Thursday, July 25, 2013

antiX 13.1 "Luddite" Review: Superb lightweight OS with blazing fast speed and offering full functionalities

Somehow I was never very comfortable with so called "lightweight" distros primarily because of the very limited functionalities they offer. I have tried out Slitaz, Puppy Linux, MacPup, etc. to name a few and finally settled for Openbox distros like Manjaro openbox, Archbang, Crunchbang, Sparkylinux, etc. In between, I tried e17 distros like Bodhi and Snowlinux as well. Actually all these were for a HP Pentium-IV PC with 1.5 GB RAM that I have. On that system, on conventional DEs like LXDE/XFCE, I face issues while watching movies and playing online videos in YouTube - things tend to drag a lot! Right now it has Manjaro Openbox Lite which works fantastic on it. Alongside, I was also looking for a system with more conventional DE and antiX's name popped into my mind while browsing through Distrowatch top 100 list.

From antiX 13.1
Before directly jumping on to my tests and results, a brief intro of antiX. AntiX is a Debian based distro with both 32 and 64 bit releases. It primarily bases it's repo on Debian testing though stable (Debian wheezy) is also available. antiX offers users it's own customized desktop environment "antiX magic" suitable for old computers. It claims to run well even on PII/PIII systems with 128 MB RAM. The latest release of antiX is 13.1, based on Debian Wheezy. It's release note states:
"The antiX team is pleased to announce the first update of antiX 13 (code name 'Luddite'), based on Debian 'Wheezy'. This update includes those made upstream in Debian 'Wheezy' and various bug fixes specific to antiX: 64-bit kernel recompiled so non-free drivers will build in 'Wheezy'; 64-bit alert message when booting 32-bit ISO image fixed; 'ghost' window fix in IceWM; GUI installer should write correct GRUB entries for any other installed OS; GUI installer should set correct keyboard; more options to enable and disable services at boot; added cdw and Calcurse to IceWM menu; fixed missing icons from IceWM menu; Gufw firewall configuration fixed....
I downloaded the 32-bit full ISO, about 675 MB in size, not a typical of lightweight distro, I must say. I created a live USB from it, using Unetbootin. For live boot and installation, I used a couple of systems:
  • HP Pentium IV 2.2 Ghz single core personal computer with 1.5 GB DDR RAM and 512 kb Intel graphics (from 2003, used to be state of the art then!)
  • Asus K54C laptop with Core-i3 2.2 Ghz processor and 2 GB RAM
antiX Linux comes with lightweight desktop environments like icewm, jwm and fluxbox. It has Linux kernel 3.7.10 and a couple of file managers, Rox Filer and SpaceFM 0.8.7.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Installing AMD Radeon drivers in Linux: Example from HP 4331s with Ubuntu/Netrunner

Last week, I tested Netrunner on HP 4431s Pro-book laptop (2.3 Ghz 2nd Gen. Ci3, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB Hard drive, Windows 7, 1 GB AMD Radeon HD 7470M graphic processor). This laptop belonged to my friend and he came to me to resolve a couple of issues:
  • Virus/Malware problem and slowing down of Windows 7 - the antivirus software installed could not remove, neither it could be deleted manually.
  • Heating issue: possibly proprietary drivers were not installed in Win7 and hence, the excessive heat.
So, I went ahead with installing Netrunner 13.06 on the machine.

From Netrunner 13.06

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Netrunner 13.06 "Enigma" KDE Review: With Firefox Market place, web apps and a whole lot of goodies!

I have been thinking of writing a review of Netrunner for quite sometime. I missed out when 12.12 was released. Further, I downloaded the 64-bit Netrunner 13.06 for two weeks or so testing it out, thinking of writing a review later. But, an opportunity came this weekend. Before actually jumping on to the test, an introduction to those who are not aware of Netrunner. 

From Netrunner 13.06

Netrunner comes from the same stable as the much acclaimed Linux Mint and Kubuntu - the Blue Systems is the sponsor of all three distros. It is built on Kubuntu with default integration of Gnome and Wine (though Wine dropped in the present release!) to offer users powerful customization, high functionality and an attractive interface. Plus, all the goodness of Ubuntu. The release note of Netrunner 13.06 states:
"The 64-bit and 32-bit variants of Netrunner 13.06 are available for download. Features and changes: new Netrunner desktop containment (no cashew, hidden plus/minus overlays); improved KWin performance, so full transparency works on most lower-end machines; new Kate minimap scrollbar; automatically activated KWallet; hot corner in lower right; simplified system settings; removed WINE (due to increased irrelevance); ALSA instead of PulseAudio for best compatibility and performance (intel hda); Firefox with (working) Mozilla app store; Steam installer link included; usual KDE goodies - Homerun 1.0, Tomahawk 0.7.
Normally I download 32-bit versions of most of the distros. However, for Netrunner, I could not even after repeated attempts. Hence, I had to download the 1.4 GB 64 bit ISO (my laptop is 64 bit, but 32-bit with pae kernel works really well on it consuming lower RAM and even a lot of the apps I use like Skype, Adobe Acrobat Reader, etc. comes for 32-bit Linux). 

Netrunner 13.06 has KDE 4.10.3 as the default desktop with Linux kernel 3.8.0 and Dolphin 2.2 as the file manager. Post installation, it got updated to KDE 4.10.4.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" XFCE Review: Mint does it again, another exceptional XFCE release!

If I think of any distro which just works without any issue month after month, year after year, it is got to be Linux Mint. I am using Linux Mint 13 XFCE (with LTS support) on my netbook and it's been a trouble free 1.5 years - with absolutely no issue. Everything just working as it should work and I keep it on most of days at night to download Linux distros or movies - no heating problem till date. Linux Mint 13 XFCE was and still is so amazingly efficient!

With that prelude, I thought of writing a review based on my experience. I have been using Mint 15 XFCE for a week before the final release. It is installed in my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM. It's experience ranks actually better than my experience with Mint 13 XFCE, primarily because of the exciting new features.
From Linux Mint 15 XFCE

The release notes of Linux Mint 15 XFCE states:
"The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 15 'Olivia' Xfce. The highlight of this edition is the lightweight Xfce 4.10 desktop. Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment which aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. It embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment. The default menu used in this edition is Whisker which features quick access to your favorite applications, categories, system shortcuts, recent documents and recently used applications."
The 32-bit ISO which I downloaded is about 992 MB. I created a live USB using Unetbootin to first live boot and then install in my laptop. Mint 15 XFCE comes with XFCE 4.10 and Linux kernel 3.8.0-25. Thunar 1.6.2 is the default file manager.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fedora 19 Review: Not flashy but very dependable, KDE being the best of the lot!

2013 has been an exceptional year in a sense that Ubuntu, Fedora and Debian, the three major Linux distros, had their releases this year. Debian 7 finally got released, Ubuntu came up with a better Unity along with more social integration and it is now turn of Fedora to showcase it's latest offering. I was really interested to know Fedora 19 - whether the latest Fedora is able to live up to the other two illustrious counterparts plus what's brewing in RHEL stable.

From Fedora 19
With the Fedora 19 release note coming out on 2-July-2013, I was quick to download the 32-bit versions of all available variants - KDE, GNOME, XFCE and LXDE. The release note states of incremental improvements for developers, like:
"The Fedora Project is delighted to announce the release of Fedora 19. What's new? Developer's Assistant is a tool for new developers that helps you to get started on a code project by offering templates, samples, and toolchains for a variety of languages; 3D modelling and printing are supported with OpenSCAD, Skeinforge, SFACT, Printrun, RepetierHost, and other tool options; OpenShift Origin makes it easy for you to build your own Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) infrastructure; MariaDB offers a truly open MySQL implementation and is now the default MySQL option in Fedora...."
I am no developers and my review is from an ordinary Linux user perspective. I first created live USB using Unetbootin for all the variants and then installed each of them in my Asus K54C with Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM, one by one. I tested each, for a day or two, for this review. Fedora 19 has Linux kernel 3.9.5, which gets upgraded to 3.9.8 post installation. Major differences between them are the desktop environments and some applications (e.g. LXDE was loaded with primarily lightweight applications), with essentially the basic structure remaining the same. The DEs used in Fedora 19 are:
  • GNOME 3.8 with Files 3.8.2 as file manager
  • KDE 4.10.4 with Dolphin 2.2 as file manager
  • XFCE 4.10 with Thunar 1.6.3 as file manager
  • LXDE with PCManFM 1.1.0 as file manager

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