Sunday, June 9, 2013

Snowlinux 4 "Frosty" "Mate" & "Cinnamon" Review: Good but is it better than Linux Mint 15?

Snowlinux is a distro which I follow with close attention as it brings out good usable spins of Debian stable, with easy installation. I was very impressed with the Snowlinux Crystal and Glacier series. So, after having a good break and returning from a couple of weeks vacation, I thought of starting up with Snowlinux 4 review. This one, of course, is not based on Debian but Ubuntu 13.04 and comes in two flavors: Mate & Cinnamon. It is released close to another Ubuntu Mate/Cinnamon spin - Linux Mint 15 and obvious comparison would crop up in any users mind. I'll review Snowlinux's latest Ubuntu spin as well as compare it with Linux Mint 15 and the parent distro - Ubuntu 13.04 Unity & GNOME as well. So, stay tuned!

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
The impression I got from Snowlinux 4 "Frosty"'s release note is that it is almost similar to the Linux Mint "Olivia" spins:

"The team is proud to announce the release of Snowlinux 4 'Frosty'. Snowlinux 4 'Frosty' is the latest release based upon Ubuntu 13.04. MATE 1.6, the default desktop environment, and Cinnamon 1.8 run perfectly. While MATE 1.6 was mostly improved technically, Cinnamon 1.8 was improved with an unified control center and an own screensaver. Snowlinux 4 'Frosty' uses the latest technologies and has an updated package base. New features: Linux kernel 3.8; MATE 1.6 and Cinnamon 1.8; Snowlinux Metal theme; Nemo 1.8; Caja 1.6; Firefox 21.0 and Thunderbird 17.0.5; Cinnamon control center and screensaver; Snowlinux Full HD backgrounds."

Snowlinux 4 "Frosty" comes with Linux kernel 3.8.0-19 which updates to 3.8.0-23 upon installation. It is supported for 6 months, till Oct'13. Desktop choices are Mate 1.6.0 and Cinnamon 1.8, same as Linux Mint 15. For installation, I used my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM. With Unetbootin, I created live USB's of each, did a live boot to test and finally install. I tried out both the flavors for a week (installed in partitions) and finally decided to write a review. The 32-bit ISOs of both Mate and Cinnamon Snowlinux are around 900 MB and won't fit in a CD. Anyway, who uses CD these days?


Installation
Installation of Snowlinux is typical Ubuntu and no surprises there. The information required are location, language, keyboard preferences, location to install and finally user ID creation. It takes about 30 minutes to install, including installation of updates, just like Ubuntu/Linux Mint. However, one major difference is that multimedia codecs and Adobe flash plugin don't get installed during installation, which is kind of sad. But, anyway, they can be installed from the repositories.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Aesthetics & Hardware Recognition
Snowlinux comes in it's good old bland all white flavor and the same ugly "Push to start" wallpaper. But, fortunately quite a few good wallpapers and a few pre-installed themes (for both) are there as a saving grace. With these and adding a conky, I could transform the desktop to my liking!

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Cinnamon version has some subtle but really cool effects like windows disappearing with effect upon minimizing, popping up when maximized, etc. but nothing too gaudy to distract user's attention. The usual Cinnamon effects like hot corners, etc. are also there.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Hardware recognition is as good as any Ubuntu derivative and it could recognise Wifi, screen resolution, sound card and touchpad automatically. For Mate version, I had to manually change touchpad settings but Cinnamon version worked right out of the box!

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Applications
Both Mate and Cinnamon versions have more or less similar set of applications with some minor differences, viz.
  • Office: LibreOffice 4.0.2.2 Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer, Dictionary, Document viewer
  • Internet: Firefox 21, Pidgin IM, Thunderbird 17, Transmission bit-torrent client\
  • Graphics: Shotwell, Simple scan
  • Multimedia: Brasero CD/DVD writer, Rhythmbox music player, Sound Recorder, Totem video player
  • Accessories: Archive manager, gedit text editor, Screenshot, Terminal, Firewall, Printer settings, etc.

Mate has Eye of Mate Image viewer in addition and it doesn't comes with pre-installed sound recorder.

Though the distros come with almost all common applications pre-installed, to make it usable, I had to install Adobe flash plugin and multimedia codecs. Once installed, audio-video files and live strems played well on Snowlinux.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
For Cinnamon, Nemo 1.8.2 is the default file manager and Mate has Caja 1.6.1. Even Linux Mint 15 has the same combo. Both are very efficient and comes with all possible hard drive and networking options on the left hand side, so that users can drag and drop files for copying. Also, disk usage information is flashed in the bottom panel, which I find advantageous.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Cinnamon Integrated Settings
Cinnamon 1.8 has got a new integrated settings. Earlier version had two settings options - one for Cinnamon (with very few entries) and rest of the settings would appear in another settings menu. It was really confusing for starters and I feel, this is a good incremental innovation.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Mate version, on the other hand, is devoid of any integrated settings manager. Though all the setting options can be accessed through System on the top panel, but having an integrated settings manager actually helps.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Repository
Snowlinux derives it's applications from Ubuntu Raring Ringtail repos; Ubuntu Software Center is the default GUI for the same. There is no synaptic package manager but the good old terminal is present to download apps, for experienced users. For update notification, an update manager is also present in Snowlinux.

From Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon Mate http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Given multimedia codecs are not there, I installed gstreamer plugins and Adobe flash from repository, along with a host of other applications like Chromium browser, VLC, etc. All worked as expected.

Performance: Is Snowlinux better than Ubuntu & Mint?
Though Mate is the less glamorous of the twin sisters, it beats Cinnamon hands on in terms of performance. Snowlinux Mate actually works much better than any XFCE distro I have used. At steady state, with task manager running, it consumes about 120 MB of RAM and 1-5% CPU. The Cinnamon version, though it comes with some really cool effects, actually dragged a bit in my system.

If I compare to Linux Mint 15 and Ubuntu 13.04, Snowlinux Mate performs way ahead of the rest. However, Linux Mint 15 actually takes lower space to install. Ubuntu GNOME & Unity spin, though performs, marginally lower than Snowlinux/Linux Mint Mate/Cinnamon, but are better for you if you prefer social network integration to your OS.

OS Size of ISO Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU Usage RAM usage
Snowlinux 4 Mate 919 MB Ubuntu Mate 1.6.0 3.8.0-23 1-5% 120 MB
Snowlinux 4 Glacier Mate 980 MB Debian Mate 1.4 '3.5.0 1-5% 147 MB
Mint 201303 Cinnamon 1.3 GB Debian Cinnamon 1.6 3.2.0 1-10% 162 MB
Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon 973 MB Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.8 3.8.0-19 1-10% 173 MB
Sabayon 11 Mate 848 MB Gentoo Mate 1.4.1 3.7.0 1-5% 174 MB
Linux Mint 15 Mate 1.1 GB Ubuntu Mate 1.6.0 3.8.0-19 1-5% 174 MB
Mint 201303 Mate 1.3 GB Debian Mate 1.4 3.2.0 1-5% 175 MB
Mint 13 Cinnamon 857 MB Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.4 3.2.0-23 6-10% 200 MB
Mint 14 Mate 1 GB Ubuntu Mate 1.4 3.5.0-17 1-5% 200 MB
Mint 13 Mate 942 MB Ubuntu Mate 1.2 3.2.0-23 1-5% 207 MB
Mint 14 Cinnamon 922 MB Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0-17 20-35% 221 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS 693 MB Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.4 3.5.0 1-10% 230 MB
Snowlinux 3 White Mate 827 MB Ubuntu Mate 1.4 3.5.0-17 1-5% 240 MB
Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon 849 MB Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.8 3.8.0-23 1-10% 245 MB
Snowlinux 3 White CInnamon 760 MB Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0-17 1-5% 260 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 730 MB Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.4 3.2.0-29 1-10% 280 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome 1 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.8 3.8.0 1-10% 280 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 835 MB Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.6 3.8.0 1-10% 320 MB
Ubuntu 12.10 790 MB Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.6 3.5.0-17 1-10% 412 MB

-->
OS Installation Size
Ubuntu 13.04 4.98 GB
Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon 8.58 GB
Linux Mint 15 Mate 4.90 GB
Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon 12.00 GB
Snowlinux 4 Mate 11.58 GB

Stability of both Mate & Cinnamon (thankfully) are better than Ubuntu Unity. I didn't note any annoying pop-ups of some back-end programs crashing, during my one week of usage.

Overall
I would rate Snowlinux 4 Mate a bit better from functionality and performance point of view. It actually outperforms even the Mate spin of Linux Mint. However, Cinnamon version looks prettier, but Linux Mint 15 has a better Cinnamon spin than Snowlinux. Both the versions are stable and good spins of Ubuntu.

In overall, Snowlinux 4 Ubuntu spin is definitely recommended, specially the Mate spin. You may find it to be better than the Linux Mint 15 Mate!

You can download the 32 and 64 bit versions from here.

11 comments:

  1. I've downloaded Snowlinux but have not installed it yet. I take it that synaptic can be installed from the Ubuntu repos. Also chances are that Synaptic is not crippled the way it is in LinuxMint. Even tho LinuxMint is a quality distro, they want too much control in telling you what to upgrade or update. That may be fine for users coming over from MS Windows but otherwise it is going to hurt the Mint user in the long run by keeping them from updating properly.

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    1. Hi Eddie:

      Yes, of course synaptic or any other PM can be installed from the repos. And I checked, it is the pure "uncrippled" Ubuntu synaptic!

      I agree with you on Linux Mint. Possibly it is one of the reason why Linux Mint is not upgradable. I normally use LTS versions for Linux Mint. With shorter support life for the intermediate releases now, doing fresh installation every 6 months is going to be a big pain - I agree.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. Hi Arindam. I am a newbie to Linux and find your blog posts interesting. I installed Linux mint 14 a few months back and am quite happy with the way it just works..

      Your above statement made me a little apprehensive though... What exactly does the "Support" entail? Is it necessary to do fresh installation every 6 months after support ends?

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    3. I have searched in the documentation but couldn't find anything useful

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    4. Hi LJ:

      By "support", I mean is updates that you receive. These are important for security and stability of the OS. A lot of applications also gets updated to their latest stable versions (at times with added functionalities) during these updates. A lot of OS like Snowlinux, PCLinuxOS, Arch based distros (Manjaro, Bridge, Archbang), Gentoo, Sabayon, etc. gets rolling or semi-rolling releases where you just need to keep installing periodic updates to ensure your OS is the latest available version. Ubuntu allows upgrading of OS once a new release is there. Linux, mostly is not like Windows and doesn't require a fresh installation. I have been using the same installation (with periodic updates) for last 3 years.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    5. Really? Still in 2013 Linux users were still masturbating to each other why we don't Windows?

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    6. Because Windows sucks big time :)

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  2. As integrated settings manager, in mate you can use mate-control-center...

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  3. i use snow-4-cinnamon - she have save my life , because with mint 15 i have many many problem with update server .............. i like cinnamon

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    Replies
    1. Snowlinux is a very good distro. Glad to know that you found Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon useful for your requirements.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  4. Linux Mint 15 is terminating service for me, after years, because the updating stopped working! BULLYING DEVELOPERS restricting choices and frustrating attempts to get "GOOGLE TALK /\ Hangout" working, are having me search for better pastures to feed the necessary tasks of office work.
    http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/01/chromium-npapi-flash-dropped-april-2014

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