Posts Tagged ‘linux’

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!

Gnome-Do 08.1.3

Posted: August 16, 2009 in Helpful Techie Things
Tags: , , ,

I made mention in an earlier post how I was having issues with the Ping.fm plugin that goes with Gnome-Do.  Well, I figured it out and now I’m pinging away without having to visit the website at all *sighs contentedly*.

This is just one of the amazing things I love, love, love about the “Do.”  Gnome-Do is in fact, the number one reason why I would never go to any other desktop environment.  I seriously can’t “do” without this application!!

I love the fact that I can type in the first 3 letters of my name and bam, there’s my home folder being displayed..it used to only take 1 letter but it starts with a P, just like Ping.fm so I have to live with that but hey..how fast is that?  On this version of Do, not only does it go one folder deep but now I can open any folder and browse the contents, just like Nautilus.  Enter ‘pr’ for instance, and I have the choices (and not just the two) of adjusting my audio server preferences or printer settings.  Enter an ‘a’ and I get choices ranging from opening on of my most often used text files to opening Audacity or adjusting bluetooth settings.

The plugins are what makes Do so fabulous.  There are so many plugins that expand what Do can ‘do.’  For instance, with various plugins, you can look up words in the dictionary, search your Firefox and Opera bookmarks, control the Banshee audio player, run a terminal, shut down the computer, do several things with Google apps, control Rhythmbox, XMMS or Pidgin, install new packages with Apt, look through del.icio.us bookmarks, talk with friends via the MSN clone, search Google or YouTube.  Gnome-Do can really do it all!

In addition, Gnome-Do now comes with a dock interface.  I like to use AWN myself, at least for now but if Docky ever becomes customizable and themeable, well then I’ll check it out.

Thanks to the Gnome-Do team and to everyone who created and maintains plugins.  Gnome-Do is the most awesome application for Linux I have ever used.

Linux Mint 7 review

Posted: August 5, 2009 in OS Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Time for another Linux distro review!  It should come as no surprise that this review is on Linux Mint 7, codenamed Gloria, at least not to anyone who knows me.  I have been quite a fan of Linux Mint, with its ease of use and reputation for being “Ubuntu done right.”  However, with Linux Mint 6 (Felicia) I had grown a bit discontent with the ever-prevalent issues with Wireless Network detection and use.  Additionally, for some odd reason or another, I had problems with some things mounting, such as my cellphone. 

So, now I review Linux Mint 7.  The first thing I noticed upon starting up the Live CD I made (with no problems whatsoever) was that it took a little longer to load than previous versions but not long enough to make me want to scream (i.e. Fedora).  It loaded into a nice, new desktop theme, called Shiki-Mint which is one of the things users anticipate from release to release.  (There is always at least one new theme each release)  Another anticipation of Mint releases is the backgrounds, which are always beautiful and classy to look at, unique and elegant.  This time it was a green background with a very nice new logo pic and ‘raindrops’ on the screen.  It’s simple but a neat effect.  There are also a few new backgrounds..the close up of the fly is kinda icky lol.  There are two “flowery” ones that, despite the fact that I am not the flowery type, I thought they were beautifully done and very nice to look at..I have the dark one as my background even.  This version of Mint also incorporates the Gnome-colors icon theme.

Okay, enough aesthetics.  The first item I check on Mint is the MintMenu.  Very nicely done!  The infamous MintMenu has outdone itself again.  MM can show upon startup either the 3 column menu or the favorites menu first, which is a small section one can use to put his/her favorite applications in (up to 12, I believe.)  There is also a filter for quick searching of the menu (nice!) and one of my favorite items, the uninstall option in the context menu..so glad that made a return in this release.  Also, every item in the MM is supplemented by a comment line, to give more information about what the item is and what it does.  This is amazingly newbie friendly.  In addition, in the favorites section, the Screen Resolution is hanging out, for those who wanted a quick way to get to it.

A new appearance this release is the application titled Computer Janitor.  Apparently this app is supposed to help one by recommending packages that one no longer needs and suggests configuration changes that may be useful.  This would be quite the help for someone who decides not to upgrade to a newer release for a while or for just a cluttered computer.  This is a great idea.  All the usual applications are present, OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Tomboy Notes, GIMP, Rhythmbox and MPlayer.  On a side note, I used to hate Rhythmbox but they have improved VAST amounts since the last release. 

Now for probably the most major change to this release of Linux Mint.  The infamous MintInstall.  Two releases ago, Mint Install consisted of a little window where one could look up a package and do a “one-click” install from the online Software Portal.  It was a nice feature.  Then, in Mint 6, it was changed drastically into a complete user-interface that listed all the applications, installed and available and the option of going to the Software Portal online.  This was a nice feature in theory, but it took just this side of forever to load the information lol.  For this release, the MintInstall is now pretty much its own Package Manager, where the available packages are listed, with the awesome options of clicking on more info and getting a very detailed description about the package and what it does.  There is also a changelog to keep track of changes from one app release to another.  One can also get screenshots (wow!) and install right from the window.  Of course, it’s one app at a time but at least this way one can’t screw it up.  Of course, Synaptic is still there but for newbies, the MintInstall is going to be very much a best friend.

As I stated earlier, the two issues I had when I had Linux Mint 6 were that of Wireless detection, which didn’t detect and a problem with mounting devices, which wouldn’t mount.  The steps I had to take in order to transfer pictures from my Nokia would make a grown man cry.  These were what we in the Linux world call “deal breakers.”  This refers to any issue with a distro that makes a person go get a different distro, usually after swearing vehemently and throwing things.  As soon as I started up Mint 7, I checked my connections..wired right off the bat, and guess what..there are the wireless networks detected right out of the box!! EXCELLENT JOB!  This is exactly what I was hoping to see.  Then, I tried my Nokia and it mounted right up and transferred anything I wanted.  Even better!

The fact of the matter is, for the last couple of months, I have been using Mandriva Linux..being highly unsatisfied with Linux Mint 6.  This was quite strange, as I have used Mint since Mint 4.  But as I said, those two issues were deal-breakers.  After reviewing Linux Mint 7, I have come to the conclusion that Gloria is simply Glorious!  I loved the looks, the performance, the speed is good and everything I need works out of the box.  I give it an A+ overall

...So, congratulations to Clem Lefebvre and the rest of the Mint team; you have successfully lured me back to Linux Mint with this release.  (I just finished installing it about a half hour ago lol)  Of course Mandriva Linux is a great distro but I missed being Minty Fresh!!  So it’s back to being a Mint user for me…Thank you Clem and team!!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

I decided some spring cleaning was in order for the blogs..so I decided to change the theme to the new spring one..mostly because I love the color green, I love grass and trees (yay trees!) and while it’s not very much in the way of a tech look like before, I seem to like it (nice design) and hey, only my opinion matters.  Enjoy.

I’ve been very busy working on many projects. One of which is my new website, the New Linux User Companion, an interactive site that I need input from Linux users (and anyone else who wants to visit) so check it out, please!

Here is a video sent to me by a friend..it was so awesome I had to share!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Usually I review new distros of Linux or web browsers.  Today I am going to do a different kind of review..that of an application in Linux that I have just discovered.  Okay to be fair, I have known about it for some time, but i couldn’t figure out how to use it and I never bothered to spend the time to learn.  But finally, when all the other milion things I have to do were either done or in the process thereof, I turned my attention to finding out what Gnome-Do is all about.

Aside from the unimaginative, yet apt, name, Gnome-Do appears as this totally non-descript little purple icon with a gear in it, signifying that it does in fact, do something.  So, let’s look at what that is.

Gnome Do is, according to the Wiki on the subject, an “intelligent launcher that makes performing tasks on your computer simple and efficient.”  Uh-huh..I had read that before but I couldn’t quite get it to work for me.

Here’s where the Wiki gets a little Star Trek on me.

” Do not only allows you to search for items in your desktop environment (e.g. applications, contacts, bookmarks, files, music), it also allows you to specify actions to perform on search results (e.g. run, open, email, chat, play). Want to send an email to mom? Simply type “email mom.” Want to listen to some music? Simply type “play beatles.” Do provides instantaneous, action-oriented desktop search results that adapt to reflect your habits and preferences. For example, if you use Firefox web browser often, typing “f” in Do will launch it. Or, if you visit The New York Times webpage often, Do will open it if you simply type “nyt.” Unlike other search tools that present search results as flat, homogeneous lists, Do provides familiar graphical depictions of search results that assure you that your intent is being realized correctly; searching for “mom” will show a picture of mom, and searching for “beatles” will show a Beatles album cover.”

Uh-huh..okay let’s give it a go.  My biggest test right now may sound a bit silly to anyone else but if you have to do something repeatedly in the most annoying of ways, you will understand my triumph here.  I wanted to be able to open my “passwords from websites” page with one click..couldn’t really do that because I had to open the home folder then go to it.  For some reason it would never bookmark in Nautilus.  *sigh*..so I open Gnome-Do by clicking on it (<–entirely unnecessary as I later find out) and type the first letter of this file, which is an A.  I type that and this file is the very first result in the list..wow!! talk about intuitive!!  Then I realized I could set a shortcut of my own to open Gnome-Do, so I chose the ‘grave symbol’ that I use for absolutely nothing..so now I hit one button and the letter A and enter to get to my password page..and I consider that to be damn near one of the best triumphs I have had in my Linux journey lol.

The plugins that are available make the Gnome Do experience even more can-do.  I can play my songs with Rhythmbox, control Pidgin, Firefox, Epiphany, run Opera and Flock, email and IM..seriously, that was a geekasm I just had…….

I love this app!!!! Thank you David Siegal and the Gnome Do Core Team!  This app rawks!

Blogged with the Flock Browser