Saturday, November 30, 2013

OpenMandriva Lx 2013.0 Review: Looks awesome but needs to improve functionality and performance

I have been following OpenMandriva for quite sometime, occasionally testing their release candidate distros as well. For those who are not aware of the latest Mandriva spin on the block, OpenMandriva distribution is a full-featured Linux desktop and server, sponsored by the OpenMandriva Association. It is based on ROSA, a Russian Mandriva fork, and hence, the look and feel of OpenMandriva is too similar to ROSA. With Mandriva dead, OpenMandriva joins three of my favorite distros, PCLinuxOS, Mageia and ROSA, as the surviving Mandriva spins. The formal release of OpenMandriva came out on 22 Nov 2013 and like any other Linux enthusiast, I seriously wanted to give it a try.

From OpenMandriva Lx 2013.0
I download the 1.6 GB 64-bit ISO for this review. I created a live USB using Linux Mint ImageWriter (works with more distros than Unetbootin), did a live boot and installed it on my favorite two machines:

  • Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics
  • Asus K54C laptop 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics

I wanted to check the performance of the distro in both hybrid and single graphic card environment. Hence, the dual machine. Further, I installed it in virtualbox to record the installation process.

OpenMandriva is forked from Mandriva and ships with KDE 4.11.2, Linux kernel 3.11.8 and Dolphin 4.11.2 as file manager. Like ROSA, OpenMandriva too ships with the most modern but stable Linux software. Next I take you through step by step my experience of using OpenMandriva for a week.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

OpenSUSE 13.1 KDE Review: Very refined and functional!

I have been wanting to review OpenSUSE for quite sometime but somehow lost interest in OpenSUSE last year. However, with the release of OpenSUSE 12.3, my interest in OpenSUSE was back but I didn't get much time to critically review it. So, I was eagerly waiting for the 13.1 release to come out. Now after having used 13.1 for around a couple of weeks, I am finally penning down my review. Why a couple of weeks of wait for OpenSUSE? Because I have become quite an expert in Ubuntu and Arch Linux spins but my knowledge was pretty limited as far as OpenSUSE is concerned. So, it took a bit of my time to learn and then critically evaluate this distro.
From OpenSUSE 13.1

For this review, I downloaded the 4.1 GB 32-bit and 4.3 GB 64-bit ISOs which come with both GNOME 3 and KDE desktop along with a whole lot of application. I downloaded both as I wanted to install the 64 bit version to my production laptop. For this test, I used a couple of machines:

  • Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Intel Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M 2 GB graphics
  • Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Intel Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics

The first one is my production laptop and after using Debian and Ubuntu derivatives for the last 3 years on it, I wanted a change. The second one is on which I record the RAM / CPU usage for comparison purposes.

OpenSUSE has a 900 MB live ISO as well for both GNOME and KDE desktop. I chose the heavier DVD as I wanted to see what extra it gives over the lighter version. Anyway, I used Linux Mint Imagewriter and an 8 GB pendrive to create a live USB of OpenSUSE. I didn't try out Unetbootin and not sure how OpenSUSE works with Unetbootin. Anyway, Mint Imagewriter is derived from OpenSUSE Imagewriter and I hoped it would work with OpenSUSE. And it worked really well.

I tried out the KDE platform and not the GNOME one. OpenSUSE 13.1 ships with KDE 4.11.2 and Linux kernel 3.11.6. Dolphin 4.11.2 is the default file manager.

Read more!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pear OS 8 "Rocha" Review: Very very elegant!

I have been following Pear Linux/OS for quite sometime. In fact, in between, I used Pear OS 6, the LTS one, as my main production distro for quite sometime last year. Pear OS intrigues me primarily because of it's striking resemblance to Mac OS X and inherent simplicity of the controls. Pear OS 8, based on Ubuntu 13.04 or Ubuntu Raring Ringtail, is the latest release from their stable. Unfortunately this release comes a bit late with the Ubuntu Raring already 6+ months old and Ubuntu Saucy (the latest version) already released. So, my basic interest was how the latest release of Pear OS fare against the previous LTS release: Pear OS 6 with support till April 2017.

From Pear OS 8
Pear OS 8 release states the following incremental improvements:
  • New refreshing design with an intuitive and powerful desktop environment
  • No unnecessary programs or trial software to slow things down
  • Pear Cloud to share files across platforms
  • Utility software like MyPear 6, Clean My Pear 2, etc. to provide easy customization options for users
I downloaded the 1 GB 32-bit ISO for this test, created a live USB using Unetbootin. I used a couple of laptops for this test:
  • Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM & Intel HD 3000 128 MB graphic memory
  • Asus K55VM with 2.8 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM & Nvidia GEFORCE 2 GB graphic card
I did a live boot on both the laptops and then installed Pear OS 8. The primary reason for installing in a couple of laptops is that throughout 2012-13, I used Asus K54C for testing the Linux distros and record benchmark performance. However, now with a lot of improvement going on as far as drivers for dedicated graphic cards are concerned, I intend to use Asus K55VM for all purposes in 2014. Hence, in the transition phase I am using both the laptops.

Pear OS 8 ships with tweaked GNOME 3.6.3 and Linux kernel 3.8.0. Nautilus 3.4.2. I expected Pear to migrate to the more modern Nautilus fork Files; anyway, both are one of the best file managers in business.

Read more!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ubuntu 13.10 "Saucy Salamander" Review and comparison: Ubuntu 13.10 vs Kubuntu 13.10 vs Xubuntu 13.10 vs Lubuntu 13.10 vs Ubuntu GNOME 13.10

Someone asked me yesterday that why I didn't review Ubuntu 13.10, the flagship OS of Canonical, though I reviewed all the other flavors. Well, there are a couple of reasons:

1. Except for Smart scopes and Nvidia support, there is not much difference with Ubuntu Raring
2. A lot of Linux experts wrote some high quality reviews of Ubuntu and I guess, I didn't have much to add.

So I thought of writing a different kind of review - a brief discussion about my experience with the new Ubuntu and a detailed comparison with Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME. I used a couple of machines for testing Ubuntu and other distros:
  • Asus K54C laptop (2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD 3000 graphics 128 MB)
  • Asus K55VM laptop (2.9 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, NVIDIA GEFORCE 630M 2 GB graphics
From Ubuntu 13.10
I generally prefer using my Asus K54C for Linux testing. But, of late, given the importance of Nvidia graphics (which generally comes with most of the modern systems), I am thinking to make my Asus K55VM as the primary machine to test Linux distros. Hence, I start with Ubuntu 13.10 with the new laptop. Though still I'll be using 32-bit OS but in 2014 I have decided to totally shift to 64-bit OS, keeping with the changing times.

Read more!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Voyager Live 13.10 Review: Ships with a lot of features - definitely the most impressive XFCE distro I've used!

As mentioned in my previous review on MakuluLinux, last one week I was busy in using MakuluLinux and Voyager Live as my primary distros. And I must say it has been an wonderful experience so far. Yesterday I penned down my review on MakuluLinux and today I am attempting to jot down my experience with Voyager.

From Voyager 13.10
Voyager Live is a French distro which combines Xubuntu with an aesthetically pleasing interface. I can put the words written about Voyager from Distrowatch: "Its features include the Avant Window Manager (AWN), Conky and over 300 photographs and animations that can be used as desktop backgrounds". The latest release from Voyager stable is a spin of Xubuntu 13.10. I downloaded the 32-bit ISO (~1 GB in size). Like Xubuntu, it ships with Linux kernel 3.11.0 and a customized XFCE 4.10 desktop.

I created a live USB of Voyager 13.10 using Unetbootin. Post live boot, I installed it on my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics.

Read more!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

MakuluLinux 4.2 Review: Refreshing all purpose Debian spin but has some minor bugs!

For last 4-5 days, I was busy in testing a couple of pretty good XFCE distros - MakuluLinux and Voyager 13.10. Actually I am bit tired of reviewing the established names in the Linux world - they come pretty much configured to work on commonly available systems and there is very little surprise in store. Of late, the new and relatively unknown distros seem more appealing to me due to a couple of reasons: A. they try to ship some additional elements over and above the established names, B. they are not as ready to use as the established distros and challenge a bit of my limited Linux knowledge to make them work.

Though neither Makulu, nor Voyager are in the B group, but both of them come across as exciting distros worth exploring in my test use. I start with Makulu Linux 4.2 with XFCE 4.10 desktop. In my next review I'll focus on Voyager 13.10.
From Makulu Linux 4.2

Actually I was not much aware of MakuluLinux before this review and hence, I thought a short introduction (from Distrowatch) deem necessary. MakuluLinux is a South African distro based on Debian testing branch and ships with most of the commonly used DEs like Cinnamon, KDE, GNOME, XFCE, Mate, etc. It includes pre-installed multimedia codecs, plugins, device drivers and software for everyday use. Makulu means "big" in Zulu language and it is amply evident with a big hippopotamus as their distro icon!

For this review I downloaded the 32-bit ISO (a whopping "big" 1.9 GB in size). I created a live USB using Unetbootin with a 4 GB USB drive. For this test, I used Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics. I did a live boot followed by installation on a 12 GB partition.

MakuluLinux is based on Debian testing ("Debian Jessie") and ships with Linux kernel 3.10.3 and XFCE 4.10. In the following sections, I'll discuss the interesting features of MakuluLinux that compelled me to write this review.

Read more!