Saturday, March 30, 2013

ZevenOS 3.0 Neptune "Brotkasten" KDE Review: Refreshingly different!

ZevenOS, a German based distro, is quite a familiar name in the Linux world. Typically they bring out two classes of distro
  • A lightweight XFCE distro based on Ubuntu, with the look and feel of BeOS, which actually never captured my imagination
  • A heavier KDE based Neptune based on Debian testing

Last week I came across the release note of Neptune in Distrowatch based on Debian Wheezy and I was quite intrigued to try it out. And I must say, it was really worth. What a wonderful distro the ZevenOS developers have created!


From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
To begin, I downloaded the 1.9 GB 64-bit ISO and created a live-usb using Unetbootin. Normally I test 32-bit versions for a fair comparison in performance with other distros who don't have any 64-bit release. But, Neptune 3 has only 64-bit version and hence, I had no choice. I tested it on my Asus K54C laptop with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor and 2 GB RAM. First, I did a live-boot and then installed it to use it for 4 days. I agree writing a review just based on 4-days of use is a bit pre-mature but I couldn't resist writing about Neptune. It is amazingly wonderful, perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing KDE distros I have used.


From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Neptune 3 comes with KDE 4.10.1, Linux kernel 3.8.4 and Dolphin 2.2 as the file manager. Hardware recognition is good with resolution, wifi, touchpad and sound detected automatically without requiring any manual intervention.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Aesthetics
The deep blue themed Neptune interface is completed by the application GUIs. Special mention must be made of LibreOffice splash. It is tweaked to wonderfully gel with the default theme. 

From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
The default wallpaper gels well with the theme. Also, I noted quite a few attractive wallpapers in Neptune, as well, in case a simple deep blue wallpaper doesn't go with your taste. Further, themes can be changed and newer themes can be downloaded as well, as per users preference.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Neptune uses Lancelot menu and it offers good functionality. Animations in the distro are subtle and add to the beauty. All in all, job well done for the developers.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Applications
ZevenOS boasts of a wonderful array of applications, good enough for regular use, viz.
  • Office: LibreOffice 3.5.4.2 writer, calc, impress, draw and math, Okular document viewer, Kaddressbook, Kontact, Korganizer
  • Internet: Akregator, Chromium, Bluedevil bluetooth manager, Icedove Mail/News, Kget download manager, Kismon, Konqueror browser, Konversation, Kopete IM client, KPPP, KRDC Remote desktop client
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.2, Gwenview image viewer, ImageMagick, Expo blending, DNG converter, Acquire Images, KolourPain, Kcolor chooser, Kruler
  • Multimedia: Audacity, Amarok music player, Desktop recorder, Encode, Gnome Music Player, K3b disc burning, Kdenlive, VLC 2.0.5
  • Accessories: Akonaditray, Ark Archive manager, Kate text editor, Kcalc calculator, Klipper clipboard, KMag screen magnifier, Kmouse, Knotes, Kwrite, virtual keyboard, Nepomuk backup, Nepomuk cleaner, Root terminal, Sweeper, Synaptics, True crypt
Alongside, multimedia codecs and Adobe flashplugins are provided for the users to watch their favorite videos and live-streams without requiring any additional download. 


From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Chromium 25 is the default browser though Konqueror is present. My test mostly involved using Chromium. All settings can be accessed through settings manager and I could create KDE desktop cube, cylinder and sphere by enabling Opengl. Steps are give below:
  • Settings manger -> Desktop effects -> Enable desktop effects at Start up -> All effects -> Enable desktop cube (inside you can create shortcuts like Ctrl+5 for Sphere, Crtl+9 for Cylinder; Default is Crtl+F11 for Desktop cube)
  • Check in Advanced tab than Opengl is selected.
  • Press Ctrl+F11, the desktop will push back a little, now rotate with mouse to get cool desktop cube. Similarly, using Crtl+5, I got a desktop sphere.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Neptune presents an interesting mix of KDE and non-KDE softwares. Though LibreOffice is the old one, but I guess, it can be blamed to Debian Wheezy repo freeze. Overall, Neptune presents a rich blend of utility softwares judiciously selected.

Installation
Installation is simple Debian, with queries on language, keyboard language & type, location to install, user ID creation, etc. All in all, it takes about 15 minutes to install. It is easy and should appeal to Linux newbies as well.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Repository
Default repository is Debian wheezy and it can be accessed through Moun Package Manager (yes, the Kubuntu one!). However, for users who like to deal with latest apps, Debian Sid repos can also be added. Almost all apps you can think of are available in Debian repository, although they may not the latest ones primarily because of the freeze. Once Debian 7 is released, the latest versions of applications will start flowing in the repo, I guess.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Installation through Muon is quite easy and I could install my favorite browser Midori from the repo without any issue. Flashplugin also worked with Midori without requiring any addition manual intervention. 
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

However, I faced a bit of issue in making installing Skype mutliarch for Debian. I installed the 32-bit architecture but still it won't install because of unresolved dependencies. I guess I'll try to install dependencies one by one and then check if Skype works. Otherwise, things worked well with Neptune 3.
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From ZevenOS Neptune 3 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
31st March 2013: Addendum on Skype
Actually the Skype installation instructions in Debian wiki helped my cause. I could download executing the following commands as root:

1. Adding i386 architecture (which I already did in my previous failed installation attempt)
#dpkg --add-architecture -i386
#apt-get update

2. Download Skype-install.deb file from Skype website
#wget -O skype-install.deb http://www.skype.com/go/getskype-linux-deb

3. Install the downloaded Skype file - it will throw errors for unresolved dependencies
#dpkg -i skype-install.deb

4. Now force install the dependencies
#apt-get -f install

It would download about 35 MB of dependencies and once everything is installed, Skype should start working. It worked for me!      
  
 Performance
Neptune 3 KDE performed really well on my Core i3 laptop with 2 GB RAM. At steady state, with system monitor running, it took 450 MB RAM and 1-10% CPU usage (with animations disabled). It is decent when I take into account that it is a 64 bit OS. Neptune 3 is very smooth to use and as I said, the animations don't hamper with productivity. 

Overall
ZevenOS has come up with a KDE distro which is perfect blend of aesthetics and performance. The interface looks professional and attractive, application interfaces blend well with the default theme. Every bit of the distro shows the hard work and attention to details put by the developers. Everything works out of the box and I found it to be really stable (remember, it is Debian!). There are, although, few rough edges but I guess those bugs will be sorted out quickly.

Zeven OS is neither an LTS nor a rolling release distro but I guess it will be supported at least for 2.5-3 years or till Debian 7 is supported. It is actually better than changing distro every 6 months (Ubuntu is going to have a 9 month support from 13.04, I guess).

In my evaluation, Neptune 3 is a definitely recommended to all KDE users - you may really like it! You can download the 64-bit version from here.

18 comments:

  1. Downloading the KDE version right now and looking forward to it based on this review. It does have a very difficult task ahead though as I've been using the excellent Netrunner 12.12.1 for some time now and that's a high mark to reach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't yet tried Netrunner 12.12.1. Will give it a shot soon.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  2. After installing Skype with dpkg then a sudo apt-get install -f should fix the dependencies for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Leszek, Skype worked for me! I posted in my blog the steps that I followed.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. arindam we also have a Tips & Tricks section in the Neptune forum that covers the steps aswell :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Leszek:

      Got it! http://www.zevenos.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=7406

      Thanks.
      Arindam

      Delete
  3. This looks really good. I have just been playing around with the new version of SUSE because I plan to go back to KDE and that is great: but I like the look of this given its based on Debian rather than Ubuntu. I never seem to have much luck with Skype though, can get the video going if I run it from the command line with some extra switches: but as is it never seems to work out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Phil:

      Skype worked for me in Nepture 3.0, finally. You can get the steps to follow in Debian wiki http://wiki.debian.org/skype

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. Or here : http://www.zevenos.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=7406

      Delete
  4. "Ubuntu is going to have a 6 month support from 13.04, I guess"

    Actually this is 9 months, half what it used to be. I don't think it is that big a change for users: playing with non-LTS releases was not about having more than 6-12 months of support.
    Personnaly I wait for the first point releases of LTS landmarks and, as you mentioned last month, Lucid 12.04.2 LTS is very much recommended for those wanting a very reliable and stable system on production machines.
    Now I hope Lubuntu can catch up with LTS status (by 14.04) and give us 3 years of support just like Xubuntu: I really appreciate a simple energy-efficient system on my laptop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Viktor,

      Thanks, I corrected it to 9 months support for Ubuntu. Yes, I myself is an Ubuntu 12.04 LTS user and use it as my primary distro for production purposes. However, on another machine (Asus K54C), I keep playing with different Linux distros. Only pain area I feel with LTS is lack of updated applications. In that way, if Ubuntu is planning for a rolling release distro, it sounds better to me. At least the latest apps will be there. Using Arch Linux has taught me to bear with a little bit of instability.

      I sincerely hope at least Lubuntu comes up with a rolling release. Not much has changed with LXDE in last couple of years and it can be a better platform for rolling release than dynamic DEs like Gnome or KDE.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  5. You do realize that the menu you describe as tweaked default KDE menu is actually the 'Lancelot' menu, which has been shipped with KDE since long, don't you?

    Regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yupp, I realize now. Thanks! I am not a long time user of KDE and has recently started using KDE. Didn't see Lancelot menu in any of the KDE distros I reviewed in last couple of years. Hope it explains! I'll correct in my write up.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  6. I am also enjoying Neptune 3. It's important to let you know not to enable any other Debian repos, as KDE will break, given that the 4.10.1 release is only in Neptune's repo, and some Debian packages like kde-workspace-bin try to overwrite when updating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ok, got your point. I haven't enabled any other Debian repo as of now but was thinking of doing it. Thanks for the tips!

      Delete
  7. When using Neptune 3, everything is OK with me (I'm using sony sve15125cxs). Except only once error occurred with Lancelot, but when I restart, everything it again like best time initial. :D

    Picture about Lancelot error: http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/45c0/o3sn71yilddu5ugfg.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! Hopefully Lancelot won't give you any further error and good that it resets itself once you restart.

      Delete