Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

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

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

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

Ring-tailed Cat

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

What’s New in Ubuntu 13.04

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

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

Linux kernel 3.8.8

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

Unity 7

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

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

Upstart 1.8

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

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

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

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

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

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

LibreOffice 4.0

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

CORE

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

WRITER

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

CALC

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

IMPRESS/DRAW

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

BASE

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

CUPS 1.6.2 and cups-filters 1.0.34

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

Most important change here is the way how network printing works. Formerly, a CUPS-specific mechanism was used. The server broadcasted information about the printers it shares and the clients listen to these broadcasts making the printers available on the client side, looking like local print queues for the applications.

Recently, the Printer Working Group (PWG), an association of printer and software industry for developing standards related to digital printing, has created a standard for broadcasting information about shared printers. This standard is broadcasting the information via Bonjour, a protocol also used for many other network services, like shared files systems, screens, music/video servers, …

CUPS has adopted this standard in 1.6.x, but only broadcasts and does not listen to broadcasts of CUPS daemons (or generally print servers using Bonjour) on other machines, letting remote printers not automatically get available locally. CUPS also dropped the old broadcasting protocol without transition period.

To overcome the problems and keeping network printing as easy as before (this is why 10 years ago the distros switched to CUPS) the cups-filters project ofOpenPrinting introduced cups-browsed, an extra daemon which by default listens to Bonjour broadcasts of remote CUPS daemons (of IPP printers coming soon) and automatically creates local print queues pointing to the shared printers making pure CUPS 1.6.x networks working out-of-the-box.

If your network still contains machines running CUPS 1.5.x and older, cups-browsed also has legacy support for the old CUPS broadcasting, browsing (listening), and BrowsePoll. Please see the comments in /etc/cups/cups-browsed.conf, edit the file appropriately, and restart cups-browsed (“sudo restart cups-browsed”) or reboot. When upgrading to Raring, BrowsePoll directives are overtaken from CUPS to cups-browsed automatically.

For everyone developing embedded or mobile systems based on Ubuntu, the CUPS package is split up into more binary packages to get a minimum client-only printing stack, of the packages cups-daemon, libcups2, and cups-browsed, occupying only ~1 MB. This only listens for Bonjour broadcasts (legacy CUPS broadcasts and BrowsePoll optional) of remote CUPS servers and makes the printers available locally. No drivers and filters for locally connected printers are available then.

Another thing to mention which was available before but never told about in release notes: When sharing local printers they are automatically available also for Apple’s iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch).

Python 3.3

We eventually intend to ship only Python 3 with the Ubuntu desktop image, not Python 2. The Ubuntu 13.04 image continues this process, although we will not be able to convert everything to Python 3 for Ubuntu 13.04 final image.

If you have your own programs based on Python 2, fear not! Python 2 will continue to be available (as the python package) for the foreseeable future. However, to best support future versions of Ubuntu you should consider porting your code to Python 3. Python/3 has some advice and resources on this.

Automatic Apport crash reporting has been enabled by default again to catch problems early on. It now checks for duplicates on the client side, which will avoid uploading debug data and creating Launchpad bug reports unnecessarily in many cases now.

Software Updater

Software Updater in 13.04 has a simplified details panel that most prominently shows applications and manually-installed packages. Libraries and packages that belong to the base system are collected under a single item.

Upstart User Sessions (technology preview)

This Ubuntu release includes a “tech preview” of Upstart User Sessions, which allow Upstart to supervise a user’s desktop session. This feature is disabled by default for Ubuntu 13.04, but can be manually enabled for testing.

To enable Upstart User Sessions for all users:

  1. Uncomment “ubuntu” in file /etc/upstart-xsessions.
  2. Logout of any desktop sessions.
  3. Login to the default Unity session.

To disable, simply comment out “ubuntu“, logout and log back in again.

Friends

Social networking for 13.04 is now handled by the Friends service, which replaces the backend Gwibber provided in previous Ubuntu releases. There is no transition required, if you have social networking accounts setup in Ubuntu Online Accounts, the Friends service will just work. The Gwibber lens in Unity has been replaced with a Friends lens and works in much the same way. The Gwibber client application is no longer included by default, for similar functionality friends-app can be installed from Software Center.

System Requirements for Ubuntu 13.04

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 13.04 Download

You can download the desktop version of Ubuntu 13.04 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 785 MB.

You can download the various other spins of Ubuntu from these links:

http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Cloud Server)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/netboot/13.04/ (Ubuntu Netboot)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-core/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Core)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/edubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Edubuntu DVD)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Kubuntu)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Lubuntu)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntustudio/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Studio)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-gnome/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu-GNOME)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntukylin/releases/13.04/release/ (UbuntuKylin)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Xubuntu)

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 Ubuntu 13.04 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Ubuntu 13.04 Installation

If you’re running Ubuntu 12.10, you might want to check out the upgrade instructions to upgrade to 13.04.

As always, the Ubuntu 13.04 is very easy and fast. You can watch a slideshow while your install completes.

Please note that you have the option to download updates and third party software during the install. I opted to do this as it saved from me from having to do it after my install completed. I recommend that you do the same, it’ll save you time later on.

Ubuntu 13.04 is also a live distro, so you can just click the Try Ubuntu button after booting off the CD or DVD. You can also just take a web based tour of Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.04 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.04 Prepare Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Prepare Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.04 Login Screen

Ubuntu 13.04 Login Screen

The Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

This release comes with Unity 7.  Unity 7 contains a number of useful changes and additions including:

Faster Icon Reveal
Dash Error Finding
Scroll Switching
Filesystem Fill
Tooltip Fade
Non-Pixelated Pips
Radio Dot

Please note that in the desktop screenshot below I have changed the default wallpaper to something a little more eye catching. The default wallpaper is a bit more subdued, so don’t freak if you hate the wallpaper I have in the screenshot.

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop Wallpapers

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop Wallpapers

Ubuntu 13.04 Folders

Ubuntu 13.04 Folders

Ubuntu 13.04 Application Categories

Ubuntu 13.04 Application Categories

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Applications

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Applications

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Videos

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Videos

Ubuntu 13.04 System Settings

Ubuntu 13.04 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 13.04

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
Brasero Disc Burner
Rhythmbox Music Player
Videos

Office
LibreOffice (Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 13.04

The Ubuntu Software Center remains one of the best software managers around. There are more than 44,000 apps available for you to use on your system. Apps are broken down into categories. You can also see screenshots, user reviews and star ratings.

It’s also very easy to add or remove software. Just find the app you want to install or remove, and click the button.

Be sure to check out the Top Rated apps, it has a terrific list of apps that most desktop users will find useful.

Ubuntu 13.04 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.04 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.04 Star Apps

Ubuntu 13.04 Star Apps

Ubuntu 13.04 Install GIMP

Ubuntu 13.04 Install GIMP

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu 13.04

Ubuntu 13.04 seemed quite polished to me. I didn’t see any noticeable speed or stability problems in this release. Canonical has made tweaks to improve Ubuntu’s speed, and that seems to be noticeable in this release.

You should know that Wubi, the Windows installer, has been removed in Ubuntu 13.04:

Due to various bugs in Wubi that have not been addressed in time for the final release, the Ubuntu team will not be releasing the Wubi installer with 13.04. You can read more about this decision here. Users who wish to try out Ubuntu without repartitioning a Windows system are encouraged to use a live system instead, booted from either a DVD or a USB disk.

I haven’t run Windows in years, so this is a total non-issue for me. But there may be some folks out there who are affected by it.

You should also be aware that the support time for this release has been reduced from 18 months to 9 months.

If you’ve seen any problems with Ubuntu 13.04, please share your experiences in the comments section. It’s always helpful for readers to get a heads up on any potential headaches, before installing a distro.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 13.04

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, which has links to documentation, an answer system, free community support, and professional support services .

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 13.04

I found Ubuntu 13.04 to be a slightly disappointing upgrade. While there are definitely some enhancements in this release, there’s also nothing very special about it. When I sat down to do this review, I was looking forward to some great stuff from Canonical that might make me want to actually use Ubuntu again.

Alas, there’s nothing in Ubuntu 13.04 that makes me want to consider it for use as my daily distro. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing overtly wrong with Ubuntu 13.04 either. It installed and performed very well for me. Unity 7 also has some helpful and attractive updates that Ubuntu users will enjoy, and there are other things in this release that help improve the overall Ubuntu experience.

Frankly, however, Ubuntu has become a rather boring distro to review. Perhaps I’m just jaded though? Or perhaps it has just evolved enough not to require any massive changes or loads of new features? I’m not sure, but I do know that I haven’t looked forward to an update to Ubuntu in a while, unlike Linux Mint and some other distros.

I suspect it is simply because Ubuntu has settled into a comfortable middle age, it works and it works very well for what it does. So there’s not a lot of need for cool, whiz-bang features for reviewers like me to drool over.

My distro jadedness aside, if you’re a current Ubuntu user, then you’ll want to consider upgrading. There’s enough here to increase your enjoyment of Ubuntu on your computer. But if you’re already using another distro, I doubt there’s anything here that will get you to switch to Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 13.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu 13.04? Tell me in the comments below.



Manjaro 0.8.5

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Live Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Live Desktop

Here’s the official description of Manjaro:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Preinstall Boot Menu

Manjaro 0.8.5 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings Manager

System Requirements for Manjaro 0.8.5

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings

Manjaro 0.8.5 Settings

Manjaro 0.8.5 Download

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

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Installation

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

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Hard Disk

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Hard Disk

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Assign Root Partition

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Assign Root Partition

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install User Info

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install User Info

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Slideshow

Manjaro 0.8.5 Install Slideshow

Manjaro 0.8.5 Login Screen

Manjaro 0.8.5 Login Screen

The Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Desktop

Manjaro 0.8.5 Menu

Manjaro 0.8.5 Menu

Linux Software Included in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

Games
Steam

Graphics
GIMP
Viewnior

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

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

Office
Dictionary
LibreOffice
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Package Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Package Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Update Manager

Manjaro 0.8.5 Update Manager

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

Problems & Headaches Found in Manjaro 0.8.5

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

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

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Error Message

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Error Message

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

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Update Alert

Manjaro 0.8.5 Pamac Update Alert

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

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

Where To Get Help for Manjaro 0.8.5

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

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

Final Thoughts About Manjaro 0.8.5

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

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

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

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303

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

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

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

Here’s some info from the LMDE FAQ:

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

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

2. Is LMDE fully compatible with Debian?

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

3. What is a semi-rolling distribution?

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Welcome Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

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

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

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

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

System Requirements for Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Download

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

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

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installation

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

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

The Linux Mint Debian 201303 Desktop

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

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

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

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

Games
Games can be downloaded from the Linux Mint Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
ImageMagick
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird
Pidgin IM
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

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

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

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

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

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

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

ATI drivers installation

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

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

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

apt clean

apt update

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

sudo aticonfig --initial -f

Login and password for the live session

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

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

No EFI/GPT support

Linux Mint Debian requires BIOS and a traditional partitioning scheme.

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

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

GTK theme and icons fail to load

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

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

Modprobe errors, warning messages during the boot sequence

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

Upstream issues

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

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

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

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint Debian 201303

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

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

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

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

Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Trisquel 6.0 LTS was recently released so it’s time to give it another look. Trisquel is a popular distro for users that prefer to use only free software. You won’t find proprietary software included in Trisquel, it’s dedicated to the idea of truly free software.

Here’s a bit of background from the Trisquel FAQ that explains the philosophy behind this distro:

“There are literally hundreds of GNU/Linux distributions designed to fill every conceivable niche. Only a handful of them are entirely free software; Trisquel is one such distribution. That’s why Trisquel is endorsed by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.

The popularity of GNU/Linux has skyrocketed in recent years. The major distributions are attracting large numbers of new users, but their distributors are not taking the opportunity to effectively teach these same users to value and protect their freedom. Our software is being advocated on purely utilitarian grounds (such as portability, stability, security, customizability, and lack of cost), so the casual observer is led to believe that “Linux” is just another OS, albeit a useful one. While it may appear to be a reasonable compromise for big-name distros like Ubuntu and Fedora to include some nonfree firmware, drivers, and applications in their mostly-free systems for which no complete free drop-in replacements exist, time and experience demonstrates that this only perpetuates the problem. If we want free software alternatives to emerge, our community must actively reject the non-free counterparts.

Trisquel is different. We naturally want to bring you an operating system that is tight, beautiful, and robust. We want your software to be feature-rich and work exactly as you expect it to. But we’ll never compromise your freedom, either.

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

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

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

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Boot Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Boot Menu

What’s New in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

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

  • Linux-Libre 3.2
  • Xorg
  • Abrowser 19
  • GNOME 3.4
  • LibreOffice 3.5

If you aren’t familiar with Linux-Libre, here’s a brief explanation of what it is and what it has to offer in Trisquel:

Linux-libre is an operating system kernel and a GNU package [3] that is maintained from modified versions of the Linux kernel. The aim of the project is to remove any software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated or released under proprietary licenses from the Linux kernel. The parts that have no source code are called binary blobs and are generally proprietary firmware which, while generally redistributable, generally do not give the user the freedom to modify or study them. It is a prominent example of free software.

Abrowser now comes with full HTML 5 video support, as well as PDF support without a plugin, and it also supports instant messaging web applications on WebRTC.

GNOME 3.4 contains a number of improvements though it goes beyond the scope of this review to list them all. You can see a full list here.

There’s also a list of LibreOffice 3.5 features and fixes.

Suffice to say that this release of Trisquel contains some good stuff that makes upgrading to it worthwhile.

System Requirements for Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Once again, I was not able to find a list of Trisquel hardware requirements. The same thing happened when I went to write the last review for version 5.5. I urge the Trisquel developers to include a list on the downloads page or in the documentation. Perhaps it’s somewhere on the Trisquel site and I missed it? If so, please post the requirements in the comments below.

Since Trisquel 6.0 LTS is based on Ubuntu Precise, you might want to use that as a baseline for hardware requirements for this release.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Login

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Login

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Download

You can download Trisquel 6.0 LTS from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 728.9 MB. You can download Trisquel 6.0 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Note that you also have the option of downloading a version called “Trisquel Mini” that uses the LXDE desktop instead of GNOME. The mini version weighs in at a reasonably petite 500 MB.

There’s also a NetInstall version, and a Sources DVD, as well as a version with extra translations called “Trisquel i18n.”

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

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Installation

The Trisquel install is fast and easy, it uses the same installer as Ubuntu.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS is a live distro, so you have the option of booting into it and using it without having to do an install onto your computer. If this is your first time checking out Trisquel, the live desktop is a good way to get a peek at it.

You can peruse a slideshow while your Trisquel install is completed.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Erase Disk

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Erase Disk

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Download Updates

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Download Updates

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Disk Selection

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Disk Selection

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Slideshow

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Slideshow

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS desktop is well organized, and relatively uncluttered. You’ll find four icons on the desktop:

Computer
Home
Network Servers
Trash

At the bottom you’ll find a panel with icons for the Trisquel menu, home folder, and web browser. Over to the right you’ll find icons for instant messaging, networking, volume, date, and to show/hide windows.

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS menu is old school, but that’s okay because so am I. You’ll find the usual application categories, software and system settings, places, lock screen, log out and shut down icons. It’s very simple and easy to use, even if you’ve never touched Trisquel before.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Nautilus

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Nautilus

Linux Software Included in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

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

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Abrowser
Evolution Mail and Calendar
Pidgin IM
Gwibber
Liferea Feed Reader
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
GNOME PPP
Transmission

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

Office
LibreOffice
Dictionary
Document Viewer

Linux Software Management Tools in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

The Add/Remove applications tool is found on the Trisquel menu. It’s broken down into the usual application categories, and you can search for applications. You can also see how popular an application is based on its star rating.

To update your system, just go to System Settings and scroll down to the System menu, then click on Update Manager.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Software Management

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Software Management

Trisquel 6.0 LTS System Settings

Trisquel 6.0 LTS System Settings

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Update Manager

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Update Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Trisquel 6.0 LTS installed and ran very well for me. I didn’t see any noticeable problems or issues while running it. It seemed to be quite speedy and stable during my use.

If you’ve run into any problems or issues, please share them in the comments below. It’s always helpful for readers to know about possible headaches before doing their own install.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Abrowser

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Abrowser

Where To Get Help for Trisquel 6.0 LTS

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 Trisquel 6.0 LTS documentation or discusson forum.

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 Trisquel 6.0 LTS

As with the last release, I’m very pleased with Trisquel 6.0 LTS. It’s a fantastic distro for anyone who believes in truly free software, and it’s still a fine choice even if you aren’t a free software purist but just want a great distro to use on your computer.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS is well suited for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Trisquel 6.0 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.

SolusOS 1.2

SolusOS is a new Debian-based distro that uses the GNOME 2.3 desktop. SolusOS comes with such core applications as Firefox, VLC, and LibreOffice. It’s a relatively easy way to get both Debian and a GNOME 2 desktop in one, convenient package.

Here’s the official description from the SolusOS site:

SolusOS is a Linux Distribution based on Debian Stable. It’s an operating system for your computer, that provides the base system that allows you to do things like listen to music, browse the internet and create documents. It does so by being based on Debian, which is a GNU/Linux distribution

SolusOS uses the GNOME 2.30 Desktop Environment, providing you with a traditional desktop.

What’s New in SolusOS 1.2

Since this is pretty much version one of SolusOS, there really isn’t a what’s new list available. Here’s a list of reasons on why you might want to use SolusOS from the SolusOS site:

SolusOS inherits much of its stability from it’s Debian Stable base. On top of that, we keep core user applications, such as Firefox, VLC, etc, up to date as much as we can. To ease the use of SolusOS many codecs are preinstalled allowing MP3 & DVD playback, Flash Player support. Please check whether you can use these codecs in your country before downloading SolusOS.

Lightweight system. A 32-bit installation of SolusOS only uses around 130MB of RAM when idle
Responsive. We make many optimisations to the underlying system and kernel to ensure it operates with minimal lag
Ease of use. SolusOS includes support for a variety of hardware and multimedia formats
Constant developments. We’re always developing new software to keep the SolusOS experience as fresh and friendly as possible
Future stability: We’re already developing a replacement desktop to fit in with the ethos and behaviour of GNOME 2.3, to ensure the same (but improved) experience in future releases
Stable. SolusOS Eveline is based on Debian Stable, ensuring you have no worries with system crashes and unexpected behaviour from new bugs
Up to date. We use a combination of stability and new core user software like the web browser, firmware and drivers to maximise the SolusOS experience.

SolusOS 1.2 Boot Menu

SolusOS 1.2 Boot Menu

System Requirements for SolusOS 1.2

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

Minimum Recommended
Disk Space  4GB  8GB
RAM  256MB  512MB
Processor  1.3GHz  1.8GHz

SolusOS 1.2 Download

You can download SolusOS 1.2 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.04 GB. Since SolusOS 1.2 is based on Debian, you might want to check out some books about Debian.

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

You can download SolusOS 1.2 in 32-bit, 32-bit with PAE or 64-bit versions. I used the 32-bit version for this review.

SolusOS 1.2 Installation

The install was relatively easy, but did require some disk partitioning. Overall, it took about 20 minutes or so for the install to complete.

SolusOS 1.2 Install 1

SolusOS 1.2 Install 1

 

SolusOS 1.2 Install 2

SolusOS 1.2 Install 2

 

SolusOS 1.2 Install 3

SolusOS 1.2 Install 3

The SolusOS 1.2 Desktop

If you’re a GNOME user, then you’ll love the SolusOS 1.2 desktop. It uses GNOME 2.3, so you won’t find the later (and some would say annoying) versions of GNOME. It’s really a traditional desktop environment (or perhaps it would be better called “classic?”)

The desktop is uncluttered, you’ll find just three icons: Computer, Home and Trash.

You can access all applications, system tools, etc. by clicking on the Menu button. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can easily navigate to your Home, Documents, Music, etc. folders. The Control Center is right above the Search box so it’s easy to get to the tools you need to manage your SolusOS 1.2 system.

SolusOS 1.2 Desktop

SolusOS 1.2 Desktop

SolusOS 1.2 Menu

SolusOS 1.2 Menu

Linux Software Included in SolusOS 1.2

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

Games
PlayOnLinux

Graphics
GNU Paint
gThumb
Simple Scan

Internet
Dropbox
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail and News
Pidgin IM
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
Cheese
GNOME MPlayer
Minitube
Movie Player
OpenShot Video Editor
PulseAudio Manager
PulseAudio Volume Control
PulseAudio Volume Meter
PulseAudio Volume Mixer
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
Dictionary
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in SolusOS 1.2

There are two main ways to manage software applications in SolusOS 1.2, GNOME Package Manager (gpk-application) and Synaptic. Neither is as elegant as other solutions such as Linux Mint’s Software Manager or Ubuntu’s Software Center, but they are functional and they get the job done.

To access them, click the Menu button and then click on Control Center. You’ll also find the Software Updates tool there.

SolusOS 1.2 Synaptic Package Manager

SolusOS 1.2 Synaptic Package Manager

SolusOS 1.2 GNOME Package Manager

SolusOS 1.2 GNOME Package Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in SolusOS 1.2

SolusOS 1.2 ran very well for me, I didn’t notice any overt bugs or other headaches.

However, I do find the need for manual disk partitioning to be a bit disturbing. If SolusOS is going to appeal to newer linux users then I think the developers will have to use an easier and more intuitive install routine. This is not a huge problem, but it’s definitely something worth considering in future releases.

One of the other things I noticed about SolusOS 1.2 is how the multimedia apps menu has a large selection of applications. But the other application categories seem a bit lacking. For example, GIMP is not included as a bundled application. This seems odd since there are so many choices available in the multimedia apps category. I wonder why the SolusOS developers decided to be sparse in other categories.

Where To Get Help for SolusOS 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 SolusOS forum, wiki and IRC.

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 SolusOS 1.2

SolusOS 1.2 is a fine start for a new linux distro, I enjoyed using it. There’s quite a bit to like in this release including the following:

GNOME 2.3
Bundled multimedia codecs
Debian

SolusOS 1.2 is probably best suited for intermediate and advanced linux users. I hesitate to recommend it to beginners because of the manual disk partitioning, but if  you’re new and want to try it out then go for it.

SolusOS 1.2 is also a live distro, so you can boot it off of a disc to check it out without having to do a full install onto your hard disk.

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

Product: SolusOS 1.2
Web Site: http://solusos.com
Price: Free
Pros: Debian, GNOME 2.3, bundled multimedia codecs.
Cons: Installer routine requires manual partitioning, some bundled application categories are lacking in choices.
Rating: 3.5/5

Ultimate Edition 3.5

Does size matter when it comes to Linux distros? Well, it very well might when it comes to Ultimate Edition 3.5. There’s nothing subtle about this distro. Everything about it screams over the top, from the color scheme to the range of software included with it.

Is it worth checking out? Read on to find out.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop

What’s New In This Release
I was not able to find a full list of new features in this release. I barked about the lack of such details in the review of an earlier version. Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t seem to have changed.

I wish more developers would follow the Linux Mint model and provide a clear and concise list of new features. It makes it easier for reviewers, but also for potential users of their distro.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Settings

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Settings

Here’s what I found on the UE site:

What is Ultimate Edition 3.5?  Ultimate Edition 3.5 was built off Ultimate Edition 3.4 a Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04 release.  All updates fully updated / upgraded old kernels purged, new initrd and vmlinuz rebuilt.  Ultimate Edition 3.5 is what has everyting Ultimate Edition 3.4 has plus multiple operating environments; KDE being the default.   Ultimate Edition 3.5 has a new GTK/3 theme & a comprehensive set of software packages.

System Requirements
I was not able to find a list of system requirements, but Ultimate Edition 3.5 is based on Ubuntu so use that as your baseline for running this distro.

Download
You can download Ultimate Edition 3.5 from SourceForge. The file I downloaded weighed in at 3.39GB. Wow! That’s quite the download for a distro!

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

You can get Ultimate Edition 3.5 in 32 bit or 64 bit versions.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Installation
Since Ultimate Edition 3.5 is based on Ubuntu, the install is easy. It’s a bit longer than most other Ubuntu based distros, but this is understandable given the amount of software that is installed. I’ll have more on that later in the Software section of the review.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 is a live distro, so you can boot it off a DVD and check it out before doing an install.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Boot Menu

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Boot Menu

Ultimate Edition 3.5  Install 1

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Install 1

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Install 2

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Install 2

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Install 3

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Install 3

The Desktop
Aaaaah, the Ultimate Edition 3.5 desktop. Well, I suspect that it can be classified as “love it or hate it.” It uses KDE so that’s certainly a plus. However, the colors are dark, and there’s more than a bit of red in it.

Personally, I don’t mind it being that way. This distro is a unique entity unto itself, so I’ve tried to accept it as such. Once you accept the idea of it, you can more easily adjust to the color scheme, wallpaper , etc.

Note that in the screenshot right below, I’m showing the classic KDE menu as I hate the modern sliding menus.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Panel Menu

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Panel Menu

If you hate the default wallpaper, check in Desktop Settings. There are quite a few other Ultimate Edition wallpapers available there from prior releases.

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Settings

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Settings

You can, of course, change things if you really don’t like it. But I suggest giving it a try, you might find yourself warming up to it after a while.

Please note that if you don’t like KDE or the default Ultimate Edition 3.5 desktop in general, then you have many options to choose from. Just logout and then click the gear icon on the login screen.

You’ll find the following desktop environments available:

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Selection Menu

Ultimate Edition 3.5 Desktop Selection Menu

Bundled Software
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release, and there’s a lot of it! Chances are that you won’t need to do much downloading after you install Ultimate Edition 3.5, it comes with so  much software already.

Games
PlayOnLinux
Board Games
Card Games
Logic Games

Graphics
AcquireImages
Blender
DNGConverter
Document Viewer
ExpoBlending
F-Spot
GIMP
gThumb
Gwenview
Hugin Batch Processor
Hugin Calibrate Lens
Hugin Panorama Center
Image Viewer
Inkscape
K-3D
Karbon
KolourPaint
Krita
KSnapShot
LibreOffice
LRF Viewer
mtPaint
Okular
Panorama
Phatch Image Inspector
Photo Layouts
Ristretto Image Viewer
Shotwell
Simple Scan

Internet
Akregator
BlueDevil
CheckGmail
Chromium
ELinks Browser
Empathy
Firefox
Frostwire
gFTP
Gwibber
KMail
Konqueror
Kopete
KPPP
KTorrent
KVIRC
Lanshark
Pidgin IM
Quassel IRC
rekonq
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Remote Desktop Viewer
Sylpheed
Thunderbird Mail Client
Transmission
Vuze
WiFi Radar
Wireshark
XChat IRC
Yarssr

Multimedia
2ManDVD
Amarok
Audacious
Audacity
Audio Tag Tool
Avidemux
Banshee
Brasero
Cheese
Cinelerra
DeVeDe
Dragon Player
dvd:rip
DVD Styler
EasyTAG
Entagged
Exaile
gmusicbrowser
GNOME MPlayer
gtkpod
guvcview
gxine
HandBrake
Hydrogen
Imagination
ISO Master
Istanbul Desktop Session Recorder
K3b
k9copy assistant
k9copy
Kdenlive
Kino
KMix
LIVES
Miro
Mixer
Moovida Media Center
Movie Player
Parole
PulseAudio Volume Control
Radio Tray
RecordMyDesktop
Rhythmbox
RipOff
Songbird
Sound Juicer
soundKonverter
Sound Recorder
tovid GUI
TVtime Television Viewer
Ultimate Player
VLC
XBMC
X-CD-Roast
Xfburn
xine

Office
Abiword
Braindump
calibre
Calligra
Dictionary Client
Document Viewer
Gnumeric
KAddressBook
Karbon
Kexi
Kontact
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
LibreOffice
Okular
Orage
Osmo
Plan

Other
Wine

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice any overt problems while running Ultimate Edition 3.5. Your mileage may vary, however. So please share your problems in the comments if you came across any while using it.

Where To Get Help
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 Ultimate Edition forum to connect with other UE users.

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 & Who Should Use It
It’s clear that minimalists should stay far, far away from Ultimate Edition 3.5. This distro is basically their worst nightmare come true.

However, those who consider themselves maximalists will love Ultimate Edition 3.5. I don’t know how many of you there are out there, but this distro was designed totally for you.

And this is one of the things I really like about Linux. There’s a distro for everybody, including those want everything and the kitchen sink thrown into their desktop operating system.

Even if you’re not a maximalist, it might be fun to give Ultimate Edition 3.5 a try, just to see what it’s like.

Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users can use Ultimate Edition 3.5. Beginners might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of applications, however. So bear that in mind if you are new to Linux, and aren’t familiar with some of the apps you see in Ultimate Edition 3.5.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Ultimate Edition 3.5
Web Site: http://ultimateedition.info 
Price: Free
Pros: Comes with an enormous range of software, uses the KDE desktop environment. There are other desktop environments included as well.
Cons: It’s a very large download, and the amount of software might be overkill for some users.
Rating: 3.5/5

Linux Mint 14 MATE

I recently took a look at Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. Now it’s time to review its counterpart Linux Mint 14 MATE. The MATE desktop environment is a fork of GNOME 2. It offers a more traditional desktop experience than Cinnamon. Please see the MATE about page for some background information.

Which one is better? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you’ll have to make up your own mind. I can use either of them without a problem though I’d have to lean a little bit more toward MATE than Cinnamon.

What’s New in Linux Mint 14 MATE
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.10
Linux 3.5
Bug fixes for GNOME 2
Bluetooth and Mate-keyring work
Caja supports Dropbox
Character map
Fast alt-tabbing with Marco compositing
Selection of notification styles
New button to compare files in file conflict dialog

MATE 1.4 Notification Style in Linux Mint 14

MATE 1.4 Notification Style in Linux Mint 14

Caja in Linux Mint 14 MATE

Caja has a toggle button, and a new button to compare files.

Compared to the cool stuff in Cinnamon, the What’s New list for this release of Linux Mint 14 MATE is rather underwhelming. However, it’s important to keep it context. Cinnamon and MATE are at two different phases of their development.

MATE is improving fast as a desktop environment, and it is geared toward those who prefer the older and less flashy GNOME  2 environment. So we shouldn’t expect a lot of amazing, whiz-bang type features in every release.

I’m very glad to see the GNOME 2 bug fixes, and I think it makes sense for the MATE developers to focus on practical improvements that lay a solid foundation for future MATE changes.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Welcome

The Linux Mint 14 MATE Desktop

The Linux Mint 14 MATE Desktop

System Requirements for Linux Mint 14 MATE
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • a 32-bit PAE-enabled x86 processor or a 64-bit x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both PAE 32-bit processors 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 14 MATE Download
You can download Linux Mint 14 MATE from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.01GB. You can also buy Linux Mint 14 on DVD from Amazon.com:

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

You can get Linux Mint 14 MATE in 32 or 64 bit versions, and you also have the option of downloading it with or without codecs preinstalled.

Installation
Installing Linux Mint is easy as always. It took about ten minutes, and I had no problems. You can see a short slideshow during the install.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Install

Linux Mint 14 MATE Install
Linux Software Included in Linux Mint 14
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
Eye of MATE Image Viewer
GIMP Image Editor
gThumb
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox Web Browser
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Mint 14 MATE Software Manager

Problems & Headaches in Linux Mint 14 MATE
I didn’t notice any problems while running Linux Mint 14 MATE. It did quite well for me. However, if you’ve seen any issues please share them in the comments below. It may be of use to other users.

The Linux Mint developers have posted a list of known issues:

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 14 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.

AMD Radeon HD 2xxx-4xxx series card

The ATI drivers for these cards are now available in a separate branch called legacy series. Unfortunately these legacy drivers (version 12.6) have not been updated to work with Xorg 1.13.

If you own one of these cards you can either:

Additional drivers

To install additional drivers, please run the “Software Sources” tool from “Menu->Preferences->Software Sources” and click on the “Additional Drivers” tab. The tool used in previous versions of Linux Mint (Jockey) was discontinued upstream in Ubuntu.

Mouse Integration in Virtualbox

In Virtualbox, if your mouse cursor jumps unexpectedly click on “Machine->Disable Mouse Integration”.

Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint 14 MATE
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 page, and the Linux Mint forum. Be sure to also view the Linux Mint documentation as it’s a helpful resource.

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 14 MATE
Linux Mint 14 MATE seems to be in very good shape. While it’s not in the same league as Cinnamon in terms of new features, that’s okay. It serves a different role by providing a more traditional desktop environment Mint users.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Menu

My experience with it indicates that it’s improving quickly. If you’ve been hesitant to try it in the past, check it out now. In an age of flashy desktop environments, MATE takes us back to the golden years of traditional interfaces, and thank goodness for that.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 14 MATE
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Bug fixes, bluetooth and keyring functional, Caja supports Dropbox, notification styles, character map, other Caja improvements.
Cons: No earth shattering new features for me to rave about.
Rating: 4/5

Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Linux Mint 14 was recently released. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and offers the Cinnamon or MATE desktop environments. This review covers the Cinnamon version, you can read the MATE review here.

What’s New in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

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

Ubuntu 12.10
Linux 3.5
Cinnamon 1.6
Workspace OSD
Windows Quick-List
Notifications Applet
Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Windows Previews
Better Sound Applet
Nemo File Browser in Cinnamon
MDM Improvements
Software Manager Changes
System Improvements
Artwork Updates

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Welcome

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Welcome

This release brings updates Linux Mint to Ubuntu 12.10 and Linux Kernel 3.5. If you aren’t familiar with Ubuntu 12.10, please see the review I wrote earlier about it.

Cinnamon 1.6 is a large update. There’s quite a lot of stuff in it, here’s a quick breakdown of some of them:

You can now name workspaces on your Cinnamon desktop. They are also persistent, so if you log out or shut down, your desktops will be there waiting for you when you come back. As someone who frequently uses multiple desktops, I love this. I can set up my workspaces with names for each task, and they are always there when I need to use them.

Workplace OSD

Workplace OSD

The Windows Quick-List applet is on by default, and is found at the far right end of the panel. It’s a useful applet since you can see all of your windows, across all of your workspaces. This makes it easy to switch between windows regardless of which workspace you use.

Window Quick-List

Window Quick-List

There’s a notifications applet available as well in Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. I’m glad to see this since it’s a pain to keep track of them in each application. It’s easier to have them all in one place.

Notifications will appear, then disappear after a few seconds.

Notifications Applet

Notifications Applet

You can customize the Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Windows Previews by going into Cinnamon’s Settings and clicking on Windows. You can choose from the following options:

Icons
Icons and Thumbnails
Icons and Windows Previews
Windows Previews

Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Window Previews

Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Window Previews

The Sound applet has the following improvements:

More space for album artwork
Volume slider shows visible percentage (and amplification is now limited to 100%)
Mute buttons and tooltips for sound and microphone

Improved Sound Applet

Improved Sound Applet

Cinnamon 1.6 also has its own file browser called Nemo. Nemo is a fork of Nautilus. The Linux Mint developers give a detailed explanation here on why they felt it necessary to fork Nautilus. I found their reasoning compelling, and I think it was a good decision for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 users.

Nemo File Manager

Nemo File Manager

There’s more to Cinnamon 1.6 than I can cover here, here’s a sampling of other features. You can get more info about Cinnamon 1.6 here.

Edge Flip
Grid View in Expo
Configurable panel heights
Panel auto-hide delay options
Expo and Scale applets
Brightness applet
Mouse scroll to switch windows in window list applet
“Close all” and “Close other” in window list applet
Cinnamon 2D (A new session which uses software rendering, to help people troubleshoot  compatibility problems with Cinnamon)
Workspaces and Menu pages in Cinnamon Settings
Faster menu filtering
Menu activation on hover
Settings applet is now part of the panel context menu
New widgets (for Applet developers): radio buttons and checkboxes

MDM has also been improved in this release. It supports legacy GDM 2 themes, and 30 are included with Linux Mint 14.  More can be had at GNOME Look. MDM also supports user lists and faces. You can now also switch users via the lock screen.

MDM Themes

MDM Themes

Faces and User Lists in MDM

Faces and User Lists in MDM

User Switching from the Lock Screen

User Switching from the Lock Screen

Software Manager also has some changes, I’ll talk about them in that section of the review.

There have been some system improvements in this release as well. These include MintStick, Gedit 2.30, and two more commands for MintSystem (dns-fix and xchat-systray).

The artwork has been updated and there are now some absolutely gorgeous wallpapers available with Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. The icon theme has also been enhanced in this release.

Wallpapers

Wallpapers

System Requirements for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Here’s what you’ll need to run Linux Mint Cinnamon 14:

  • a 32-bit PAE-enabled x86 processor or a 64-bit x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both PAE 32-bit processors 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

Download Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

You can download Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon free from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 927 MB.

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

Linux Mint 14 also comes with the MATE desktop, which I will probably cover in a separate review.

Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 Installation

The Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon install is quite easy, even if you’re new to Linux. The install takes about seven minutes or so, and you can watch a slideshow while it completes.

Note also that Linux Mint is a live distro, so you can run it off a disc to check it out before bothering with a full install on your computer.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 1

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 1

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 2

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 2

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 3

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 3

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Slide Show

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Slide Show

The Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 Desktop

Themes & Wallpaper
As I noted earlier, this release includes some truly beautiful wallpapers. I spent some time trying them out and I loved them. Wallpaper is obviously not a huge deal in a distro, but I always enjoy it when I’m surprised by new ones (particularly if they are really pleasing to the eye).

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Live Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Live Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Desktop

There are also some great themes included in this release that will jazz up your Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon desktop. Between the themes and the wallpaper, you get a lot of sweet eye candy right out of the box in this release.

To change your wallpaper or theme, go to the Cinnamon Settings menu. Click on Themes or Backgrounds.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Wallpapers

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Wallpapers

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Themes

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Themes

Linux Software in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

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

Games
No Bundled 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
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC

Office
Document Viewer
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer)

Software Management Tools in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

As I noted earlier, there have been some improvements to Software Manager. It has its own apt client, so aptdaemon is no longer used. It also has full debconf support in this release.

Software Manager runs as root, so you can skip typing in your password every time you install an application. You also disable the “search while typing” feature.

New stuff aside, the Software Manager is as easy as ever to use. Applications are listed in convenient categories, and there are some great apps ready for download in the Featured category (hit that one first).

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon VLC

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon VLC

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application in the Software Manager, then click the Install or Remove button.

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

The new features in Workplace OSD are welcome. However, I found it odd that the Workspace Switcher applet wasn’t on the panel by default. Nor was the Expo applet, or the Brightness, Trash and Scale applets.

This seems a bit odd to me. While I knew how to add them, how many new Linux Mint 14 users would not even know they exist? I suppose your perspective on this depends on whether or not you consider them basic functionality. I do, so it seems strange to me that they aren’t already activated when a user boots into their Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon desktop.

What’s your take on this? I’m curious to know, perhaps I’m overreacting. Tell me in the comments section. It will be interesting to see if others feel the same way or not.

There’s a list of known issues for Linux Mint 14, so be sure to read through them below before doing an install.

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 14 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.

AMD Radeon HD 2xxx-4xxx series card

The ATI drivers for these cards are now available in a separate branch called legacy series. Unfortunately these legacy drivers (version 12.6) have not been updated to work with Xorg 1.13.

If you own one of these cards you can either:

Additional drivers

To install additional drivers, please run the “Software Sources” tool from “Menu->Preferences->Software Sources” and click on the “Additional Drivers” tab. The tool used in previous versions of Linux Mint (Jockey) was discontinued upstream in Ubuntu.

Mouse Integration in Virtualbox

In Virtualbox, if your mouse cursor jumps unexpectedly click on “Machine->Disable Mouse Integration”.

Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Other issues

Linux Mint 14 is based on Ubuntu 12.10. 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.

Desktop icons in Cinnamon

The names of the desktop icons are now configurable. By default they’re called “Computer” and “Home” and are not localized. You can change them as follows:

  • gsettings set org.nemo.desktop computer-icon-name “MyComputer”
  • gsettings set org.nemo.desktop home-icon-name “MyHome”

CD images

Because of the size of the content, and the fact that a vast majority of systems nowadays can either boot from DVDs or from USB, Linux Mint no longer provides images which fit in 700MB CDs. It is however possible and easy to to modify ISO images. By removing packages such as Java, Mono, LibreOffice, Gimp..etc.. Linux Mint ISOs can be made to fit within 700MB. For instructions on how to remaster the Linux Mint ISOs, please read the following tutorial: http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/918

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 removing the comment sign “#” in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/local-repository.list and refreshing your APT cache. This repository has GnomePPP as well as a collection of drivers.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

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

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community page, and the Linux Mint forum. Be sure to also view the Linux Mint documentation, particularly if you are new to this distro.

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 Cinnamon 14

There’s an enormous amount to like about Linux Mint Cinnamon 14, and very little to dislike. If you’re using Linux Mint 13, then an upgrade to this release should be on your to-do list.

Cinnamon itself is getting more and more polished, and it’s no surprise that many former Ubuntu users have opted to use Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu. This release just seals the deal even more. If you aren’t a fan of Unity then you should absolutely check out Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com/
Donate to This Distro: http://linuxmint.com/donors.php
Price: Free
Pros: Cinnamon 1.6; updates to Software Manager, MDM, and the Linux Mint artwork (especially the gorgeous wallpapers included).
Cons: Some very useful panel applets are not installed by default, and this may confuse inexperienced users.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Ubuntu 12.10

Ubuntu 12.10 has been released. So it’s time for another review to see what’s in it, and if it’s worth considering as your preferred desktop distro.

In keeping with Canonical’s past tradition, Ubuntu 12.10 has a cute animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Quantal Quetzel.” You’re probably wondering what the heck a “quetzel” is, right? I was too, so I googled it and here’s what I found:

Resplendent Quetzal

Click the image to browse books about quetzals.

Quetzals (play /k?ts???l/ or play /?k?ts?l/) are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family. They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico also in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala . They are fairly large (all over 32 cm or 13 inches long), slightly bigger than other trogon species. Quetzals have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, with a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females’ plumage are brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (such as frogs). Despite their bright plumage, they can be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats.

So there you go, now you know what a Quetzal is, thanks to Canonical and Ubuntu 12.10. You learn something new every day. It’s certainly a colorful bird, if a bit odd looking. If you want more information about them, be sure to browse Amazon’s selection of books about quetzals.

Alright, enough about the nickname. Now on with the review.

What’s New in Ubuntu 12.10

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

WebApp Desktop Integration
Online Search
Dash Previews

Ubuntu 12.10 now lets you integrate web applications right into your desktop. When you visit a site such as GMail and login, you’ll get a pop menu that asks you if you want to install GMail. Just click the Install button and the app will be added to the Ubuntu launcher. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, more on that in the problems section.

Ubuntu 12.10 Web App Installer
Online search now lets you use Ubuntu to search online accounts such as Flickr, Google Drive and others.

Ubuntu Web Apps

Dash Previews let you preview your search results in the Dash. For example, you might want to play a song directly from a preview, without opening a music player. This helps cut down on the need to open more windows to actually interact with your content and data.

Online Search in Ubuntu 12.10

System Requirements for Ubuntu 12.10

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

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 12.10 Download

You can download Ubuntu 12.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 790 MB. You can also buy Ubuntu 12.10 on DVD from Amazon.com or snag a cool Ubuntu coffee mug.

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

Ubuntu 12.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Just click the drop down menu on the download page to switch versions.

Ubuntu 12.10 Installation

The Ubuntu 12.10 install is easy and relatively fast. Note that on the “Preparing to install Ubuntu” screen, you have the option to download updates while installing, and to install third party software such as Flash. I recommend that you check both boxes, it will save you time and effort later on. I did just that for this review.

If you are already running Ubuntu 12.04, here’s how you can upgrade your system to 12.10. Be sure to do a backup before trying an upgrade.

The Ubuntu 12.10 Desktop

There are new lenses available in Ubuntu 12.10, including a photo lens. You can search your photos by EXIF data, tag or name. You can also integrate your photos with online services such as Facebook or Picasa.

One of the desktop changes that some folks might not like is the web app link to Amazon.com (see the icon on the launcher in the screenshot below). This might come across as a bridge too far in terms of the outright commercialization of Ubuntu. And it is an eery reminder of all the garbage that gets installed on Windows PCs by default, by the hardware companies.

Is this where Ubuntu is going? Will you someday boot into your Ubuntu desktop only to find tons of commercial crapware clogging up your desktop by default? I sure hope not, as it will be another reason for people to avoid Ubuntu.

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 12.10

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

Games
FreeCell Solitaire
Mines
Sudoku
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg

Graphics
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager & Viewer
Image Viewer
Document Viewer
Photo Lens for Unity
Simple Scan

Internet
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Desktop Sharing
Thunderbird Mail
Firefox
Gwibber
Transmission
Ubuntu Extension for Firefox
Empathy

Multimedia
Movie Player
GStreamer Extra Plugins
GStreamer ffmpeg Video Plugin
Ubuntu One Music Store
Brasero Disc Burner
Sound Recorder
Rhythmbox Music Player

Office
LibreOffice
Google Documents Scope for Unity

Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 12.10

The Ubuntu Software center is as easy to use as ever. You’ll find thousands of applications and games for your Ubuntu system. The vast majority are free, but there are some apps and games you can buy as well. I have no problem with this, it makes sense to compensate commercial software developers who release their applications on the Linux platform.

Ubuntu Software Center in Ubuntu 12.10

Adding & Removing Software
It’s easy to add or remove software. Just click the Install or Buy button in an app’s page in the Software Center to add it. Click the Remove button to remove it from your Ubuntu system.

Add Wireshark to your Ubuntu System

Problems & Headaches in Ubuntu 12.10

One of the neat, new features in Ubuntu 12.10 is web apps. When you install a web app such as Twitter, it’s supposed to appear in the launcher. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. I installed Twitter and GMail, but neither of them showed up in the launcher. I have no idea why. Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen something similar.

Unity 2D has been removed. This could be a problem for folks with older devices without dedicated graphics cards to run the 3D version of Unity. The software will switch to using the CPU, but that could result in much slower performance. If you’re one of those people, I’d consider running a different desktop than Unity, and a different distro altogether if necessary. Xfce and similar desktop environments don’t require 3D graphics, and they don’t dump a 3D desktop onto a CPU alone.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 12.10

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

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page. You’ll find links to documentation, technical answers, free community support, and paid support as well.

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 12.10

This release definitely adds some value for Ubuntu users.

The developers were clearly looking for ways to integrate the web into Ubuntu, and they largely succeeded in doing so. Being able to install frequently used web apps into the launcher makes it much faster and easier to access them. However, Ubuntu is following in the footsteps of distros like Peppermint OS that have had such integration for ages. Still, it’s good to see it happen and I think most Ubuntu users will enjoy it.

Being able to search online accounts is potentially very useful, indeed. It cuts down on having to go to a web browser to do a search, and it integrates the search results into Ubuntu itself.

Previews in the Dash are also very helpful. I hate having to constantly open new windows to do things, so anything like this that cuts down on additional clicking is fine in my book.

Overall, Ubuntu 12.10 is a decent upgrade for current Ubuntu users. However, the inclusion of the Amazon icon on the launcher, and the discontinuation of Unity 2D might irritate some people. Still, it’s certainly worth a download to check out Ubuntu 12.10.

Ubuntu 12.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Linux 12.10
Web Site: http://ubuntu.com
Support This Distro: http://www.ubuntu.com/community/get-involved
Price: Free
Pros: Online search; web app integration, dash previews.
Cons: Web app integration seemed buggy; Unity 2D has been removed; Amazon web app icon included in Dock.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 3.5/5

Peppermint OS 3

Peppermint OS 3 has been released. If you aren’t familiar with it, Peppermint OS is a cloud-oriented distribution. It’s based on Ubuntu 12.04 (it’s actually a fork of Lubuntu 12.04).

Unlike most other distributions, it’s geared toward letting you use your favorite web apps as well as desktop software. Web apps such as Editor by Pixlr run in the Ice SSB framework, which makes these applications a part of your desktop rather than running them in a browser. This makes them feel like they are running locally rather than in the cloud.

Editor by Pixlr

Editor by Pixlr

SSB, by the way, is an acronym for “site specific browser.” Here’s more on SSB’s from the Peppermint OS site:

Ice is, by definition, a Site Specific Browser [SSB] that Peppermint creator Kendall Weaver wrote himself as a means to launch Web Applications and/or  Cloud Applications [SaaS – Software As A Service] from the new Peppermint Ice OS. When you launch a web based application using Ice it will call up a custom SSB using the default Chromium Browser. So, essentially, the Ice SSB acts as software that is installed locally but is actually delivered via the Web.

The difference in using an SSB as opposed to using a tabbed browser is that only one function is assigned to the Ice SSB.  In a tabbed browsing system, with several open for example, if one service or site in any given tab crashes you run the risk of losing data by crashing the other tabs and potentially the browser itself. since an SSB is isolated and dedicated to only operating the web application of your choice, if it crashes or hangs, it does not effect the rest of the system. And, because the Ice SSB’s are so sleek, they are perfect for running apps that display better using the most screen area as possible.

Using Ice you can add or remove web applications, including the ones that come with Peppermint OS 3 by default. Ice gives you a lot of power to control the web applications that you’ll be using in Peppermint OS 3.

To add or remove web applications, follow these instructions:

How to Add an App in Ice SSB

1. Click the Menu button on the panel.
2. Click the Internet category.
3. Click the Ice icon in the drop down menu.
4. Type in the URL and name of the web app you want to add.
5. Choose where you want it to appear in the menus.
6. Choose an icon for the web application.
7. Click the Create button.

Add app in Ice SSB

Add app in Ice SSB

How to Remove an App in Ice SSB

1. Click the Menu button on the panel.
2. Click the Internet category.
3. Click the Ice icon in the drop down menu.
4. Click the Remove tab on the Ice menu.
5. Select the app you want to remove.
6. Click the Remove button.

Remove app in Ice SSB

Remove app in Ice SSB

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

Chromium stable repository enabled by default
Light theme and default art
Fewer web applications installed by default
GWOffice included
GIMP 2.8 is in the Peppermint repository
Peppermint OS uses Linux Mint’s update manager again

Chromium is the default browser in Peppermint OS 3, and it’s an excellent choice. Since the stable repository is enabled already,  you will get updates right when they become available.

The new, lighter them is attractive and clean. It works well within Peppermint OS, though the default wallpaper left something to be desired (more in the problems section on that).

The developers have opted to include less web applications by default. I have mixed feelings about this since some users may simply be unaware of all the great web apps available to use on Peppermint OS 3. However, I can also understand the developers not wanting to overload people with web apps. It would be nice if there was some one-click way to add a whole bunch of them at the same time.

GWoffice is now included by default. To use it just start it and login with your Google account information. GWoffice is a desktop Google Docs client. It’s still in beta though, so be aware you may see some burps while using it.

GWoffice

GWoffice

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

The absolute minimum required specs are as follows:

  • 192 MB of RAM
  • Processor based on Intel x86 architecture
  • At least 2 GB of available disk space

Again, do note that these are the absolute minimum required specs. We strongly recommend having something a little stronger to install on. Our minimum recommended specs are as follows:

  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Processor based on Intel x86 architecture
  • At least 4 GB of available disk space

Taking it a step further, the preferred minimum specs on a candidate for installation are as follows:

  • 1 GB of RAM
  • x86_64 or amd64 compatible processor
  • At least 4 GB of disk space

Download
You can download Peppermint OS 3 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 558.4 MB.

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

You can get Peppermint OS 3 in 32 bit or 64 bit versions.

Installation
Since it’s based on Ubuntu 12.04, the install is extremely easy. It took about 7 minutes or so for my install to finish.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

The Desktop
The desktop is clear of icon clutter. The menu button on the panel has a cute peppermint icon in it. On the right of the panel you’ll see your network connection info, an icon to click to update your system, a notifications icon, a volume icon, the time, and the logout icon.

The Peppermint OS 3 Desktop

The Peppermint OS 3 Desktop

Applications are broken up into the usual categories:

Peppermint OS 3 Application Categories

Peppermint OS 3 Menu

So it’s very easy to find what you’re looking for, and it’s easy to access System Tools and Preferences via the Menu button as well.

Wallpaper
I have some…er…feedback on the default wallpaper I encountered in the problems section. To change the wallpaper just right-click your desktop and pull up the Desktop Preferences menu. Then click the wallpaper drop down menu. I like the first choice (peppermint.jpg) in the list of included wallpapers.

Desktop Preferences

Desktop Preferences

Wallpapers

Wallpapers

 

Bundled Software

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

Games
Available in Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
Editor by pixlr
Express by pixlr
Pixlr-o-matic
Simple Scan

Internet
BitTorrent
Chromium
Dropbox
Ice
IRC Client
Online User Guide
Peppermint Forums

Multimedia
Media Player
Music Player

Office
Gmail
Google Calendar
Google Reader
GWoffice

Software Management
Peppermint OS 3 uses the Linux Mint Software Manager. So it’s very easy to find desktop software to install on your system. You can browse categories, search for an application, or use the Featured category to find top desktop Linux applications.

Software Manager Categories

Software Manager Categories

Software Manager Featured Applications

Software Manager Featured Applications

Adding & Removing Software
I covered how to add or remove web applications in Ice SSB earlier in the review. It’s just as easy to add or remove desktop applications. Just find the application you want to add or remove in Software Manager, and click the Install or Remove button.

VLC in Software Manager

VLC in Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
One minor thing I didn’t care for at all is the default wallpaper. There are some sort of very blurry, red shapes on the wallpaper. Frankly, they reminded me of drops of blood. Yuck! That’s a bit on the morbid side for a Linux distro. Maybe the Peppermint OS developers have been watching too much “Dexter?”

I seem to remember Peppermint OS as originally having some kind of stripes or something. I would have preferred some kind of peppermint candy background. I hope the developers change this in the next release. Eeeew.

The help functions within the power management tool are not working, since Peppermint OS 3 uses the Xfce tool. The developers have noted this and plan to eventually disable the feature later. See this from the release notes:

Peppermint Three uses the power management tool from the Xfce desktop environment. Due to this being the only Xfce utility installed, the “Help” functions within the application and the applet are not functional. I hope to push an update that completely disables this functionality in the near future.

Beyond these two issues, I didn’t see much in the way of problems with Peppermint OS 3. If you ran into anything, please share your problem(s) in the comments section. Someone else might have also had the same issues, and somebody might have a solution for you.

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

You might also want to check out the Peppermint User’s Guide, FAQ & Support page, and the 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 & Who Should Use It
Peppermint OS 3 is an excellent choice for folks that truly want the best from the cloud, while still maintaining the ability to run whichever desktop applications they prefer. The Ice SSB makes web applications blend right into your desktop, with an absolute minimum of fuss or work.

Once you get used to having access to your favorite web applications right from your desktop, you really notice them missing in other distributions. Peppermint OS 3 is a unique distribution, and it’s well worth a download.

Peppermint OS 3 is well suited for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

BTW, if you’re really into the whole peppermint theme, be sure to browse Amazon’s selection of peppermint products. There’s bound to be something there to complement Peppermint OS 3.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Peppermint OS 3
Web Site: http://peppermintos.com
Donate to This Distro: http://peppermintos.com/sponsor/
Price: Free
Pros: Web applications are integrated well into the desktop. Easy to add or remove them in Ice SSB. Chromium is the default browser.
Cons: Strange default wallpaper that looks like drops of blood on a glass slide under a microscope.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

In my last review, I covered Linux Mint 13 MATE. However, there’s quite a bit going on with Cinnamon so I decided to do another review to cover it separately. The Cinnamon desktop is quite different than MATE, and it’s worth looking at in its own right.

Excuse me though if I cover some familiar ground if you’ve already read the MATE review. Some of this will be quite familiar to you.

Cinnamon is based on GNOME 3 and Clutter.

Before I get into this review of the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint, let me deal with the issue of MATE versus Cinnamon. Some folks are going to wonder which one they should choose. Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of each from the Linux Mint developers:

MATE:

Pros:

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cons:

  • Some parts of Gnome 2 were not migrated to MATE yet and a few aspects such as Bluetooth support might not work as well as they did with Gnome 2.

Cinnamon:

Pros:

  • Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments
  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets

Cons:

  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations.

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

Ubuntu 12.04
Linux 3.2
Cinnamon 1.4
Yahoo as the default search engine
Latest Mint-X and Mint-Z themes
Additional art work for backgrounds from artist masterbutler
MDM Display Manager

Ubuntu 12.04 has been out for a while now, and there’s been a huge amount of coverage by the media. If you aren’t caught up with what it offers, you can check out my review here on DLR.

Kernel Newbies has the dirt on what Linux 3.2 has to offer. So, drop by if you aren’t up to speed on what’s in Linux 3.2.

The switch to Yahoo as the default search engine is related to search engine revenue sharing. The Linux mint developers have been very direct about this change here:

Linux Mint switches to Yahoo as the default search engine for the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yahoo is the 2nd biggest search engine in the World, and the first major search engine to share revenue with Linux Mint. The results page is full of features, it comes with a nice layout, images, videos and blogs search, points of interest, time filters and cached results. Underneath the interface, Yahoo comes with a strong network of advertisers and its addition represents a huge opportunity and an additional source of income for Linux Mint.

Personally, I prefer Duck Duck Go to Yahoo. Duck Duck Go also has a revenue relationship with Linux Mint. So I think you can use either search engine and still feel like you are supporting the Linux Mint project.

Cinnamon 1.4 has quite a lot to offer, and it’s why I decided to do a separate review for this version of Linux Mint. Please note that I was in a bit of a rush to get this one out the door for those who were interested in Cinnamon, so some of the screenshots below are courtesy of the Linux Mint site, drop by their donation page if you want to make a financial contribution to Linux Mint.

Here’s a list of what’s new in Cinnamon 1.4:

Expo & Scale Overview
New Settings Applet and Panel Edit Mode
Localization
New Configuration Options
Menu Improvements
Window List Improvements
Applets Improvements
Cinnamon Settings Improvements

If you’ve ever used a Mac, you’ll feel right at home with the Expo and Scale overviews since they are quite reminiscent of OS X’s Expose feature. Expo lets you see and manage your workspaces. Scale makes it easy and fast to select a window. You can also add additional workspaces in Expo, or close one that you already opened by clicking on the close button (the “x) in the upper right corner of the workspace.

The Expo Overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

The Expo overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

The Scale Overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

The Scale overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

There’s a handy new applet that you can access by clicking on the little arrow icon on the panel. It will launch the Settings Applet. You can troubleshoot, turn Panel Edit Mode on or off, and access Panel Settings. You can also add or remove applets, and access other settings. If you want to move applets, you’ll need to turn on Panel Edit Mode since applets cannot be moved any more.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Settings Applet

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon settings applet.

Localization support means that Cinnamon 1.4 supports 39 languages, and includes support for right-to-left languages.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Localization

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon comes with support for 39 languages.

The menu now includes drag and drop support. You can add applications to panel launchers, add/remove applications to favorites, and reorder your favorites. You can also right-click the menu to use the menu editor to change how apps and categories are displayed in the menu.

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Menu Editor

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon comes with a new menu editor.

The window list has also had some changes. You can change the order of windows in it via drag and drop. You can right-click a window and send it to another workspace. You can also drag a file onto a window and the window will come into focus.

As you can tell, Cinnamon 1.4 has had many improvements added to it. It’s a no-brainer upgrade if you are still using an earlier version.

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

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

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Download
You can download Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon from this page. The download file for Cinnamon was about 856.7 MB. You can also buy Linux Mint on disc from Amazon.com. There are also helpful books about Linux Mint available from Amazon (the discs and books are listed on that link).

You can download Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon in 32 or 64 bit, and you have the option of downloading it with or without codecs installed.

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

Installation
Installing Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is very easy. It’s probably one of the easiest installs you’ll find in any distro. It didn’t take long and I had no problems. You can watch a slideshow while your install finishes. Please note that Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is also a Live DVD, so you can burn it to a DVD and boot off of it if you want to try it, before installing it.

Getting Ready to Install Linux Mint 13

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon requires at least 5.2 GB of hard disk space.

Erase Disk for Install

Getting ready to erase the disk to install Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Slide Show During Install

You can watch a slideshow while installing Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

The Login Menu

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon login menu.

The Desktop
I covered some of the changes in Cinnamon 1.4 at the beginning of the review. Suffice to say that this really is the best version of Cinnamon yet, with much to offer any Linux Mint user.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon desktop.

When your desktop first loads, you’ll see the Welcome Screen. Don’t click it closed if you’re new to Linux Mint. It has many helpful information links on it that will save you time and trouble later.

Welcome Screen

The Welcome Screen has lots of helpful information about Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Other than the Welcome Screen, there’s just an icon for Computer and an icon for Home on the desktop. To get started, click the Menu button in the panel. You’ll find all the usual things like application categories, system tools, preferences, administration, the software manager, and lots of other stuff.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Menu

The menu in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the 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
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management

The Linux Mint Software Manager has more than 38,000 packages available for download. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for them if you prefer that instead of browsing.

Each application contains user reviews, an overall score, a screenshot, and details such as the version and size. You can also see what installing it or removing it will do in terms of packages. You can also rate applications, and submit your own user reviews.

Software Manager

The Software Manager has more than 38,000 applications.

Featured Applications in Software Manager

The featured applications list in Linux Mint 13’s Software Manager.

Deluge in the Software Manager

Deluge in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

Adding & Removing Software
Just find the software you want in Software Manager, then click the Install or Remove button. It’s very easy to add or remove applications in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon. The Software Manager makes it totally pain-free to find, install or delete applications from your computer.

Problems & Headaches
I had a good experience using Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon. I only noticed one momentary glitch when I opened the menu. I clicked the button again and the menu closed without a problem. I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t a significant issue.

Some people will want to have both desktops on their computer (MATE and Cinnamon). Since they don’t ship together in one download like in Linux Mint Debian, here’s how you can do it:

1. Click the Menu button.
2. Click the Administration button.
3. Click the Synaptic Package Manager button to start Synaptic.
4. Do a search for “mate desktop” without the quotes.
5. You’ll see a list of packages that can be installed, select the mate-desktop-environment package.
6. Click the Apply button to install your packages.
7. Log out of your Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon session.
8. Click the session icon on the login screen.
9. Click the MATE option.
10. Click the Change Session button.
11. Type in your user ID and password to login.
12. A menu will pop up giving you the option to use MATE as the default desktop, or to use it just for this session.
13. Your MATE desktop will load. You can go back to Cinnamon by choosing it on the session menu on the login screen.

Install MATE in Synaptic

You can add the MATE desktop to your system via Synaptic.

Change Desktop in Sessions Menu

You can change your desktop by going to the sessions menu on the login screen.

I hope future releases will let us name our workspaces. This would make it easier to specify which workspace is for which task. It would really make it better organizationally. The Linux Mint developers have already said that this is something that might show up in a future release, so I’m very happy to know they’ve already noticed the need for workspace naming.

While my experience was very good, there are known issues with this release. Here’s a list of known problems from the Linux Mint developers:

Boot hangs on systems using b43 wireless cards

An upstream issue in the kernel prevents Linux Mint 13 from booting on computers with b43 wireless cards. If you’re in this situation, try the following:

To boot the live DVD, choose the “Compatibility mode” or add the following kernel argument to the boot options: b43.blacklist=yes
Install Linux Mint on the hard drive
If not present already, in Grub, modify the boot options to add: b43.blacklist=yes
Install the b43 firmware on the system

For more information on this problem, please read this bug report.
64-bit only for Mint4win

If you’re planning to use Mint4win, please choose either MATE 64-bit or Cinnamon 64-bit. Although Mint4win is present on all images, it is only functional with the 64-bit ISOs.
Window popping behind installer in MATE Edition

One or two windows might open during the installation of the MATE edition while the installer is mounting partitions and copying files. This is a cosmetic issue. Feel free to dismiss any error message and to close these windows during the installation process.
Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

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


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

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon has an enormous amount to offer. Cinnamon 1.4 brings Mac-like features such as Expo and Scale to the Linux desktop. Other changes such as the menu improvements, settings applet, localization, and additional configuration options just make Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon that much better.

There’s not much to complain about with this release, and there’s quite a bit to be thankful for on the part of Linux Mint users.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Expo and Scale overviews; menu improvements, settings applet; localization; more configuration options; window list improvements; other changes and improvements.
Cons: Requires 3D acceleration; may not work on certain kinds of hardware configurations.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Linux Mint 13 MATE

Edit: I’ve done a separate review of Cinnamon, for those who prefer that desktop.

Woohoo! It’s Linux Mint time again! Linux Mint 13 (wow, not exactly a lucky number!) has just been released, so I hopped right on it. Linux Mint has long been one of my favorite distros. We’ll find out in this review if the latest version measures up to its previous incarnations.

Linux Mint 13 comes with two different desktop options: MATE or Cinnamon. For this review, I picked the MATE version. You can download either of them. See the install section of the review for download details.

The Linux Mint 13 Welcome Menu

The welcome menu contains link to useful information and help for Linux Mint 13.

Which one should you pick? Well, the Linux Mint developers have come up with a helpful list of the pros and cons of each. If you still aren’t sure after reading them, try running them as Live DVDs to get a taste of each. Just burn each to its own DVD, then boot into that DVD to run Linux Mint without doing an install.

MATE:

Pros:

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cons:

  • Some parts of Gnome 2 were not migrated to MATE yet and a few aspects such as Bluetooth support might not work as well as they did with Gnome 2.

Cinnamon:

Pros:

  • Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments
  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets

Cons:

  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations.
The Home Folder in Linux Mint 13

The home folder in Linux Mint 13.

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

Ubuntu 12.04
Linux 3.2
MATE 1.2
Cinnamon 1.4
Yahoo as the default search engine
Latest Mint-X and Mint-Z themes
Additional art work for backgrounds from artist masterbutler
MDM Display Manager

Linux Mint 13 is based on Ubuntu 12.04. If you aren’t familiar with it, please see my earlier review here on DLR.

You can check out a list of Linux 3.2 changes over on Kernel Newbies.

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint. There is apparently a revenue sharing arrangement between Yahoo and the Linux Mint developers. Here’s some info about that from the Linux Mint site:

Linux Mint switches to Yahoo as the default search engine for the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yahoo is the 2nd biggest search engine in the World, and the first major search engine to share revenue with Linux Mint. The results page is full of features, it comes with a nice layout, images, videos and blogs search, points of interest, time filters and cached results. Underneath the interface, Yahoo comes with a strong network of advertisers and its addition represents a huge opportunity and an additional source of income for Linux Mint.

Yahoo in Linux Mint 13

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint 13.

The MDM display manager is based on GDM 2.0. It offers quite a bit including event scripting, language selection, graphical config tools, themeability, and language selection.

You can choose some gorgeous backgrounds, if the default Linux Mint wallpaper starts to bore you after a while. They were done by an artist named masterbutler. Just right-click your desktop and choose Change Desktop Background to see them. Click the one you want and your background will change to the new wallpaper.

Linux Mint 13 Backgrounds

Check out the gorgeous wallpaper in Linux Mint 13.

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in this release, along with superior support for GTK3.

Mint-X is the default theme, but you can easily switch to Mint-Z in the Appearance Preferences menu. Just click on the Appearance icon in Control Center to make start making the change. Either theme is attractive. You can also click the Customize button to change any theme to your liking.

Linux Mint 13 Themes

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in Linux Mint 13.

Customize Themes in Linux Mint 13

You can easily customize any theme in Linux Mint 13.

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

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

Linux Mint 13 Download
You can download Linux Mint 13 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 941.6 MB. You can also buy Linux Mint on disc from Amazon.com. There are also helpful books about Linux Mint available from Amazon (the discs and books are listed on that link).

As I noted earlier, you can download a MATE version or a Cinnamon version. Both desktops come in 32 or 64 bit. You also have the option of downloading Linux Mint 13 with or without codecs installed.

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

Installation
The Linux Mint 13 install is about as easy as it gets. The install took about 15 minutes, and I didn’t run into any problems.

Prepare for Linux Mint 13 Install

Linux Mint 13 requires at least a 5.7GB hard disk.

Erase Disk for Insall

Getting ready to install Linux Mint.

Slide Show During Linux Mint 13 Install

Watch a slide show while Linux Mint 13 finishes installing on your system.

The Linux Mint 13 Login

The Linux Mint 13 login menu.

The Desktop
The MATE desktop is almost totally uncluttered with icons. The only icons you’ll find are one for Computer, and one for the Home folder.

When your desktop first loads, you’ll see the Linux Mint Welcome Screen (there’s a screenshot of it on the first page of this review). If you’re new to Linux Mint then I highly recommend taking a careful peek at it. The Welcome Menu contains links to documentation, support, community resources and project information. If you closed the Welcome Menu too soon and want to see it again, just open the Control Center and click on the Welcome Screen icon listed under Personal.

If you click the Menu button, you’ll find the Mint Menu is there in all its glory. You can easily access important places, system functionality, favorite applications, or all applications if you prefer. Once you switch the view to All Applications, you’ll see the usual breakdown of app categories. It’s very easy to find your way around, even if you’re totally new to Linux Mint and the MATE desktop.

If you want to tweak your system, click the Control Center option that’s listed under System on the Mint Menu. From there, you can change tons of things in your Linux Mint computer. It’s all broken down for you into the following categories:

Personal
Internet and Network
Hardware
System
Other

It’s very easy to find the tool you need to adjust your system to your liking.

I really like the MATE desktop. I find it extremely comfortable to use, and it behaves just the way I want it to when I use it. The screenshots below will give you a taste of what it’s like to use MATE.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Desktop

The Linux Mint 13 MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Menu

The Linux Mint menu on the MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 Control Center

The Linux Mint 13 control center.

The Linux Mint 13 Computer Folder

The Linux Mint 13 computer folder.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the 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
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Linux Mint Software Manager has more than 38,000 packages available for download. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for them if you prefer that instead of browsing.

Each application contains user reviews, an overall score, a screenshot, and details such as the version and size. You can also see what installing it or removing it will do in terms of packages. You can also rate applications, and submit your own user reviews.

The Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

Applications are broken down into categories in the Software Manager.

Featured Applications in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

The featured applications category in the Software Manager.

VLC in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

VLC comes preinstalled in Linux Mint 13.

Adding & Removing Software
To add an application, just find it in the Software Manager and click the Install button. Then type in your password, and the install will begin. To remove an application, click the Remove button.

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

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice any overt issues with Linux Mint 13. It ran very well for me. One thing I do recommend doing though is to run update manager right after you boot into your MATE desktop. It’s always a good idea to make sure your system software is up to date before you start using a new version of a distro.

Linux Mint 13 Update Manager

Run the Update Manager to update Linux Mint 13.

One thing that some would consider a problem is how both desktops, MATE and Cinnamon, aren’t included by default the way they are with Linux Mint Debian Edition. There’s a way to fix this, if you want to have the option of switching between them on the login screen.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click the Menu button.
2. Click the Package Manager button to start Synaptic.
3. Do a search for “Cinnamon” without the quotes.
4. You’ll see a list of packages that can be installed.
5. After installing these packages, log out of your MATE desktop.
6. Click the session icon.
7. Click the Cinnamon option.
8. Click the Change Session button.
9. Type in your user ID and password to login.
10. A menu will pop up giving you the option to use Cinnamon as the default desktop, or to use it just for this session.

Obviously, if you installed Cinnamon and you want MATE then you’d have to follow these instructions but just substitute MATE for Cinnamon when you search in Synaptic.

I don’t really consider having to install the other desktop like this to be much of a problem. But I’m including it here for those who might want to do it. See the screenshots below.

Install the Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop in Synaptic

Use Synaptic to install Cinnamon (or MATE) in Linux Mint 13.

Change Linux Mint 13 Desktops in Sessions Menu

You can switch between desktops in the Sessions menu on the login screen.

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop

The Cinnamon desktop in Linux Mint 13.

Known Problems
There are some issues that have been noted by the Linux Mint developers. Here’s a list of those from the Linux Mint site:

Boot hangs on systems using b43 wireless cards

An upstream issue in the kernel prevents Linux Mint 13 from booting on computers with b43 wireless cards. If you’re in this situation, try the following:

To boot the live DVD, choose the “Compatibility mode” or add the following kernel argument to the boot options: b43.blacklist=yes
Install Linux Mint on the hard drive
If not present already, in Grub, modify the boot options to add: b43.blacklist=yes
Install the b43 firmware on the system

For more information on this problem, please read this bug report.
64-bit only for Mint4win

If you’re planning to use Mint4win, please choose either MATE 64-bit or Cinnamon 64-bit. Although Mint4win is present on all images, it is only functional with the 64-bit ISOs.
Window popping behind installer in MATE Edition

One or two windows might open during the installation of the MATE edition while the installer is mounting partitions and copying files. This is a cosmetic issue. Feel free to dismiss any error message and to close these windows during the installation process.
Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

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

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

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 13 MATE is an excellent addition to the Linux Mint tradition.

The MATE version of Linux mint is a great choice for those who don’t have the hardware to run the Cinnamon version, or who simply prefer the MATE desktop environment. Linux is all about choice, and being able to choose MATE instead of Cinnamon adds real value to Linux Mint. Kudos to the developers for giving users the option to pick which one they prefer to run.

Linux Mint 13 MATE is suitable for beginners, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

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

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 13 MATE
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Works well for those who don’t have the hardware for Cinnamon. Easy install; excellent software manager, and selection of software. Also offers a version without codecs installed.
Cons: You won’t get the cool features of Cinnamon, such as the Mac-like Expo and Scale overviews.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Ubuntu 12.04

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

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

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

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

Pangolin

Pangolins are nocturnal mammals.

For more information about pangolins, see this book:

What On Earth is a Pangolin?

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

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

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

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

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

Ubuntu 12.04 HUD

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

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

Video Lens

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ubuntu Try or Install

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

Ubuntu 12.04 Install

The Ubuntu 12.04 installer is easy and fast.

Install Slide Show

Watch a slideshow while Ubuntu 12.04 finishes installing.

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

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

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

Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop

The installed Ubuntu 12.04 desktop.

Home Quicklist

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

System Settings

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

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

Bundled Software

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

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
FreeCell Solitaire
Mahjongg Mines
Sudoku

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

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy
Firefox
Gwibber
Remmina
Thunderbird
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder

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

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

The Ubuntu Software Center

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

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

VLC in the Ubuntu Software Center

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

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

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

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

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

Software Center Recommendations Button

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

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

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

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

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

Boot, Installation and Post-Installation

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

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

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

Upgrades

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

Kernel

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

Desktop Interface

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

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

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

Desktop Applications

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

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

MyUnity in the Software Center

MyUnity can be downloaded from the Software Center.

MyUnity Font Menu

MyUnity lets you customize Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary Table:

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

Trisquel 5.5

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

Here is the official Trisquel take on free software:

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

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

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

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

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

Live CD Desktop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABrowser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trisquel 5.5 Desktop

The desktop after Trisquel was installed.

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

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

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

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

Desktop Panel

The panel on the Trisquel 5.5 desktop.

Panel Menu

The panel application menu.

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

Bundled Software

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

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
Document Viewer
gThumb
Simple Scan

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

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

Office
LibreOffice
Dictionary

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

Add or Remove Applications

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

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

System Settings

The system settings menu for Trisquel 5.5.

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

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

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

Install

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

Boot Menu

The Trisquel 5.5 boot menu before installation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary Table:

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

Siduction 11.1

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

For this review I opted for the Xfce version.

Siduction 11.1 Desktop

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

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

From Knoppix to sidux

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

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

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

From aptosid to a friendly OS

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

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

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

We are siduction, your friendly aptosid fork 2011 :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMD64

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

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

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

i686

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

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

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

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

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

Siduction 11.1 Squirrel Desktop

The squirrel wallpaper was very cute.

Siduction 11.1 Wallpaper

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

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

Home
File System?Trash
Bluewater Manual
Siduction IRC

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

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

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

Siduction 11.1 Panel 2

The bottom panel comes populated with useful applications.

Here’s a list:

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

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

Bundled Software

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

Games
No Games Included

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

Internet
Ceni
Elinks Web Browser
Iceweasel
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
DeaDBeeF
Minitube
Mixer
Pragha
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

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

Siduction 11.1 Synaptic

Synaptic needs to be installed from the command line.

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

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

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

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

Siduction 11.1 Installer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Summary Table:

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