Archive for May, 2010

I have two Linux websites that I spent a considerable amount of time and effort to create.  These two websites were created with the purpose of giving information to computer users who are new to Linux.  However, I’m kind of tired of the standard website layout.  No matter how I write the website or even use my own artwork in the design, it still looks like a typical website.

Of course, while I really want to revamp the look and feel of my two websites, all I can think about is how much of a time consuming nightmare coding html can be.  What I really need is a free website builder, one that will give my websites a brand new fresh look without me having to spend all the money I don’t have.

After looking around for a great website builder, I have found Wix.com, who will assist me in building a high quality free flash website!  I’m looking over the designs right now and I already have a couple of really cool ideas, especially for my New Linux User Companion site, the one feauturing my artwork.  I can’t believe that I can get a free website that is a Flash site, especially without having to do all the coding.  This is going to save me so much time and effort, which will be better served with posting the content of my websites and making sure Linux newbies get the help they need.  And I’m going to get what I need too, a long overdue website makeover.

Linux Mint 9 Review

Posted: May 24, 2010 in OS Reviews
Tags: , ,

Well, well..the distro I was waiting for is finally out.  It took a bit but I was finally able to do a review on it.  It is hard for me to do objective reviews on Linux Mint as it is my preferred Linux distro, but I feel I am up to the challenge.  So, let’s begin.

As usual, my preferred method of testing (and installation) is from a Live CD.  I tried a DVD for the first time, but it didn’t boot for some reason.  I have a feeling it may be the DVDs I bought so I am reserving judgment about that issue.  The second time was a CD.

The load time was a bit longer than usual, but nothing more than maybe a minute or two.  Then it boots into a nice re-designed splash screen with the logo and 5 dots underneath.  (I’ve heard that there have been issues with either the logo not displaying or some other weirdness but I didn’t experience that).  Then it finishes with a lovely new desktop (green of course!) with no logo interestingly.  I understand that the artwork for this version was outsourced.  I have mixed feelings about this as I love how community oriented Linux Mint is and I feel that between Zwopper and Jernau among others, nobody else is needed but having said that, the artwork looks very nice and professional.  This is really a non-issue in the bigger scheme of things anyway *she says sheepishly*

Because I only VERY briefly used Linux Mint 8 due to the horrors of Karmic Koala, there were many changes for me in regards to the difference between Linux Mint 7 and Linux Mint 9.  Some of these include:

  • The ever amazing Linux Mint Menu.  Love it or hate it, it’s probably the most often discussed start menu in all of Linux-dom.  This version of Mint sports even more improvements to the Menu of all Menus, with the ability to make the menu transparent.  Excellent idea!  However, the problem with it is that everything is on the same transparency level, fonts, icons etc..rather than the background transparency being separate.  I would imagine that someone said “Doh!” upon realizing what had been forgotten 😀  Of course, the Menu is uber-customiseable, with way too many options to list here..some include the afore-mentioned transparency, the option to always start with your favorites, searching the menu, show/hide application comments, custom colors, number of colums, icon size, name swap, and the very nice customiseable, editable default places as well as scrolling and removing items from the default list.  I have heard some complaints about the size of it..true, it is pretty large but I’m sure this will be addressed in future releases.
  • The Startup Manager.  This is where things can be changed such as the color depth and resolution, which version will be booted (e.g. recovery mode), whether or not to show a boot splash and verbose boot and the bootloader menu resolution.
  • The Software Manager.  I really like the Software Manager.  Everything in it is for Mint and so everything works with little or in most cases no tweaking.  The Software Portal (the earlier version of Software Manager was slow and irritating for the most part (but a good idea) and now that idea has been tweaked until installing with Mint is now as easy as pie.  I love being able to review apps right while I am looking for them and installing them!  I had no problems with the search results even though I was vague with my search terms 😀   The only suggestion I would make in this regard is that it would have been nice to see what versions of the apps were.  For instance, Opera was there, but what version was it?  Not strictly necessary but it’s something I like to see.
  • The social scene.  When I reviewed Ubuntu’s Lucid Lynx, I liked it overall (except for the lack of chocolate color lol) but I didn’t particularly care for the social apps set up into the desktop.  The MeMenu could have been awesome but wasn’t.  I’m very glad that Mint didn’t try to stuff that in my face, but yet included it in the distro to be used as desired.  I tried it out and successfully set up my microblogging accounts but I won’t be using it often so I’m glad it’s not all over my desktop.
  • Backup Tool.  Ahhh the joys of a Backup Tool to go from one Mint to the next.  As someone who has been too hard up to buy an external drive, it is usually at least 8 kinds of nightmare trying to back up everything for the next install.  This is going to make it soooo easy, I can’t wait to back up everything (and I’m finally able to get that external drive to do it with!)
  • This time around’s version of Update Manager comes with a new icon set, which seems to be changeable?? Really?  I didn’t try it since I wasn’t sure how to change it back but wow, how’s that for customisation!  Being able to change the repo sources (add and subtract also) and getting to see the changelog, this isn’t too much different from Helena’s offering.  Although it is faster and smoother.

Some of the other things I have noticed so far are the offerings of GParted, USB Disk Creator and Domain Blocker which are welcome.  I would prefer Evolution over the massive overkill that is Thunderbird but I’m not someone who has to deal with much email, being more of a text and IM person myself but ’tis easily taken care of with one of my favourite features of the Menu, uninstall.

Wow moments:

Chromium and Flock now in the repositories!  Nice!!  My biggest wow moment concerns the AWN dock but I think I may have to do a review of it on its own merits 😀  The Hardware Analysis tool is going to be very useful in terms of getting the information needed to do troubleshooting, especially with the copy to clipboard option which is very useful when trying to get help with an issue..just copy and paste the problem right into the forum!

So my overall, unbiased opinion?  I give Linux Mint 9 a solid A for performance and an A/A- for appearance.  I’ve heard various sources saying this is up there for top distro release this year and I believe it.  Linux newbies, this one’s for you!

I was installing Linux Mint 9 and had the same problem that  I always do.  I forgot to save a copy of the flash player and java plugins to put into the /usr/share directory in Flock’s plugins.  Then it occurred to me that there might be some folks out there who didn’t know why things they wanted to use on Flock would say it needed a plugin installed.  So here’s the TUTORIAL on The New Linux User.  Enjoy.  http://www.newlinuxuser.net/flock-browser-and-java-applications.html

Everyone knows that I pretty much lost my mind over Ubuntu 9.10, as the Karmic Koala sucked koala nu..well anyway, it wasn’t good for the majority of folks.  So, when I saw all the changes that were coming to Ubuntu, I decided to give it another shot (especially since my distro of choice is based off Ubuntu I didn’t want to have to wait for another release to have a usable system)  So yes, I was rooting for a good Ubuntu.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Usual method of madness, Live CD.  It was a little slow on the load time but by no means one of the slowest (I believe Fedora had that honour for me).  Once it loads the splash screen, it’s in purple..no more brown???*  The new Ubuntu logo is looking nice, with a different font and the symbol is now smaller and off center, making for a well polished and professional look.  In an interesting (irritating?) move, Ubuntu now looks remarkably like Mac, with whom I am currently severely disappointed as they seem to get more fascist every day.  The window controls are on the left rather than the traditional right; however, this wasn’t a supreme irritation as I thought it would be and I had no trouble adjusting to it.  The startup sound is a nice little drum beat with an African feel to it.  Almost forgot, there is a splash screen right before the desktop comes up with the option to try Ubuntu or install..I guess to make it easier for a newbie.

Anyway, back to it.  There are new icons sitting on the top panel.  1.  An icon with up and down arrows depicts the internet connection status.  Lucid had no problem detecting my wireless connections and my ethernet connection as well.

2.  There is a mail icon that does a few different things.  For mail, Ubuntu is now using Evolution, which I think is a great choice.  I have always uninstalled Thunderbird in favor of Evolution.  It synchs with several services and uses fewer resources as well as being ridiculously easy and convenient to set up.  I set up a mail account successfully.  Then, Chat is also monitored from this applet through Empathy rather than Pidgin.  I have not used Empathy before and therefore cannot speak for all the features like I could with Pidgin but I did successfully add one of my accounts (I chose Yahoo for the purpose of testing) and it worked just fine.  The third option was called Broadcasting.  This uses something called Gwibber, which is apparently a microblogging client.  I successfully set up my Twitter account on it.

Firefox worked just fine (meaning my internet connection worked right out of the box) and I was streaming radio on Rhythmbox (in order to test out both Rhythmbox and to make sure the sound worked).  Using an .spx file that was in the examples folder, I successfully used Totem (Movie Player) and found that for once the visualizations worked as they should and were actually kinda neat.

The evil Karmic Koala had major issues with mounting devices, so I tested that by mounting my memory card from my Nokia Surge (6790 for you purists).  Not only did it mount successfully, but Ubuntu even knew it was a Nokia formatted card and named the mounted device Nokia S60, appropriately.  Nice.

On to the looks.  The new look, while most definitely not original will make the haters of the brown theme rejoice.  * I am most unhappy about this as I like brown because it’s the color of chocolate which is tasty.  I also liked it because it’s easily recognizable..”hey, that’s Ubuntu on that episode of Dr. Who! Sweet!” but if they want to look like a watered down Mac, to each his own and it does look nice.  The icons are a strange sort of orange rather than brown and it clashes severely with the purple but there are other theme options, such as Radiance, Dust and good old Clearlooks blue, for those of you who want to resemble a watered down Windows rather than a watered down Mac (shakes head in bemusement).  The pointer options include a red theme..seriously?? Someone really needs to be checked for color blindness.

There were a few things that I didn’t care for, such as the clashing of colors and the fact that there are games installed rather than GIMP or VLC instead of the utterly horrid Totem.  Additionally, my biggest annoyance is that while Ubuntu went out of its way to revamp its entire look, they went to someone else’s look.  As for the look itself, it’s okay.  The new logo is very nice.  I liked it quite a bit.  As far as the distro is concerned I was pleased.  HUGE improvement over the Koala.  Overall, I would rate Lucid Lynx an A- for newbie friendliness and usage and a B+ for looks.  That last would have been an A- but I’m not fond of copycats.