Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ubuntu 14.10 "Utopic Unicorn" Review: Very similar to Ubuntu Trusty Tahr!

"Once upon a time" - every story my 4 year old daughter would narrate, starts with this sentence. And while penning down a review of Ubuntu Utopic Unicorn, I was also thinking the same. Once upon a time, every new release of Ubuntu meant excitement of something new, something very radical and innovative and something worth trying out. LTS or no LTS, every release was worth upgrading those days and I would inevitably ditch the old release and upgrade.

But, day have changed and Linux is moving toward more stability or is it the lull before a storm? I am not sure. With that prelude I start my review where I document my initial experience with Ubuntu's brand new release, Ubuntu 14.10 named "Utopic Unicorn". The release note states a host of improvements for the server version but very few for the desktop or home user version.
"Ubuntu 14.10, the latest desktop release is today available for download from Canonical. This release focuses on the developer experience, overall quality, and brings a number of important features and security enhancements. The Ubuntu desktop continues to be intuitive, easy to use and reliable for users all over the world. Ubuntu is a popular choice for developers targeting the cloud, mobile or devices because it is easy to use, fast and secure. Ubuntu 14.10 introduces the first iteration of the Ubuntu Developer Tools Centre, which makes it even easier to develop on Ubuntu. It downloads all the Android toolkits and their dependencies and integrates them with the launcher in a single command. This is first available for Android and will soon extend to other platforms such as Go and Dart."
From Ubuntu 14.10

What is new in Ubuntu 14.10 for normal users like us?
Let me start with what's new in Ubuntu 14.10 for a casual home user like me. The following are the new points:
  1. No Unity 8 or Mir,  or systemd, still with Unity 7.3.1 and Xorg 1.16 server
  2. Linux kernel updated to 3.16, enhanced support for the latest Intel CPUs (Cherryview, Haswell, Broadwell and Merrifield systems), initial support for Nvidia GK30A and GK110B GPUs and enhanced audio support for ATI Radeon devices
  3. Home and videos icon changed in Files 3.10.1
  4. Updated LibreOffice and GNOME components
    • LibreOffice
    • Firefox 33
    • Thunderbird 33
    • Files 3.10.1
    • Evince 3.14
    • Rhythmbox 3.0.3
  5. Ubuntu web browser works far better now with a normal address bar at the top. 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ROSA Desktop Fresh R4 Review: Refreshing Mandriva based KDE spin

ROSA is a Russian company developing a variety of Linux-based solutions. Its flagship product, ROSA Desktop, is a Linux distribution featuring a highly customized KDE desktop and a number of modifications designed to enhance the user-friendliness of the working environment. The company also develops an "Enterprise Server" edition of ROSA which is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. On 9th October 2014, Ekaterina Lopukhova has announced the release of ROSA R4 "Desktop Fresh" edition, a desktop Linux distribution featuring a customized and user-friendly KDE 4.13.3 desktop: "The ROSA company is happy to present the long-awaited ROSA Desktop Fresh R4, the number 4 in the "R" lineup of the free ROSA distros with the KDE desktop as the main graphical environment. The distro presents a vast collection of games and emulators, as well as the Steam platform package along with standard suite of audio and video communications software, including the newest version of Skype. All modern video formats are supported. The distribution includes the fresh LibreOffice 4.3.1, the full TeX suite for true nerds, along with the best Linux desktop publishing, text editing and polygraphy WYSISYG software. The LAMP/C++/ development environments are waiting to be installed by true hackers." The present version is supported for 2 years. ROSA was previously based on Mandriva but now independent like many of the formerly Mandriva based distros, e.g. PCLinuxOS, Mageia, OpenMandriva Lx (based on ROSA), to name a few. Mandriva in turn was based on Red Hat Linux and a lot of programs which work for Fedora or OpenSUSE, worked on ROSA as well.

From ROSA Desktop Fresh R4
By the time I started using and reviewing Linux on a regular basis, Mandriva got lost somewhere. I am not an expert in Mandriva based distros but would like to capture in this article my learning curve after using ROSA for a couple of weeks on a regular basis. What I see in ROSA is pretty fantastic, I must say!

I checked and reviewed ROSA Linux earlier but never with the details I'm going to present in this review. It was a fun learning experience for me (my comfort zone is Debian/Ubuntu based distros and it is nice to try something else). I downloaded the 64-bit 1.7 GB ISO from ROSA website and created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer. I installed ROSA Linux on my Asus K55VM, which is a Win7 laptop. ROSA also supports UEFI Secureboot and can be installed on Win8 machines. ROSA has KDE 4.13.3 (upgradable to 4.14.1 - I didn't try upgrading) and Linux kernel 3.14.15 in this version.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zorin OS 9 "Lite" Review: One of the best LXDE spins of 2014

Artyom Zorin has announced on 13th August 2014 the release of two new editions of the Ubuntu-based Zorin OS 9 distribution, the i386-only "Lite" and "Educational Lite" variants: "We are pleased to announce the release of Zorin OS 9 Lite and Educational Lite. These releases are the latest evolutions of the Zorin OS Lite series of operating systems, designed specifically for Linux newcomers using old or low-powered hardware. This release is based on Lubuntu 14.04 and uses the LXDE desktop environment to provide one of the fastest and most feature-packed interfaces for low-spec machines. This new release includes newly updated software as well as new software inclusions for the best lightweight desktop experience."

From Zorin OS 9 Lite
Ideally I like to review 64-bit spins as they support UEFI secure-boot 64-bit low or moderately powered laptops that are available in cheap and flooding the market these days. Win8 is still terrible and Linux provides a big relief to the users. I have one of these (with 1.8 Ghz Core i3 processor and 4 GB RAM) with touch support and Ubuntu 14.04 works quite great with it. However, there is no 64-bit spin for Zorin OS 9 lite and I downloaded the 750 MB 32-bit ISO for this review.

Unetbootin worked good with Zorin (Linux Mint Image Writer didn't) and I created a live USB with a 4 GB USB drive.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ubuntu: Download flash videos using the latest version of get-flash-videos

Somehow the version of get_flash_videos (1.24) in Ubuntu Trusty and git repositories don't work with YouTube. The latest version (1.25) works and I followed the following steps to successfully download, install and use it for YouTube videos. I am documenting it here for my future reference as well as it may help someone looking for the solution. I know I used the Debian Sid version but it works with Ubuntu.

(1) Step 1: Get the latest version of Get-flash-videos from Debian Sid repositories ( You can download from any mirror as it is a pretty small file (in KBs).

(2) Step 2: Use Ubuntu Software Center or gdebi to install it satisfying all dependencies. You may have to install perl packages beforehand by running the following command in the terminal:
sudo apt-get install libwww-mechanize-perl libxml-simple-perl

(3) Step 3: Check get-flash-videos version from the terminal by running the command:
get_flash_videos --version

Ensure that it is 1.25.

(4) Now start downloading flash videos from websites like YouTube, DailyMotion, etc. It supports majority of the sites I know of and use. You can download videos from the terminal by running the command:
get_flash_videos<video id>

or by giving the URL of the video site.

Hope it helps.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Netrunner 2014.09.1 "Rolling" Review: Superb aesthetics combined with the stability of Manjaro

Clemens Toennies has announced the availability of Netrunner 2014.09.1 "Rolling" edition, a Manjaro-based distribution featuring the KDE 4.14 desktop: "This is the release announcement of Netrunner Rolling 2014.09.1. We are releasing this maintenance shortly after our initial 2014.09 release to fix problems with the NVIDIA driver, and to include a first fix for the Bash shell vulnerability. We also updated Samba file sharing, Kontact accounts and language pack installation. Laptop Mode Tools was replaced by the new TLP to give you better control of your power consumption and achieve a longer battery life with your laptop. With the 2014.09 version we updated Netrunner Rolling to the latest software updates from Manjaro, including Linux kernel 3.14.18 with lots of bugs fixed and new driver support. KDE SC was updated to version 4.14."

To be honest, I am a big fan of Netrunner OS (the Ubuntu version) specially for superb aesthetics. KDE itself is quite beautiful and Netrunner developers actually managed to make it look more slick and add improved functionality. I had used Netrunner Arch / Rolling previously and had written a review of Netrunner Arch. I thought this is a good opportunity to review it this week. So, I downloaded the latest update of Netrunner Rolling - the 64-bit 2.4 GB ISO for this review.

From Netrunner Rolling 2014.09.1
I created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer on a 4 GB USB drive. I used my Asus K55VM for this review.

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