Archive for May, 2008

Hello fellow geekers, it’s time for another distro review…For a while now, I have made it clear that the Linux distro to win my notoriously cold heart is Linux Mint, the distro widely claimed as “Ubuntu done right.”  This is still true!  But of course, I am the type that is never satisfied with my lot in life, so the search goes on for the “perfect” Linux distro.   Especially at the times like these when my CPU fan never shuts off, getting louder and louder lol…Linux Mint is a tad hard on my memory, to be sure.  As soon as this “economic incentive” check from the IRS gets here, I plan on buying a 2GB DDR kit…until then..I like to check out the distros that are ideal for “legacy machines.”  The latest one I downloaded (last night) is a little derivative of PCLinuxOS, called TinyMe.

Now, bear in mind that the second distro I ever tried was PCLinuxOS.  The first was Debian, which I liked but I was sooo frustrated at the time because there was no flash happening.  What a newb!  Of course, I now know that Debian only uses open source applications but hey, I was a serious newb..wow was that just in March?  Seems a lifetime ago…I digress…So anyway..PCLinuxOS was being proclaimed as the “radically simple Linux.”  Well of course, as a uber-newb, I needed easy to start with…So, bearing in mind my limitations in the memory department (at the time, it was 256 MB RAM) I downloaded the 2008 PCLOS MiniMe edition, a leaner version of the original…basically the same, but on a diet.  I was impressed and I thought it ran great but I didn’t know all the things I do now and I borked it a couple of times lol…plus I preferred Gnome…so I tried quite a few distros after getting a new 512 MB memory stick  and ended up with Linux Mint.

I digress..again…So, at any rate I came across this TinyMe version of PCLOS and was fascinated enough to try it…why bother?  Yes, I have 768MB RAM now, but honestly it’s not really enough for Linux Mint and I do tire of hearing my fan (loudly sometimes) all the time..so I downloaded TinyMe and made myself a nifty little boot disk.  I rebooted with my new “Live CD” and away I go…

It started immediately…and I do mean immediately!  Nice!  Nice polished look of PCLOS…The usual of logging in with guest/guest or root/root blah blah…so then I get to the desktop.  I see all the icons for the major installations of various applications, such as a text editor, Audacious for playing music (which I love), Opera for the internet (which I slavishly adore) and mtpaint for editing pictures, and gThumb.  On the right side of the desktop is the system monitor which is there by default.  Yes, this can be removed or commented out if you prefer (like me) to have a naked desktop.  There is by default a desktop switcher and you can name the desktops (by default they are 4 names, one is fred and one is “soup” no idea why but it made me laugh)  Seriously when is the last time Windoze made anyone laugh in delight?

Anyhoo, there is no desktop environment, which I thought would bother me immensely (because I hate the way Fluxbox looks) but Openbox has a very nice look to it and I made sure that themes could be added…Switching them is a snap..Just open the TinyCC which is the TinyMe control center.  The window management tab allows for switching to various looks for the Openbox..not quite as customizeable as Gnome or KDE but honestly duh!  Nitrogen is a little app that lets you easily switch between wallpapers and lets you add more at the click of a button.  I didn’t see a way to add more icon themes or switch icons but it may be there is a way and I forgot to look or just didn’t notice.

Of course, the full fledged PCLOS control center is there too, allowing for customization concerning networks, hardware, monitors etc..just like the regular PCLOS..  All in all, I thought this was a great distro!  Everything was “whoa!!” fast and I didn’t see any instability issues that ruined the MiniMe experience for me.  There was even an app for killing apps (like Gnome’s fabulous force-quit) I momentarily forgot what it’s called but the icon was appropriate with a little skull-and-crossbones to go over the desired app to kill.

I was sorely, sorely tempted to install this to harddrive and I may still install it with the option for dual-booting..of course, I have to wait for Linux Mint 5 (Elyssa) to be released and give it a go but if it doesn’t work out for me for some reason, I will absolutely use TinyMe.  I give it a B for looks and an A- for functionality (for my purposes anyway).  I am just a “baby geek” after all and I do absolutely love deb and mint packages and I likely won’t want to give that up but this distro tempts me like no other!

Today the Linux Mint Elyssa second beta version was released with bug fixes. Linux Mint 5 Elyssa RC2 (BETA 048 )
was released today. It comes with the brand new Firefox 3 RC1, Flash 10, improved printing and bluetooth support and a lot of bug fixes. The changes are described here in the forums: Links: Release Notes & Download mirrors

Remember people the betas are for testing!!  Don’t expect them to be perfect.  Additionally, upgrading from Mint 4 (Daryna) to the Beta Elyssa is a bad idea..there maybe a problem with your upgrading and you end up reporting it as a bug..and additional reasons..Be patient..the stable release will be out very soon!!  And remember a fresh install is always the best idea!

First of all, I just want to say, congrats to whoever came up with the dock idea; it is totally great!  No more ugly panels!!  (Unless you like ugly panels, then it isn’t you who will use it anyway lol)  This little mini-guide is for new users of AWN dock who, like me, do not have the applets on repository (why, I have no idea and it makes little sense).  I am using Linux Mint, which I adore, and I stumbled across a screenshot of the dock and I was in luuuuuv lol.  Turns out, I have the dock itself and the user interface (the AWN manager) on repository so I installed them.  Later I tried to install the AWN-core-applets application from the compressed tarball but for some reason I had some strange error upon my attempt at /.config….I even tried converting it into a .deb package but that didn’t work either.  So, mainly my problem was that I couldn’t put a couple of icons that I really wanted into the dock.

Since then, I have learned a small bit lol…In order to put icons on the dock, you must drag and drop the icons from the menu down to the dock.  Easy enough but not always successful, again, reason unknown…The other alternative to this is to navigate to /usr/share/applications and drag the icon of the application you wish to use down to the dock..This does work!  However, one task I was not successful at was putting the icons for the menu itself, the time, force quit (essential!) and volume on the dock…I haven’t actually tried and I do assume that there is a solution that involves navigating around until I find said icons but I do not know where they are all located…If I ever get a spare moment or ten, I will try and find out and edit this post for the benefit of others even more newb than I lol….In the meantime, enjoy the dock!

Featuring the AWN dock with a Minty theme

Featuring the AWN dock with a Minty theme

This screenshot is of my desktop with “metal mint” wallpaper and the AWN dock with an installed “minty green” theme (the default color is black I think)  In various places like deviantart I found new icons for Opera, Audacious, Pidgin and a gorgeous set for Firefox (I’m using the one with the normal colors but there is a blue one and a black one too…hmm I suppose I might want to explain how to change icons lol)

Okay Part 2! lol  How To Change The Icons In the Dock

Say you don’t like one of the handy-dandy icons for one of your applications you have sitting in the beautiful new dock…Understandable, after all, who wants to go through that trouble of setting up the beautiful dock just to crap it up with some uggo icons?  My particular case in point?  Audacious…yeah, you guys know, Audacious has some major issues with that yak-ugly icon…it’s a shame too, because Audacious is an awesome little player!  Okay, I digress…So after a nearly fruitless search, I only found one person who was making icons for it, so I downloaded the file…I made a new file in my homefolder entitled  Desktop Icons (because I am so darn creative..actually I am but I also tend to forget my own creative ideas, which could lead to chaos…) and so then I just downloaded the new Audacious icon file (was it a tar.gz?  I think so..) anyhooo, I believe I got it from gnome-look.org

So then after I downloaded it, I just went ahead and navigated to the tar.gz file (where I put it in Desktop Icons) and extracted it right there.  Then go to the dock and right click on the icon you wish to rid yourself of.  Select change icon (NOT remove icon lol) and it will open Nautilus..navigate to your spiffy new icon folder (i.e. Desktop Icons) and click on the folder of the file you extracted (not the tar.gz one but the one with just the folder name) and inside you can choose the shiny new icon you want (click on it) and it will magically change right before your astounded eyes…and there you have it…So much easier than you thought, right?

Woohoo! Linux Mint 5, codenamed Elyssa this time is out in Beta version!!! There are some awesome new changes, especially to the Mint Menu and Mint Install and many applications have been added to the Software Portal..Rhythmbox has replaced both Amarok and Sound Juicer (which is my only complaint because I really hate Rhythmbox) and Brasero has replaced Serpentine (yay!) There is also a separate file browser for doing work in root so that it looks different enough for you to remember it is root and not bork your system lol!! There are also new right click options, such as when searching through images being able to use it as the desktop and there is an uninstall option for those of us “tweakers” who find searching Synaptic over and over a tedious process….I can hardly wait to get my hands on the final…Good job Clem and the team at Linux Mint and congratulations! For those interested, here is the link for the release notes for this Beta —> Linux Mint Elyssa Beta
I seriously cannot wait to review this; here’s hoping the stable release comes out soon!!

This is a much later part of an earlier post that I broke up due to length..To see the original two parts Click Here for Part One and Click here for Part Two to see entire article of “Switching from Windows to GNU/Linux (a newbie’s guide)” for helpful information about GNU/Linux in a newbie friendly presentation.

This post, (Part Three) deals with two more reviews..First, if anyone noticed, I recently put up an announcement about the release of PCLinuxOS 2008.1-the Gnome Remaster (also known as PCLOS). The other distro I am going to review is Linux Mint, a “derivative” of Ubuntu. I will explain the use of “” later…Okay here we go………………….

First up, PCLinuxOS 2008.1 Gnome Remaster (whew! how about just PCL-G for now so remember that’s what it stands for!)
I downloaded PCL-G via a torrent Click here for the PCLinuxOS 2008.1 Gnome Remaster torrent page and I burned the iso image to disk using Brasero (it’s easy and just works) and then rebooted with the Live CD.<–confused? I will explain booting after the review! As usual with PCLOS, the live CD started right up. The only variation on the “norm” is that you have to log in on their live CD; easy enough either log in as “root” or “guest” and the password will be the same as the “username” you log in with (either root or guest). Immediately, I was impressed with the sleek look of this distro..I love a dark theme and this was it! Smooth lines and colors ooohweee it “shore wuz purty”; okay hahah, so anyway I went right to the menu to see what applications it came with…There was the usual Gnomish accessories, such as an editor and notetaker and a whole lot of multimedia programs for someone seriously into music and video..One really nice thing was that Compiz-Fusion (the eyecandy of the Linux box) was already installed and “ready to Cube!” lol..Furthermore, when I checked Synaptic (a major package manager) I noted that Opera (my favourite web browser) Brasero (my favourite disk burning program) and VLC (my favourite video player) were all listed..In addition, the MAJOR issue that has been plaguing Opera, the latest Flash Player update has been addressed with its own entry in Synaptic with an option for Flash Player 8 for Opera, even telling users about the potential (although very unlikely) security issue. (Although on a side note, I personally think Flash Player update was just trying to exclude Opera because they support Linux..but of course that is just paranoid speculation). So, since everything I wanted was there, I decided to install…
Aaaaaaand that is where I get a tad unhappy..
I clicked on the install to hard drive button conveniently located on the desktop and it went through a couple of steps, telling me I had to log out and log back in to install..(grr) okay, so I did..again and again…I couldn’t get past this step! After a few more tries, it finally started (no idea why that time and not the others) and I went through the install process which is pretty easy and installed PCL-G to my hard drive) Once I booted again (too much logging in/out required for my liking by the way) I was unable to change the color resolution from 16 bits to 24..Never figured it out either…The first thing I did was open Firefox and realized I was not connected to the internet; This is only the second distro I have ever tried that didn’t detect my ethernet automatically (the other was Puppy Linux, if you care). Fortunately for me, I knew how to fix this but it would be very difficult for a newbie to understand the various choices and options. So then, like I said, minor inconvenience for me but nothing I couldn’t handle easily enough. So then I went to download my “Big Three” applications I can’t do without..I found them easily, checked them and went to download…for some reason only Brasero downloaded; the other two had some kind of error message I had never before seen…hmm not cool!..I tried again and still had no luck. Sorry PCLinuxOS Gnome, I had to pass on this one; too many annoyances and disappointments and I had high hopes for this one too…I had been waiting to download it for weeks and what I got was not nearly as nice as what I expected..My older MiniMe was far better and I don’t even like KDE……I give it a C for performance, and A for appearance.

The other distro I am reviewing is Linux Mint…I downloaded Linux Mint 4.0 the main edition codenamed Daryna (all the editions are given a pretty female name..no idea why) All the various flavors of this 4.0 edition can be downloaded at the main Linux Mint page Click here to read more about Linux Mint and then you can Click here to download Linux Mint. I remember when I first visited the download page, I was confused (a major newb lol) so let me briefly explain what’s what…
If you just want the “Main Edition” you can skip this paragraph…
There are 7 choices of the same 4.0 Daryna version to choose from. Why? To try to give Linux Mint to everyone, no matter what type of desktop environment (or lack of one) they use…So first is Xfce..this desktop environment(remember that is what you see as far as windows, icons, panels and menus) is lighter and faster than Gnome or KDE because it doesn’t have as much as the other two..I have tried Xfce and it is just fine, somewhat of a “stripped down” version of Gnome but also very customizable. This desktop environment (or “DE”) is great for older systems or RAM memory challenged systems)…Next listed is the miniKDE edition..it comes with KDE instead of Gnome..Then, of course, the Main edition with Gnome and then the Light edition which is COMPLETELY open source, no non-free software or support for restricted drivers..this edition is great for militantly-free open sourcers or for those who live in countries where patents are enforced by law. (yes, in some countries, using non-free software is against the law)….Next is the KDE Community edition (a KDE remastering of the original) much like the miniKDE…Then, we have the Fluxbox edition…Fluxbox is a window manager but not a desktop environment, which is loved by those with VERY old computers, VERY low memory or those gurus who love the command line for all it’s worth. Finally, there is a Debian version…a “peek” at what Linux Mint would be like if based on Debian (cool!)……Okay, now that’s out of the way….
(Okay pay attention again!)I popped in the Live CD and I was delighted immediately by the nice, elegant look to it..(It’s Minty!) of course, I checked Firefox and I was connected to the internet right off the bat, no configuration required. Then I checked Synaptic and found my “Big Three” right there including the non-free flash plugin..it is the first of the trouble making flash updates so it works in Opera, just not really well so I compromise and use Firefox for my flash needs..Included on the repository is Compiz Fusion and I had a blast with “the Cube” but I couldn’t keep it for long as I have less than a Gig of Memory lol but it was a load of fun…and besides, the AWN dock is in the repo as well as Cairo-clock and there are advanced eyecandy settings in the menu..ah, yes, the menu…
The “MintMenu” is a lovely piece of work..it is the Gnome menu done right! There are 3 columns, and headings (places, system, and applications) the menu is searchable and you can also use the All applications at the top or look in sections..Additionally you can save applications as favorites, which have a menu of their own!! I love this menu, functional and elegant!! Then there is MintInstall, which a popup asks you what you are searching for..taking you to firefox and the option is presented with a download icon..from there you click download, then ok and mintInstall does the work! (It’s supposed to be “one click” but it is really 3 but hey, still super easy!!)..The downsides for me are that it takes a tad too long to start up and there is a screen that will hang unless I hit enter twice (shrugs) and on shutdown, clicking quit in the mintmenu will result in a hang also..not sure why but aside from being minorly annoying..those (for me) are the only downsides..I give it an A- for performance and an A for appearance. Oh yes, the “” from earlier about being a derivative of Ubuntu..Yes, Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu but it is less of a derivative than it is a step to the left..(Huh?) Basically, in my opinion and that of many is that Linux Mint is what Ubuntu should be..

Now for the explanation of booting that I promised!
Making a “boot disk” of a Linux distro to try out:
Download the distro and save it somewhere easy, like the desktop..It will be in the form of an “iso image”…
Open Brasero…select “burn image” Burn existing CD or DVD image to disk…A little popup appears called image burning setup..underneath the heading “image”, it should say “path”..at the right is a little icon..click on it to browse your file system..select desktop and make sure you see the iso image file listed (something like Linux mint.iso) and click open..it will list that in the “path” line now..make sure the .iso file is in the “path” or you won’t get a boot disk.
Insert a blank disk..just cancel the window that pops up asking what to do with the disk..now, in the little popup in Brasero (the one you just changed the path in) click “Burn” and wait…
Now sometimes I noticed with GnomeBaker that if you tried to do anything while burning that disk, it would freeze..I don’t know about Brasero but I don’t have spare CDs to throw away so I don’t try to make it angry lol..I just come back when it’s done…It gets done and ejects the disk..put the disk right back in and click enter or “perform integrity check” or whatnot..this makes sure that the image file you just burned has all the stuff it’s supposed to have.

Rebooting with the Live CD you just made
Okay when you get you new disk ejected and close up Brasero, close out everything and click on quit..either do restart or shutdown, whichever you like…either way, when you (or it) turn back on the computer you will see two options for a few seconds (so be fast!)..They are F2 and F12…hit the F12 button to get to the “boot” menu…On my Dell, I hit the down arrow button til I get to choice 4, which is booting from the CD-ROM drive (it should say media drive, CD-Rom, DVD drive or something similar but it might be a different choice number, I’m not sure), then put in the shiny new disk you just made, then choose the option I just talked about and hit enter and the computer will boot up using the disk you made! It’s soooo much easier than it sounds and you can try out multiple distros without ever having to change your computer!!! Don’t worry, the computer will boot normally the next time; by default it boots from the hard drive (whatever Operating System you have on there already will run)

Okay you are ready and that took forever to type! Have fun!

Great news for us PCLinuxOS fans out there, the new 2008.1 Gnome remaster of PCLinuxOS is out again and available for Torrent download!!!!
For anyone who has been patiently waiting for the new iso, the old one was removed due to a minor flaw with the iso image…There were some compatibility issues that have now been fixed and a fresh install of PCLinuxOS should work just fine!!
Great job getting that out!

CLICK ON THE BLOG POST TITLE TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE TORRENT DOWNLOAD PAGE!!!!