Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hanthana 19.0 Review: Sri Lankan spiced up Fedora, has some bugs but quite good in overall

The prime issue that I faced while migrating to Fedora from Ubuntu was the complexity involved in installation of proprietary codecs and flash plugins. Hanthana Linux is a step in that direction to provide new users a ready to use Fedora OS with all plugins and codecs along with a whole lot of applications. The concept is not novel though - Korora (formerly Kororaa) has both KDE and GNOME 3 spins on a similar concept.

From Hanthana 19.0
For this test, I downloaded the bulky 4 GB 32-bit ISO and created a bootable DVD. Neither Unetbootin, nor Fedora live usb creator worked even on an 8 GB pen drive. Anyway, the DVD is RW and I can utilize it for other purposes as well.So, no issues from my side.

Hanthana 19.0 is based on Fedora 19.0 and ships with GNOME 3.8.4 and Linux kernel 3.11.2. I used my Asus K54C (2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR RAM, Intel HD 3000 graphics) for this purpose. First I did a live boot from the DVD and then installed it on a 20 GB partition.

Hanthana ships with stock GNOME 3.8 with a nice wallpaper symbolizing Sri Lanka. Though GNOME 3 has improved a lot with the present release but still searching applications in the dash is not user friendly. Specially when a distro like Hanthana ships with so many applications. Possibly Unity's dash is a better bet; Unity's dash categorizes applications into different classes. 

From Hanthana 19.0
Hanthana comes with quite a few other catchy wallpapers as well. I tried decorating the desktop a bit by changing the wallpaper and a conky-lua.

From Hanthana 19.0
Hardware recognition
Hardware recognition is good with Wifi, LAN, sound card, screen resolution, etc. properly recognized. It also detected my touchpad but I had to manually change the settings to enable single/double tap.

Hanthana Linux ships with a lot of pre-installed applications, including some KDE apps as well, namely:
From Hanthana 19.0
  • Office: LibreOffice Calc, Writer, Impress, Draw, Dictionary, Document viewer, Expendable, GnuCash, HomeBank, Kile, LyX, PDF-Shuffler, Project Management, StarDict
  • Internet: Evolution Mail client, ChatZilla, Ekiga Softphone, Empathy IM, FileZilaa, Firefox 24, Google Chrome 29, Kerberos Authentication, Konqueror, Liferea, Net Activity Viewer, Pigdin IM, Remote Desktop Viewer, Skype, Teamviewer 7, Thunderbird, TigerrVNC Viewer, Transmission, Xchat
  • Graphics: Blender, CinePaint, CMYKTool, Darktable, Dia Diagram Editor, Entangle, FontForge, Font Manager, FreeCAD, GIMP 2.8.6, Gpick, Hugin Batch Processor, Hugin Calibrate Lens, Hugin Panorama Creator, Image Viewer, Inkscape, MyPaint, Papagayo, Pencil 2D, Scribus, Shotwell Photo Manager, Simple Scan, SolarModel, Specimen Font Previewer, Synfig Studio, Tux Paint, Xpdf PDF Viewer, Xsane
  • Multimedia: Amarok music player, AMZ Downloader, Audacity, Bombono DVD, Brasero, Cheese, Etoys, GNOME Mplayer, gPodder Podcast Cleint, K3b, Kdenlive, Pitivi Video Editor, PulseCaster, Rhythmbox music player, Videos, VLC Media Player 2.0.8
  • Accessories: Archive Manager, Calculator, Clipit, Clocks, Emacs, Gedit, Kerberos Authentication, Leafpad, Notes, Okteta, Screenshot, StarDict, Unit Convertor, Wammu, Xarchiver, Xournal, Xpad, Bulk rename, Fedora Live USB Creator, Gigolo, Gparted, Guake Terminal,, Hardware Lister, HTTP, K3b, Nepomuk Backup & Cleaner, Phone Manager, SELinux Policy Generation Tool, Terminal, Virtual Machine Manager, Bootloader, Firewall, Print Settings, Samba, Yum Extender
  • Educational: Blinken, Cantor, Childsplay, Dr.Geo, FreeCAD, Gcompris Educational Suite, GL Globe Simulator, GNU Octave, Kalgebra, Kalgebra Mobile, Kalzium, Kanagram, Kbruch, Kgeography, KhangMan, Kig, Kiten, Klettres, KmPlot, Kstars, Ktouch, Kturtle, Kwordquiz, Pairs, Pairs Theme Editor, Parlay, Rocs, Scilab, Scrinotes, SolarModel, Stellarium, Step, Sugar, Tux Math, Tux Paint, Xcos
As the list shows, Hanthana has plenty of applications - almost the entire Fedora and RPMfusion repositories packaged in that 4 GB plus ISO. But, the application choice is not intelligent and they could have done away with at least 10% of the applications. Isn't Firefox and Google Chrome enough? I don't think there is a need for Konqueror. Similarly, isn't VLC good enough? Why Gnome Mplayer or Videos? Empathy & Pidgin together? Evolution & Thunderbird together? Anyway, a more judicious approach is, perhaps, recommended.

Moreover, user's life is complicated by the GNOME 3.8.4 where locating an application may be quite tough. I prefer more simple menu where I have clear-cut categories to browse. I installed LXDE desktop on Hanthana and it is more user friendly, thereby giving me better results.

On the brighter side, Hanthana ships pre-installed some good features which may take actually days for the user to make, like:
Installation took about 30 min of time and a bit of more time than Fedora 19 (using the same Anaconda installer) given the bulky size of the distro. The steps are usual and should not pose any difficulty for even new users.
From Hanthana 19.0
From Hanthana 19.0
From Hanthana 19.0
From Hanthana 19.0
From Hanthana 19.0
From Hanthana 19.0

Post installation issues in updating the distro
I ran into issues while updating it for the first time. On a deeper probe I found out that the Google Chrome repository could not be reached and hence, the issue. It won't even allow me to install applications. So, I started the Software manager, clicked on the repositories and unchecked the Google Chrome source link. Once saved, now things worked perfectly.
From Hanthana 19.0

Hanthana Linux presents an interesting mix of Fedora and RPMfusion along with other third party repositories.
From Hanthana 19.0
Software manager is the default GUI and it nicely categorizes applications into different classes and is quite easy to operate. A search option is there as well at the top for the experienced users to locate and install specific application names.

From Hanthana 19.0
Otherwise, Yum Extender is there to install applications using Yum package manager. Yum extender works faster than Software manager.
From Hanthana 19.0
Applications can be downloaded using the command via terminal, as well:

sudo yum install <pkg_name>

I did not have many applications to download as Hanthana provides almost all the applications that I regularly use. Only thing I did was to download conky and a lightweight desktop environment as GNOME 3.8.4 seems to be a tad bit heavy for my Asus K54C. I downloaded LXDE from the repos by running the command:
sudo yum install lxde-desktop

LXDE worked much better than GNOME 3.8.4 on the machine. I guess LXDE is more user-friendly as well if I compare to GNOME. The black shadow in the gif below is due to me not enabling compiz. Kindly ignore it.
From Hanthana 19.0

Possibly because the OS is quite loaded with applications, I didn't get as good a performance I was expecting from Hanthana. At steady state, the 32-bit OS consumed about 335 MB RAM and 1-10% CPU. If I compare to the relevant GNOME 3 distros, Hanthana's performance is at best mediocre and there are better GNOME 3.8 distros available in the Linux world, solely based on performance.

Operating System Size of ISO Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU Usage RAM usage Size of installation
Zorin OS 7 1.5 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 3.8.0 1-10% 195 MB 4.0 GB
Antergos 2013.08.20 671 MB Arch GNOME 3.8.4 '3.10.0 1-10% 207 MB 3.6 GB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS 693 MB Ubuntu Unity 5 3.5.0 1-10% 230 MB
Pear OS 6 862 MB Ubuntu Pear Aurora 1.0.5 3.2.0 1-5% 235 MB
ROSA 2012 Fresh Gnome 1.1 GB Mandriva Gnome 3.6.2 3.6.10 1-10% 235 MB
Linux Deepin 12.12.1 1.2 GB Ubuntu GNOME 3.8 3.8.0 1-10% 240 MB 4.0 GB
Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS 741 MB Ubuntu Unity 5.20.0 3.8.0 1-10% 250 MB 3.06 GB
Elementary OS Beta 1 651 MB Ubuntu Pantheon 3.2.0 1-5% 270 MB
LuninuX 12.10 1500 MB Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 with Docky 3.5.0 1-5% 280 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 730 MB Ubuntu Unity 5 3.2.0 1-10% 280 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome 1 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.8 3.8.0 1-10% 280 MB
Zorin 6.4 Educational 2 GB Ubuntu GNOME 3.4.2 3.2.0 1-10% 285 MB 5.6 GB
Fedora 19 GNOME 964 MB Fedora GNOME 3.8 3.9.8 1-10% 297 MB 3.28 GB
Zorin 6 Core 1.4 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-10% 300 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome 704 MB OpenSUSE Gnome 3.4.2 3.4.6 1-10% 310 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 835 MB Ubuntu Unity 7 3.8.0 1-10% 320 MB 4.98 GB
Pinguy OS 12.04 1.8 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-5% 325 MB
Hanthana Linux 19 4.4 GB Fedora GNOME 3.8.4 3.11.2 1-10% 335 MB 11.74 GB
Sabayon 13.08 GNOME 1.8 GB Gentoo GNOME 3.8.3 3.10.0 1-10% 363 MB 6.13 GB
Ubuntu 12.10 790 MB Ubuntu Unity 6 3.5.0 1-10% 412 MB

Given the bulky size of the ISO, Hanthana occupied about 12 GB of HDD space. It is way higher than other comparable GNOME distros; but other distros didn't provide even 1/3rd of the applications that are there in Hanthana.

Hanthana Linux definitely has potential. Ubuntu has Ultimate Edition for users who like to have every possible application. Similarly, Hanthana can be referred to as the Ultimate Edition for Fedora Linux. The present edition has bugs like not working with Unetbootin or Fedora USB creator, repos not updating properly, etc. to name a few. Further, it feels a bit heavy to use. Possibly the developers can take care of these things easily. Even I feel a lightweight DE like XFCE or LXDE as an option with GNOME 3 will be good for the users. I installed LXDE in Hanthana and it performed really well. Further, there is issue with positioning the distro. It is right now positioned as an all purpose distro but can well be positioned as an "Educational" distro. It ships more educational applications that Zorin or Edubuntu.

As far as positives of Hanthana are concerned, no need to search for multimedia codecs or flashplugins in RPM fusion repos, they are all configured in Hanthana Linux. Google Chrome, Skype, Teamviewer 7, etc. are all configured and pre-installed in the distro. Once you install Hanthana, it is like installing the entire Fedora and RPMfusion repos! 

Definitely I'll be looking for the future releases of Hanthana though I may not be installing it right now for production purposes. You can get the 32 and 64 bit installation images from here.



    1. Please download it from the link provided in the last line of my article.

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  2. Way to put Hanthana on the map. I really like the LXDE spin and am using the Yum Extender in Live mode until I get this Distro installed. For me it only requires a handful of packages: I must have Gnumeric, Abiword, Thunderbird, Audacious, and just a few others, maybe. This has the right feel, nothing fancy, just works. Have you tried OpenLX Desktop.? My download of it keeps failing. It is KDE, a departure from my favorite LXDE and Xfce spins. A new Windows machine used to be responsive like these, but not after updates and software additions.

  3. Bravo for your efforts. I use version 17, gnome 3 and lxde from DVD and CD, respectively and find this distro fun and comfortable to use. Have you tried OpenMandriva LX 2014 Distribution Release?Please review if you get a chance. It is my second favorite kde distro behind Netrunner 14. All the Netrunners have been productive, in my opinion.We Windows converts are given many attractive choices. Time and effort are well spent gaining access to Windows alternatives, either Live from CD/DVD, installed to HD, or installed to USB. Many computer-users miss out, but we Linux lovers try to make up for that. In a pinch I will reluctantly boot into Windows 7, but Linux is the new normal.