Sunday, June 30, 2013

ROSA 2012 R1 Desktop Fresh LXDE Review: Another super cool LXDE spin with added integrated control center!

As I wrote in my last article about LXDE though being very efficient, is a bit tough for a Linux newbie to handle. I was very happy with the latest PCLinuxOS 2013.06 LXDE spin as it made LXDE relatively simpler by adding an integrated LXDE control center along with quite a few other customizations. This week I used another LXDE distro, ROSA 2012 R1 Desktop Fresh LXDE. Incidentally, both ROSA and PCLinuxOS are/were Mandriva based.

ROSA has been giving Mandriva based very attractive looking distros for quite sometime and their Desktop Fresh series was released last year in KDE, Gnome and LXDE spins (I am not sure whether they have any XFCE spin or not). My review is based on my experience with ROSA 2012 R1 Desktop Fresh LXDE for last 7 days.

From ROSA 2012 R1 Desktop Fresh LXDE

ROSA LXDE release announcement states of a lightweight simple to use distro:
ROSA is glad to announce a further expansion of ROSA Desktop Fresh R1 distribution series - an update of its distribution based on lightweight desktop environment, LXDE. This distribution uses the same code base as the recently-released ROSA Desktop Fresh R1. The main difference is a tendency to be minimalistic while preserving flexibility and usability. The new version includes only really necessary software and is built with the 'the easier the faster' principle in mind - high work speed is achieved at the expense of simple interface and absence of effects. The release is based on the time-proved GTK+ 2 framework, though some components are using the latest developments from GTK+ 3 and GNOME 3
ROSA LXDE ISO is around 670 MB and using Linux Mint Image Writer, I created a live USB of the same. I first did a live boot on my Asus K54C laptop with Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM followed by installation. 

ROSA's latest update comes with Linux kernel 3.8.12 and Openbox 3.5.0. PCManFM 1.1.0 is the default file manager. PCManFM is fast, lightweight and performs well in limited resources. Also, it provides majority of the functionalities expected from an advanced file manager.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

PCLinuxOS 2013.06 LXDE Review: Fast, attractive and easy to use Lightweight rolling release distro

Of all the desktop environments I have used till date, LXDE definitely ranks among the most efficient ones. Just to give a proof of how much it is efficient than other desktop environments, I have used till date 13 LXDE distros and their combined average RAM utilization is ~ 116 MB (all 32-bit OS), to load the default desktop with task manager running. LXDE consumes less than half of the resources what a normal KDE 4.10 or a GNOME 3.6 distro would consume under similar conditions. Further, it is 44% more efficient than it's nearest rival XFCE 4.10. 

Desktop Environment Average 
Ram Usage (MB)
# Of OS reviewed
E17 100 4
Openbox 108 7
LXDE 116 13
Gnome 2.32 134 5
XFCE 4.8 137 9
Mate 1.6.0 147 2
XFCE 4.10 167 13
Mate 1.4 187 5
Mate 1.2 199 2
Cinnamon 1.4 200 1
Cinnamon 1.8 209 2
Cinnamon 1.6 214 3
Gnome 3.6 248 8
KDE 4.10 255 4
Gnome 3.4 279 5
Gnome 3.8 280 1
KDE 4.8 295 11
Unity 311 4
KDE 4.9 337 11

Still LXDE is not the most popular desktop environment. Even personally, I prefer to use a KDE over LXDE though I know that LXDE is more resource friendly. The reason is plain and simple - customization in LXDE is not as easy as in other desktops. For example, adding an application to autostart in LXDE requires me to hit the terminal; whereas in other desktops, I just add another application to autostart by the click of a mouse. Similarly, the settings manager in KDE and GNOME are integrated but not in LXDE. Even enabling compositing is not an easy task in LXDE. Also, the desktop is so bland! Many users prefer not to tamper with the default desktop settings and hence like desktops which are attractive right from the first boot!

If you see the number of distros I reviewed for KDE, GNOME or XFCE outnumber LXDE distros. ROSA and Comfusion came to be attractive LXDE distro but didn't have the functional elements that I mentioned. The rest were plain vanilla LXDE with the missing attraction factor. Even Linux Mint didn't create an LXDE spin for quite sometime (I guess the last one was Linux Mint 12 LXDE). However, the PCLinuxOS 2013.06 LXDE spin made me hopeful about LXDE. PCLinuxOS 2013.06 LXDE is attractive, it is fast and very easy to use! Plus, it has a rolling release. 

From PCLinuxOS 2013.06 LXDE

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Peppermint OS Four Review: Linux Mint of Lubuntu with added Ice and Web apps!

Peppermint OS Four is one distro, possibly, I haven't paid sufficient attention till date. This week first time I made an honest effort to understand and use it for a few days continuously. I must say I am very impressed with the new Peppermint OS release - Peppermint OS Four. Earlier my impression was it is just repackaged Lubuntu. But, with continuous usage for a few days, my impression changed - it brings a lot more to the user than the parent distro Lubuntu. I guess you'll understand more what I am saying in the remaining part of the review.

From Peppermint OS 4

Peppermint OS Four is the latest stable release. It is based on Ubuntu (Lubuntu) 13.04 and has LXDE, a very lightweight desktop environment with Linux kernel 3.8.0-25. The release note states:
"Welcome back to the new and improved Peppermint web site and welcome to the next iteration of our operating system: Peppermint Four. We are seriously excited about this release and we hope you are as ecstatic as all of us on Team Peppermint. Make sure to download a bunch of copies and give them to friends and family; they will thank you, for sure. Peppermint Four is based on the Ubuntu 13.04 code base and uses the LXDE desktop environment, but now with Xfwm4 instead of Openbox as the window manager. Other new features in this release are that we've included some example games by default including Entanglement and First Person Tetris. We've also added some metapackages for popular tasks such as graphic arts and photography to the Featured section of the Software Manager.

I downloaded the 32-bit Peppermint OS Four ISO, 588 MB in size, for this review. I created a live USB using Unetbootin to do a live boot followed by installation on my Asus K54C laptop with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor & 2 GB RAM. Peppermint has a lighter ISO than Lubuntu 13.04 because of it's focus on web based applications whereas Lubuntu focuses more on offline apps.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Zorin OS 7 Review: Windows clone of Ubuntu with great design and good performance

Zorin OS is an Ubuntu spin specially keeping in mind the new Linux converters from Windows. From the beginning itself it has an interface quite similar to previously Windows XP and now Windows 7 (still it gives Win XP appearance as an alternative). Zorin OS is somewhat different from other distros, as it has a commercial angle to it. It has a paid full featured version with support and a free version. In this review, I take on the latest release Zorin OS 7 Free Version. It is based on Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) and has 6 months of support till Oct 2013.

From Zorin OS 7
The release note states of significant improvements in design and functionalities in the latest release:
"The Zorin OS team is proud to finally release the Zorin OS 7 Core and Ultimate, the latest version of our operating system designed for Linux newcomers. Zorin OS 7 brings about a plethora of changes and improvements such as a wide array of updated software, the Linux kernel version 3.8, the introduction of new software (Pidgin replacing Empathy and Steam in Zorin OS 7 Ultimate) and an enormous design overhaul. We have given the brand a facelift with our new logo. In addition to this, Zorin OS itself includes a brand new desktop theme. Zorin OS 7 is based on Ubuntu 13.04."
I downloaded the Zorin OS free edition 32-bit ISO, about 1.5 GB in size for this testing. Zorin OS 7 free edition comes with Linux kernel 3.8.0-23, just like Ubuntu 13.04 and has a heavily tweaked GNOME 3.6 desktop. I created a live USB using Unetbootin, first did a live boot followed by installation in my Asus K54C 2.2 Ghz Core i3 laptop with 2 GB RAM.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Mate & Cinnamon Review: Great aesthetics & superb performance - Almost perfect!

Linux Mint is one of the few Linux distros that I normally recommend to any newbie. It just works! This is possibly the most amazing thing about Mint. Whereas with rest of the Linux distros, I get to hear a lot of complains (even I have experienced for some). But, not a single one for Linux Mint. Any system you throw at it, it will always work! Perhaps this is what separates Mint from rest of the Linux distros that it is numero uno in Distrowatch ranking for quite sometime!

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon

I missed an early review of Linux Mint 15, nicknamed "Olivia", as I was enjoying my vacations. It is a bit late to review Linux Mint 15 but never the less I wanted to review it. As usual, for this test I downloaded the 32-bit ISOs of both Mate and Cinnamon releases.

The release note of Mint Olivia states some significant improvements:
"The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 15 'Olivia'. Linux Mint 15 is the most ambitious release since the start of the project. MATE 1.6 is greatly improved and Cinnamon 1.8 offers a ton of new features, including a screensaver and a unified control center. The login screen can now be themed in HTML 5 and two new tools, 'Software Sources' and 'Driver Manager', make their first appearance in Linux Mint. MDM now features 3 greeters (i.e. login screen applications): a GTK+ greeter, a themeable GDM greeter for which hundreds of themes are available, and a brand-new HTML greeter, also themeable which supports a new generation of animated and interactive themes."
Linux Mint "Olivia" comes with Linux kernel 3.8.0-19 and is supported for 6 months, till Oct'13. Desktop choices are Mate 1.6.0 and Cinnamon 1.8. 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 are around 1 GB and won't fit in a CD. Anyway, who uses CD these days?

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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
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?

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