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
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.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Linux Mint 201303 "Debian" Mate: Very good semi-rolling Mate distro from Debian testing

Last week I reviewed Linux Mint 201303 Debian Cinnamon and was extremely pleased with the smoothness, refinement and performance it offered. Further, LMDE offers a semi-rolling distro with little requirement of reinstalling it again (if everything works properly after each update though!). Next I thought of reviewing the Mate version to make an assessment. Honestly, I haven't used much of Mate on a regular basis - I rather preferred distros with Gnome 2 desktop (like Fuduntu, CentOS or GhostBSD).
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Mate

Linux Mint 201303 Debian Mate comes with Mate 1.4 and Linux kernel 3.2.0. Mate is forked from the now unsupported Gnome 2 and is supposed to be lighter than Gnome 3 and its derivatives. I downloaded the 32-bit ISO (about 1.3 GB in size) for this review. I did a live boot on my Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM. Post live boot with correct resolution and proper detection of hardware, I installed Linux Mint Mate on the same laptop. For those with Windows 8 laptop, LMDE doesn't yet support UEFI firmware and may not install as dual boot.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Linux Mint 201303 "Debian" Cinnamon Review: Debian simplified and offers impressive performance!

One thing I really like about Linux Mint is the refinement and completeness they render to each and every release. I have been using Linux Mint since 2009 and except for the repetitive art-work, I have never been disappointed so far. Normally Linux Mint releases mimic Ubuntu and mostly require fresh installation. I tried upgrading a few but with no luck and hence, had to do a fresh installation to make things work. However, in 2012, Linux Mint deviated from convention and brought a semi-rolling release LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition). LMDE is based on Debian testing and doesn't require ever to re-install the OS. I tried the Mate version in 2012 and was highly impressed with aesthetics as well as performance.

From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon
This time with the release of 201303 LMDE update, I thought of trying out the Cinnamon version. LMDE is available in both 32 and 64 bit versions - I downloaded the 1.3 GB 32-bit version. Those who are using LMDE Cinnamon already, need to just update and upgrade the system to 201303 and need not to do a fresh installation. The 201303 update comes with Cinnamon 1.6, Linux kernel 3.2.0, and Gnome shell 3.4.2. Nemo 1.1.2, forked from Nautilus, is the default file manager. Both Cinnamon and Nemo being lighter than Gnome 3, render a sense of lightness to the overall feel of the distro. For this testing, I used my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trisquel 6.0 Review: High performing and extremely elegant! Free Software advocate or not - a definitely recommended distro for all Linux lovers!

The birth of Ubuntu is possibly, pivotal to the Linux history. Reason? Without Ubuntu, possibly we won't have heard the names of 50% distros in the Distrowatch top 100 list! You will find all kinds of Ubuntu derived distros there - mostly spiced up Ubuntu which work right out of the box with all free and non-free multimedia codecs and restricted softwares loaded in them! However, last week I came across a different kind of Ubuntu derivative which strictly uses free softwares only, as defined by the Free Software Foundation guidelines! Originally Trisquel is a Spanish distro (with English language option thankfully - otherwise the world would have missed a really wonderful distro!).

From Trisquel 6.0

On free software part, possibly, I am not so emotionally attached as the developers or free software advocates. So, my review is completely focused on functionality and performance of Trisquel without getting really involved on the free-software bit. I definitely support their cause but in this review I treated Trisquel just like any other Linux distro.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

GhostBSD 3.0 Review: Complete operating system and FreeBSD on steroids!

For quite sometime I was thinking of trying out a Unix operating system, something a bit different from the usual Linux distros I try out every week. I didn't want to jump directly to FreeBSD and hence, I chose the Gnome derivative of FreeBSD, GhostBSD. Eric Turgeon announced the release of GhostBSD 3.0 on 10th March 2013. The reason for my choice of GhostBSD over FreeBSD is obvious - I wanted to use something easier and ready-to-use over FreeBSD.

From GhostBSD 3.0
GhostBSD 3.0 is based on FreeBSD 9.1 and comes with Gnome 2, LXDE & Openbox desktop options. My review is based on installation on Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor with 2 GB RAM. I used the Gnome 2.32 desktop for my regular use and review.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail Daily-build Review: With latest apps and a better looking Unity

With every progressing release, Unity desktop is getting significantly better. In Natty and Oneiric, I actually hated Unity for it's inefficiency and decided to stick to Linux Mint and Sabayon for the time being. However, with Ubuntu Precise 2nd update (12.04.2), my opinion on Unity actually changed. Though still not customizable but efficiency has increased, apps stopped crashing in the background, annoying pop-ups are gone and Unity has now become far more responsive than where it was in the beginning. Also, after using Gnome 3 in Fedora and OpenSUSE, I now understand why Ubuntu stayed away from the default Gnome 3 DE and leaned towards Unity. Agree, the strip hogs a bit of space on the left hand side but you can actually make it thinner and hide while using applications.

From Ubuntu 13.04
My sole purpose of downloading the daily build of Ubuntu Raring Ringtail and using it for a week, was to assess what incremental changes to expect in Unity for the April release. I downloaded the 816 MB ISO from here and did an installation on my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kubuntu 13.04 Alpha 2 Review: Very promising

Kubuntu may not be the best implementation of KDE but definitely one of the most followed. For me, Kubuntu has been always a judicious mix of KDE and Gnome applications along with a boring default interface. Of course, with a change of wallpaper, KDE widgets and bringing in some KDE themes made it really shiny and attractive. Even Kubuntu 12.10 had a real boring and plain-vanilla default interface.

From Kubuntu 13.04 Alpha 2
Kubuntu 13.04 alpha 2 release note came in Distrowatch on 15th Feb 2013. I knew apart from KDE 4.10 and the latest Linux kernel there won't be many changes from what I reviewed in Kubuntu 12.10. Come on, in 6 months what earth shattering changes can you expect!

However, the bright interface of Kubuntu and amazing smoothness in use actually surprised me. Initially I was thinking of just live boot and testing Kubuntu, but instead opted to install it on my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS Review: Now I like Unity!

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is possibly one of the most landmark long term release for Ubuntu and Canonical for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is the first long term release with Unity desktop. Second, first time the LTS is supported for 5 years. Love it or hate it, Unity has now become synonymous with Ubuntu. And after reviewing a lot of distros with stock Gnome 3 as desktop, I now understand why canonical didn't pursue Gnome 3. Unity, at least, is intuitive and easier to use even for a Linux novice. If that right side strip irritates you, simply check the auto-hide option. Agree, customisation is sacrificed if you use Unity, but it looks elegant.

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS
The primary issues bothering Unity, in my experience, were high resource usage and instability - the reasons for which I quit Ubuntu to use Linux Mint, which I found to be much more stable. In Ubuntu 12.04 LTS first release, just to load Unity required about 400 MB of RAM for the 32-bit OS. With 12.04.1 LTS, RAM and CPU usage dropped significantly - it took about 280 MB of RAM and 1-10% CPU usage. However, applications crashing in the background (though not shutting down the system) was always a pain even in Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS.

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ROSA Desktop Fresh 2012: Very efficient & elegant stock Gnome 3 distro

I have been following ROSA Linux since 2012. Now that possibly not everything going right for Mandriva Linux, the emergence of ROSA has assumed paramount significance. ROSA has not only enhanced the Mandriva based, but also created its own very distinct theme, especially for KDE. Even I am an ardent admirer of the unique design that ROSA brings on the table. Every ROSA release so far has been very refined and amazingly attractive.

From ROSA Fresh 2012
Like ROSA Marathon Gnome, even ROSA Desktop Fresh 2012 also brings a lot of freshness to otherwise boring Gnome 3, though the limitations of Gnome 3 is still there. Though the distro name says 2012 but the final release came on 12 Feb 2013. ROSA fresh provides option to use Gnome 3 and Gnome fallback at the login. I downloaded the 32-bit version, ISO is about 1.1 GB. Gnome 3.6.2 is the default desktop environment with Linux kernel 3.6.10 with Files 3.6.3 is the file manager. I installed ROSA Desktop Fresh on my Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM for testing.

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