Posts Tagged ‘review’

Image 2I have to do one of my rare, rave reviews today.  This review is of Start.me, a bookmarking service that I absolutely love and can’t do without.  I have 2 computers, one with Windows for work and my personal computer with Linux Mint.  Split between these two computers are about 5 or 6 different instances of web browsers.  Having bookmarks on each browser then would not only be confusing but ultimately counterproductive.  For this reason I use bookmarking services.  Xmarks is one of the more popular ones, as is Delicious (which I also have and never use)  For the longest time, I was using a service called Only2Clicks.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bookmarks on there as I feel there is no such thing as too many backups.  However, I came across Start.Me by using Alternative.To and made the move permanently.  All my bookmarks are now on Start.Me and I love this service.  It’s really awesome! And Free!  Everything is placed on widgets; bookmarks, news, weather, notes, etc.  Apparently it’s a lot like Google start page (which I never used before) but for me it’s just so awesome I can’t say enough good things about it.  I was able to import my stuff from Only2Clicks and there’s an export available too (a little hard to find, check the help page)  I sent them an email once telling them how much i loved the service but that I wished that I could move a widget from one page to another with drag n drop.  They said, sure thing and now I can!  The devs are amazingly responsive, I swear they must be Linux users 🙂  So, check out this service if you are like me and need a cloud-based bookmarking service with many perks.  Start.me

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Linux Mint 10 Review

Posted: December 22, 2010 in OS Reviews
Tags: ,

First off, my apologies for such a late showing of this review.  I always take notes as I test a new distro and I was going to write this review using my handy-dandy Android app, so I took my little paper and stuck it in a pocket..somewhere.  I finally located it today, which is the reason for my tardiness.  Now that my groveling is complete, awayyyy we go!

I booted a Live CD of Linux Mint 10, nicely named Julia, and waited for the boot.  The booting didn’t take much longer than average but longer than I would have liked.  The throbber ‘dots’ from the previous Isadora are again present.  The boot finally ends in a gray desktop with very little green to be had (:O) but it was a nice ‘metal’ theme that had a simple yet elegant LM 10.  The new icon theme, which is apparently made from sets “Faenza” and “Elementary” and of course, mintified, is VERY nice to look at.  It was a little wow moment.

One of the big changes for Linux Mint this go around (and there’s always at least one to wow you with) is the Mint Menu.  That’s right, the amazing Mint Menu that makes other distros wish they were green, has gotten even better.  The menu is now themeable, and more customiseable than ever, with the nice new icons incorporated and menu entries have been revised to make categorizing better as well.  Additionally, one can use search engines from the menu now, as well as the search and install packages right from the menu.  I did forget to check the CPU usage for this so I am uncertain whether or not these menu improvements will be detrimental to memory.

The other big big change for Mint is that now, upon deciding to do a hard drive install, one is now presented with the option of upgrading to the DVD edition of Mint.  This includes all the goodies that have to be missing from the Mint editions that get distributed in the USA and Japan due to patents and copyrights etc.  So now no one has to miss out on the full issue of Linux Mint.  This is something I can take advantage of myself.

Other nice improvements include changes to the Update Manager, which now comes with an ‘ignore list’ and now tells the size of individual updates.  The upload manager, which also remained untested by me as I have no use for it, went through some minor changes as well, including the ability to run in the background and it’s looks now mirror the download box in Firefox.  Additionally, the Software Manager is faster, which was nice..although not as noticeable as the speed increase was on Isadora lol.

As for aesthetics, I liked the look of Linux Mint (I always do) but as far as the artwork is concerned, I have to say none of the hired artists have done work to surpass that of some of the long time community members.  In future releases I would like to see artwork by Linux Minters again.   The brushed metal look is good though.   Everything I tested worked just fine, as expected from the Mint team.  Wireless and DSL connections fine, as well as all the apps were all in perfect working condition.  As usual, I give high marks to Linux Mint, an A- for performance and an A- for looks.  Great job to the Mint team!

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!

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

Linux Mint 6

Posted: December 31, 2008 in OS Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have been quite busy lately transferring my website to a new host, one that will actually be up and running most of the time!  (yeah, grrr is the word for those of you with similar experiences)  Additionally, I wanted a blog and website integrated, so I have transferred my Angelfire website to Weebly, a nice little beta host that has very promising features and so easy, a cavema…oh, I shouldn’t go there…

So, how about that Linux Mint 6?  The latest release of Clem and the gang is codenamed Felicia, a nice elegant name for a nice elegant OS.  Of course, I have a minty bias but on the whole I have just not found a better OS for my needs.  I am often far too busy doing insane things online (see above) that I don’t have time to manage my operating system as well.  I find that with Linux Mint (in general) I don’t have to take my focus away from my work in order to “figure stuff out.”

Again, with Felicia, the same standard has applied.  In this installation of Linux Mint, I have noticed (to my utter delight–I am doing a happy dance right now) that I am not having the usual Flash Player issues as I usually am.  As a matter of fact, when I first installed Mint 6, I downloaded Opera (<—seriously the best browser out there) and opened it up to discover the Flash Player worked right off the bat!  Ever since I had started with Linux, I had been having issues getting the flash to play with Opera nicely.  Then imagine my chagrin when I opened Firefox to discover the Flash Player was NOT working!! lol..after a while of failed attempts, I actually removed Firefox completely and then reinstalled it from the Software Portal.  That solved that problem so now I have a working Flash Player in all three of my browsers (I hear angels singing as I write this)

Another thing that makes me happy in Felicia is a configurable firewall application in the menu as well as mintNanny, a very basic “parental control” center that can block certain websites from being viewed by the kiddies.

The other really big change in this edition of Mint is the software manager.  Opening the software manager gives one access to the software portal, which is still present and also a place from which software can be downloaded and installed in the mint repos.  This is a great idea…in theory.  In actuality, the software manager takes just this side of forever to load the list (why I have no idea) so I don’t ever use it except to access the software portal.

On the upside, I have discovered, to my delight that Rhythmbox does not, in fact, suck.  For whatever reason, this version of Rhythmbox is working flawlessly as it never has on any version of Linux I have had.  I am now happy to recommend it as a useful application.

There are now separate icons for logging out and shutting down and when I shut down, wow, is that fast!  No more hangs, lags or drags on that score!  About 3 seconds is what I figure it took to shut down Mint.

Giver is a new app for fast and easy file sharing.

The Avant Window Navigator (also known as AWN and “that amazing dock thingie”) now comes out of the box with applets..no more trying to add the repo!  Good news for the “terminally challenged” such as myself.

All in all, this version of Linux Mint is yet another great distro that just keeps improving with age.

As a later edited note, I have noticed that as once again, I forgot and copied text from one browser and tried to paste it into another that it actually worked this time..is this Mint’s doing?  If so, thank you a million times over!!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Simply put, I liked SimplyMEPIS (although typing that is a pain!)  You see, when I did the original review I posted it to my website.  Well, turns out that the webhost I was using was crap and I had to move my website..unfortunately the last 4 reviews weren’t updated..yes, I suck, to the extreme.  So I had to write those over again, which was fine as I had 3 of them already done on here (thanks to whatever gods, fates, or wood sprites that are listening) so I just have to redo the SimplyMEPIS one.  As I no longer have access to that distro, here goes the crappiness that is this review based on my sorry ability to remember details.

First, I remember it was super-fast to load from the live CD..I always love that.  Then I remember logging in, which sorry I find ridiculous on a live CD.  I come to a really pretty and classy desktop which is KDE.  Hmm, interesting..a Debian based distro with a KDE desktop..lol..okay, it’s different but it works just fine.

I had no problems with stability, internet detection or any of the apps.  I remember that there wasn’t anything that I hated about it. Mostly I remember it was fast.  Ugh, this is not going to be one of my more impressive reviews…