Monday, September 30, 2013

SolydK 201309 Review: Rock-solid Debian spin offering KDE 4.11.1

Linux Mint has some serious competition it seems! SolydXK is gradually growing on me and like me, on many other devoted Linux users. This distro right now comes in KDE and XFCE versions and is a spin off from the Linux Mint Debian. LM Debian as of now has two desktop environments, Cinnamon and Mate, and no longer supports XFCE or KDE. That is where SolydXK contributes; more specifically providing users a simple and ready to use spin of Debian with all the qualities of Linux Mint. It is targeted towards small and medium enterprises and non-government organizations in addition to the home users.

From SolydK 201309
For last one week or so I was doing all my regular work on either SolydK or SolydX. I already published my review on SolydX and now it is turn of SolydK. The KDE spin is aimed towards more modern hardware and comes with lot more goodies than the XFCE spin. For this review I used the 32-bit SolydK 201309 release; with an ISO of 1.5 GB, my expectation was that it will come fully loaded and SolydK didn't disappoint. One good point is that the 32-bit I used has both pae and non-pae kernels - it works well with both 32 and 64 bit machines.

SolydK 201309 ships with KDE 4.11.1 and Linux kernel 3.10.2. In my previous experience with KDE 4.11 (OS4 and Kubuntu 12.04.3), I found it to be the most efficient KDE, if one recalls. For this review, I created a live USB using Unetbootin, booted it up on my Asus K54C (2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD 3000 graphics) followed by installation on the same laptop.
OpenSUSE theme on SolydK From SolydK 201309

Read more!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SolydX 201309 Review: Simple, effective and efficient, as good as Linux Mint!

All those users fretting over the demise of Mint Debian XFCE spin can now rejoice with SolydX. It aims to provide users a simple, stable and secured operating system and targeted to small businesses, non-profit organizations in addition to the home users. SolydX is based on Debian testing branch and hence, gets updated applications more quicker than Debian stable. I tested the earlier releases and was very happy with it. However, I didn't get time to pen down a review. So, here I am finally with a review of one of my favorite distros, SolydX, more specifically the 201309 release of the same.

From SolydX 2013.09
The present release of SolydX brings on the table XFCE 4.10 and Linux kernel 3.10.2. I downloaded the 1.1 GB 32-bit ISO and created a live USB using Unetbootin. Next, I booted it on my Asus K54C laptop (2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD graphics 3000), checked if everything worked fine and when satisfied, installed it on a 12 GB HDD partition.

Read more!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Zorin 6.4 "Educational" Review: Very good for Kids, Fun to use, but lags a bit behind for Graduate students

During post graduate education and doctoral studies I was relying primarily on Windows 2000 and Windows XP to write my thesis. I could recall the nights spent with Adobe Pagemaker, LaTeX and MS Word for writing dissertation, managing references and citations using EndNote and many other software which actually helped me a lot in my research work. Unfortunately those days I wasn't initiated to Linux and today I feel Linux could have helped me a lot better to finish my work faster. For example, once my Windows crashed and I lost about 3 months of work. Fortunately, I had backup of my research data.

With that context, it is not surprising that I check out a lot of the Linux distros which come with "Education" tag. I tried UberStudent 2 earlier this year and was very impressed by the developer's focus on post graduate students. Similarly, Edubuntu is another distro which impressed me a lot. However, majority of the so-called "Educational" distros I tried have little to offer in terms of aesthetics. In fact, quite a few of them look pretty ugly and/or boring.

The Zorin 6 "Educational" is an effort in that direction to combine an aesthetically pleasing interface to a host of educationally relevant software. Like Zorin 6 Core, it is based on Ubuntu 12.04.*, has an LTS focus (5 year support ending Apr'17) and comes with a tweaked GNOME 3.4 DE.

From Zorin 6.4 "Educational"
I checked out Zorin 6 Educational earlier but didn't get time to write a review. So, here I am with my review of Zorin 6.4 Educational - the latest update which brings in the goodness of Ubuntu 12.04.3 release. 

One point here: unlike Ubuntu 12.04.3, Zorin still comes with long term Linux kernel 3.2.0 and hence, may not work as good as Ubuntu LTS on machines with the latest Intel Haswell processors.

Zorin 6.4 Educational comes in two flavors: one, heavier with GNOME 3.4 and another "lite" version with LXDE desktop. For this review, I used the GNOME one.

I first created a live USB of 32-bit Zorin 6.4 "Educational" ISO (~2 GB in size and with GNOME 3.4) using Unetbootin. Then I did a live boot followed by installation on my Asus K54C with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor and 2 GB RAM. I have only proprietary Intel graphics and hence, didn't have to worry of installing Bumblebee or AMD Radeon specific drivers. Installation is pretty simple - for details please refer my Zorin 7 review.

Read more!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Antergos 2013.08.20 GNOME Review: Most efficient GNOME 3.8 Distro I have used

Antergos started life in 2012 as Cinnarch, offering Cinnamon desktop with Arch Linux. It changed to Antergos after the developers opted for GNOME 3 as the default desktop and retained Cinnamon along with Openbox, Razor-qt and XFCE as the other DEs in offer. It has the same rolling release development model as the parent Arch Linux. Given I never liked Cinnamon, I didn't try out Cinnarch.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
An opportunity came this week when one of my friends bought a Lenovo Essential B490 laptop with the following specs
Laptop: Lenovo Essential B490
Processor: Core i5 (3rd gen.), 2.6 Ghz, Cache 3 MB
HDD: 500 GB, 7200 RPM
System Architecture: 64-bit

It didn't had any OS when my friend bought it. He wanted me to install Windows 7 (64-bit) along with a GNOME 3 Linux OS. He previously was using Ubuntu GNOME that I installed on his another laptop. These days I have developed more liking for Arch Linux over my long time favorite Debian/Ubuntu based distros. So among other GNOME 3 based distros to experiment with, I chose Antergos, whose latest release came on 20th August 2013.

The release note of Antergos 2013.08.20 states of a lot about the Openbox spin, may be I'll check it some other time. This time my focus was on GNOME.
We are glad to announce the release of Antergos 2013.08.20 with a lot of improvements in the installation process for you to enjoy your system from the start. This new release comes after several months' working mostly on our graphical installer Cnchi and on Remendo. Openbox has been included as an option to be installed along with GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, Razor-qt or Base. You will end up with a lightweight desktop, while having up to date software. The software included with Openbox was chosen to be in the line of the Openbox spirit.
Before installing on my friend's laptop, I tried it out on my Asus K54C with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor & 2 GB DDR3 RAM laptop. I created a live USB of Antergos 32-bit ISO with Unetbootin. The live USB worked after making one change - the sysconfig.cfg file requires to be replaced, as instructed in the Arch wiki.

The distro booted up nicely on my Asus K54C with GNOME 3.8 desktop. Post live boot I did installation on a 12 GB HDD partition. Antergos 2013.08.20 ships with Linux kernel 3.10.0 and GNOME 3.8.4. Files 3.8.4 is the default file manager.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Manjaro 0.8.7 "Ascella" XFCE Review: Superb performance with professional looks!

Post Fuduntu, for last 3 months, I was searching for a suitable distro for my
Asus EeePC 1101HA with the following specs:

Processor: Intel Atom Z520 1.33 Ghz
Chipset: Intel US15W
RAM: 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM, 667 Mhz, PC-2 5300
Hard disk: 160 GB
Display: 11.6 in., LED backlight, 1366x768 HD resolution
Graphic Processor: Intel GMA 500

Manjaro XFCE on Asus EeePC 1101HA From Manjaro 0.8.7 XFCE
When I bought the machine in 2009, it had WinXP as the only OS. But, with time my interest in Linux increased and first it became dual boot with Ubuntu 11.04 (had a tough time in getting HD display, I recall, because there was no pre-installed Intel GMA 500 support); then finally it was Linux only with Fuduntu running on it for a couple of years. With the news coming out about Fuduntu's demise, I tried several other OS.

My netbook is too weak for GNOME3 or KDE4 - so I didn't try. I tried primarily LXDE and XFCE distros. I checked Lubuntu 12.04 first but flash videos and movie files would play real bad in it. Next I tried Mint, Zorin Lite and then Debian 7 LXDE. In the first two VLC didn't work that well with movie files whereas in Debian 7, everything worked awesome except for battery life. In Fuduntu, my netbook's 6 cell battery would last 5 hours of watching movies, browsing net, etc. In Debian 7 LXDE, battery would run out in an hour! Post that, I tried Archlinux as well with some success but the audio never got going.

Read more!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kubuntu 12.04.3 Review: Good but AWESOME with KDE 4.11

Kubuntu 12.04 LTS received a new update a couple of weeks ago and I have been using it for last two weeks. I installed it on a partition in my Asus K54C laptop with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor and 2 GB RAM. There is no separate graphic card option in this machine except Intel proprietary graphic card which came along with it.

The latest update came with some significant changes like drivers for the new Haswell processors, out of the box support for NVIDIA and AMD Raedon graphic cards, and a lot of bug fixes. However, unlike Ubuntu 12.04.3, updated Linux kernel 3.8.0 is not available to Kubuntu LTS yet - still running on LTS kernel 3.2.0. Unfortunately I don't have any laptop beyond Ivy Bridge and hence could check Kubuntu's latest update on systems with the most recent Haswell processors. Otherwise, in this write up I take you through my experience of Kubuntu for about 10 days.

From Kubuntu 12.04.3
Kubuntu 12.04.3 32-bit ISO is about 738 MB in size and I did a live boot followed by installation to my Asus K54C for this review. By default, it ships with KDE 4.8.5, which is still the stable release of KDE. It worked well but I decided to install KDE 4.11. My previous experience with KDE 4.11 in OS4 OpenLinux was really fantastic and I wanted to try it out in Kubuntu as well.

Read more!