Sunday, July 20, 2014

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" XFCE Review: Simple, elegant and functional

There is something special about Linux Mint - their ability to deliver consistent performance release after release. Also, amazingly Linux Mint's design is pretty much consistent across desktop environments - Cinnamon, Mate, KDE and XFCE. I already reviewed the KDE and Cinnamon versions and today it is the turn of my favorite of all - Linux Mint 17 XFCE. Another thing as well, as I am in a trip to the USA and outside my favorite setup (I didn't bring my favorite test laptop here Asus K55VM, as it is quite heavy and along with my heavier office Lenovo Thinkpad, it would have broken my back). So, till Sep-14, I may be a little bit infrequent in writing blogs.

On 26th June 2014, Clement Lefebvre announced the release of Linux Mint 17 "Xfce" edition: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 17 'Qiana' Xfce. Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use. The Update Manager was hugely improved. It shows more information, it looks better, it feels faster, and it gets less in your way. It no longer needs to reload itself in root mode when you click on it. It no longer checks for an Internet connection or waits for the network manager and it no longer locks the APT cache at session startup. Linux Mint 17 features Xfce 4.10, MDM 1.6, a Linux kernel 3.13 and an Ubuntu 14.04 package base."

From Linux Mint 17 XFCE http;//mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
The release announcement is pretty similar to what I saw for Linux Mint Cinnamon and KDE flavors. I already discussed them in my respective reviews. Hence, I'll discuss them briefly but primary focus will be the functionality of the XFCE spin. For this review, I downloaded the 1.3 GB 64-bit Linux Mint 17 XFCE ISO and created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer. Next, I installed Mint 17 XFCE on my Asus K55VM in a multi-boot environment with other Linux distros.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Deepin 2014 Review: Very very artistic and different, but with a few bugs

Deepin (formerly Linux Deepin, Hiweed GNU/Linux) is an Ubuntu-based distribution that aims to provide an elegant, user-friendly and reliable operating system. It does not only include the best the open source world has to offer, but it has also created its own desktop environment called DDE or Deepin Desktop Environment which is based on HTML 5 technologies. Deepin focuses much of its attention on intuitive design. Its home-grown applications, like Deepin Software Centre, DMusic and DPlayer are tailored to the average user. On July 6, 2014 Deepin released it's LTS version with 5 years of support based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr. The release note states of the following features:
"Deepin 2014 release - hold your dream and move forward. Deepin is a Linux distribution that aims to provide an elegant, user-friendly, safe and stable operating system for global users. Based on HTML5 technologies, Deepin team has developed a series of new special software applications, such as Deepin Desktop Environment, Deepin Music Player, DPlayer and Deepin Software Center. Deepin 2014 brings a brand-new Deepin Desktop Environment 2.0, with a specially designed Deepin theme, which makes the overall style and appearance of Deepin 2014 unified, neat and tidy. It also adds convenient features, such as user guide, starter Chinese phonetic search and intuitive hot zone settings."

From Deepin 2014 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
For this review, I downloaded the 1.2 GB 64-bit ISO and created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer to install it on my Asus K55VM laptop. Linux Deepin ships with Deepin desktop environment 2.0 (DDE), Linux kernel 3.13.0 and Files 3.8.1.

Read more!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 "Trusty Tahr" LTS Review: Very very good!

Ubuntu GNOME's first LTS is the only Ubuntu Trusty spin that I missed out reviewing. Finally I got a chance to pen down a review after using it for over 2 months. In between, the Linux kernel is updated, LibreOffice is now 4.2.4.2 and a lot more security updates have happened. But, anyway, it is better late than never. So, to begin with, in April 2014, Ali Jawad announced the release of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, the latest update of this official Ubuntu flavour featuring the vanilla GNOME 3.10 desktop: "The Ubuntu GNOME team is proud and happy to announce the release of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS. Ubuntu GNOME is an official flavour of Ubuntu, featuring the GNOME desktop environment. Ubuntu GNOME is a mostly pure GNOME desktop experience built from the Ubuntu repositories. This is our very first long-term support (LTS) version. Features: Most of GNOME 3.10 is now included, the few missing bits of 3.10 are available in PPA; with GNOME 3.10 comes enhanced support for online accounts, and some general optimization of the user interface; a set of 10 new high-quality wallpapers are included; GNOME Classic session is included...."
From Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

I downloaded the 64-bit ISO, about 1 GB in size. I created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer and installed Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 on my Asus K55VM, on a 50 GB partition. In between, I checked it on my Asus X200CA with Secure UEFI boot and touchscreen as well. It worked as good as Ubuntu 14.04. 

Ubuntu GNOME ships with GNOME 3.10.1, Linux kernel 3.13.0 and Files 3.10.1 as the default file manager. It has the stock untweaked GNOME 3.10 but has Tweak tool pre-installed to customize the desktop and make it more usable.

Read more!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peppermint OS Five Review: Move over Lubuntu - Peppermint with 5 years of support is here!

Peppermint OS is a Lubuntu based distro offering lightening fast speed, superb cloud and web-based applications and is easy on system resources. On 23 June 2014, Kendall Weaver announced the release of Peppermint OS Five, a Lubuntu-based lightweight and easy-to-use desktop Linux distribution: "Peppermint OS LLC is excited to announce the launch of our latest operating system, Peppermint Five. Lightweight and designed for speed, Peppermint Five delivers on that promise whether using software on your desktop, online, or using cloud-based applications. Highlights: built on a long-term support (LTS) code base, Ubuntu 14.04; Peppermint Ice is our in-house built SSB manager, it has been rewritten from scratch and is now significantly more stable and more feature rich than past versions; we've fixed a number of upstream bugs present in Lubuntu, the specific project we fork from; Peppermint-Light is our new window manager and widget theme designed to offer a clean and relatively flat look and feel."

From Peppermint 5 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
For this review, I downloaded the 600 MB 64 MB ISO which features LXDE desktop, Linux kernel 3.13.0 and PCManFM 1.2.0 as the file manager. I created a live USB using Linux Mint Image writer and installed Peppermint on my Asus K55VM.


Read more!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" KDE Review: Better than Kubuntu with pleasant aesthetics and superb performance

Linux Mint is one distro I always respect and adore as they seem to know better than others what an average user really wants in a Linux distro. Plus, it works on the majority hardware I have tried. The present LTS spin of Linux Mint, named "Qiana", is no exception and it is based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr, with some Mint specific modifications. Consistency in user experience has been a hallmark of all previous Linux Mint releases I used and even the release notes of the present release don't talk of any drastic change, namely: "Linux Mint 17 is a long-term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and it brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use. The Update Manager was hugely improved. It shows more information, it looks better, it feels faster, and it gets less in your way. It no longer needs to reload itself in root mode when you click on it. It no longer checks for an Internet connection or waits for the network manager and it no longer locks the APT cache at session startup. The UI was improved, the icons were modified a bit and the changelog retrieval is now much faster and more reliable."

From Linux Mint 17 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
For this review, I downloaded the 64-bit Linux Mint 17 KDE ISO, about 1.5 GB in size. I made live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer and booted it up on my preferred test laptop, Asus K55VM. Like Kubuntu 14.04 and Netrunner 14, Linux Mint 17 ships with KDE 4.13.1, Linux kernel 3.13.0 and Dolphin 4.13.1 as the default file manager.

Read more!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Netrunner 14 "Frontier" Review: Looks and feels awesome to use with new animated wallpapers!

If you ask any Linux user to name the most attractive KDE distro, I guess majority will answer Netrunner OS's favor. Netrunner is the best looking KDE spin even in my experience of using hundreds of operating systems. It is also from the Blue Systems whose stable includes Linux Mint and Kubuntu along with Netrunner. Previous couple of releases from Netrunner rank got the maximum score among all KDE distros I reviewed in 2013-14 - they were that good. So, naturally my expectations from the 2014 Netrunner release with LTS support of 5 years, was very high. Let me take you through my review whether it was able to fulfill or not.

On 22 July 2014, Clemens Toennies announced the release of Netrunner 14, a Kubuntu-based Linux distribution featuring a customised KDE 4.13 desktop and five years of security support: "The Netrunner team today released Netrunner 14 'Frontier' – 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The release follows Kubuntu's support cycle, giving it a full 5 year support life via the backport repositories. Release notes: long-term support; Firefox instant start (on machines with more than 2 GB of RAM); KDE Dreamdesktop for animated backgrounds; Baloo superseding Nepomuk; single-click activated by default; new default theme; Veromix audio applet; the latest package updates available in the repositories, e.g. KDE 4.13.1, Firefox 30, VLC 2.1.4, Skype 4.3, Muon Discover 2.2 and many more." 
For this review I downloaded the 64 bit ISO, about 1.4 GB in size. I created live USB using Linux Mint Image writer and installed Netrunner 14 on the system I normally use for Linux testing.

Read more!

Friday, June 20, 2014

LXLE 14.04 Review: The best LXDE distro I've used till date

LXLE's USP in previous releases used to be Lubuntu with long term support, as Lubuntu didn't have a LTS spin till recently. And hence, the acronym LXLE from Lubuntu eXtra Life Extension. However, in 2014 with Lubuntu itself releasing an LTS version, I wanted to check how LXLE can entice users to continue using it over Lubuntu. As Ronnie Whisler's release notes states, it is time for the distro to evolve:
"LXLE acronym change, originally 'Lubuntu eXtra Life Extension' which made sense before Lubuntu had an official LTS release, since 14.04 however, LXLE will now adopt the nomenclature 'LXDE eXtra Luxury Edition' and we think this release doubles down on that; to better support 32-bit hardware we updated 12.04.4 to be virtually identical to LXLE 14.04 64-bit release including features, updated software and system components; PCManFM additions such as open directories and text as root, create shortcuts, rename base icon names, copy to folder, right click desktop trash to empty; Launch (Fehlstart), Run (Gexec), and Terminal (RoxTerm) all have hotkeys enabled to open them using the keyboard for faster access...."

From LXLE 14.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
On 14th June, 2014, LXLE released it's 64-bit spin, LXLE 14.04. There is no 32-bit spin yet. I guess I can understand the reason why these days even lightweight operating systems prefer 64-bit OS over 32-bit. Just check any e-commerce site for low budget laptops, you'll see the market is flooded with Windows 8 laptops under $500 with Intel Celeron/Pentium/Atom processors and under 4 GB RAM. I could not install 32-bit version in Secureboot and UEFI enabled systems. However, 64-bit worked with elan. Possibly, these distros are targeting users who bought these modern low powered systems but will soon get tired of Windows 8's crazy desktop and switch to Linux. I know quite a few people did it, even I did it myself!

Anyway, coming back to the topic, I downloaded the 64-bit ISO, about 1.5 GB in size. I created a live USB with Linux Mint Image Writer and booted it on my test laptop, Asus K55VM. LXLE 14.04 ships with LXDE desktop with Linux kernel 3.13.0 and PCManFM 1.2.0bas the default file manager. It is based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr, the recently released LTS spin with 5 years of support. I am not sure if the support on LXLE 14.04 is also 5 years just like it used to be earlier or is it 3 years like Lubuntu 14.04.

Read more!