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Desktop Linux Reviews
Xubuntu

Desktop Linux Reviews

Last week I did a review of Kubuntu 10.04, one of Canonical’s officially supported Ubuntu derivatives. Today’s review is about Xubuntu 10.04, an officially recognized but not supported Ubuntu derivative. According to the Xubuntu downloads page, it is based on the “feature-rich core of Ubuntu” Linux.

Unlike Ubuntu (which uses GNOME), Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment. Xfce is a lightweight environment that, according to its creator Olivier Fourdan, “…loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources.” Xubuntu is really geared toward those using older hardware or who simply prefer a no-frills desktop without the gobs of eye-candy found in GNOME or KDE.

What’s New In This Release

Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

  • Albatross theme updated to the latest version
  • Xubuntu now uses PulseAudio
  • You can choose an Xubuntu or classic Xfce session when you login
  • Xubuntu now includes the Ubuntu Software Center
  • SimpleScan replaces Xsane for scanners
  • Gnumeric updated to 1.10.1
  • Revamped selection of bundled games
  • Xscreensaver is now the default screensaver

If you aren’t familiar with PulseAudio, see the Wikipedia background article about it and see also this article on Linux.com for why PulseAudio matters to Xubuntu users. The article is a bit dated but explains some of the advantages to using PulseAudio in Linux distributions.

Being able to choose between Xubuntu and classic Xfce is a nice touch on the login screen. I doubt, however, that many users will opt for generic Xfce over Xubuntu. But it’s there if you want to do it.

One of the things I disliked most about Kubuntu was that it lacked the Ubuntu Software Center. That isn’t the case with Xubuntu and I’m very glad to see it. Please note that you can still access the Ubuntu Software Center in a classic Xfce session, as well as via the default Xubuntu session.

Although I don’t spend too much time gaming these days, it’s nice to see a revised selection of games. See the software section for a list of what’s available in this release.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice is how fast…REALLY FAST…Xubuntu is when you boot into it, reboot, or login/logout. Ubuntu 10.04 itself is fast but Xubuntu 10.04 is even faster. It takes just a couple of seconds and you’ll be staring at your desktop or you’ll have logged out, etc. Zippy is definitely an appropriate word to describe Xubuntu.

The classic Xfce desktop.

Xubuntu 13.10
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

Xubuntu 13.10

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New in Xubuntu 13.10

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

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

System Requirements for Xubuntu 13.10

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

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

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Download

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

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Installation

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

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

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

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 13.10

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

  • Games Mines Sudoku
  • Graphics GIMP gThumb
  • Ristretto Image Viewer
  • Simple Scan
  • Internet
  • Firefox
  • Pidgin IM
  • Thunderbird Mail
  • Transmission
  • XChat IRC
  • Multimedia
  • gmusicbrowser
  • Parole Media Player
  • PulseAudio Volume Control Center
  • Xfburn
  • Office
  • AbiWord
  • Dictionary
  • Document Viewer
  • Gnumeric
  • Orage Calendar
  • Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Xubuntu 13.10

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

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Problems & Headaches Found in Xubuntu 13.10

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

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

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

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

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

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Xubuntu Help & Support page. The support page offers mailing lists, documentation, discussion forums, and commercial support.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS has been released in the wake of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS so it’s time for a full review. Xubuntu 14.04 is a long term support release, so the focus is really on stability and finesse, not on adding tons of new features. Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment instead of Unity, so it works very well as a lightweight alternative to regular Ubuntu. Xubuntu can be particularly useful if you have an older or otherwise underpowered computer.

If you aren’t familiar with Xubuntu, you can read the Xubuntu about page or the Xubuntu strategy document to discover more about it. You can also get a basic overview of what the Xfce desktop environment has to offer on its about page, the Xfce wiki, and you can connect with other Xfcse users in the Xfce forum if you have questions or comments to share.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

What’s New in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

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

Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte
A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
Updated artwork, including various enhancements to themes as well as a new default wallpaper

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Light Locker

Light Locker is a great replacement for xscreensaver, it comes with a GUI menu so you can easily change settings. Just go to Settings then click on Light Locker Settings to make it work the way you prefer. I must admit that I almost never bother to keep screen locking on as I’m lazy and hate typing in passwords over and over again. But your mileage may vary and if you like screen locking then you’ll probably enjoy Light Locker.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Whiskermenu

Whiskermenu is now the default menu in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. I’m happy to see Whiskermenu bundled into Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, I really enjoyed using it. You can easily search for applications, or just browse through the categories to find the app you want. You can also quickly access Favorites and Recently Used applications.

One thing I found strange about Whiskermenu is that when you click on System it only shows you Gigolo and Task Manager. To get to Settings you have to click the icon at the bottom of the menu. It seems to me that Settings should really be included in the System menu, otherwise it might confuse newcomers to Xubuntu and Whiskermenu. This is not a huge deal, but I think the developers should consider a change in the next release.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Mugshot

Mugshot is also now included in Xubuntu 14.04. With Mugshot you can easily and quickly edit your user configuration details. You can add a photo, put in your name, email address, office phone and your fax number. I think most users will find Mugshot very useful since it allows user configuration information to be changed in a very intuitive and simple menu.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

MenuLibre

MenuLibre replaces Alacarte for menu editing in this release. It’s quite a useful tool and I’m glad to see it in Xubuntu 14.04. Go to Settings and click on Menu Editor to access it. You’ll love it if you’re into customizing your menus though most of the time I don’t generally bother. Still, it’s nice to have such functionality available if you want to use it.

Here’s some information about MenuLibre in case you aren’t familiar with it:

An advanced menu editor that provides modern features in a clean, easy-to-use interface. All without GNOME dependencies, so even lightweight systems can benefit from the sanity that MenuLibre offers. MenuLibre is your one-stop shop for menus in Linux, whether you use Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, or Unity.

Features
A beautiful interface powered by the latest version of GTK+
Create new launchers, or modify existing ones with complete control over common settings and access to advanced settings
Add, remove, and adjust quicklists: powerful shortcuts available to Unity and other desktop environments.
Edit user menus or administer system menus that are accessible to all users

More At Sean Michael Davis

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

New wallpapers

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS also comes with a selection of community wallpapers. Some of them are quite pretty so do take a moment to check them out. Right-click your desktop and go to Desktop Settings if you want to change your desktop background. I definitely think that the additional wallpapers add a bit of colorful zip to Xubuntu 14.04. The default wallpaper works well, but it’s a bit on the blander side compared to some of the others that Xubuntu has available.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

GTK Theme config and updated art work
You can also easily edit your theme configuration in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, and this release comes with some updated art work that should improve your desktop experience.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Download and Install

You can download Xubuntu 14.04 LTS from this page. You can get Xubuntu 14.04 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

Installing Xubuntu 14.04 was quick and easy, as is typical with the Ubuntu spins. It took about fifteen minutes or so, and I had no problems with the install. As always, I recommend that you click the “Download updates while installing” and “Install this third-party software” (if you want it) checkboxes so that it’s all done during the install. This will save you time later on.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

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

  • Games Mines Sudoku
  • Graphics
  • Document Viewer
  • GIMP
  • Ristretto Image Viewer
  • Simple Scan
  • Internet
  • Firefox
  • Pidgin IM
  • Thunderbird Mail
  • Transmission
  • XChat IRC
  • Multimedia
  • gmusicbrowser
  • Parole Media Player
  • PulseAudio Volume Control
  • Xfburn
  • Office
  • Abiword
  • Dictionary
  • Document Viewer
  • Gnumeric
  • Orage Calendar
  • Orage Globaltime

Since Xubuntu is a lightweight distribution it does not come with LibreOffice installed. However, you can easily get it from the Software Center if you prefer it to Abiword and Gnumeric. Personally I am very fond of Abiword as I tend to write a lot and it’s a great little word processor. For me LibreOffice tends to be overkill since I don’t use a lot of its features.

The rest of the applications included should meet the needs of most desktop users, but there are thousands and thousands of other applications in the Software Center should you need them. I recommend first trying the ones that come with Xubuntu 14.04 LTS since I like to avoid cluttering up my desktop with too many applications. If you find that they aren’t cutting it then add any others you need from the Software Center.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Xubuntu 14.04 LTS resources:

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS System Requirements
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Support
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Documentation

Please bear in mind the following known issues about Xubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339), see the release notes for details and workarounds

Window manager shortcut keys don’t work after reboot (1292290)

Sorting by date or name not working correctly in Ristretto (1270894)

Due to the switch from xscreensaver to light-locker, some users might have issues with timing of locking; removing xscreensaver from the system should fix these problems

IBus does not support certain keyboard layouts (1284635). Only affects upgrades with certain keyboard layouts. See release notes for a workaround.

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Final Thoughts About Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

I’ve always been a fan of Xubuntu as I tend to go for lightweight desktops versus ones with a lot more glitz and features. So I was quite pleased with Xubuntu 14.04. It’s true that you aren’t going to find tons of earth shattering features in this release, and that’s fine because it’s a long term support release anyway. I never expect new feature overload in LTS releases since the emphasis is on stability and polish.

But Xubuntu 14.04 LTS is a definite improvement from the last version. The overall experience has been polished up significantly, and there are some small but useful features added like Mugshot, Light Locker and MenuLibre, and of course Whiskermenu. I think that most Xubuntu users will be pleased with this version, and upgrading to it from Xubuntu 13.10 is pretty much a no-brainer.

What’s your take on Xubuntu 14.04 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.

Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2

I’ve reviewed so many different Ubuntu remasters that I’ve more or less become numb when I see a new one. After all, aren’t they all pretty much the same? Well no, not really. Different remasters offer different things. This week I decided to look at Pinguy OS. Pinguy OS is a strange blend of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and a bunch of other stuff all rolled into a unique package. It contains the default Ubuntu features and a whole lot more including a ton of multimedia codecs, additional desktop goodies, and a great range of default software.

Before I get into the review, you’re probably wondering what Pinguy OS is and why it was made. Here’s a brief bit of background from Antoni Norman where he explains why he created Pinguy OS and how it’s different from Ubuntu:

Ubuntu is a great OS and undoubtedly the most popular and easiest Linux based Distro to use but even with its default setup and chosen programs it’s still  lacking functionality and ease of use for most new users. So what I decided to do was build a Distro that looks good, could do everything most user would ever want to do and that was very simple to use.

I started out by listening to what my friends and family wanted to use their PC for and found the most user friendly programs for the task they wanted to do. After a while I got a good idea what most people use their PC for and what programs where the easiest to use. Like using Shotwell for easily uploading images to Facebook, gtkpod for putting music, photos and video on a ipod/iphone and mvPod for converting the video to a iPod friendly format.

So all the programs in Pinguy OS have been chosen because of there ease of use and functionality, I also changed every file type to open with the right program, like for some reason by default .iso are opened with Archive Manager so I changed that to Brasero Disc Burner.

As I already said apart from it being easy to use I also wanted it to be a very good looking operating system. There are now a lot of programs out there for Linux to give the OS a very smart and polished implementation, like CoverGloobus, Gloobus Preview, GNOME Do, and Docky. These programs don’t just give the OS a good look and feel but they are also very useful and handy.

Pinguy OS is an optimise build of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Minimal CD with added repositories, tweaks and enhancements that can run as a Live DVD or be installed. It has all the added packages needed for video, music and web content e.g. flash and java, plus a few fixes as well. Like fixing the wireless problems, gwibber’s Facebook problem and flash videos in full-screen.

Everything is set-up for samba, all you need to do is right click a folder you want to share and add a password in samba using system-config-samba.
It also has a UPnP/DLNA server (pms-linux) so you can share your music, video’s etc. With a PS3, XBOX 360, Smart Phones or any other UPnP/DLNA media reader.

Nautilus has been replaced for Elementary-Nautilus with added plug-ins so it can get music and video art from the web. The default theme is Elementary using ttf-droid font with Docky and a custom Conky.

I have also added DVB support to Totem for anyone with a TV card that wants to watch tv on their PC but don’t want to install a dedicated program like myth-tv.

For a full list of installed programs and repos for 10.04.1 *OLD* download this file.

If you like this Distro and would like to help it improve and grow you can always donate, it doesn’t matter how small the amount is, it all helps.

What’s New In This Release

This release is actually a minor update to the original 10.04.1 release, so there’s not much to report in this section in terms of new features. However, here are some of the features you should take note of that are found in Pinguy OS:

Ubuntu Software Center
Docky
Conky
Linux Mint MintMenu
Linux Mint MintUpdate
Multimedia Codecs
Firefox Addons

I’ll look at each of these features in the appropriate sections of the review. Suffice to say that they add a lot of value to Pinguy OS, and they set it apart from some of the other Ubuntu remasters.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run Pinguy OS:

Recommended minimum requirements

Pinguy OS should run reasonably well on a computer with the following minimum hardware specification. However, features such as visual effects may not run smoothly.

  • 700 MHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 8 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
  • Sound card
  • A network or Internet connection

Recommended for visual effects

Visual effects provide various special graphical effects for your desktop to make it look and feel more fun and easier to use. If your computer is not powerful enough to run visual effects, you can turn them off and will still have a usable Pinguy OS desktop. Visual effects are turned on by default if you have a graphics card which is supported. For information on supported graphics cards, see DesktopEffects.

  • 1.2 GHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • Supported graphics card (see DesktopEffects)

Installation

Installing Pinguy OS is as simple and easy as installing Ubuntu itself. The install is quick and painless. Pinguy OS is a Live DVD distro, so you can simply pop the DVD in and run it without actually having to install it onto your computer. The ISO file I downloaded was about 1.43 GB.

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

Booting & Login

Here’s what the bootsplash and login screens look like in Pinguy OS:


The Desktop

The Pinguy OS desktop is unique, it reminds me a tad bit of Mac OS X. You’ll find two Docky bars at the bottom of the screen and on the left. The bottom Docky bar reminds me of the Mac OS X Dock. You’ll find the Docky control icon, as well as the Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge, Rhythmbox, VLC, Terminal and Trash icons on it. The Docky bar on the left contains links to your Computer, Home, Documents, Music, Photos, Video and Download folders.

There is also a menu at the top of the screen that contains the usual links. Clicking the Pinguy OS (start) button on the panel at the top launches the MintMenu. From there you can access all of the usual stuff. The MintMenu from Linux Mint is quite nice. If you haven’t used it before, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s somewhat strange to find it in this distro, but it works well.

There is also a system monitor called Conky on by default on the desktop. It lets you see CPU, RAM, disk, and other information. It’s actually quite interesting; the only thing I didn’t like about it though is that there seems to be no way to configure it or turn it off.

Beyond that, the desktop is uncluttered. The wallpaper is subdued and features a bridge during sunset. If you right-click the desktop you can change the wallpaper by choosing from a selection included with Pinguy OS or you can go online to get more wallpaper. You can also adjust the theme, fonts and visual effects.

Get Deals on Monitors at Amazon

Bundled Software

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

Games
PlayOnLinux

Graphics
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Pinta
Rapid Photo Downloader
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Deluge BitTorrent Client
Dropbox
Empathy
Firefox
FrostWire
Gwibber
Mozilla Thunderbird
pms-linux
Skype
Sun Java
TED: Torrent Episode Downloader
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
DeVeDe
GNOME MPlayer
gtkpod iPod Manager
Handbrake
Movie Player
mvPod
OpenShot Video Editor
Rhythmbox
VLC Media Player

Office
OpenOffice.org

Others
Wine
Docky
GNOME Do
Shutter

Software Management

Pinguy OS comes with the Ubuntu Software Center, so you have complete access to all of the applications available in it. It also comes with Linux Mint’s excellent Update Manager, MintUpdate. Adding and removing software is quite simple in the Ubuntu Software Center. Find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button.


Firefox Addons

Pinguy OS uses Firefox for its default browser, and Firefox is loaded with extensions. There are 26 extensions installed by default, more than enough to satisfy the most discriminating user.

The only one I disagree with including is Adblock Plus. Bundling ad blockers in distros is a very disturbing trend and one that has the potential to hurt web publishers like myself, as I noted in a recent column called “The Web’s Welfare Readers.” It’s one thing for a user to decide to install an ad blocker, but it’s another thing for a distro developer to do so. Hopefully it will either be removed altogether or turned off by default in future versions of Pinguy OS (as well as other distros).

Here’s a list of the extensions you’ll find:

Adblock Plus
British English Dictionary
Dictionary Tooltip
DownloadHelper
Download Statusbar
Email This!
Fasterfox Lite
FirefoxNotify
Fission
MR Tech Toolkit
myFireFox & Vista-aero Modifier
OptimizeGoogle
Plain Text Links
Rehost Image
Resurrect Pages
SearchPreview
Shareaholic
SkipScreen
SmoothWheel
Speed Dial
StrataBuddy
Tab Progress Bar
TinyURL Generator
Ubuntu Firefox Modifications
Update Notifier
YouTubeIT

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
As I noted at the beginning of the review, Pinguy OS comes bundled with multimedia codecs. Flash is installed by default, I had no problems playing YouTube videos in Firefox.

Multimedia Applications
Pinguy OS comes with a lot of great multimedia software including HandBrake, OpenShot Video Editor, VLC, Rhythymbox and other applications. There’s enough installed by default to cover pretty much any user’s multimedia needs. You probably won’t need to sift through the Ubuntu Software Center looking for multimedia applications.

Problems & Headaches

Pinguy OS is one of the distros that gives me a huge headache when I go to write this section, but not for the reason you might think. I, unfortunately, did not bump into any noticeable problems or headaches! I hate when this happens. Perhaps in the next release I’ll find some juicy bugs or something will blow up or something. This time around though Pinguy OS ran very well for me. Darn it.

One thing that might possibly annoy some users is the 26 addons bundled into Firefox. Users that are concerned with browser performance might not appreciate having that many available by default. However, this is a very subjective potential problem and will depend very much on the user. I didn’t notice any overt performance issues with Firefox while I was running Pinguy OS, but your mileage may vary. You can, of course, uninstall the addons so you aren’t locked into using them if you prefer not to.

Where To Get Help

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

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

You might also want to check out the Pinguy OS forum for support issues and to connect with other Pinguy OS users.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Pinguy OS is an excellent desktop distro for those who want it all in one package, with little or no need to install anything else. Everything you need to do most desktop tasks is installed by default. Plus you get the excellent Linux Mint MintMenu & MintUpdate, and the Ubuntu Software Center. Conky and Docky also had some significant value to the Pinguy OS desktop experience.

I used to call Linux Mint “Ubuntu On Steroids”; Pinguy OS takes Linux Mint one step farther and adds another layer of useful goodies to Ubuntu. If you haven’t already tried it, give it a download. It’s worth considering if you want a truly full-featured desktop distro.

Pinguy OS is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2
Web Site: http://pinguy-os.sourceforge.net/
Price: Free
Pros: Comes bundled with a good selection of software; MintMenu & MintUpdate; the Ubuntu Software Center; multimedia codecs.
Cons: Its very strength in bundling so many things to improve the desktop user experience might also be a turn-off for those think that less is more in a distro.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Pinguy OS provides a complete desktop distro solution that newbies and experienced users alike can enjoy.
Rating: 4/5