Pear OS 8

It’s often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that’s the case then the developer of Pear OS 8 truly loves Apple and its products. Pear OS 8 is probably the closest thing any Linux user will ever come to getting a Linux distribution from Apple.

Pear OS 8 blends the look and feel of Mac OS X and iOS 7 into Ubuntu. I know that the very idea of this will probably shock some Linux users. Apple is probably the exact opposite of Linux in terms of openness and so making a Linux distribution that essentially mimics Apple’s products might be considered over the top, to say the least. Some might even think that the Pear OS 8 developer jumped the shark in a big way.

But there might also be folks out there who would appreciate a desktop Linux distribution molded in the likeness of OS X and iOS 7. So Pear OS 8 might be very appealing indeed to them.

Pear OS 8 Boot Menu

Pear OS 8 Boot Menu

What’s New in Pear OS 8
I was not able to locate a list of new features for Pear OS 8. The closest I could come was this page on the Pear OS site. If you have a full list of new features, please post it in the comments below. Thanks.

Pear OS 8 Cloud

Pear OS 8 Cloud

System Requirements for Pear OS 8
I also could not find a defined list of system requirements for Pear OS 8. This, along with a complete list of new features, is something that the Pear OS developer should consider adding to their site.

Linux Mint is an excellent model for this, the Linux Mint developers always make it very easy for users and reviewers to know what’s new and what is required to run the new distribution.

Since Pear OS 8 is based on Ubuntu, use that as a baseline for system requirements for this release.

Pear OS 8 Download
You can download Pear OS 8 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.13 GB. Pear OS 8 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

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

Pear OS 8 Installation
Pear OS 8 uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install it. You can download updates and add third party software during your install.

Pear OS 8 is also a live distribution, so you can run it off a disc before actually doing an install on your computer.

Pear OS 8 Live Desktop

Pear OS 8 Live Desktop

Pear OS 8 Install Prepare

Pear OS 8 Install Prepare

Pear OS 8 Install Type

Pear OS 8 Install Type

Pear OS 8 Login

Pear OS 8 Login

The Pear OS 8 Desktop
The Pear OS 8 desktop looks like a blend of iOS 7 and OS X since it seems to contain icons from both of Apple’s operating systems. If you’ve used OS X or iOS 7, you’ll be able to spot the icon similarities right away.

As soon as I saw the desktop I started wondering when Apple’s lawyers would be sending the Pear OS 8 developer a letter expressing their displeasure. Apple has never taken kindly to those who…er…borrow their intellectual property so it would not surprise me if the Pear OS 8 developer ended up in hot water with their legal department at some point.

At the bottom of the desktop is a Dock that is very similar to what you see in OS X Mavericks. You’ll see application icons, system settings, the trash can, the Finder, and even a Launchpad for applications.

At the top is a menu bar that also resembles the one in OS X. It even has a similar notifications icon to the far right. The wallpaper also bears an eery similarity to something that Apple would include in its desktop operating system.

Pear OS 8 also includes a desktop configuration tool called My Pear 6. It lets you easily change the Dock, Notifications, Hot Corners and Desktop. The Theme tab wasn’t functional when I looked at it, but it had a “coming soon” message on it, so no doubt we’ll eventually see that added to Pear OS.

You will also find an icon for Clean My Pear, a tool designed to help you clean up your Pear OS 8 system when needed. It offers an automatic cleanup, internet cleanup, system cleanup and trash cleanup.

Pear OS 8 Desktop

Pear OS 8 Desktop

Pear OS 8 Launchpad

Pear OS 8 Launchpad

Pear OS 8 Finder

Pear OS 8 Finder

Pear OS 8 My Pear 6

Pear OS 8 My Pear 6

Pear OS 8 My Pear 6 Dock

Pear OS 8 My Pear 6 Dock

Pear OS 8 Hot Corners

Pear OS 8 Hot Corners

Pear OS 8 Notifications

Pear OS 8 Notifications

Pear OS 8 Clean My Pear

Pear OS 8 Clean My Pear

Pear OS 8 System Settings

Pear OS 8 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Pear OS 8
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Pear Software Center

Graphics
Document Viewer
Shotwell

Internet
Empathy IM
Firefox
Pear Cloud
Thunderbird Mail

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Musique
VLC Media Player

Office
Calculator
gedit
Pear Contacts

Linux Software Management Tools in Pear OS 8
Pear OS 8 comes with the Ubuntu Software Center as its software management tool. There are thousands and thousands of applications in the software center, and everything is broken down into the proper categories. You can also search for applications, and you can see a Top Rated list for each category and at the top level of the Software Center.

To add or remove an application, just find it and click the Install or Remove button.

Pear OS 8 also comes with a PPA Manager that can be accessed from an icon on the Dock.

Pear OS 8 Software Center

Pear OS 8 Software Center

Pear OS 8 Install FileZilla

Pear OS 8 Install FileZilla

Pear OS 8 Installed Applications

Pear OS 8 Installed Applications

Pear OS 8 PPA Manager

Pear OS 8 PPA Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in Pear OS 8
One thing I didn’t like about Pear OS 8 is that the Pear Software Center (the Ubuntu Software Center) icon is hidden away in the Launchpad. Why isn’t it on the Dock? A user unfamiliar with Pear OS 8 is probably going to be frustrated trying to figure out how to install or remove software. So putting the icon for the software center on the Dock should be a priority in an update to Pear OS 8.

One of the big problems with Pear OS 8 is the accessibility of installed software. In OS X you can access applications in the Applications section of the Finder. But Pear OS 8 does not have an applications category in its equivalent of the Finder. There is also no drop down menu of application categories when you click on the pear icon in the menu bar (OS X doesn’t have this either but many Linux desktops such as Xfce do).

So if you want to see all of the applications installed in Pear OS 8, you have to go into the Pear Software Center and click on Installed. This makes no sense to me. Who (except a Linux reviewer like me) is going to bother to do this?

VLC, for example, is a hugely important multimedia application. But it doesn’t appear in the Launchpad or on the Dock. So how is a user even going to know it’s installed by default in Pear OS 8? Most simply won’t and will wonder how to play multimedia files.

I even searched for VLC in the Launchpad, but nothing came up for a result. And yet the Pear Software Center says that it is installed so where is the icon to access it? Sure, you can launch it via the terminal application. But can you imagine Apple requiring users to launch an application via a terminal window? If Pear OS 8 is the Linux version of OS X then accessing installed applications should be a no-brainer.

I didn’t see any overt issues with Pear OS 8 in terms of stability or speed. The installer worked fine, and the distro itself seems fast and stable when using it.

If you’ve seen any problems or issues with Pear OS 8, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks in advance.

Where To Get Help for Pear OS 8
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 Pear OS forum 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 Pear OS 8
Pear OS 8 does a very good job of copying the look and feel of Apple’s operating system. And it comes about the closest I’ve ever seen to providing a Mac-like experience in Linux (it even offers its own version of Apple’s iCloud service). It stumbles a bit though when it comes to software accessibility and organization, and that clearly needs to be fixed in an update or future release.

At the beginning of the review I mentioned the old saying that imitation is the most since form of flattery. But something else popped into my mind as I was using Pear OS 8. In the Lord of the Rings there is a description of Isengard – the fortress of the wizard Saruman – that seemed oddly appropriate to Pear OS 8.

In this case Linux is Isengard, and Saruman is the developer of Pear OS 8. Apple, of course, is Barad-dur, the Dark Tower in Mordor.

Here is the quote from the Lord of the Rings:

“A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful […]. But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived – for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”

Pear OS 8 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Pear OS 8? Tell me in the comments below.



Linux Lite 1.0.6

Linux has not always had the reputation of being simple and easy to use. Linux Lite 1.0.6 is a distribution that aims to change that by making Linux more accessible to less tech-savvy users. Linux Lite is based on Ubuntu, and it uses the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment.

Linux Lite is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. For this review I used the 64-bit version.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Preinstall Boot Menu

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Linux Lite 1.0.6
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

This is our most feature packed release to date. We’ve relied heavily on feedback from the community to help guide the development of Linux Lite 1.0.6. New features include easier networking setup between Linux Lite and Windows/other linux operating systems, a system report tool to help troubleshoot problems, support for scanners, bluetooth and a brand new login screen. The Help and Support Manual is our most comprehensive to date and is available both offline and online. Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas, code and their support.

System Requirements for Linux Lite 1.0.6
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

700 MHz processor+ (your CPU must support pae for 32bit, or for 64bit you need a 64bit capable processor)
512 MiB RAM+
5 GB of hard-drive space+
VGA capable of 1024×768 screen resolution
Either a DVD drive or a USB port for the iso 

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Download
You can download Linux Lite 1.0.6 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 758.1 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.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Installation
Linux Lite 1.0.6 is a live distro, so you don’t need to install it to try it out. When you first boot off your disc you’ll be taken right to the live desktop. From there just click on the installer icon on the desktop to get your install started.

Linux Lite uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s very fast and easy to install it. You can also watch a slideshow during the install that highlights some of the features found in Linux Lite.

I recommend that you click the “Download updates while installing” and “Install this third party software” check boxes on the Preparing to Install Linux screen. It will save you time later on. I did this for my install.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Prepare Install

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Prepare Install

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Install Type

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Install Type

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Disk Erase

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Disk Erase

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Slideshow

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Slideshow

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Multimedia  Slide

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Multimedia Slide

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Gaming Slide

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Gaming Slide

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Login

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Login

The Linux Lite 1.0.6 Desktop
I was very pleased to see that Linux Lite 1.0.6 uses Xfce as its desktop. I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple, and Xfce is one of the best desktops available for doing just that. Everything is laid out as you’d expect, it’s very easy to find applications, system settings, software updates, etc.

Just click the Menu button on the panel to get started. The panel also contains icons for showing the desktop, Firefox, your home folder and the terminal.

The desktop wallpaper is rather subdued, which works very well since it puts the focus on the feather that represents what Linux Lite is all about. Lite as in “light as a feather” and all that. It’s a cute way of branding this distribution, and it makes it stand out from other distros.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Desktop

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Desktop

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Menu

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Menu

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Home Folder

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Home Folder

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Settings

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Settings

Linux Software Included in Linux Lite 1.0.6
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. The developers have picked the default applications wisely. There’s enough here to meet the needs of most desktop users without overwhelming them.

However, the developers did goof by not including a music player. You can download one to fix that, but it’s really something that should be included in the multimedia part of the applications menu.

Games
Buy Humble Bundle Games
Steam

Graphics
GIMP
Image Viewer
Scanner

Internet
Firefox
Mumble Voice Chat
Network Connections
Thunderbird Mail
XChat IRC

Multimedia
CD/DVD Burner
Audio Mixer
PulseAudio Volume Control
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice
PDF Viewer

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Lite 1.0.6
If there’s a place where Linux Lite 1.0.6 stumbles it’s in software management. Linux Lite uses Synaptic as its software management tool. Synaptic works well, but it’s not the easiest or slickest software management tool available.

For a distro that focuses on ease of use and simplicity, this could be a stumbling block for people new to Linux. The Ubuntu Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager would have been better choices.

Experienced Linux users won’t have a problem with Synaptic, and folks new to it can learn how to use it fairly quickly. If you haven’t used Synaptic before then be sure to read about it in the Linux Lite documentation.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Synaptic

Linux Lite 1.0.6 Synaptic

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Lite 1.0.6
I had no problems running  Linux Lite. It was fast and quite stable for me. Since it uses Xfce that wasn’t much of a surprise.

If you’ve seen any problems or issues, please share them in the comments for the benefit of other readers. Thanks.

Where To Get Help for Linux Lite 1.0.6
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 Lite forum, and the Linux Lite documentation.

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 Lite 1.0.6
It’s still early for Linux Lite since it’s only at version 1.0.6, but I think it’s off to a fine start. With the exception of using Synaptic as the software manager, this distro has already accomplished a large part of its mission to make Linux simpler and easier to use.

I hope that we’ll see a different software manager integrated into future releases. The Ubuntu Software Center or Linux Mint Software Manager would be good choices. I’d particularly like to see user reviews and star ratings available for applications. I think that both things add real value to any software manager, and they also help Linux newbies pick applications wisely for their systems.

Linux Lite 1.0.6 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Linux Lite 1.06? Tell me in the comments below.

Edubuntu 13.10

Ubuntu comes in many flavors, and it’s designed for very different kinds of users. Edubuntu 13.10 is an Ubuntu spin for educators. It comes preloaded with quite a selection of education-related applications including some for science and engineering.

While this release does not have much in the way of new features, it’s worth looking at since it differs so much from the other Ubuntu spins. It also adds real value for those who want a distribution focused on learning rather than just a general desktop.

Here’s the official description from the Edubuntu site:

Edubuntu is a grassroots movement, we aim to get Ubuntu into schools, homes and communities and make it easy for users to install and maintain their systems.

We are students, teachers, parents and hackers who believe that learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them.

Our aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain.

Edubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

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

Unity: 7.1.2
LibreOffice: 4.1.2
Firefox: 24.0
Thunderbird: 24.0
Linux: 3.11
Upstart: 1.10
Python 3.3.2

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

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

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

Edubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Edubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.97 GB, so it’s not one of the smaller Ubuntu downloads. However, it does come with quite a bit of software. You can also get Edubuntu 13.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

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

Edubuntu 13.10 Installation
Edubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu installer. It’s very easy to install though it does take longer for the install to finish than the regular Ubuntu 13.10 distro.

The installer gives you the option of installing the GNOME 3.0 fallback interface, as well as LTSP (the Linux Terminal Server Project). You can also remove educational application packages during the install if you want. This gives educators some flexibility and control over which kinds of learning applications are installed by default.

Once the install begins, you can view slides that provide information about some of the learning applications included with Edubuntu 13.10. If you’ve never used this distro, I recommend looking at the slideshow as it’s a good primer on the applications you’ll be using once the install finishes.

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 1

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 1

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 2

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 2

Edubuntu 13.10 Slideshow

Edubuntu 13.10 Slideshow

The Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop
The first thing I noticed after the desktop loaded was the odd wallpaper. It’s a few trees, with a purplish sky at sunset or sunrise, I can’t really tell which. Anyway, I say that it’s odd because it doesn’t have anything to do with education.

I generally like wallpaper that fits the theme or the mission of the distribution. But this wallpaper looks forlorn and rather depressing. I think some sort of education-oriented wallpaper that’s a bit more upbeat would work better in future releases.

Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Edubuntu 13.10 uses Unity for its desktop environment, so it’s quite easy to find your way around if you’ve used Unity in the regular version of Ubuntu. Icons for search, the home folder, Firefox, LibreOffice, the Ubuntu Software Center and System Settings appear by default.

Edubuntu 13.10 comes with more than 30 Dash plugins. Plugins include Audacious, Banshee, Chromium Bookmarks, Facebook, Google Drive, Picasa and lots of others. You can easily disable any plugin by clicking on its icon and then clicking on the Disable button.

Edubuntu 13.10 Dash Plugins

Edubuntu 13.10 Dash Plugins

Edubuntu 13.10 Applications

Edubuntu 13.10 Applications

Linux Software Included in Edubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Atomix
Blinken
Educational Suite Gcompris
Einstein
gbrainy
Kanagram
KHangMan
Laby
Mahjongg
Mines
Pairs
Pairs Theme Editor
Potato Guy
Ri-li
Sudoku

Graphics
Dia
Document Viewer
E-Book Viewer
GIMP
ImageMagick
Image Viewer
Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
KolourPaint
LibreCAD
LibreOffice Draw
LRF Viewer
Pencil
Scribus
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan
Xaos – Fractal Zoomer

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy IM
Epoptes
Firefox
Gobby Collaborative Editor
Liferea Feed Reader
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
X11VNC Server
Xpra Launcher

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
K3b
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder
Videos

Office
Calibre
Document Viewer
E-Book Viewer
Gramps Genealogy System
LibreOffice
VYM – View Your Mind

Science & Engineering
Cantor
Chemtool
Fritzing
KAlgebra
Kalzium
KStars
LibreCAD
Rocs

Linux Software Management Tools in Edubuntu 13.10
Edubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s very easy to add or remove software. Edubuntu 13.10 comes with a lot of great educational software, but there’s plenty more to be found in the Software Center.

Be sure to browse through the Education and Science categories, you’ll find quite a bit there to check out. You can also see Top Rated applications for each category, as well as at the top level of the Software Center. There are also user reviews and star ratings to help you decide whether or not you want to install an application.

To add or remove an application, just click the Install or Remove button.

Edubuntu 13.10 Software Center Science and Engineering Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Software Center Science and Engineering Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Education Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Education Category

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra Install Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra Install Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra User Reviews

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra User Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Edubuntu 13.10
One minor problem I had was with the Ubuntu Software Center. It crashed the first time I tried to load it. I started it again and it loaded without any problems.

Aside from that, I didn’t notice any overt problems. Edubuntu 13.10 was very stable and reasonably fast. Please share any problems you’ve had in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks.

Where To Get Help for Edubuntu 13.10
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 Edubuntu community page, and the Edubuntu documentation page.

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 Edubuntu 13.10
In some ways Edubuntu 13.10 reminds me of Ubuntu Studio 13.10. Both distros have staked out a particular market, and both do it very well indeed. Edubuntu 13.10 comes with many learning-oriented applications, and there are tons more that can be easily downloaded from the Ubuntu Software Center.

I highly recommend taking a look at Edubuntu 13.10 if you need an educational distribution. It hits all of the sweet spots for that market and should prove tremendously useful for teachers and schools.

Edubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Edubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10

I’ve been reviewing a lot of Ubuntu spins lately, and they’ve all been differentiated by their desktop environments. This time around though I decided to take a look at Ubuntu Studio 13.10, a distro that is geared towards multimedia work. Ubuntu Studio comes with loads of multimedia software that will help you create and manage all kinds of content.

Here’s the official description from the Ubuntu Studio site:

Ubuntu Studio is a free and open source operative system, and an official flavor of Ubuntu. Ubuntu Studio is the most widely used multimedia orientated GNU/Linux distribution in the world. It comes pre-installed with a selection of the most common free multimedia applications available, and is configured for best performance for the Ubuntu Studio defined workflows: Audio, Graphics, Video, Photography and Publishing.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

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

New menu structure
New package ubuntustudio-installer for metpackage installation
New Settings Manager
Ubuntu Studio added to GRUB menu
Xfce session in LightDM removed
New wallpaper
Linux kernel 3.11.3
GNOME Orca added
Ardour 3 added

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Settings

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Settings Manager

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

The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu Studio is 512 MB of memory. It is highly recommended that you have 2GB, or more, as some applications use up a lot of RAM.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu Studio 13.10 from this page. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. You can download it via direct links or torrent links.

The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.58 GB, so it’s not a small download. But you do get quite a lot of software included with Ubuntu Studio, so it’s worth the larger download size.

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

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Installation
Ubuntu Studio uses the Ubuntu installer, so installing it is a breeze. It’s also a live distro, so you can simply run it off a disc before doing an install on your computer.

The developers have added some nice slides to the slideshow that highlight some of the multimedia applications that come with this distro, you can check some of them out below in the screenshots.

The install did take a bit longer than the other Ubuntu spins, but it also comes with more software so that’s to be expected.

If you need to upgrade from Ubuntu Studio 13.04, here are the upgrade instructions from the release notes:

To upgrade from Ubuntu Studio 13.04, press Alt+F2 and type in “update-manager” (without the quotes) into the command box.

Software Updater should open up. Click “Settings” and click on the tab “Updates”.

Set “Notify me of a new Ubuntu version” to “For any new version”.

Close and relaunch Software Updater and the Software Updater should display the following message: “New distribution release ‘13.10’ is available.

Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions”.

Please click on “Upgrade” and follow the instructions given.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Videos

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Videos

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Photography

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Photography

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Graphics

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Graphics

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Audio

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Audio

The Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop
Since this is the first time I’ve looked at Ubuntu Studio, I wondered which desktop environment it would use. I was very pleased to discover that it’s using Xfce, one of the best minimalist desktops available. It’s very easy to find your way around in Ubuntu Studio 13.10.

To access the applications menu, just click the button in the top panel. Applications are broken down into categories, with some having subcategories with even more applications that can be installed.

I particularly liked the icons for the Audio Production, Graphic Design, Photography , Video Production and Publishing categories. They show that the developers of this distro put some thought into differentiating it from other distributions.

Please note that there is a bottom panel available as well, but you won’t see it until you put your cursor over it. This is one of the few things about Xfce that I don’t like; the bottom panel auto-hides itself by default. You can fix this by right-clicking next to the first icon then choosing Panel and then Panel Preferences to uncheck the “Automatically show and hide the panel” checkbox.

One odd thing about the Ubuntu  Studio desktop is the wallpaper. For a distro that is focused on multimedia creation, the default wallpaper is rather subdued. I would have expected something more in line with the icons that I mentioned earlier and that you can see in the application menu screenshot below. Perhaps we’ll see a brighter and more colorful wallpaper in the next release.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Xfce Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Xfce Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Bottom Panel

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Bottom Panel

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File System

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File System

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File Manager

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File Manager

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. Please note that in some cases there are extra sub-categories of applications. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 comes with a lot of software, too much for me to list every application below.

Audio Production
Audio Processors (subcategory)
Midi Utilities (subcategory)
Mixers and Card Control (subcategory)
Sound Generators (subcategory)
QjackCtl
Patchage
gladish
LADI Player
LADI System Tray
Meterbridge
ARDOUR3
Ardour Digital Audio Workstation
Audacity
Hydrogen
Internet DJ Console
Linux Multimedia Studio
MuseScore
Pure Data
Qtractor
SooperLooper

Graphic Design
Extra Graphics Applications (subcategory)
Agave
Blender
FrontForge
GIMP
ImageMagick
Inkscape
Krita
MyPaint
SimpleScan
Synfig Studio

Photography
Extra Photography Applications (subcategory)
Darktable
GIMP
Phatch Image Inspector
Phatch PHoto bATCH Processor
Rapid Photo Downloader
RawTherapee
Shotwell

Video Production
Extra Video Applications (subcategory)
Audacity
Blender
Brasero
DVD Styler
Inkscape
Kdenlive
OpenShot Video Editor
RecordMyDesktop
Subtitle Editor
Videos
Xjadeo

Publishing
FontForge
Font Manager
MuseScore
Scribus
SimpleScan

Internet
Firefox
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission
XChat IRC

Media Playback
Audacious
Brasero
HDAJackRetask
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control
Videos
xine

Office
Dictionary
Document Viewer
Extra Office Applications (subcategory)
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Ubuntu  Studio 13.10 uses the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s very easy to find additional applications. Just find the application you want and click the Install button to add it or the Remove button to delete it. You can also see Top Rated applications at the top level and in each category.

Although Ubuntu Studio’s focus is multimedia, it’s nice to know that you can so easily add other applications. It gives this distro some additional appeal for folks that want all of the multimedia stuff, but who also might want to use it for other things.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Top Rated Applications

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Top Rated Applications

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine User Reviews

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine User Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
With the exception of the slower install, I didn’t see any problems with Ubuntu Studio 13.10. It ran well for me, I found it to be very stable and fast. If you’ve seen any problems, please note them in the comments below for the benefits of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu Studio 13.10
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 Ubuntu Studio support page. The support page includes link to the Ubuntu Studio section of the Ubuntu forums, IRC chat, mailing lists, and the Google+ community page.

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 Ubuntu Studio 13.10
I was very impressed with Ubuntu Studio 13.10, I think it’s one of the best Ubuntu spins I’ve ever seen. The developers set out to create a distro that focuses on multimedia like a laser beam, and they’ve entirely succeeded in their efforts. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is the distribution for anyone who needs to create or manage multimedia content.

Could you achieve the same thing by using a different Ubuntu spin and then adding multimedia software yourself? I suppose so but then you’d have to run around the Ubuntu Software Center downloading application after application. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 makes it much easier by providing pretty much everything you’d ever need for multimedia work. It’s all there for you from the moment that your desktop loads.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu Studio 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10

Note: I’ve done some edits to this review after getting feedback from readers. The initial version was too skewed by my own lack of enthusiasm for GNOME 3. I’ve added some content and bumped up the score to better reflect the overall value of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 rather than my own feelings toward GNOME 3. Thanks to my readers for sharing their thoughts, my apologies for the earlier take on this distro.

Unity has caused an enormous amount of controversy in the Ubuntu community, with many hating it and some loving it. Fortunately, we are blessed with other desktop environments to use on top of the Ubuntu base. In addition to Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Kubuntu, we also have Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. That’s right, you can simply opt to run GNOME on top of Ubuntu instead of Unity.

GNOME 3 is definitely not my cup of tea. It is probably my least favorite Linux desktop, and it has gotten a lot of flack from various people including Linus Torvalds (who switched to Xfce but then switched back to GNOME 3 later). This guy sums up well some of the reasons why GNOME 3 has garnered such criticism.

However, I understand that GNOME 3 has those who appreciate it and prefer it. If you’re one of them then you will most likely enjoy Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. It blends the GNOME 3.8 desktop with Ubuntu very well.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Application Menu

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Application Menu

My preference in this release is GNOME Classic. GNOME Classic is more or less GNOME as it used to be, and I found using it to be much more enjoyable than GNOME 3. Your mileage may vary, however.

Whatever your preference, it’s easy to switch between GNOME 3.8 and GNOME Classic by changing the session at the login screen.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Login Menu

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Login Menu

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

Most of GNOME 3.8 is included
Artwork improvements
GNOME Classic included
Ubuntu Online Account no longer included (you have to install it if you want it)

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

The Minimum System Requirement for Ubuntu GNOME is 1 GB of RAM. It is recommended to have more. If you have an old machine, you may consider other alternatives like Lubuntu.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 907 MB. You can get Ubuntu GNOME 3.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I opted to use the 64-bit version for this review.

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

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Installation
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 obviously uses the Ubuntu installer, which means it is very fast and easy to install. I had no problems installing it. It’s also a live distro, so you can run it off a disc before doing an install. Be sure to click the check boxes during the install to download updates and install third party software.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Prepare Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Prepare Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Desktop
Since this release includes most of GNOME 3.8, you should be aware of its new features. Here’s a brief list of some of what you’ll find, you can see the GNOME 3.8 release notes for more details (I recommend reading it as there’s much more than I can cover in this review).

New application launching views: Frequent and All tabs
New search results and settings in Activities Overview
New privacy and sharing settings (including screen lock, name & visibility, usage and history, and temporary files and trash purging)
Clocks core application
Better animation rendering
GNOME Classic mode
Bug fixes
Input methods

When your desktop loads, you’ll see the Activities link on the top panel. Click that and you’ll see the Favorites panel appear on the left. Firefox, Evolution, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Shotwell, and LibreOffice are all available on the panel. So it’s easy to do most typical desktop tasks right away. You can also access your files, help information and the Show Applications button on the panel.

If you click the Show Applications button, you’ll see two tabs: Frequent and All. The Frequent tabs shows your most used applications, while the All tab lists everything. After you’ve used Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 for a while, your favorites will start appearing thus making it easier to find the applications you use most often.

In addition to applications, you will also see Display, Brightness and Lock, Background, Backup and other important system settings on the All Tab. The icons are in alphabetical order, so it’s not hard to find a particular one as long as you know it’s name.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 3.8 Desktop

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Shotwell
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy
Firefox
Transmission

Multimedia
Cheese
Rhythmbox
Videos

Office
gedit
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
In the last release of Ubuntu GNOME (13.04), the Ubuntu Software Center was added, and I think it was a very good decision. As always it’s very easy to find software. To add or remove an application just click the Install or Remove buttons.

You can also read user reviews and see star ratings for applications. There’s a Top Rated section as well to make it easier for you to find some of the best apps available.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium User Reviews and Star Ratings

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium User Reviews and Star Ratings

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
In terms of speed and stability, both GNOME Classic and GNOME 3 seemed to perform pretty well. If you had any problems, please list them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
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 Ubuntu support page. The support page includes documentation, professional support services, free community support, and a technical answers system.

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 Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 will be welcomed by GNOME fans. GNOME 3.8 adds some significant new features that enhance the desktop experience, and all of it has been combined well with Ubuntu 13.10 itself. So the end result will probably be quite appealing for those who want Ubuntu, but with GNOME 3.8 instead of Unity.

If you are not a fan of GNOME 3 then Lubuntu, Kubuntu or Xubuntu are much better desktop environments if you need to stay within the Ubuntu family. If none of those appeal to you then you might want to just sit tight and wait for Linux Mint 16 to arrive.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu GNOME 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Xubuntu 13.10

In my last review I took at Lubuntu 13.10, a light-weight Ubuntu spin. As good as Lubuntu is, it’s not the only minimalistic distro based on Ubuntu. Xubuntu 13.10 has also been updated, and it’s definitely worth considering if you want the advantages of Ubuntu without the desktop bloat.

Xubuntu 13.10 uses the Xfce desktop environment. Here’s a description from the Xfce site in case you aren’t familiar with it:

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.

Another priority of Xfce is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org.

Xfce can be installed on several UNIX platforms. It is known to compile on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc, Alpha…

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

New version of xfce4-settings (includes a new dialog for display setups)
Theme color tool gtk-theme-config has been added
New wallpaper
New releases of Gtk themes
New release of the LightDM greeter
Updated documentation

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

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

To install or try Xubuntu within the Desktop/Live CD, you need 256 MB of memory. Installing with the Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires 64 MB. Once installed, it is strongly recommended to have at least 512 MB of memory.

When you install Xubuntu from the Desktop CD, you need 4.4 GB of free space on your hard disk. The Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires you to have 2 GB of free space on your hard disk.

Xubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Xubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 882.9 MB. You can get Xubuntu 13.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Installation
Xubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install. No manual disk partitioning is required, and you can download updates and install third party software while your install completes.

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop
Xubuntu 13.10 has a panel at the top and at the bottom of the screen. The top panel contains the application menu, open applications, desktop switcher, networking, date, log out/switch user functionality icons.

The bottom panel reminds me of the Dock in OS X on the Mac. It contains mail and browser applications, settings, software, and search (among other things). The bottom panel can be quite useful as it’s a faster way to get to the things you use most of the time. But it also is set to hide itself by default until your cursor hovers over it (more on that in the problems section).

The Xubuntu 13.10 desktop also displays Home, File System and Trash icons.

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Ristretto Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
gmusicbrowser
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control Center
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Dictionary
Document Viewer
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Xubuntu 13.10
Xubuntu 13.10 makes software management very easy since it uses the Ubuntu Software Center. You can search for applications, browse categories, read user reviews, and see star ratings for applications. You can also see Top Rated and Most Popular applications at the top level and for each category of applications.

To install an application, just find it in the software center and click the Install button. Click Remove to take it off your system if you change your mind later.

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Problems & Headaches Found in Xubuntu 13.10
One thing I didn’t like about Xubuntu 13.10 was the panel on the bottom of the desktop that was set to “Automatically show and hide the panel” by default. Ugh. To change it you need to right-click on it when it appears, go to Panel then Panel Preferences, and then uncheck that box.

I think having the bottom panel do that is detrimental to new users of Xubuntu, who might not even know it’s there until they happen to move the cursor over it. It should be set to show by default, and the user should have the option of setting it to show and hide if they really want it. I hope this is changed in future releases of Xubuntu.

Beyond the bottom panel, I didn’t see much to complain about with Xubuntu 13.10. It was very fast and stable for me.

Please note that there are some known issues with Xubuntu 13.10 that you should be aware of before doing an install:

indicator-sound no longer functions with xfce4-indicator-plugin (1208204)
Gmusicbrowser’s albuminfo-plugin is deactivated by default and causes the app to hang if enabled (1223808)
Restart button fails to work in Update Manager (1232363)
User Administration – a new User is added correctly, but Administration app crashes on close (1185396)
Lock screen slow to appear on resume from suspend (1229486)

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 13.10
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 Xubuntu Help & Support page. The support page offers mailing lists, documentation, discussion forums, and commercial support.

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 Xubuntu 13.10
Xubuntu 13.10, like it’s cousin Lubuntu 13.10, is a great choice if you’re a minimalist. It’s fast, stable and offers many of the advantages of Ubuntu 13.10 without the Unity experience (or torture, depending on your perspective).

I really enjoyed using Xubuntu 13.10 and I definitely think it’s worth a download. At the very least run it as a live distro in a virtual machine to get a taste of what it has to offer. I liked it just a tad bit more than Lubuntu.

Speaking of Lubuntu, should you pick Xubuntu 13.10 or Lubuntu 13.10? Well, setting aside the LXDE versus Xfce angle (if you prefer one over the other by a lot then it’s an easy choice), I think it’s really a question of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

I found both distros to be fast and stable. Xubuntu 13.10 does offer the full Ubuntu Software Center experience, so if that is important to you then Xubuntu is probably your best bet. If not then I’d say give both of them a shot and see which one tickles your fancy more.

Or, like any good distrohopper, you could simply run both distros and switch between them according to your mood. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.

Xubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Xubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Lubuntu 13.10

Sometimes less can be much, much more when it comes to Linux distributions. Lubuntu 13.10 offers some of the advantages of Ubuntu but in a much more minimalist package. Lubuntu uses the LXDE desktop environment instead of Unity, and it contains less software than Ubuntu 13.10.

For example, you won’t find LibreOffice bundled into Lubuntu; instead you get Abiword and Gnumeric as your default office applications. Don’t worry though, if you really want LibreOffice then you can easily download it via the Lubuntu Software Center (more on that later).

If you aren’t familiar with LXDE, here’s a brief description from the LXDE site:

The “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment” is an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. Maintained by an international community of developers, it comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM than other environments.

It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications, such as netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed on many Linux distributions including Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu. It is the standard for Knoppix and lubuntu. LXDE also runs on OpenSolaris and BSD. LXDE provides a fast desktop experience; connecting easily with applications in the cloud. LXDE supports a wealth of programs that can be installed locally with Linux systems.

The source code of LXDE is licensed partly under the terms of the GNU General Public License and partly under the LGPL.

Lubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Lubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

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

New version of pcmanfm / libfm (1.1.0) including a built-in search utility.
Artwork improvements, including new wallpapers, community wallpapers, new icons …
Removing catfish, since pcmanfm has its own search utility
Fix a very old bug causing gnome-mplayer to crash with some CPU (P4)
Several fixes for the image viewer gpicview.

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

A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM is probably a bottom-line configuration that may yield slow yet usable system with a standard lubuntu desktop.

13.04 32 bit ISO require your CPU to have Physical Address Extensions, or PAE. “PAE is provided by Intel Pentium Pro and above CPUs, including all later Pentium-series processors (except most 400 MHz-bus versions of the Pentium M).” – If you have a NON-PAE CPU you can use 12.04 instead.

For PowerPC, it is known to run on a G4 running at 867MHz with 640MB RAM.

For Intel based Macs, lubuntu should run on all models.

Lubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Lubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 736.1 MB. Lubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit for PCs. You can also get a 64-bit version for Intel based Macs.

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

Lubuntu 13.10 Installation
Lubuntu 13.10 is very easy to install, and the installer is also fast. Since Lubuntu 13.10 is a live distro, you also have the option of trying it without doing an install.

On the preparing to install screen you have the option of installing third party software and downloading updates, I did both for this review. I almost always do this since it saves me the headache of doing it later on after my system has been installed.

You can also watch a brief slideshow while your Lubuntu 13.10 install completes.

Lubuntu 13.10 Prepare to Install

Lubuntu 13.10 Prepare to Install

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop
The Lubuntu 13.10 desktop is free of icon clutter. The wallpaper is a bit generic, but it works well.

To access applications, click the button on the far left of the panel. and you’ll see all the usual application categories. You can also access your preferences and system tools, as well as the logout menu.

There are also icons on the panel to access your file manager (PCManFM), Firefox, show the desktop, and each desktop you have active (it defaults to giving you two desktops but you can increase that if you want).

If you hate Unity in Ubuntu 13.10 then you’ll love Lubuntu’s menu system. Since it’s based on LXDE, it’s pretty much old school. Frankly, this is the way a desktop menu system should operate. I find it much faster than navigating Unity in Ubuntu 13.10.

Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Lubuntu 13.10 Menu On Panel

Lubuntu 13.10 Menu On Panel

Linux Software Included in Lubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Penguin Canfield
Penguin Freecell
Penguin Golf
Penguin Mastermind
Penguin Merlin
Penguin Minesweeper
Penguin Pegged
Penguin Solitaire
Penguin Spider
Penguin Taipei
Penguin Taipei-Editor
Penguin Thornq

Graphics
Document Viewer
mtPaint Graphic Editor
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Transmission

Multimedia
Audacious
GNOME Mplayer
guvcview
Xfburn

Office
Abiword
Gnumeric

Linux Software Management Tools in Lubuntu 13.10
Lubuntu 13.10 also has its own software center. Like the rest of this distro, it’s much more minimalistic in appearance than the one in Ubuntu 13.10 or even Kubuntu 13.10. The category icons aren’t even in color, but I actually like this. It totally fits in with the overall look and feel of Lubuntu 13.10.

There are three tabs at the top: Get Software (the default view), Installed Software, and Apps Basket.

If you want to add an application, click the Install button and it will be added to the Apps Basket. When you are ready to install all of your new applications, click the Install Packages button on the Apps Basket menu.

If you want to remove an installed application, click it then click the Remove from the System button at the bottom of the menu (you can also check for reviews).

The Lubuntu Software Center is a bit less polished than the Ubuntu Software Center and Linux Mint’s Software Manager. But that’s perfectly fine because this is a minimalist’s distro. If you want glitz and glamour, Lubuntu 13.10 probably isn’t for you anyway.

Note that Synaptic is also available if you prefer it to the Lubuntu Software Center. If you’re new to Linux I recommend sticking with the Software Center as Synaptic can be a bit confusing to newcomers.

Lubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Graphics Category in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Graphics Category in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Installed Software in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Installed Software in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Apps Basket in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Apps Basket in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Blender in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Blender in Software Center

Problems & Headaches Found in Lubuntu 13.10
Lubuntu 13.10 ran very well for me, it was quite speedy and seemed very stable.

However, there are some known issues with it that you should be aware of before doing an install:

Installation
PPC has several issues and workarounds, please refer to the documentation on the wiki.
Guided install has a bug when selecting ‘max’ (1163908).
Upgrade from 12.10 –> 13.04 gives a warning error (966451).
Upgrading slow machines Slow Machines

Graphics and Display
PPC issued are detailed above.

Applications
Blank boxes appear when hardinfo is started, and needed to be closed before accessing to the application (1029212)
Different spacing for the icons on the right corner of lxpanel (1056547)
Software sources takes 30 seconds to load (1073728)
Clicking on Ibus icon start the deamon, but doesn’t display an icon (1041933)
Some actions on the menu may cause an harmless crash of menu-cache (1098732)

Where To Get Help for Lubuntu 13.10
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 Lubuntu Wiki, discussion forum, documentation or contact page.

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 Lubuntu 13.10
One of the nice things about Linux is that there’s a distribution for everybody. Lubuntu 13.10 is a great choice for those who like Ubuntu, but who want to skip Unity and use a faster, light-weight and more traditional desktop environment.

It’s also a good choice for those who don’t want to be overloaded with bundled software, and who prefer to keep the number of installed applications on their systems down to a bare minimum. I tend more toward the minimalist side of things so I really liked Lubuntu 13.10.

Lubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate of advanced Linux  users.

What’s your take on Lubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Kubuntu 13.10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

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

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

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

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

Kubuntu 13.10 About

Kubuntu 13.10 About

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch some slides while your install completes.

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop
One of the things I hate with some distros is a desktop full of icon clutter. I generally prefer to keep my desktops clean and only put icons there that I must absolutely have available. Kubuntu 13.10 didn’t disappoint me in that regard. There weren’t any icons showing when my desktop loaded.

If you’re completely new to Kubuntu, don’t worry. It’s very easy to find your way around. Click the K (Kickoff Application Launcher) button on the panel to access your applications, system settings, shutdown button, search box and recently used applications.

If you dislike the sliding menus, just right-click the K button on the panel and choose “Switch to Classic Menu Style” to get rid of them. I used to detest the sliding menus in KDE, but I’ve warmed up to them somewhat and now I generally don’t bother going back to the classic style.

The System Settings menu is easy to find and contains everything you need to manage your Kubuntu 13.10 computer.

Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Kubuntu 13.10 Computer Menu

Kubuntu 13.10 Computer Menu

Kubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Kubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Kubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
KPatience

Graphics
Krita
Okular Document Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Skanlite
Gwenview
Kamoso
KSnapshot

Internet
KTorrent
BlueDevil
Akregator
KDE IM Contacts
KPPP
Quassel IRC
KDE IM Log Viewer
KMail
Mozilla Firefox
Rekonq

Multimedia
Amarok
K3B Disc Burner
KMix
Dragon Player for Video

Office
KAddressBook
Kexi
KMail
LibreOffice
Kontact
KOrganizer

Linux Software Management Tools in Kubuntu 13.10
The biggest feature in this release of Kubuntu is the Muon Discover software center. It pretty much puts Kubuntu on par with Linux Mint and Ubuntu in terms of attractive software management interfaces.

Main Tabs
There are three tabs at the top: Discover, Installed and Sources.

Discover is the default view and it lets you browse software by category. Underneath the categories are the Popularity Contest and Best Ratings menus. They let you see popular and best rated applications in the software center.

When you go into a category of applications, you’ll see Popularity Contest and Best Ratings for that category of apps. This is a neat way of surfacing potentially useful applications that users might not be aware of when they first start browsing.

The Installed tab lets you see the applications you have, and it also lets you know if there are updates. Just click the Updates icon in the upper right corner to install your updates.

The Sources tab lets you see which sources you are currently using, and you can add or configure sources.

Application Tabs
When you click on an application you’ll see three tabs: Overview, Add-ons and Reviews.

On the overview page you can see a screenshot of the application and description, along with the size of the download and how much disk space it will take up. You also see a star rating and the number of reviews by other users.

The Add-Ons tab lets you easily find add-ons for that application.

The Reviews tab shows the user reviews for the application. You can mark each review as useful or not. Keep scrolling and more user reviews will load.

To add or remove applications just click on the Install button, then type in your password and click the OK button. Your app will download and install itself. To remove a software application just click the Remove button.

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover Software Center

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover Software Center

Kubuntu 13.10 Multimedia Category

Kubuntu 13.10 Multimedia Category

Kubuntu 13.10 Install VLC

Kubuntu 13.10 Install VLC

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover User Reviews

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover User Reviews

Kubuntu 13.10 Installed Software

Kubuntu 13.10 Installed Software

Kubuntu 13.10 Software Sources

Kubuntu 13.10 Software Sources

Problems & Headaches Found in Kubuntu 13.10
I was very pleased with the performance of Kubuntu 13.10, it was quite speedy for me. I didn’t see any noticeable instability.

However, there are a couple of known problems listed on the news announcement:

  • Network management crash on upgrade (Bug:1231360)
  • USB installation media fails to boot if created with persistence enabled (Bug:1239833)

If you’ve seen any bugs or had any problems, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks!

One minor headache I noticed was that the Muon Discover software center doesn’t appear in the Favorites menu on the panel by default. It really should be there given how important it is for new people who might not know where to look to find it.

I’d also consider relabeling it to say simply “Software Center” as that is a lot more intuitive than “Muon Discover” which is really a geek kind of name (the words “software center” appear under the name Muon Discover but they should just replace it instead). How many people new to Kubuntu will know to look for “Muon Discover” versus something like “Software Center” or “Software Manager?” Probably not very many I’d guess.

Where To Get Help for Kubuntu 13.10
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 Kubuntu support page which offers community help, commercial support, documentation and an answers system. You can also check out the Kubuntu community page for web forums, and the Kubuntu mailing list.

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 Kubuntu 13.10
Although I generally dislike comparing them directly, I have to admit that I found Kubuntu 13.10 to be a much more interesting release than Ubuntu 13.10. Perhaps I still have some lingering dislike for Unity, but Kubuntu 13.10 seemed faster and far more pleasant to use.

If you’re currently using Kubuntu 13.04 then I think it makes sense to upgrade to Kubuntu 13.10. The new software center is quite good, pretty much on par with the ones in Linux Mint and Ubuntu. That alone would make an upgrade worthwhile.

Kubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Kubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

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

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

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

A Boring Salamander

Zzzzzzzzzzz!

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

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

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

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

1. Click on Settings.

2. Click on Security and Privacy.

3. Click on the Search tab.

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

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

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

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

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

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

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ubuntu 13.10 Installation
The Ubuntu 13.10 installer is as easy as ever. My install took about fifteen minutes or so. There’s also a brief slideshow you can watch while your install completes.

Ubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop
There’s not too much new to note about the Ubuntu 13.10 desktop since I covered the new stuff in the What’s New section above. It’s pretty much the same for the most part as Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.10 Search

Ubuntu 13.10 Search

Ubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Ubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

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

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy IM
Firefox
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Videos
Rhythmbox Music Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 13.10
The Ubuntu Software Center is as good as ever. It’s very easy to find software in it. You can even find Top Rated software such as VLC, GParted and other top notch applications.

Applications are broken down into the usual categories and subcategories, and you can also search for a particular application if you don’t want to browse around to find it. You can also see star ratings and read reviews by other users before installing an application.

To install an app, just find it in the Software Center and click the Install button (click Remove to take it off your system).

Ubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Install

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Install

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Reviews

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu 13.10
Ubuntu 13.10 ran pretty well for me, I didn’t encounter any noticeable slowdown or crashes. If you’ve seen any, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other users.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 13.10
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 Ubuntu support page.

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 Ubuntu 13.10
At the beginning of the review, I barked about how Ubuntu 13.10 was boring. Well, it is boring.

But it’s also still a very good desktop Linux distribution. It works well, and it was also speedy and stable for me. So even though I complained about the lack of pizzazz in this release, you should not discount the appeal of Ubuntu 13.10.

If you’re looking for a desktop distribution, be sure to check it out. It may not wow you with tons of new features, but it builds on a very reliable base and it hits most of the sweet spots for desktop users.

Ubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Mageia 3

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

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

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

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

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

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

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

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

Everything is laid out in a clear way so you’ll feel right at home even if you’ve never used Mageia before. You can also access system settings and the control center right from the panel, along with Firefox and the Dolphin file manager.

Mageia 3 Control Center

Mageia 3 Control Center

Linux Software Included in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 comes with a very good selection of desktop Linux software. Here’s a sample of what’s included in the release. Browse the application menus to see a full list of software.

Games
Available in the software manager

Graphics
AcquireImages
digiKam
DNGConverter
ExpoBlending
GIMP
Gwenview
KColorChooser
KolourPaint
KSnapshot
Panorama

Internet
Akregator
BlueDevil
Ekiga Softphone
FileZilla
Firefox
Import Wizard
KDE IM Contacts
KDE IM Log Viewer
KMail
KNetAttach
KNode
Konqueror
Konversation
Kopete
KTorrent
Network Center

Multimedia
Amarok
Audacity
Dragon Player
Kdenlive
KMix
KsCD
PulseAudio Volume Control
Videos

Office
LibreOffice
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
Okular
Scribus
skrooge

Linux Software Management Tools in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 uses RPMdrake 5.49 for software management. It’s functional but not particularly elegant. Applications are listed according to category. There are no user reviews or star ratings available, unlike Ubuntu’s Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager tools.

Mageia 3 Software Manager

Mageia 3 Software Manager

Mageia 3 App Install

Mageia 3 App Install

To install an application, just find it in the software manager. Click the checkbox next to it, then click the Apply button. Removing an application works the same way, just uncheck the already installed application’s check box then click Apply.

Problems & Headaches Found in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 worked very well for me. However, there are some problems that have been noted with this release. Be sure to browse the full errata list on the Mageia site before doing an install.

If you’ve noticed any problems with Mageia 3, please list them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Mageia 3
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 Mageia support page. You’ll find documentation there, as well as links to community and professional support.

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 Mageia 3
Mageia has matured in this release, and it certainly should be considered by anyone looking for a full-featured Linux desktop. It deserves to take its place alongside Ubuntu, Linux Mint and some of the other top desktop Linux distros.

Mageia is also a good option for those seeking to leave Windows behind. It offers plenty of software to replace most Windows applications, and it provides a range of desktop environments for users to enjoy. It’s a good place for a Windows user to land if they want to try Linux as an alternative.

Mageia 3 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Mageia 3? Tell me in the comments below.

Distro Astro 1.0.2

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

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

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Boot Menu

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Boot Menu

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Live Desktop

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Live Desktop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Type

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Type

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Erase Hard Disk

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Erase Hard Disk

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Slideshow

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Install Slideshow

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Login

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Login

The Distro Astro 1.0.2 Desktop
One of the things I really like about Distro Astro is the look and feel of it. The developers didn’t just glom a bunch of astronomy apps into Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They took the time to include some gorgeous wallpapers to give it’s own feel and identity. The wallpapers are images from the Hubble telescope.

From the minute you boot into the desktop, you know that this distro is all about the heavens. The default wallpaper is gorgeous, but you can easily switch it by right clicking your desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background. There are a number of attractive space-based wallpapers that are included by default, and you can get different kinds online.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Installed Desktop

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Installed Desktop

On the desktop you’ll find a couple of icons for personal files, and your computer. But there are also seven icons for astronomy applications that make it easy to get started learning about space and the universe.

Click the Start button on the panel, and you’ll see the handy Linux Mint menu. If you’ve used Linux Mint before, you’ll feel right at home in Distro Astro. It’s easy to navigate around to find applications, the Software Manager, Control Center, etc.

If you prefer you can opt for the Nightvision theme instead of the default Clearskies. Nightvision is much darker, with red text. It’s not my cup of tea, as I don’t care for red text at all. But your mileage may vary so check it out anyway.

There are also Nightvision and Hubble screensavers you can use in Distro Astro 1.0.2. The Hubble images are quite gorgeous, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Some of them are breathtaking to behold, and they convey well the amazing beauty of our universe.

Linux Software Included in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. The focus of Distro Astro is obviously on astronomy apps, and there’s quite a lot to choose from as you can tell from the list below.

But the developers of this distro have not forgotten the need for other applications, you’ll find all  your usual favorites here such as VLC, GIMP, LibreOffice, etc. So you can do quite a bit more with Distro Astro than just use astronomy applications.

Astronomy Applications
AstroCC Coordinate Converter (convert astronomical coordinates)
Astronomy Clock 2 (see astronomical time)
Astronomy Lab 2 (simulate astronomical events)
Celestia (explore the universe)
GCX Astro-Image Processor (process astronomical images)
GPredict (satellite tracker)
Gravity (gravitational simulator)
Iris (process astronomical images)
KStars Planetarium (desktop planetarium)
Meteoracle (predict and observer meteor showers)
Nightshade (desktop planetarium)
OpenRocket (design and simulate model rockets)
OpenUniverse Space Simulator (explore the solar system)
ORSA (celestial mechanics tool)
Planets (simulations of planetary systems)
Radio Meteor Analyzer (analyze radio meteor data)
Sky Charts (desktop planetarium)
SkyGlobe (desktop planetarium)
StarPlot (view star charts)
Stellarium (planetarium)
Virtual Moon Atlas (study lunar features)
VMA Command Center (virtual moon atlas)
Where is M13? (display deep sky objects)
wxAstroCapture (capture planetary objects)
XEphem (astronomical ephemeris)
XTide (view tide and current predictions)

Graphics
GIMP
Image Organizer

Internet
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird
Pidgin IM
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero
Clementine
Totem Movie Player
VLC

Office
LibreOffice
Simple Scan

Linux Software Management Tools in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Distro Astro uses the Linux Mint Software Manager, so it’s quite easy to add or remove applications. Just find the application and then click the Install or Remove button. You can also read see star ratings and read short reviews by other users, before installing an application.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Software Manager

Distro Astro 1.0.2 Software Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Distro Astro 1.0.2 ran very well for me. I saw no noticeable issues with it. It seemed fairly fast and was very stable while I was running it.

If you’ve seen any issues with it, please note them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. It’s always helpful to know if there are potential problems with a distro before somebody installs it. Thanks in advance if you note anything.

Where To Get Help for Distro Astro 1.0.2
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 email the Distro Astro developers, send them a form email on their site, or post on the Distro Astro Facebook page.

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 Distro Astro 1.0.2
I was quite impressed with Distro Astro 1.0.2. Any Linux users who are interested in astronomy should definitely check it out, it’s certainly worth a download. It provides a great selection of astronomy applications, but it can also be used for other things. So it’s not just limited to its primary function.

If I could change one thing about this distro, it’s the name. Distro Astro just isn’t memorable enough. If there are no copyright issues involved, perhaps the developers could simply call it “Voyager” and then use a tagline like “Discover the Universe with Linux.” Okay, maybe I’m nitpicking, but a catchy name can work wonders at getting people’s attention. And I’d really like to see this distro get some real attention since it has quite a lot to offer sky watchers.

Distro Astro 1.0.2 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Distro Astro 1.0.2? Tell me in the comments below.

Kwheezy 1.2

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

Kwheezy 1.2 Live Desktop

Kwheezy 1.2 Live Desktop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Selection

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Selection

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Partitioning

Kwheezy 1.2 Install Drive Partitioning

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

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

Kwheezy 1.2 Installed Desktop

Kwheezy 1.2 Installed Desktop

Linux Software Included in Kwheezy 1.2
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Kwheezy comes with a lot of software. I generally type the apps into the categories below, but for this review I opted for screenshots to save myself a lot of typing. Note also the “More Applications” at the bottom of some of the screenshots. So you aren’t seeing all of the available apps in those screenshots.

There were also too many games to list them individually, so I just included a screenie of the game categories instead. You should note that PlayOnLinux and Steam are both included by default, so that’s good news for Kwheezy gamers.

Games

Kwheezy 1.2 Games Menu

Kwheezy 1.2 Games Menu

Graphics

Kwheezy 1.2 Graphics Apps Menu

Kwheezy 1.2 Graphics Apps Menu

Internet

Kwheezy 1.2 Internet Apps Menu

Kwheezy 1.2 Internet Apps Menu

Multimedia

Kwheezy 1.2 Multimedia Apps Menu

Kwheezy 1.2 Multimedia Apps Menu

Office

Kwheezy 1.2 Office Apps Menu

Kwheezy 1.2 Office Apps Menu

Linux Software Management Tools in Kwheezy 1.2
Kwheezy uses Apper as its front end for software management (it used to be called KPackageKit). Apper is functional but not elegant. It doesn’t come close to the Linux Mint Software Manager or Ubuntu’s Software Center in terms of ease of use or looks. But it is usable, and it will get the job done for you.

Just don’t get expect star ratings, user reviews and that sort of stuff. Apper hearkens back to earlier days in Linux software management tools. My hope is that it will eventually be on par with the other two software management tools I mentioned.

Kwheezy 1.2 Software Manager Categories

Kwheezy 1.2 Software Manager Categories

Kwheezy 1.2 Software List

Kwheezy 1.2 Software List

Kwheezy 1.2 Software Manager Install Chromium

Kwheezy 1.2 Software Manager Install Chromium

Problems & Headaches Found in Kwheezy 1.2
I noted the slow installer above. Beyond that I did not notice any problems while running Kwheezy 1.2. It seemed quite stable and reasonably fast while loading and running applications.

If you’ve run into any problems with Kwheezy 1.2, please share them in the comments section at the end of the review. Another reader might have a solution or might benefit from your solution if you found one. Thanks in advance for sharing.

Where To Get Help for Kwheezy 1.2
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 Kwheezy wiki, and the Kwheezy forum. You can also contact the Kwheezy developers on their support page.

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 Kwheezy 1.2
I’m impressed with Kwheezy, although it’s only at version 1.2 it’s clear the developers have put a lot of thought into this spin of Debian. Kwheezy will be particularly appealing to those who want to combine the KDE desktop environment with the power of Debian.

Kwheezy’s enormous range of applications is both good and bad. Those who want everything installed in one fell swoop will appreciate the convenience offered by Kwheezy. This comes at a price, however. Kwheezy takes up quite a bit of disk space after being installed. Minimalists who prefer to pick and choose which applications are installed will thus probably want to avoid Kwheezy.

Kwheezy is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Kwheezy 1.2? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

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.

Anything that makes driver management easier and faster is also quite welcome. Let’s face it, we’ve all had driver issues at one time or another, so Driver Manager will be a very useful tool for years to come.

Linux Mint 15 Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Get More Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Get More Desklets

Desklets lets you add widgets to your Linux Mint 15 desktop. Linux Mint 15 includes a launcher, clock and photoframe desklet by default. While it’s still early for desklets, it will be a nice option for some users.

Alas, I won’t be one of them. I’ve never liked widgets, and I still don’t. I may be a bit of a luddite on this, but they just seem like clutter to me. That’s my personal sense of them, however. I know that there are some people who will really enjoy them, so I consider it a plus that Cinnamon 1.8 offers them. But I won’t be using the damned things. Heh.

Linux Mint 15 Screensaver and Lock Settings

Linux Mint 15 Screensaver and Lock Settings

Cinnamon now has a screensaver that lets you set up an away message. I generally don’t lock my screensaver, but I’m sure there are plenty of people that do. So it’s nice to have this option to let people know when you’ll be back or whatever.

Linux Mint 15 System Settings

Linux Mint 15 System Settings

You won’t be needing Gnome Control Center to access certain config modules. Cinnamon Settings now includes all configuration modules. This is a good improvement, I like anything that streamlines system management tools. Why hop around from menu to menu, when you can do everything from just one? Makes a lot more sense to me.

Linux Mint 15 Applets

Linux Mint 15 Applets

Spices are applets, extensions, desklets or themes. You can manage them right from your desktop, without having to go to a web page. The menu is very easy to navigate, and makes it pretty simple to find what you are looking for, or to find what you have already installed.

System Requirements for Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Here’s what you’ll need to run this Linux Mint 15 Olivia:

  • 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

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Download

You can download Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 959 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.

Linux Mint 15 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. You can choose the MATE desktop or the Cinnamon version. You can also choose to download a version with multimedia codecs or without (depending on the country you live in).

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Installation

Linux Mint 15 is a live distro, so you can opt to run it off a disc to check it out. It’s also very easy and quick to install it to your computer. You can watch a slideshow while your install completes.

Linux Mint 15 Install Type

Linux Mint 15 Install Type

Linux Mint 15 Install User Name and Password

Linux Mint 15 Install User Name and Password

Linux Mint 15 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint 15 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint 15 Install Complete

Linux Mint 15 Install Complete

The Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Desktop

I covered some of the changes to the desktop above, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say that this release of Linux Mint has added some very good improvements to desktop tools and bling.

The Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon desktop looks as good as it always has, and you’ll note that the wallpaper now has a “15” inside of a circle.

Click the menu button on the far left of the panel to access applications, update manager, system tools and all the usual stuff. It’s very easy to find your way around, even if you aren’t familiar with Cinnamon or Linux Mint.

Linux Mint 15 Desktop

Linux Mint 15 Desktop

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 15 Backgrounds

Linux Mint 15 Backgrounds

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

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

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Videos
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Software management in Linux Mint 15 is primarily done via the Software Manager. It’s one of the best tools of its kind, particularly for those new to Linux Mint. There are more than 64,000 software packages available, so there’s plenty to choose from for your computer.

You do, however, also have the option of using Synaptic though I don’t recommend using it unless you really find a need. Synaptic is quite powerful, but the Software Manager is arguably a better option for most desktop users.

In this release, Software Manager includes automatic pagination. More results will load as you get near the bottom of a list. Large scores are no longer cut off, and you can search within a particular category. Packages that appeared in the Java section are now in the Programming category.

Take note of the Featured Applications category, there are some great applications there that you might find useful.

Adding or removing software is very easy. Just find the application, then click the Install or Remove button.

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Games Category

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Games Category

Linux Mint 15 Install Wine

Linux Mint 15 Install Wine

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager User Reviews

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager User Reviews

Linux Mint 15 Update Manager

Linux Mint 15 Update Manager

The Update Manager in Linux Mint 15 can now refresh the APT cache in user mode, without user intervention.

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Linux Mint 15. I didn’t expect to though as Linux Mint has usually run very well for me. However, if you’ve seen any problems or issues, please note them in the comments below. It’s helpful for other readers to be aware of any potential pitfalls before doing an install.

Here’s a list of known issues for Linux Mint 15 Olivia:

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 15 use a PAE kernel. If your processor is not compatible with PAE please use Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS instead. Linux Mint 13 is supported until 2017.

EFI support

If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

If you installed Linux Mint in Virtualbox in EFI mode and it cannot boot post-install, type “exit”, choose “Boot Maintenance Manager”, “Boot from file” and select EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi.

Post-installation, the EFI boot file is located in /boot/efi/EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi. If your system is unable to find this file, copy it to /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (alternatively you can write “fs0:\EFI\linuxmint\grubx64.efi” into a /boot/efi/startup.nsh file).

HDMI Sound output

If your HDMI Sound output does not work out of the box, you can try the following solution:

In a terminal, type the following commands:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-audio-dev/alsa-daily
  • apt update
  • apt install oem-audio-hda-daily-dkms

Other issues

Linux Mint 15 is based on Ubuntu 13.04. Make sure to read the Ubuntu release notes.

Important information

Mint4win

When installing Linux Mint with mint4win, choose loop0 for both the target partition and the grub destination.

Local repository and GnomePPP

GnomePPP is not installed by default but it is present within the default installation of Linux Mint. Your Linux Mint system comes with a local repository which is disabled by default. You can enable it by using the “Software Sources” tool from the menu. This repository contains GnomePPP as well as a collection of drivers.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

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, linux mint forums, linux mint blog, and linux mint documentation.

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 15 Cinnamon

Linux Mint 15 stands supreme right now as the best all-around desktop Linux distro available. Oh sure, there are other distros that might serve certain readers better depending on their specific preferences, but for general desktop use Linux Mint 15 is probably the best choice available.

It’s the distro I usually steer complete newbies to Linux to, given all that it has to offer. I’ve never heard any of them complain about it either, after using it. That’s not to say that it’s perfect for everybody. Some people prefer a more minimalist distro like CrunchBang or a maximalist distro like Ultimate Edition. That’s the great thing about Linux, there’s always something available for everyone.

But Linux Mint 15 remains at the top of the heap for general desktop linux users. I highly recommend it to those seeking an alternative to Windows 8 or even Apple’s OS X. Linux Mint has matured over the years, and this release is like a sweet slice of cake, just waiting to be eaten.

Linux Mint 15 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. I encourage those totally new to Linux to try it out, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with Linux.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon? Tell me in the comments below.

CrunchBang 11 Waldorf

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.

CrunchBang 11 Desktop

CrunchBang 11 Desktop

On the right you’ll see system information and shortcut keys. Take note of the shortcut keys as they can be quite useful.

CrunchBang 11 Desktop System Info and Shortcut Keys

CrunchBang 11 Desktop System Info and Shortcut Keys

To access applications, system settings, etc. just right click on the desktop and a menu will popup.

CrunchBang 11 Desktop Menu

CrunchBang 11 Desktop Menu

CrunchBang 11 Wallpaper

CrunchBang 11 Wallpaper

CrunchBang 11 Look and Feel Menu

CrunchBang 11 Look and Feel Menu

CrunchBang 11 File Manager

CrunchBang 11 File Manager

Linux Software Included in CrunchBang 11

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. CrunchBang 11 comes with some well chosen applications that should meet the needs of most users. It doesn’t overwhelm you with gobs of applications though, and I liked that.

Graphics
GIMP
Viewnior Image Viewer

Internet
Iceweasel
gFTP Client
Transmission
XChat IRC Client
Remote Filesystems
Remote Desktop
SSH

Note that you also have the option of installing Chromium, Chrome or Opera in the browsers menu. Dropbox and VNC Server are also offered.

Multimedia
VLC Media Player
Volume Control
Xfburn

Office
Google Docs
Abiword Word Processor
Gnumeric Spreadsheet
Calculator
Evince PDF Viewer

Linux Software Management Tools in CrunchBang 11

If you need more software, or you just want to remove something, you can fire up Synaptic. Or you can simply use Apt at the command line. Synaptic is not the most elegant software management tool available, but it is quite powerful. Once you learn to use it, it can be a terrific tool.

However, I also understand that it can be somewhat daunting for newer folks.

CrunchBang 11 Synaptic Package Manager

CrunchBang 11 Synaptic Package Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in CrunchBang 11

I had no problems installing or running CrunchBang 11. It worked very well for me.

But if you’ve run into any problems, please share them in the comments. It’s always helpful if readers are given a heads up about potential pitfalls before installing a distro. Thanks in advance.

Where To Get Help for CrunchBang 11

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 CrunchBang Linux forum, or IRC channel.

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 CrunchBang 11

These days it seems that lots of distros and other operating systems are adding tons of glitz and glitter to desktop interfaces. CrunchBang 11 does the complete opposite. Frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air and I enjoyed it. It was fast, stable and did what I wanted it to do. It never bogged me down in useless desktop drivel.

CrunchBang 11 should particularly please those looking for a minimalistic distro. You’ll know right away if you’re that kind of user. You want speed and functionality, not useless and stupid eye candy. In that sense, CrunchBang 11 delivers in spades.

CrunchBang 11 is recommended for intermediate and advanced Linux users. Beginners who want a taste of a minimalistic distro should also consider trying it.

What’s your take on CrunchBang 11? Tell me in the comments below.

Debian 7.0 Wheezy

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]

The Debian standard install makes use of the GNOME desktop environment. There are pre-built CD images for KDE Software CompilationXfce and LXDE also.[16]The remaining discs, which span five DVDs or over thirty CDs, contain all packages currently available and are not necessary for a standard install. Another install method is via a net install CD, which is much smaller than a normal install CD/DVD. It contains only the bare essentials needed to start the installer and downloads the packages selected during installation via APT.[17] These CD/DVD images can be freely obtained by web download, BitTorrentjigdo or from online retailers.[18]

What’s New in Debian 7.0

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

  • Apache 2.2.22
  • Asterisk 1.8.13.1
  • GIMP 2.8.2
  • an updated version of the GNOME desktop environment 3.4
  • GNU Compiler Collection 4.7.2
  • Icedove 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird)
  • Iceweasel 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox)
  • KDE Plasma Workspaces and KDE Applications 4.8.4
  • kFreeBSD kernel 8.3 and 9.0
  • LibreOffice 3.5.4
  • Linux 3.2
  • MySQL 5.5.30
  • Nagios 3.4.1
  • OpenJDK 6b27 and 7u3
  • Perl 5.14.2
  • PHP 5.4.4
  • PostgreSQL 9.1
  • Python 2.7.3 and 3.2.3
  • Samba 3.6.6
  • Tomcat 6.0.35 and 7.0.28
  • Xen Hypervisor 4.1.4
  • the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment
  • X.Org 7.7
  • more than 36,000 other ready-to-use software packages, built from nearly 17,500 source packages.

For desktop users, the updated software in Debian 7 will be quite welcome (see the software section for a list of bundled applications in Debian 7).

Multiarch support is included in Debian 7, thus allowing users to install packages from different architectures on the same machine. So you can install 32-bit and 64-bit versions of software on the same computer, and the dependencies will all be resolved automatically for you.

Debian 7 also offers software speech installation, a particularly helpful feature for those who are visually impaired.

This release also supports booting and install using UEFI for 64-bit computers, but lacks support for Secure Boot.

System Requirements for Debian 7.0

Debian 7 is available for a number of different architectures, so it’s impractical to list system requirements here. See the install guide links in the install section of the review for the system requirements for your architecture.

Debian 7 System Settings

Debian 7 System Settings

Debian 7.0 Download

You can download Debian 7.0 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 4 GB. You have the option of trying Debian as a live distro before installing, or  you can simply opt to download an install version right away. I did the latter as I intended to install and use it anyway.

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

Debian is available for numerous architectures, I recommend reading the release notes for yours.

Debian 7.0 Installation

Debian 7 offers a choice between a text-based installer or a graphical installer. I opted for the graphical version.

The Debian 7 install routine is better than it used to be, but it still isn’t as comfortable or fast as Linux Mint’s or Ubuntu’s. Experienced Linux users will most likely have no problem whatsoever with it, but newer folks might stumble if it’s their first time trying to install Debian.

Here’s a list of install guides (system requirements are included) for the architectures that Debian supports:

The screenshots below will walk you through some of the Debian 7 install.

Debian 7 Install Root Password

Debian 7 Install Root Password

Debian 7 Install User Account

Debian 7 Install User Account

Debian 7 Install Partition Disks

Debian 7 Install Partition Disks

Debian 7 Install Disk Partition

Debian 7 Install Disk Partition

Debian 7 Install Network Mirror

Debian 7 Install Network Mirror

Debian 7 Install Archive Mirror

Debian 7 Install Archive Mirror

Debian 7 Install Software Selection

Debian 7 Install Software Selection

Debian 7 Install GRUB

Debian 7 Install GRUB

Debian 7 Install Complete

Debian 7 Install Complete

Debian 7 GRUB Installed

Debian 7 GRUB Installed

Debian 7 Login

Debian 7 Login

The Debian 7.0 Desktop

Debian 7 comes with GNOME 3.4 and GNOME Classic. Initially, I booted into the GNOME 3 environment. Ick, a few minutes of it was all I could stand. So I logged out, and used GNOME Classic instead. I found it to be much more to my liking.

I have tried to warm up to GNOME 3 several times, and always ended up despising it. To me it’s really a toss up as to which one sucks more: GNOME 3 or Unity. I suppose the one I dislike most is the one I’m using at a particular moment. Anyway, I digress.

So I recommend giving GNOME Classic a shot instead. But then again, I’m old school when it comes to desktop interfaces. Your mileage may vary considerably, so use whichever works best for you.

Debian 7 GNOME 3 Applications

Debian 7 GNOME 3 Applications

Debian 7 GNOME Classic Desktop

Debian 7 GNOME Classic Desktop

Debian 7 GNOME Classic Application Menu

Debian 7 GNOME Classic Application Menu

Linux Software Included in Debian 7.0

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

Games
Logic Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Free Cell Solitaire
Lagno
Mahjongg
Nibbles
Quadrapassel
Robots
Tali

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
Image Viewer
Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Email Settings
Empathy Internet Messaging
Iceweasel Browser
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Juicer Audio CD Extractor
Sound Recorder

Office
Dictionary
Evolution Mail and Calendar
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Debian 7.0

If you are comfortable with the command line, you can use APT to manage your software in Debian 7. You can also use Synaptic. Synaptic is powerful, but potentially confusing for folks new to Debian.

Debian 7 Synaptic Package Manager

However, if you prefer a graphical software management tool that is a bit easier to use, you can opt for the Add/Remove tool instead. It’s not as slick as Ubuntu’s Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager, but it will get the job done.

Debian 7 Add or Remove Software

Debian 7 Add or Remove Software

Debian 7 Software Updates

Just find the application you want to install, click the checkbox next to it then click the Apply button. Uncheck it and click Apply to remove it later if you want.

Problems & Headaches Found in Debian 7.0

One thing I found distasteful was how an ad blocker was automatically installed in Iceweasel. When I opened Iceweasel, I got a confirmation that it was installed. I was not asked if I wanted it, it just appeared there without any input from me.

This is an odd decision on the part of the Debian developers, assuming they were the ones who made it. It may be that the ad blocker simply comes with Icweasel. I don’t use Icweasel as my browser, so I’m not sure what the default configuration is for it. If somebody knows, please post your thoughts in the comments.

But here’s why I don’t like having an ad blocker installed by default in Icweasel:

First, it forces the ad blocker plugin on the user, without asking him or her if they want it in the first place.

Second, the use of such plugins indiscriminately often hurts sites such as this one that are not backed by big corporations. Independent sites depend on ad revenues to pay for hosting costs, domain names, and other costs associated with running sites. I’m always grateful to the readers who whitelist Desktop Linux Reviews in their ad blocker, it helps me keep the site running as I’m not a rich person.

Third, some users might indeed want an ad blocker (and that is their right and their choice), but they might not want the one that is installed in Iceweasel by default. Not all ad blockers work the same way, some are more effective than others, and I’m sure that Debian users are aware of this. One size does not fit all when it comes to ad blocking. So this is an inconvenience to those people as well. They have to uninstall the ad blocker forced on them in Iceweasel, then go get the one they want and install it.

Debian 7 Ad Blocker in Iceweasel

Debian 7 Ad Blocker in Iceweasel

My nitpicking about the ad blocker aside, Debian 7 worked very well for me whether I was using GNOME 3 or GNOME Classic. The system seemed speedy and stable while I was using it. I didn’t notice any over issues with it. If you did, please post your experiences in the comments below so other readers can benefit from them.

There is also a list of known issues with Debian 7.o that you should be aware of before installing it:

Security issues

Debian security team issues updates to packages in the stable release in which they’ve identified problems related to security. Please consult the security pagesfor information about any security issues identified in Wheezy.

If you use APT, add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list to be able to access the latest security updates:

  deb http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main contrib non-free

After that, run apt-get update followed by apt-get upgrade.

Point releases

Sometimes, in the case of several critical problems or security updates, the released distribution is updated. Generally, these are indicated as point releases.

There are no point releases for Debian 7.0 yet.

Fixes to the released stable distribution often go through an extended testing period before they are accepted into the archive. However, these fixes are available in the dists/wheezy-proposed-updates directory of any Debian archive mirror.

If you use APT to update your packages, you can install the proposed updates by adding the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

  # proposed additions for a 7.0 point release
  deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian wheezy-proposed-updates main contrib non-free

After that, run apt-get update followed by apt-get upgrade.

Installation system

For information about errata and updates for the installation system, see the installation information page.

Where To Get Help for Debian 7.0

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 Debian support page for documentation, known problems, wiki, mailing lists, newsgroups, bug tracking and other support resources.

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 Debian 7.0

Debian remains one of the most important projects in Linux. Debian 7 offers some significant improvements, and it certainly warrants an upgrade if you are using an older version of Debian.

No doubt that some folks will be disappointed by the lack of support for Secure Boot, but I don’t think that that should be a deal breaker. The support for UEFI in 64-bit PCs is a step forward that will be built on later, so I try to take the long view on this issue.

Some will take issue with my comments about the forced inclusion of the ad blocker in Iceweasel, but I think it’s something worth talking about since Debian 7 is such an important Linux project. I fully understand that some folks hate ads and will block them, that is their right. However, advertising remains the basis for free content like this review, so it’s worth noting and thinking about the ramifications of browsers having ad blockers installed by default.

Debian 7 is best suited to intermediate and advanced Linux users. However, I urge beginners to learn more about it. Don’t be afraid at giving it a try in a virtual machine or as a live distro. Understanding Debian can teach you a lot about Linux, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn why it is the foundation for so many other distros.

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