Saturday, March 29, 2014

Zorin OS 8 "Gaming" Review: All purpose complete distro for Gaming!

Zorin OS is in general one of the best Windows clone available in the Linux world. A lot of newbies actually prefer Zorin for familiar desktop design and beautiful aesthetics. It ships with a tweaked GNOME 3 desktop with AWN docky made to resemble Windows 7. Zorin also ships with WinXP, Mac OS X and GNOME 2 look alike desktop design options. Of them Win7 was the best, at least I thought till I tried Zorin 8 Gaming.

From Zorin OS 8 Gaming
Zorin OS 8 is based on Ubuntu 13.10 and it ships with most of the commonly used packages pre-installed. The Gaming version builds on it with about 50 games along with Steam to install more. Further, it ships with Wine and PlayonLinux in case you are interested to try out Windows games as well. For this review I downloaded the 64-bit ISO (4 GB in size). I created a live USB using Mint Image Writer on an 8 GB pendrive and installed Zorin on my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. I replaced my earlier favorite Linux Mint Debian with Zorin 8 to try out a few games.

From Zorin OS 8 Gaming

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tanglu 1.0 "Aequorea Victoria" GNOME Review: Elegant and efficient distro based on Debian

Tanglu Linux is a fresh new distro, released for the first time this year. It's first beta release came on 19th Jan 2014 and the first final release on 22nd Feb 2014. It is based on Debian and is optimized for desktop deployment, with up-to-date software, extra drivers and regular releases. Why does it interest me and many other Linux enthusiast? Though Tanglu is not an official project of Debian but it was started with some Debian developers and meant to help Debian. Debian's annoying freezes are not there in Tanglu and Debian developers are allowed to maintain their packages in Tanglu's servers during Debian freeze. A lot more interesting stuff about Tanglu can be read in the FAQ section.

From Tanglu 1.0
The distro promises to be semi-rolling release with major updates almost twice a year. In the first major release, Tanglu has two flavors: GNOME 3 and KDE.

I downloaded the 64-bit Tanglu 1.0 GNOME ISO for this review and created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer. I first did a live boot on my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. Post live boot, I installed it on a 50 GB partition. Tanglu 1.0 ships with GNOME 3.10.1 desktop environment and Linux kernel 3.12.1. In rest of the article I discuss my experience with Tanglu for about a week.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Linux Mint 201403 "Debian" Review: Typical Linux Mint - Good stable semi-rolling release distro

The first major update of Linux Mint Debian edition was released on March 2, 2014. I downloaded both Cinnamon and Mate versions (remember that SolydXK now releases the KDE & XFCE versions) and tried both of the versions for about a week to pen this review. I like the fact that Mint took a decision to roll out a Debian spin in 2010 and is still pursuing the same with it's preferred desktop environments, Cinnamon and Mate. The Debian versions look and feel identical to the Linux Mint Ubuntu versions - in my review I present a comparison in performance across the Ubuntu and Debian versions which many readers might be interested to see.

Mint Debian spin is based on Debian testing and hence, has a semi-rolling release with important updates coming out periodically. Debian testing has the advantage of more updated applications than the stable release ("Wheezy" now) and hence, preferable to users like me. Further, the present version of Mint Debian provides support to EFI and GPT, required to install Linux on modern systems with Windows 8. I downloaded both the 64-bit Cinnamon and Mate versions for this review.
From Linux Mint 201403 "Debian"

Linux Mint Debian 201403 Cinnamon ships with Cinnamon 2.0.14 and Linux kernel 3.11.2. For the Mate version, desktop environment is Mate 1.6.1. I created live USB using Mint USB Image writer and then installed both the distros on separate 50 GB partitions of my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 3rd gen processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB Nvidia GeForce 630M graphics. The system had Ubuntu 14.04 GNOME beta1 installed in one of the partitions.

LMDE Cinnamon From Linux Mint 201403 "Debian"
LMDE Mate From Linux Mint 201403 "Debian"

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

[SOLVED] NVIDIA - "Can't access Secondary GPU" with Bumblebee in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

I recently installed Ubuntu 14.04 GNOME Beta1 on my Asus K55VM laptop with NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. Like the previous release (Ubuntu 13.10), the LTS version beta1 release also ships with nouveau drivers for NVIDIA. Now I encountered problems of laptop overheating as the hybrid graphics are always on, which I don't require.

Hence, the best option for me was to install bumblebee. I ran the following codes in the terminal to install bumblebee:
$ lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D'
To check your drivers if you are not sure of your graphic card.

In case NVIDIA is present, proceed with the following steps.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
$ sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic
$ sudo apt-get install bbswitch-dkms
$ sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

Post installation of all, I added myself to the bumblebee group.
$ sudo gpasswd -a arindam bumblebee

A reboot and after that I wanted to check if bumblebee was working or not.
$ optirun glxgears

I got error something like this:
[ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) NVIDIA(0): Failed to initialize the NVIDIA GPU at PCI:1:0:0.
Please[ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Manjaro Linux 0.8.9 Review: Right on the money release after release!

Whenever I have to recommend a Linux distro to a novice user, the first name that I generally tell is of Linux Mint. Now I think I have another distro to refer to - Manjaro Linux. In fact, these days I am using Manjaro Linux XFCE in a couple of my systems for last 6 months or so - none of them broke in the last 3 updates. So, I start with a spoiler here: I have seen and used quite a few Arch based distros and Arch Linux itself to take advantage of rolling release and thinking I don't have to reinstall them again. However, except Manjaro and Chakra Linux, none of the other installations survived more than a month. In every major update, one thing or the other broke or it became unbootable. I am not blaming the distro but my limited knowledge / time / willingness to research on where I messed up.

Manjaro Linux, on the other hand, survived my limited knowledge and rolling release update inevitably every time. A 32-bit version of Manjaro XFCE is currently running on my HP Desktop Computer with 2.3 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 1.5 GB DDR RAM and 250 GB HDD. It is really an antique PC bought in 2003 and still going strong thanks to Linux. And Manjaro XFCE works way better than any other XFCE / Openbox / LXDE spins I tried on it. And by any, I literally mean, any. I have tried almost all 32-bit distros on it!
From Manjaro 0.8.9 KDE

Coming back to Manjaro 0.8.9 update, it is the first update of 2014. Previous year Manjaro released 0.8.3, 0.8.4, 0.8.5,, 0.8.6, 0.8.7, and 0.8.8 - in total 8 updates in 12 months. So, I am expecting at least 6 updates this year as well. Manjaro's specialty is in making pre-configured Arch Linux distros appealing to both Linux novices as well as seasoned users. Officially it releases KDE, Openbox and XFCE versions. Also, Mate, Cinnamon and GNOME 3 spins are released in community editions. XFCE is the most popular release followed by KDE for Manjaro (based on download stats). I am covering primarily the KDE version here which I tried out as a fresh install. I have an XFCE version running for last 6 months (and now upgraded to 0.8.9) on my HP desktop. If you need information on the XFCE version, feel free to post a comment in my blog.

The Manjaro Linux 0.8.9 KDE 64 bit ISO is about 1.8 GB in size and ships with KDE 4.12.2 and Linux kernel 3.10.30. Manjaro aims for a relatively stable distro and hence, you may not always find the bleeding edge Linux kernels/apps. It is a slightly conservative and I prefer the stability in Manjaro.

I created a live USB using Mint Image Writer and a 4 GB USB drive. I first did a live boot followed by installation on my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. I installed it on a 50 GB partition.

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