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Reviews

Xfce dock & global menu - Nice and elegant

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Reviews

While the setup was far from trivial, I am rather pleased with the look & feel I've achieved. The choice of the dock is less important, so go with what you like - most won't let you launch more than a single instance of an application, btw. Both Docky and Plank were stable and behaved pretty well, and they are a good choice for our Mac-ified desktop.

On the global menu side, it was much trickier, with broken packages, missing dependencies, complex compilations, and whatnot. In the end, I had it all running, albeit with some odd glitches here and there. Not perfect, but quite reasonable. Very similar to Mutiny, I have to say, if not quite as straightforward to set up. And I do understand why this is not a default set in Xfce desktops, but it would be nice to have that. Xfce has grown a lot in the past few years, and it need not lurk in the corner shyly. It can proudly wear its laurels. There. Pretty looks and functionality. All covered. I hope you enjoyed this.

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4MLinux: More Than Just Another Lightweight Distro

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

I don’t want to get up on yet another “Here’s another lightweight Linux distribution to revive your aging hardware” soapbox. So many distributions make that promise, and most of them do an outstanding job of fulfilling their mission statement. Also, many of those distributions are fairly similar: They offer a small footprint, work with 32-bit systems, and install a minimal amount of software dedicated to the task of helping you get your work done as best a lightweight operating system can do.

But then there’s 4MLinux. This particular take on the lightweight Linux distribution is a different beast altogether. First and foremost, 4MLinux doesn’t include a package manager. That’s right, the only way you can install packages on this distribution is to do so from source (unless you install the limited number of packages from within the Extensions menu (more on that in a bit). That, of course, can lead to a dependency nightmare. But if you really give it some thought, that could be a serious plus, especially if you’re looking for a distribution that could be considered an ideal desktop for end users with specific use cases. If those users only need to work with a web browser, 4MLinux allows that while preventing users from installing other applications.

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Peppermint 9 Offers Some Cool New Options

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Reviews

Peppermint 9, released June 22, accomplishes something most other Linux distros don't: It melds the best components from other desktop environments and integrates them into a solid operating system.

Peppermint OS is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a desktop environment mashup of Xfce and LXDE components. The latest release nearly completes a process begun several upgrades ago, using more Xfce elements and fewer LXDE components.

Peppermint is a good alternative to the Linux Mint Xfce release with a sprinkling of Cinnamon to spice up the desktop a bit more. Peppermint also uses Ice -- a cloud and Web application management tool -- which makes the operating system refreshingly different.

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Winepak – Abstraction done (almost) right

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Software
Reviews

The concept of running Windows software on top of Linux is a tricky one. First, it defies the intended usage. Second, it requires some significant digital acrobatics in order to marry two incompatible layers, the Linux system and Windows applications.

Over the years, the primary effort trying to reconcile the almost impossible yet tantalizing wedlock has been through WINE, a compatibility framework that translates Windows API into POSIX calls. Easier said than done, and if you’ve read my reviews on this topic, you will have noticed that: 1) not too many programs can run well in this fashion 2) few common, popular programs that Windows folks use fall into the previous category 3) the quality of abstraction has been going down over the years. Top that with the inherent nerdy nature of WINE, which requires a fair deal of manual labor, and the end result is not a satisfactory one. But now, a new challenger has appeared. It’s called Winepak.

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Review: BunsenLabs Helium

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I have got a bit of soft spot for Openbox. I like how minimalist it is and how it hardly uses any system resources - according to my Conky panel BunsenLabs was using just over 200MB of RAM when idle. BunsenLabs provides a system that is usable out of the box but which can be tweaked any way you want. For this review I made the system cleaner and leaner but I could have gone in the opposite direction and create a desktop with conkies, panels and docks all over the place. DistroWatch's slogan, "put the fun back into computing", very much applies to BunsenLabs.

In short, this is a distro I could easily use as my daily driver. My only concern would be the project's long term future. BunsenLabs Helium was released almost a year after Debian Stretch was released and then there is the worrying fact that Openbox doesn't work under Wayland, which is getting ever closer to replacing Xorg. BunsenLabs has got a sound community though, so I very much hope this distro will be around for many years to come.

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OpenSUSE Leap 15 Plasma - Way too buggy, me sad

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Reviews
SUSE

OpenSUSE Leap 15 is a troubled distro. It's pretty and it has some brilliant moments, but almost all of the issues and bugs I reported in Leap 42.3 are still here. As if nothing was learned. Or maybe no one cares. In its default guise, the distro simply isn't ready for ordinary use. You need to work hard to get the basic rights: package management, network, media codecs, fonts. Even time & date posed a big issue, and customization was tricky. Top that with crashes, installation woes, GRUB suddenly losing its dual-boot stuff.

The only redeeming factors are good looks, excellent performance (eventually) and smartphone support. But the rest feels beta. Hardly the SUSE that I once knew and loved so much. Back then, I used SUSE 9/10 like a champ, even had a box configured as a router, used a PPTP dialer to get the Web, ran VMware Server Beta on top of it, had Nvidia drivers all dandy. This was in 2005-7, and I was much less skilled than I am now. And yet, I had a rock-solid, pro desktop that never disappointed me. Today, what can I say? I can only hope SUSE gets its game together. There are some really amazing things here, but they are far and few in between. Unfortunately, Leap 15 is a no-go. Something like 1/10. Me very sad.

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PureOS – A User Friendly, Secure and Freedom Respecting OS

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GNU
Linux
Reviews

PureOS is a modern user-friendly Debian-based distro that uses exclusively free and open source software and it has the endorsement of the Free Software Foundation.

It’s said to have the best privacy-protecting apps that it ships with – which I guess is evident since I haven’t experienced any significant pop-ups yet.

On the whole, PureOS looks familiar owing to the fact that it runs GNOME desktop. Its screen is clutter free and being Debian-based, its operations and window functions are similar to that of Ubuntu.

Below is my list of its main features and why I will rate it.

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elementary OS – A Beautiful OS for Open Source Lovers

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elementary OS is an open source Ubuntu-based distro and one of the most awesome GNU/Linux distros ever. It has gained a lot of traction over years, coming in at #5 on Distro Watch’s popularity scale with 1,324 hits per day.

elementary OS is usually mentioned only in light of macOS and sometimes Windows, given that it features a beautiful and consistent UI which makes it an ideal replacement; it deserves to stand out more because its active community of developers has not only successfully delivered a unique distro, all of its apps are custom built and they are lovely!

It’s excellent for both Linux beginners and pros which is evident in how artistically comprehensive their online documentation. The team succeeded it keeping to the 3 core rules of their design philosophy which are: “concision”, “avoid configuration” and “minimal documentation”.

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Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver upgrades - Results!

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

A month later, two upgrades later, Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver is a nicer distribution than what I tested shortly after its official release. But then, it's not perfect. The older box with the Nvidia card returned better results overall, although there were some niggles. On the multi-boot laptop, I wasn't too happy with the slow-boot issue, although this is NOT a Kubuntu-specific problem, as you will learn in a few days. But it still does not give me the razor-sharp confidence I need and expect from an LTS.

In general, Ubuntu-family upgrades are reasonably robust, but they can still be more streamlined, including package removal, third-party repos and odd glitches here and there. I wonder how I'd have felt if I tested Beaver fresh, right now. Alas, I cannot delete the memory of my first encounter. With Trusty, it was just right. Here, it might be right, and I may even end up using - and loving - Plasma Bionic in my prod setup, but it will never be the amazing chemistry I had with 14.04.

But if you're wondering, by all means, worth testing and upgrading, and the post-release Kubuntu Beaver is a pretty slick and tight distro. If I had to judge in isolation, i.e. no early-May scars, then when I combine performance, looks, fonts, media, hardware support, and such, 'tis really neat. Something like 9/10. Now, just waiting for the Men In Black mind-zapping eraser thingie, so I can be blissfully happy. And we're done.

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Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0.0 "ASCII"

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OS
Reviews

When I am trying out a desktop distribution, what really tends to divide the field of Linux distributions in my mind is not whether the system uses MATE or Plasma, or whether the underlying package manager uses RPM or Deb files. What tends to leave a lasting impression with me is whether the desktop environment, its applications and controls feel like a cooperative, cohesive experience or like a jumble of individual tools that happen to be part of the same operating system. In my opinion Ubuntu running the Unity desktop and Linux Mint's Cinnamon desktop are good examples of the cohesive approach. The way openSUSE's administration tools work together provides another example. Like them or hate them, I think most people can see there is an overall design, a unifying vision, being explored with those distributions. I believe Devuan falls into the other category, presenting the user with a collection of utilities and features where some assembly is still required.

This comes across in little ways. For example, many distributions ship Mozilla's Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client together as a set, and they generally complement each other. Devuan ships Firefox, but then its counterpart is the mutt console e-mail program which feels entirely out of place with the rest of the desktop software. The PulseAudio sound mixing utility is included, but its system tray companion is not present by default. Even the system installer, which switches back and forth between graphical windows and a text console, feels more like a collection of uncoordinated prompts rather than a unified program or script. Some people may like the mix-and-match approach, but I tend to prefer distributions where it feels like the parts are fitted together to create a unified experience.

What I found was that Devuan provided an experience where I had to stop and think about where items were or how I was going to use them rather than having the pieces seamlessly fit together. However, once I got the system set up in a way that was more to my liking, I appreciated the experience provided. Devuan offers a stable, flexible platform. Once I shaped the operating system a little, I found it to be fast, light and capable. Having a fairly large repository of software available along with Flatpak support provided a solid collection of applications on a conservative operating system foundation. It was a combination I liked.

In short, I think Devuan has some rough edges and setting it up was an unusually long and complex experience by Linux standards. I certainly wouldn't recommend Devuan to newcomers. However, a day or two into the experience, Devuan's stability and performance made it a worthwhile journey. I think Devuan may be a good alternative to people who like running Debian or other conservative distributions such as Slackware. I suspect I may soon be running Devuan's Raspberry Pi build on my home server where its lightweight nature will be welcome.

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Also: deepin 15.6 Released With New Features: Get This Beautiful Linux Distro Here

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