 Workstation. The GNOME desktop is the default environment of Fedora, but there are a number of other Fedora spins available for including the following:

KDE
Xfce
LXDE
MATE-Compiz
Electronic-Lab
Security
Scientific KDE
SoaS
Design-suite
Robotics
Games
Jam-KDE

So do check out the alternative spins if GNOME isn’t your cup of tea. The Fedora developers have made sure that there is a desktop environment for everybody to choose for their computer.

What’s new in Fedora 21
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.16.3
GNOME 3.14
Software installer
Terminal application improvements
Support for Wayland (experimental)
DevAssistant developer helper
Web service integration
HiDPI support

GNOME 3.14 has a number of changes including a redesigned GNOME weather app, a redesigned Evince app, better support for Wi-Fi hotspots, multitouch gestures on touchscreen devices, Google services support in Photos, and a few other things. The GNOME 3.14 release announcement has more information about its features and changes.

I’ll have much more to say about the Software installer in that section of the review, but suffice to say it’s a big step forward for Fedora and kudos to the Fedora developers for getting it done.

The terminal application now supports transparent backgrounds, automatic title updates, a toggle for disabling shortcuts and you can search for terminals by name in the GNOME desktop.

Experimental support for Wayland is included in this release for developers to test their applications. Developers will also enjoy the DevAssistant which helps setup different programming environments, as well as better web service integration. And all users will appreciate the improved HiDPI support in Fedora 21 Workstation.

Fedora 21 download and install
You can download Fedora 21 from this page. You can get Fedora 21 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I downloaded the 64-bit ISO file and it weighed in at about 1.47 GB.

Fedora 21 is also a live distro, so you can run it right off the disk to test it before installing it on your computer. I recommend that you check out the live desktop if you’ve never used Fedora before, it will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with what Fedora has to offer before committing to an actual install.

Here are the recommended minimum system requirements for Fedora 21:

1GHz or faster processor
1GB System Memory
10GB unallocated drive space

The installer in Fedora is quite good though it is a bit different than what you’ll get in Linux Mint and some other distributions. It may throw you off if you haven’t seen it before, but stick with it and you’ll find that it’s very easy to use. Just follow the on-screen prompts and you should have no problems. You’ll need to type in a root password and create a user account. While you do that the installer will be installing software and you can watch its progress at the bottom of the installer menu.

At one point you’ll also be able to connect your various online accounts. Google, ownCloud, Windows Live and Facebook are all options on the Connect Your Online Accounts menu. Since I have don’t plan on using Fedora as my day to day desktop distro, I opted to skip trying to connect any online accounts. I also loathe Facebook so there was no chance I would have bothered with that anyway.

The Fedora installer seemed pretty fast (though I didn’t actually time how long it took, I would have noticed if it lagged like some other distros), and I had no problems completing my install. One thing that it lacks is a slideshow that users can view while installing Fedora 21. Other distributions offer this and it can be a nice way of easing new users into a desktop distro by pointing out various things such as new features, updated applications, etc. I’d like to see the Fedora developers add something like that in the next release.

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Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos

There are many different Linux distributions available, but not all of them are focused on providing a truly free software experience. What do I mean by free software? Well, I don’t mean free as in free beer. I mean free as in the freedom do what you want with it. Here’s a snippet from GNU.org’s definition of free software: “Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. Trisquel is one of the few distributions that really believes in providing users with free software. So if that matters to you then Trisquel should definitely be at the top of your list of desktop distributions. You won’t find nonfree software in it, but you will find lots and lots of free software that will meet the needs of almost all desktop users. The latest release of Trisquel is version 7.0, which has been dubbed “Belenos” after a Celtic sun god. Hey, it’s hard not to love a distro with such a cool name. Trisquel 7.0 is also a long-term support release, and I’ll […]

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Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Linux Mint has long been one of the most popular desktop distributions, so it’s always a big deal when a version is released. This time around it’s Linux Mint 17. This review covers the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 17, but much of it also applies to the MATE version with the exception of changes to the MATE 1.8 desktop. As to which desktop environment you should use, I think it just gets down to your own personal preference. MATE is a more traditional desktop while Cinnamon has a more modern feel to it. If you aren’t sure which one you might like better, my advice is to try both of them and then make your decision. Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release. It will receive security updates until 2019. The Linux Mint developers plan to use this package base until 2016, so upgrading should be a piece of cake once you start using Linux Mint 17. What’s new in Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Here’s a sample of the new features in this release: Update Manager Drivers Manager Login Screen Language Settings Software Sources Welcome Screen Cinnamon 2.2 System Improvements Artwork Improvements Main Components LTS Strategy Update […]

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