Android's Limits

Android is a lot more free than iOS, but there are limits. We need to break
through those.

At its birth, Android was the horizontal and open solution to the problem
of Apple’s vertical and closed silo. On Android, hardware makers and
software writers could build devices and apps, free to operate outside the
walls of any vendor’s closed garden.
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Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon


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Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” has been released so it’s time for another review of one of the most popular distros of all time. Linux Mint has always been one of my favorite distros, it has so much to offer any desktop linux user. This release doesn’t disappoint either. There’s quite a bit here for fans of Linux Mint, and it’s almost certain that most of them will want to upgrade to Linux Mint 15.

Please note that this review covers the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 15. I’ll probably take a separate look later on at Linux Mint 15 MATE.

Linux Mint 15 Welcome Screen

Linux Mint 15 Welcome Screen

Linux Mint 15 Preinstall Boot Menu

Linux Mint 15 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

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

Ubuntu 13.05 Package Base
Linux 3.8 Kernel
MDM 1.2
Cinnamon 1.8
Software Sources
Driver Manager
MDM Greeters
Nemo Updates
Desklets for Cinnamon
Cinnamon Screensaver
Control Center Changes
Spices Management
Various System Improvements
Improved Hot-Corner Configuration
Coverflow Alt-Tab
Timeline Alt-Tab
Horizontal or Vertical Window Maximization
Software Manager Tweaks
Update Manager and Welcome Screen Tweaks

Linux Mint 15 Login Screen

Linux Mint 15 Login Screen

MDM now has three login screen applications (greeters).  There’s a GTK greeter, a themeable GDM greeter, and a new HTML greeter (also themeable).

These changes spice up (no pun intended) the login screen and should make things more interesting. It’s  now possible to create “animated and interactive” login menus.

Frankly, I’ve never been one to pay much attention to login screens. After all, you’re there to login not to savor the look and feel of the menu. But I don’t mind these changes at all. Why have a boring, drab login menu when you can jazz it up and give the user something different to see?

Linux Mint 15 Software Sources

Linux Mint 15 Software Sources

MintSources is the new Software Sources tool. It makes it easy to disable or enable optional components, and it lets you easily use back ports, source code, and unstable packages. Finding a faster mirror is also very easy, since you can do it with just one click by seeing a speed-test of available mirrors.

This is a great addition for power users of Linux Mint, who want a quick way to have more options in terms of software. The new tool looks great and performed well for me. Finding a faster mirror can be a huge timesaver, so I was very pleased to see that included.

Note that MintSources also contains PPA, authentication keys management and third party repository access.

Linux Mint 15 Mirror Speed

Linux Mint 15 Mirror Speed

Linux Mint 15 Driver Manager

Linux Mint 15 Driver Manager

Driver Manager (MintDrivers) is another great tool in Linux Mint 15. It uses an Ubuntu backend, and it makes it easy to deal with drivers in Linux Mint 15. You can see drivers by package name, along with their version. Known brands are clearly marked with icons.

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Dated Hardware, Waiting for Hardware and the Nokia N900 in 2013

The Nokia N900 was released in November of 2009 – three and a half years ago. When I bought my first N900 in January of 2010 it was a huge upgrade for me in terms of both speed and software freedom (coming from a Blackberry). The idea of having a computer – a true computer – that was also a phone was amazing. The same device I used to send text messages, I also installed applications on using apt-get. True multitasking – my applications stayed open until I closed them, not until the operating system decided it wanted to kill them. I didn’t mind paying the 450 USD it cost to purchase the brand new N900 out of contract – this was an awesome piece of technology!

Fast forward to 2013. Three years later I have gone through 2.5 Nokia N900s (I say 2.5, because the first two each broke in different ways and I was able to build a working device from their left overs) and still have it sitting on my desk as I write this. Three years is a long time in the world of mobile hardware and the N900 easily shows plenty of signs of aging. Compared to my wife’s Nexus 4, it loads applications and web sites slowly.

So why is it I hold onto hardware/software that deserves an upgrade? Simple – no one has released a comparable replacement. At first I did not want to trade my true Linux operating system in for this dribble called Android everyone raves about. Upon giving Android a chance though – I could make do with it. The HTML5 supporting browsers on Andriod really provide a decent web experience (which beyond text messaging is what I mainly do on a mobile device).

The hold up then? The hardware. I’m not talking about the speed of the hardware though – I’m talking about the lack of design. Almost every modern mobile that is sold today is a pure touch device. Hardware keyboards are a thing of the past it seems.

Am I truly the last person left alive who doesn’t like a software keyboard taking up half of my sub-10 inch screen while I type something?

When I search for modern cell phone hardware I certainly feel that way.

I have hope though! Within the next year we are expecting at least three new mobile operating systems to enter the landscape:

  • Ubuntu Mobile
  • Tizen
  • Firefox Mobile
I hope against all open that one of the hardware makers supporting these operating system breaks the current tread of touch-only devices. Maybe then I and stop picking up old N900s on Ebay when my existing one breaks!
~Jeff Hoogland

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CrunchBang 11 Waldorf


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CrunchBang 11 has been released so it’s time for a review. I last looked at CrunchBang back in 2009. Wow! Has it been that long? I’m pleased to report that CrunchBang 11 didn’t disappoint in any way.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Crunchbang 11 is a distro based on Debian. It uses the Openbox window manager. Openbox is very fast and minimalistic. You won’t find tons of useless eye candy or stupid interface glitz in CrunchBang 11. It’s not bloated and slow, nor does it try to “wow” you with things you don’t need or want.

Frankly, it’s one of the most functional and efficient distros available today. You can run it on top of the line hardware, or you can run it on older, slower machines. It’s a perfect choice for anyone who prefers functionality over form.

CrunchBang 11 Preinstall Boot Menu

CrunchBang 11 Preinstall Boot Menu

Here’s the official description of CrunchBang:

CrunchBang is a Debian GNU/Linux based distribution offering a great blend of speed, style and substance. Using the nimble Openbox window manager, it is highly customisable and provides a modern, full-featured GNU/Linux system without sacrificing performance.

The primary aim of the CrunchBang project is to produce a stable distribution offering the best possible out-of-the-box Openbox experience. To achieve this goal, CrunchBang pulls many base packages directly from Debian’s repositories, which are well-known for providing stable and secure software. Packages from CrunchBang’s own repositories are then customised and pinned to the system to produce what is known as the CrunchBang distro.

Put simply; CrunchBang could be thought of as a layer built on top of Debian, specifically to provide a great Openbox experience.

What’s New in CrunchBang 11

I was not able to find a list of changes or new features on the CrunchBang site. I encourage the CrunchBang developers to create a “What’s New” page for future releases. It makes the job of reviewers much easier. See how Linux Mint does it for their distro releases.

System Requirements for CrunchBang 11

I was not able to find a list of system requirements either. Since CrunchBang 11 is based on Debian, you can use that as a reference point for system requirements.

CrunchBang 11 Download

You can download CrunchBang 11 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 775 MB.

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

You can get CrunchBang 11 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I opted for the 64-bit release.

CrunchBang 11 Installation

The CrunchBang 11 installer is quite good. It offers a guided partitioning option, and it’s very fast. Even total newbies shouldn’t have a problem installing CrunchBang 11. You have the option of jumping into the install or running a live session.

After the install is complete, and you boot into the desktop, a script will run in a terminal window. The script gives you the option of updating your system, installing Java as well as LibreOffice. You can also install development packages.

I like LibreOffice, so I used the script to add it to my system so I wouldn’t have to bother later.

CrunchBang 11 Install Guided Disk Partitioning

CrunchBang 11 Install Guided Disk Partitioning

CrunchBang 11 Install Disk Scheme

CrunchBang 11 Install Disk Scheme

CrunchBang 11 Install GRUB

CrunchBang 11 Install GRUB

CrunchBang 11 Post Install Script

CrunchBang 11 Post Install Script

The CrunchBang 11 Desktop

If you’re used to other distros, you might be slightly freaked out by CrunchBang 11 when you boot into the desktop. You won’t find garish wallpaper or 3D doodads. Instead, you’ll see a dark grey background.

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Samsung ARM Chromebook Review

The Samsung ARM Chromebook is one of a few ARM devices that I prepare Bodhi Linux images for. As such I’ve owned the hardware for almost six months now and during this time I’ve used it a fair amount. The goal of this post is to provide a comprehensive review of the product to see if it is something that could be useful to you.

Cost – 
Lets start with one of the first draws – the price point. The Chromebook comes in at under 300 USD. 250 USD plus shipping and handling to be exact.

Performance –
In terms of speed the Chromebook processor is snappy compared to other netbook offerings and ARM chipsets in general. The Chromebook sports the Samsung Exynos 5 1.7ghz dual core processor and 2gigs of DDR3 RAM. This coupled with the 16GB solid state hard drive allow the Chromebook to boot fully from a cold start in just a few seconds.

Under Chrome OS the Chromebook happily plays a variety of multimedia formats. Including 720p video files, 1080 flash streams, and Netflix.

Connections – 
In terms of “ports” the Chromebook sports two USB (one 3.0 and one 2.0), an SDHC card slot, HDMI video output, and a combination audio input/output jack. While all these ports are plenty functional I do have a few comments about them.

First – both USB ports, the HDMI and the power plug are all right next to each other on the back of the netbook. This means if you have all these ports in use at the same time space gets kind of tight (it also means if you have a clunky USB device it is going to block other ports).

Second – because the Chromebook has such little storage by default, it can be nice to use a SD card as extra space. Sadly, unlike most netbooks – when you insert a SD card into the Chromebook it does not go completely inside of the netbook. Meaning if you leave an SD card in the slot while transporting the netbook it is likely to get damaged.

Finally – maybe this one is just me, but I dislike not having traditional two ports for audio input/output. My traditional headsets do not work when using a Google hangout with this netbook.

Size & Feel – 
The Chromebook has an awesome form factor. Weighing in at just under 2.5 pound (about 1.1 KG) and having dimensions of 289.6 x 208.5 x 16.8 – 17.5 mm it is a sleek little device.

Personally I like Chicklet keyboards on laptops and the Chromebook keyboard is no exception for me. The keyboard layout on the Chromebook is one that is best described with an image though:

As you can see there is no super (or “Windows”) modifier key, Capslock has been left off in favor of a “search” button, and while the top row of buttons may not read F1-F10 – under non-ChromeOS operating systems they return these values.

One design choice I found slightly odd with the Chromebook is that even though the hardware supports a “right” click function, all context menus within Chrome OS are called up with a two finger touch (“right” clicking in Chrome OS is no different than any other single finger touch).

Battery & Screen – 
The battery life on the Chromebook is one of the largest draws I think. It is easily one of the lightest pieces of hardware with a lengthy battery life. Through average web use the Chromebook sees just shy of seven hours of usage before you need to find an outlet.

While the screen resolution could be better, the Chromebook’s 1366×768 screen resolution at least enables you to watch 720p video in their native quality.

Misc Thoughts –
I have had some trouble using the HDMI output on the Chromebook – the graphics drivers on Chrome OS seem to be fairly buggy. I’ve experience full system lock ups when attaching an external screen while the OS is running – but this does not happen every time and I cannot reproduce it consistently.

One that keeps me from using the Chromebook as my primary mobile computer over my old trusty Asus T101MT is that Dropbox does not create their software for ChromeOS or generic ARM Linux devices to date. I store a lot of data on this service and accessing it all via a web portal instead of having it sync to the system’s local drive is very annoying. If you are open to using Google drive this is a non-issue, but I haven’t had the time to make this jump as of yet.

Closing –
Who would I recommend the Chromebook to? Anyone who needs a device for accessing the web, but requires a keyboard to get their work done. If a large deal of your computing time is spent on Gmail, Facebook, Netflix, online shopping or Youtube then the Chromebook is the perfect device for you.

Who would I not recommend a Chromebook to? Someone that is looking to use it as their sole computer. While a lot of people use the web a lot – most people still have at least one or two desktop applications they need access to (such as my tie to drop box). Because of this Chrome OS’s “web based” application eco-system currently still leaves some to be desired.

Do you own a Samsung ARM Chromebook? If so what are you thoughts on the device?

Cheers,
~Jeff Hoogland

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Debian 7.0 Wheezy


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Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) is out and it’s time for another review of this venerated linux project.

Debian is the granddaddy of Linux distros, it forms the basis for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many other desktop linux distros. Yet many folks who are new to Linux might not even have heard of Debian. This is a shame because it has quite a lot to offer in its own right, aside from everything it provides to other desktop distros.

There are three main branches of Debian:

Stable
Testing
Unstable

Debian 7 is the latest stable release.

Debian 7 Preinstall Boot Menu

Debian 7 Preinstall Boot Menu

Wikipedia has a very good background article on Debian that you should read if you’re new to it. It will give you much more information than I can provide in this review.

Here’s a sample:

“Debian is one of the most influential open source projects known as a Linux distribution, and maintains repositories with over 29,000 software packages ready for installation. Its repositories host large numbers of software packages for multiple architectures, more in number than any other Linux distribution project[citation needed]. Debian hosts software in additional repositories called “non-free” but offers its distribution setup without it. Debian is seen as a solid Linux and has been forked many times (Debian derivatives).

Debian hosts experimental kernel choices for its distribution while pushing the boundaries to support more hardware devices. There are development packages for architectures for the FreeBSD kernel (kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64) and Hurd kernel, making Debian the only operating system that offers three different kernels; Linux being the most adopted for stability. Supported architectures range from the Intel/AMD 32-bit/64-bit architectures commonly found in personal computers to theARM architecture commonly found in embedded systems and the z/Architecture found in mainframe computers.[12]

Debian includes popular programs such as LibreOffice,[13] Iceweasel (a rebranding of Firefox), Evolution mail, CD/DVD writing programs, music and video players, image viewers and editors, and PDF viewers. The cost of developing all the packages included in Debian 5.0 lenny (323 million lines of code), using the COCOMOmodel, has been estimated to be about US$ 8 billion.[14] Ohloh estimates that the codebase (54 million lines of code), using the COCOMO model, would cost aboutUS$ 1 billion to develop.[15]

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Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail


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Ubuntu 13.04 has been released, so it’s time to do another review of Canonical’s popular distro. This time around Ubuntu’s code name is “Raring Ringtail.” It appears to be a reference to the ring-tailed cat. I had no idea what a ring-tail cat is, so of course I googled.

Here’s some background on the a ring-tailed cat:

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family (thus not actually a cat), native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner’s cat or “marv cat”, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a “civet cat” (after similar, though unrelated, cat-like omnivores of Asia and Africa). The ringtail is sometimes called a cacomistle, though this term seems to be more often used to refer to Bassariscus sumichrasti.

Ring-tailed Cat

Aaah, now that we all know about ring-tailed cats, let’s get on with the review.

What’s New in Ubuntu 13.04

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

Linux kernel 3.8.8
Unity 7
Upstart 1.8
LibreOffice 4.0
CUPS 1.6.2
Python 3.3
Simplified Details Panel in Software Updater
Upstart User Sessions
Friends (replaces Gwibber)

Linux kernel 3.8.8

Ubuntu 13.04 includes the 3.8.0-19.29 Ubuntu Linux kernel which was based on the v3.8.8 upstream Linux kernel.

Unity 7

Unity 7 brings a lot of performance improvements, reduced memory consumption and a great number of small UI fixes to bring a better overall shell experience. Those are like being typo-tolerant in the dash when searching for an application, using the mouse scroll wheel on a launcher icon to switch between applications or better available third party devices handling. You will notice as well some new icons themes to continue on lead of bringing design as the central Ubuntu experience.

You will notice that only one workspace is available by default on any new installation. If you want to bring back workspaces, you can find an option in the Appearance panel of System Settings under the Behavior tab. You can as well enable “Show desktop” button on the Launcher.

Upstart 1.8

This release provides a new bridge, the upstart-file-bridge(8) that allows jobs to react to filesystem changes. For example, to have a job start when a particular file is created:

start on file FILE=/var/log/foo.log EVENT=create

Or to start a job when a file matching a glob pattern is deleted:

start on file FILE=/var/app/*.foo EVENT=delete

See upstart-file-bridge(8) and file-event(7) for further details.

Additionally, a new upstart-monitor(8) tool is available that allows event flows to be observed in real-time. This tool can run as a graphical or console application.

LibreOffice 4.0

for all details, see: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.0

CORE

  • New Widget layout technique for dialog windows introduced
  • Support for Firefox Personas in LibreOffice
  • Document Management Systems Integration for Alfresco, Nuxeo, SharePoint via libcmis
  • Less Java dependencies: e.g. more Wizards available even in the default install
  • moved completely from Python 2.6 to Python 3.3 internally
  • PDF Import, the Presenter Console, and the Python Scripting Provider are core features now
  • dropping legacy binfilter and a lot of obsolete UNO-API interfaces

WRITER

  • The “Apply Style” combo box in the toolbar now features previews of the styles to choose.
  • Import ink annotations from DOCX and RTF documents
  • Import / export support for native RTF math expressions

CALC

  • Various performance improvements of ODS document import
  • Increased size limit on (uncompressed) ODF documents from 2Gb to 4Gb
  • XML Source dialog to quickly import arbitrary XML content

IMPRESS/DRAW

  • Impress Remote control for controling presentations via Bluetooth/Wifi from a Smartphone
  • Import for MS Publisher files
  • Import for _all_ Visio file formats, even MS Office 2013
  • various PPX import fixes
  • hyperlinks/fields wrapping
  • RTL support for the Presenter Console

BASE

  • Native support (mork driver) for accessing Thunderbird address books

CUPS 1.6.2 and cups-filters 1.0.34

We had already switched to CUPS 1.6.x in Quantal (12.10) but had to apply a huge, awkward Ubuntu-specific patch to avoid regressions. Now we are up to all new standards without needing to do anything Ubuntu-specific.

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Manjaro 0.8.5

I’ve written lots of distro reviews over the years, but every once in a while I find a new one that turns out to be a delightful surprise. Manjaro 0.8.5 is definitely one of those. Manjaro is based on Arch Linux, and promises to provide an easy to use distro that is still highly customizable.

Arch Linux has a reputation for not being as accessible for non-technical users as some other distros, so I’m happy to see Manjaro 0.8.5 change that and offer an alternative that combines the power of Arch with ease of use. Like Arch, Manjaro is a rolling release distro. So once you install it, you won’t need to install another release later on to keep it updated to the latest version.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Live Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Live Desktop

Here’s the official description of Manjaro:

Manjaro is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on the independently developed Arch operating system. Within the Linux community, Arch itself is renowned for being an exceptionally fast, powerful, and lightweight distribution that provides access to the very latest cutting edge – and bleeding edge – software. However, Arch is also aimed at more experienced or technically-minded users. As such, it is generally considered to be beyond the reach of those who lack the technical expertise (or persistence) required to use it.

Developed in Austria, France, and Germany, Manjaro provides all the benefits of the Arch operating system combined with a focus on user-friendliness and accessibility. Available in both 32 and 64 bit versions, Manjaro is suitable for newcomers as well as experienced Linux users. For newcomers, a user-friendly installer is provided, and the system itself is designed to work fully ‘straight out of the box’ with features including:

Pre-installed desktop environments
Pre-installed graphical applications to easily install software and update your system, and
Pre-installed codecs to play multimedia files

For more experienced – and adventurous – users Manjaro also offers the configurability and versatility to be shaped and moulded in every respect to suit personal taste and preference. Furthermore, a minimalist NET-Edition is also available in both 32 and 64 bit versions. Stripped of any pre-installed software, this provides a base installation on which to build your own system; starting from a command line, be completely free to chose your own greeters, desktops, hardware drivers, software applications, and so on!

Some folks will want to know what the similarities and differences are between Arch and Manjaro, here’s a bit on that from the Manjaro site:

Manjaro shares many of the same features as Arch, including:
Speed, power, and efficiency
Access to the very latest cutting and bleeding edge software
A ‘rolling release’ development model that provides the most up-to-date system possible without the need to install new versions, and
Access to the Arch User Repository (AUR).

However, Manjaro boasts a few extra features of its own, including:
A simplifed, user-friendly installation process
Automatic detection of your computer’s hardware (e.g. graphics cards)
Automatic installation of the necessary software (e.g. graphics drivers) for your system
Its own dedicated software repositories to ensure delivery of fully tested and stable software packages, and
Support for the easy installation and use of multiple kernels.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Preinstall Boot Menu

Manjaro 0.8.5 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

  • Graphical installer introduced
  • Manjaro Settings Manager introduced
  • LXDM/Slim as display manager
  • Linux 3.8.5 as our kernel
  • SystemD 198
  • Xorg 1.14.0
  • Proprietary driver support for AMD and Nvidia graphic cards
  • Additional multimedia support, applications, and access to the AUR have been pre-installed

I’ll have more to say about the installer in that section, but suffice to say it worked very well for me. And it should, with one exception (noted in the problems section), work well for most people including those new to Linux.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings Manager

System Requirements for Manjaro 0.8.5

I was not able to locate a list of system requirements for Manjaro 0.8.5. If you know what they are, please post them in the comments below. I urge the Manjaro developers to include a list on the downloads page for this distro, it makes it much easier for reviewers to present that information to readers.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings

Manjaro 0.8.5 Download

You can download Manjaro 0.8.5 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.32 GB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

You can get Manjaro 0.8.5 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Xfce, and Openbox versions are available at the download link above. You can also get community releases that include KDE, LXDE, MATE, and Cinnamon.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Installation

The Manjaro 0.8.5 installer is quite easy to use, and it’s also very fast. The Manjaro developers have wisely forked from Linux Mint, and it shows in the elegance of the installer. You can see a walk through of the install at the Manjaro Wiki.

While you are doing your install, you can watch a slideshow that provides some helpful information about this distro. If you are completely new to Manjaro, I recommend that you watch the slideshow, it’ll help you hit the ground running when your install is finished.

Note that Manjaro 0.8.5 is a live distro, so you can just boot off a disc or run it live in a virtual machine before trying to do an install. I think you’ll be pleased enough with it though to do an actual install.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Hard Disk

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Hard Disk

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Assign Root Partition

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Assign Root Partition

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install User Info

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install User Info

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Slideshow

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Slideshow

Manjaro 0.8.5 Login Screen

Manjaro 0.8.5 Login Screen

The Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

The Manjaro desktop comes with an attractive Linux Mint-ish wallpaper. The desktop has just Home,  File System and Trash icons, so it’s not overloaded with icons.

You can access the menus by clicking the green button in the upper left corner on the panel, and you can access time, volume, networking, software updates, etc. via the icons on the right of the top panel.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Menu

Manjaro 0.8.5 Menu

Linux Software Included in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

Games
Steam

Graphics
GIMP
Viewnior

Internet
Avahi SSH Server Browser
Avahi VNC Server Browser
Firefox
Pidgin
Thunderbird
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Audio Mixer
PNMixer
PulseAudio Volume Control
QT V4L2 Test Utility
VLC Media Player
Xfburn
Xnoise

Office
Dictionary
LibreOffice
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Manjaro 0.8.5

Manjaro 0.8.5 uses Pamac as its software manager. Right now it can best be classified as functional but not elegant. If Manjaro 0.8.5 has a weakness as a desktop distro, this is it. If you compare Pamac with the Ubuntu Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager, it fares very poorly.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Package Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Package Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Update Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Update Manager

However, it’s still very early for Manjaro. I suspect (and hope) that we’ll see significant improvements to Pamac that will eventually put it into the same league as Linux Mint and Ubuntu’s software management tools.

Problems & Headaches Found in Manjaro 0.8.5

I found the same problem with the Manjaro 0.8.5 installer that I noticed with the last version of Linux Mint Debian Edition. The installer will set up partitions for you, but you’ll need to assign root to one of them. This is not hard, but it may throw off newbies a little bit. To set root, just right click your preferred partition and then select “Assign to /” and you’ll be good to go.

I hate nitpicking about these small things, but I do try to look at things from the perspective of folks new to Linux to encourage developers to take that into account when setting up installers, etc.

One other thing I noticed was an error message that appeared when I loaded the package manager.

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Error Message

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Error Message

I also noticed some weirdness with the update alert in the upper right corner. I clicked the icon in the panel, an update alert appeared saying that Pamac had three updates, but when I clicked on the alert, nothing happened. That seems strange to me. Shouldn’t it have opened Pamac so I could download the updates?

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Update Alert

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Update Alert

That stuff aside, I didn’t have any problems running Manjaro 0.8.5. It was stable, and also quite fast. Applications loaded right away, I think you will be very pleased with the speed of this distro.

If you’ve seen any issues or problems, please share them in the comments below. Thanks.

Where To Get Help for Manjaro 0.8.5

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Manjaro forum, wiki, and blog.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Manjaro 0.8.5

Manjaro is off to a great start as a desktop distro, I was pleasantly surprised by this distro. While the software manager leaves a bit to be desired, the rest of the distro fares very well. The Majaro developers have done a very good job building on the foundation of Arch Linux to create a viable desktop distro.

Manjaro 0.8.5 can be used by beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. Beginners should take note of what I said earlier about assigning a root partition, and the quality of the software management tool.

What’s your take on Manjaro 0.8.5? Tell me in the comments below.


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Manjaro 0.8.5 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

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Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303

I’m often asked what my “favorite” Linux distro is by readers. Well, if I have one, it has to be Linux Mint Debian Edition. LMDE has so much to offer Linux users since it combines the power of Debian with the elegance of Linux Mint. There really is something for everyone to love in LMDE.

Linux Mint Debian was upgraded recently so it’s time to take another look at it. I downloaded the Cinnamon version for this review. You can also opt for the MATE version if you prefer that to Cinnamon.

Before I get into the review, I want to clarify what separates Linux Mint Debian from the Ubuntu-based versions of Linux Mint. I know that this has confused some folks who are new to Linux.

Here’s some info from the LMDE FAQ:

1. Is LMDE compatible with Ubuntu-based Linux Mint editions?

No, it is not. LMDE is compatible with Debian, which isn’t compatible with Ubuntu.

2. Is LMDE fully compatible with Debian?

Yes, 100%. LMDE is compatible with repositories designed for Debian Testing.

3. What is a semi-rolling distribution?

Updates are constantly fed to Debian Testing, where users experience frequent regressions but also frequent bug fixes and improvements. LMDE receives “Update Packs” which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing. Users can experience a more stable system thanks to update packs, or switch their sources to follow Testing, or even Unstable, directly to get more frequent updates.

4. How does LMDE compare to the Ubuntu-based editions?

Pros:

  • You don’t need to ever re-install the system. New versions of software and updates are continuously brought to you.
  • It’s faster and more responsive than Ubuntu-based editions.

Cons:

  • LMDE requires a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT.
  • Debian is a less user-friendly/desktop-ready base than Ubuntu. Expect some rough edges.
  • No EFI, GPT or secureBoot support.
Linux Mint Debian 201303 Welcome Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Welcome Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

  • Update Pack 6
  • MATE 1.4
  • Cinnamon 1.6
  • Installer improvements (graphical timezone and keyboard selection, support for installation on multiple HDD, slideshow, webcam and face picture support)
  • Device Driver Manager
  • Plymouth splash screen

As noted above, this release includes Update Pack 6. There is no list of exactly what is in Update Pack 6, so I can’t list highlights here for you. However, I have heard that these updates often contains hundreds of changes, packages, etc. So it would go way beyond the bounds of this review to really delve into it.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

You can see a list of changes in MATE 1.4 here, and you can see what’s in Cinnamon 1.6 here.

One thing that I liked about this release was the installer’s ability to automatically partition the disk. I cannot remember if this was in previous versions, but it’s a great thing for newbies who want to use LMDE. Many of them might not be familiar with disk partitioning, so having the installer take care of it helps to make LMDE more accessible to them.

System Requirements for Linux Mint Debian 201303

I want not able to locate a specific hardware requirements list for Linux Mint Debian 201303 on the Linux Mint site. If you know the specs, please post them in the comments below. Also, if the LMDE developers read this, please consider including a hardware requirements list for each release as it makes it much easier to include that information in the review.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Download

You can download Linux Mint Debian 201303 from this page or use these torrent links:

The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.31 GB. You can get Linux Mint Debian 201303 in 32 or 64 bit versions.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installation

The Linux Mint Debian 201303 install is not difficult, the installer will create the partitions you need automatically. However,  you do need to set a root partition. You can do this by simply right clicking on your preferred partition. I mention this for the newer folks who may not be familiar with LMDE’s install, but who might want to use it.

Note that LMDE 201303 is a live distro, so you do have the option to run it without doing an install. Boot into the desktop, and you’ll see that it is much the same as the installed desktop. Just click the Install Linux Mint icon to start your install.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

The Linux Mint Debian 201303 Desktop

As I noted earlier, I opted for the Cinnamon version of LMDE 201303. The desktop contains the usual icons, along with the striking Linux Mint wallpaper. I love the Debian swirl included in the wallpaper, it’s a small thing but it helps set this version apart from the Ubuntu versions.

It’s also easy to find your way around the LMDE Cinnamon menu. Everything is laid out just as you’d expect so it’s easy to manage software, access system tools, logout or shut down your system.

When you first boot into LMDE 201303, you’ll see a Welcome to Linux Mint menu. If you’re new to LMDE, be sure to check the menu carefully as it contains some very helpful information along with support resources.

The question of which version is better has come up fairly often, Cinnamon or MATE? I like both of them, I just happened to go with Cinnamon for this review. If you haven’t used either, then I suggest trying both of them in a virtual machine to see which environment  you prefer to use on a daily basis. I really can go either way, they are both great to use. But your mileage may vary depending on your tastes.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

Games
Games can be downloaded from the Linux Mint Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
ImageMagick
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird
Pidgin IM
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint Debian 201303

When you first login to your LMDE 201303 desktop, you should take a moment to click the Update Manager icon on the panel (the shield icon) to update your system. It’s easy and it will just take a few moments to be sure your system is up to date.

Adding or removing software is easy in MODE 201303. Just click the Menu button on the panel, then click the Software Manager icon, then type in your admin password.

Software applications are broken down into categories, there are more than 37,000 packages available. I always recommend that new users click the Featured icon, which has around 30 of the top applications. It’s a great place to start if you are new to Linux in general.

You can add or remove software by clicking the Install or Remove button.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint Debian 201303

My experience with LMDE 201303 was quite good. It was very stable and seemed speedy enough for my needs while running various applications, system updates, etc.

However, you should be sure to check out the list of known problems below before doing an install on your system. It’s always best to know about these things ahead of time.

ATI drivers installation

Make sure to reload your APT cache before using DDM (Device Driver Manager).

If after installing ATI fglrx drivers with DDM and after rebooting the computer you don’t have any 3D acceleration (in Cinnamon this would result in the desktop to load without a panel and windows missing their window frames, in MATE this would result in slow performance when moving windows), do the following:

  • Right click on the desktop and open a terminal
  • Make sure you’re connected to the Internet (use Gnome Classic if you can’t use Cinnamon)
  • Type the following commands and reboot the computer:

apt clean

apt update

apt reinstall build-essential module-assistant fglrx-driver fglrx-modules-dkms libgl1-fglrx-glx glx-alternative-fglrx fglrx-control fglrx-glx

sudo aticonfig --initial -f

Login and password for the live session

The Live session should log you in automatically. If it doesn’t, or if you need to login manually (for instance, to try out Cinnamon), you can use the following credentials:

  • For the username, type “mint”
  • For the password, if asked, just press Enter.

No EFI/GPT support

Linux Mint Debian requires BIOS and a traditional partitioning scheme.

Multi-core and multi-CPU support in 32-bit kernel

To guarantee compatibility with non-PAE processors, the 32-bit versions of Linux Mint Debian come with a 486 kernel by default. This kernel does not support SMP, and as a consequence is only able to detect one core and one CPU. If your CPU has multiple cores, or if you have more than one CPU, simply install the 686-PAE kernel and reboot your computer.

GTK theme and icons fail to load

Sometimes the MATE session fails to theme itself properly and shows up with ugly looking panels and icons. This is due to a race condition with MDM and it usually only happens in live mode. There are a number of workarounds for this. If it happens rarely, simply retheme the session by typing “mate-settings-daemon” and “killall caja”. If the problem persists, you can add a “killall gnome-settings-daemon” and a “killall mate-settings-daemon” in the PreSession’s default script for MDM. Alternatively you can switch to GDM3. Note that users reported similar issues between GDM and Gnome and even LightDM and Unity.

To find out more about this issue, refer to the following bug report.

Modprobe errors, warning messages during the boot sequence

The errors and warnings which appear in the boot sequence (especially the ones related to modprobe and mounts in the live boot sequence) are cosmetic bugs and can be ignored.

Upstream issues

LMDE is based on Debian Testing. Make sure to read the known issues related to it.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint Debian 201303

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community site and forums.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint Debian 201303

As usual, I’m quite pleased with the latest update of Linux Mint Debian Edition. It remains my preferred distro for when I grow tired of distrohopping and just want to settle in for a while with one distribution.

The only onion in the ointment in this release is that it still requires the user to set a root partition during the install. This is not a hard thing to do, but it may perplex newer users who haven’t done it before. I’d like to see the installer do this automatically, assuming the user opts for automatic partitioning.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303 is best suited to intermediate and advanced Linux users. Beginners certainly can give it a whirl, though there are other versions of Linux Mint that are better for them.

What’s your take on Linux Mint Debian 201303? Tell me in the comments below.


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Save big bucks on desktop and laptop computers, tablets, monitors, home networking, accessories, and peripherals.

Amazon Software Savings
Why pay full price when you can save lots of money with great software deals for your computer?

Amazon Digital Deals
Great deals on music, movies and TV shows, ebooks, software and video game downloads.

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

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

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303 comes from the Desktop Linux Reviews blog.

Read More

Linux Administration – News and Blog