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Review of Kubuntu 7.04 Beta April 7, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
2 comments

Kubuntu is one of the biggest KDE-based distributions out there right now. And it has a reason to be. Beautiful, powerful, easy-to-use, and easy to install are just a few things that come to mind. I tested out the latest beta, 7.04 Feisty Fawn, scheduled to ship on April 19th. Here’s what I found:

Programs

Feisty adds a few more programs. Kexi replaces OpenOffice.org Database, SCIM is added, as is the HPLIP Printer Toolbox and a “Report a problem” icon. There’s also a few new tray applets: one, called KNetworkManager, monitors your network connection, another, Kate Session Menu, opens Kate with specified sessions, and a third, Runaway Process Catcher, detects and ends broken processes. digiKam has been updated to 0.9.1. Also, the Quick Launcher applet has been updated, taking up less room and using smaller icons. Topic Based Help has also been added for the first time. But most important is the Kubuntu Distribution Upgrade Tool, which seamlessly upgrades Edgy Eft (the previous version) to Feisty.

As before, it is easy to add and remove programs using the Add/Remove app, Adept Manager, apt, and aptitude.

GUI

Kubuntu Feisty is basically identical to Edgy, but that’s fine. The Crystal window decoration is possibly (if not certainly) the best looking one for KDE. And I’ve always thought KDE was more elegant than GNOME.

Minimal Requirements

No word on these yet, but it’s safe to assume they’ll be close to the Edgy requirements. That is:

  • CDs require 700MB media
  • Desktop install requires at least 256MB of RAM and 3GB of available hard drive space
  • Server install requires at least 64MB of RAM and 500MB of available hard drive space

Personally for me, the desktop (Live CD and all) worked fine in a VM with 256 MB of RAM.

Installation

If you’ve ever used Kubuntu’s (or any *buntu’s) installer before, you won’t be disappointed. There’s really no difference, which is a good thing. The installation wasn’t as fast as Freespire’s on the same amount of RAM, but that’s probably because Kubuntu installed while running the desktop while Freespire didn’t.

Verdict

A small upgrade from Edgy. The Kubuntu Distribution Upgrade Tool is very nice. Besides that, there isn’t a huge noticeable difference. However, don’t let that fool you. Feisty will be a powerful operating system when it comes out in a few weeks. And then when the next (7.10?) version comes out, KDE 4 will be out. Just imagine that….

External Links

Homepage: Official, Feisty Beta Announcement
Download: Official
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars:

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Cross-posts (by me):

http://www.tuxmachines.org/node/15094

Review of NimbleX 2007 February 17, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Here’s another mini-OS you probably haven’t heard of: NimbleX. It, like the previous mentioned Slax, based on Linux Live Scripts, and like Slax runs KDE.

Programs

NimbleX comes with KBounce, Patience, KBattleship, KGoldrunner, KFoulEggs, Kolf, KSnakeRace, KSpaceDuel, Kastroids, Ksirtet, KSmileTris, KTron, Kenolaba, KBackgammon, KBlackBox, KMahjongg, Atlantik, KReversi, Shisen-Sho, KWin4, Lieutnant (sic) Skat, KPoker, PotatoGuy, Klickety, SameGame, Konquest, KMines, KSokoban, Katomic, KJumpingCube, Kolor Lines, Kuickshow, KPDF, KolourPaint, KSnapshot, Konqueror, Kopete, Transmission, Krdc, Akregator, Kasablanca, KPhone, KMail, wi-fi support, NmapFE, HTTP, FTP, and PXE servers, Bluetooth support, KsCD, JuK, Mplayer, Kplayer, K3b, tvtime, KAudioCreator, KWord, KSpread, KPresenter, Karbon14, KChart, Kontact, Gslapt, Guarddog, Krfb, QtParted, KrandRTray, two terminals (aterm and Konsole), SuperKaramba, KNotes, KCalc, Kate, KWrite, Ark, KJots, KTnef, and Yakuake.

It also comes with KDE 3.5.4.

To install more, you can use Gslapt to install more or use NimbleX modules.

GUI

KDE 3.5.4 is included (not the most recent version, which is 3.5.6, but it still looks pretty cool). I’ve talked about KDE before, and I’ll say it again: KDE is the best looking GUI. It’s elegant, beautiful, has a ton of tools, and that’s why I like it. You can also run it from a command-line interface.

Minimal Requirements

The GUI needs a Pentium II or higher (if you have a Pentium I, you can use the command-line). For the GUI, 128 MB of RAM (or 64 for the CL).

Installation

It’s a live CD, so like Slax it’s not made to install. But there are instructions (these are basic, I recommend this for installing to a hard drive, and this for a USB drive). I still wouldn’t recommend it though, you have to muck around with a bootloader, so it’s not intuitive. You’ll need 200 MB space free.

External Links

Homepage: http://www.nimblex.net/
Download: http://www.nimblex.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=49&Itemid=44
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars:

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Review of Elive 0.6.3 (Unstable) February 15, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
2 comments

Most Linux users use either the KDE or GNOME.. There are a few who like XFCE or FluxBox (mostly because their computer isn’t fast enough to run the first two). But here’s a new one that you probably haven’t heard of: Enlightenment. It is elegant, yet not a huge memory hog. The problem is that not many distros have it. You can get it for Puppy Linux, and there are ways to install it on Slackware, but that’s about it. Now, you can use a new one: Elive. Just as an FYI, you have to donate to the creators in order to download the development (or you can download from the slow server, which is VERY slow. In other words, 20 KB/s on an Optimum Online broadband connection).

Programs

Elive comes with two Enlightenment themes (Default and Night). It also comes with Firefox, IceDove (basically Thunderbird with a different name), Links2, Gftp, X-Chat, aMSN, Gaim, GIMP, Blender, Elicit, GtKam, GQview, Elive essence, Alsa mixer, XMMS, Streamtuner, Cplay, Grip, Rezound, ZynAddSubFx, Hydrogen, Qjackctl, MPlayer, Oxine, Kino, Cinelerra, Acidrip, AbiWord, Gnumeric, Xpdf, xpad, an alarm clock, TuxPuck, Torus Trooper, TypeSpeed, Thunar, Evidence, Midnight Commander, Gtk Pod, Scite, Grasero, Dialog cdrecord, GnomeBaker, ScummVM, DosBOx, Zsnes,and Qemu (and kqemu, and QEMU has an interface!).

I was a little surprised that they included so many options for IM (you don’t need aMSN and X-Chat if you have Gaim), and also OpenOffice.org wasn’t installed (although there was a folder for it in the start menu), but besides these minor quibbles there are a TON of tools.

This version also adds ntfs-3g, which is good as before Elive had a TON of problems with NTFS. Flash 9 and Java are also included.

Finally, since Elive is based on Debian, you can use apt-get to install tons of programs.

GUI

I had always liked KDE, but I was completely blown away by Enlightenment. It was very… elegant. Words can’t describe it (but the screenshot below can). You can probably install KDE or GNOME via Elive as well.

Minimal Requirements

The Elive page didn’t exactly say. I ran it on a virtual machine running with 128 MB of RAM, and it worked fine. So, it’s not a HUGE resource hog. You need 2.5 GB space free.

Installation

To install Elive, just click the button on the quick launch (the icon on the farthest right in the center taskbar). It wasn’t as painless as some *buntu installations, but it wasn’t as hard as some others that I’ve had to do. Just create three partitions: One for root (/), one for swap, and one for home. Of course, this is a development version, so I wouldn’t install this.

External Links

Homepage: http://www.elivecd.org/
Download: http://www.elivecd.org/gb/Download/Development/
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars:

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Staying in Sync Between Windows and Kubuntu 6.10 February 13, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
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I’ve got two partitions: Kubuntu 6.10 Edgy and Windows XP SP2. How do I keep them in sync? I eventually, by trial, error, and Google, learned how. Here’s what I did:

First, I mounted Windows on Linux via ntfs-3g. Now, I can save all my files to the more secure Windows partition (NTFS is better than FAT for a vareity of reasons). I also mounted Linux on Windows via Ext2FS.

Pictures

Since I use Digikam on Linux (Kubuntu 6.10 comes with Digikam by default), I set its albums to use My Pictures: go to Settings>Configure Digikam, and change the Album path to My Pictures via the mounted drive you set up with ntfs-3g (most likely under Documents and Settings/WINDOWSUSERNAMEHERE/My Documents).

Music

I use iTunes for music on Windows, and so I changed iTunes from importing in M4A to MP3. Just go to Edit>Preferences, select the Advanced tab, the Importing tab, and choose “Import Using MP3 Encoder” (Screenshot) . If you use Windows Media Player, go to Tools>Options, Rip Music tab, and select mp3 as the format (Screenshot). Now go back to Linux. I use Amarok and Songbird for my collection. In Amarok, go to Settings>Configure Amarok, go to the Collection area, and select the My Music folder in via the mounted drive you set up with ntfs-3g (most likely under Documents and Settings/WINDOWSUSERNAMEHERE/My Documents/My Music/iTunes/iTunes Music) (Screenshot). In Songbird, go to File>Set Watched Folder, and choose the My Music folder (Screenshot).

Videos

For videos, you should use one format. Most Linux distros don’t support non-free (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, QuickTime, WMV and Real) formats out of the box. They ask you to use Ogg Theora, but this isn’t supported by a lot of media players. For me, I say install some codec (see this page for more).

Browser

If you use Firefox, install the Google Browser Sync for Firefox. This will sync bookmarks, history, cookies, passwords, and even open tabs. If you can’t stand Google, Foxmarks is good too (though it only syncs bookmarks). Just go to the site, choose the Install Now button. Repeat on the other partition.

PIM

For email, the obvious method is to use webmail. For example, there is Gmail (and you can get invites through a simple Google search). Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Mail both feel real nice too: both offer 2 GB, and both offer offline-like capabilities like right-click. If that isn’t possible, use Thunderbird’s guide here. For calendaring, again online applications win. Google Calendar is my favorite, but Yahoo! offers a good one as well, and there are many more out there. If you don’t like that, there aren’t a ton of options. You can try using Sunbird or Lightning to connect to a remote calendar.

Office Docs

Most Linux distros come with OpenOffice.org. However, OO.o mostly saves in the OpenDocument format (.odt, .ods, and .odp), unsupported by Microsoft Office. Make sure you make OpenOffice.org save in the Microsoft Office XP format (.doc, .xls, and .ppt). Go to Tools>Options, select the Load/Save menu, click General, and choose Always Save As Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (Screenshot). If you have Microsoft Office 2007, DON’T save in Office 2007 format. Both Office and OpenOffice.org may complain that it will “lose formatting”. Don’t worry. That’s just propaganda.

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Review of Slax 6.0.0pre3 February 12, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
3 comments

Well, my favorite mini-Linux distro is finally updated. Slax, based on Slackware, will run off of a CD, USB drive, and even a hard drive. It has modules (which let you add programs like Gaim or OpenOffice.org to Slax), is light-weight, and one of the few Linux distros that will run on old computers and yet still looks good (it uses KDE). The biggest caveat to me was that it never was able to access NTFS drives (often, using a Linux live CD is useful for editing stuff on a broken Windows computer, but you can’t do that if it doesn’t access an NTFS drive), but version 6 has added ntfs-3g, a driver that lets you read and write to NTFS drives. Other new things in 6 include NdisWrapper support, so you can use wi-fi adapters, a speeded up boot time (trimming up to 30 seconds on some machines), AUFS instead of unionfs, and more.

Programs

Slax comes with KOffice, a few games, Konqueror, Kopete, Kopete, a few multimedia players, FluxBox, and of course KDE. The best part is though that you can add more, via the modules page. There, you’ll find 1687 (and counting) programs and games. My favorites are the Battle For Wesnoth, the Amarok, the and Firefox modules.

GUI

KDE is definitely my favorite desktop interface. And that’s why I’m glad Tomas (the creator) used it for Slax. Most other light-weight distros use XFCE or IceWM, but they don’t look anything like KDE. There used to be a GNOME-based Slax, but the developer has discontinued it. You can download a GNOME module for Slax, though. In addition, if you like IceWM, you can download its module.

Minimal Requirements

Basically none ;-). You need a blank CD, and a CD burner. Or a USB drive. OK, really. You need at least 32 MB of RAM to boot Slax. You need “at least” 96 MB of RAM to run FluxBox, and 144 to run KDE. But KDE ran fine on 128 MB of RAM for me. Slax will run on Intel or AMD (i486 or higher). In other words, Slax will run on basically anything.

Installation

Slax isn’t meant for installation to a hard drive. However, you can put it easily on a USB drive. There’s official instructions, but the easier way is to use the Pen Drive Linux instructions. Even easier is the method from MySlax Creator (which also works with other SLAX derivatives such as Klax, gNOX, GoblinX and Mutagenix). However, I like the Pen Drive Linux method as you can add and remove modules easier. Unfortunately, none won’t save data to the USB drive (if you really want that, try Puppy Linux). You can use webconfig, but it won’t always work. You can add files automatically by putting them into the rootcopy folder.  You can also save the changes to a regular hard drive, but that won’t work if you’re at a friend’s house

External Links

Homepage: http://www.slax.org/
Download: Official site, USB version (unofficial)
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars:

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Review of Dreamlinux 2.2 February 6, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
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Dreamlinux is one of the most beautiful Linux distros out there. It was originally meant for low-end PCs (it uses Xfce), but there is also a beta version with Beryl and AIGLX. It’s based on Morphix, Elive, Debian, and Kanotix.

Programs

DL comes with, among others, OpenOffice.org, aMSN, Icedove (aka Thunderbird), Firefox (with Java, Flash 9, and multi-media plugins), GimpShop, XMMS, Gxine, Audacity, Gnomebaker, Kino, AviDemux, Xdvdshrink, and MPlayer. I would have liked Gaim instead of aMSN but I was very happy that OpenOffice.org was included instead of AbiWord. It also comes with ntfs-3g, so you can access your Windows partitions. And since Dreamlinux is Debian-based, you can add thousands more programs using apt-get.

GUI

Dreamlinux has a beautiful interface. It is a little reminiscent of OS X’s, but it is distinctly different. It’s definitely NOT a carbon-copy of Apple’s operating system, which I think is good. It has a zooming dock (similar to Apple’s), but it has menus at the top of the screen, so it combines the best of both. Also on the top toolbar is a XMMS controller, so you can start and pause it whenever you want.

Minimal Requirements

DL is definitely NOT a resource hog. It ran on my VirtualBox setup with only 128 MB of RAM, and it installed fine on a 4 GB hard drive (also virtually).

Installation

DL has some work to do. If you want to install it, there is a tutorial at the official site. It will install off of a live CD.

External Links

Homepage: http://dreamlinux.com.br/
Download: Multimedia Edition, Multimedia Edition w/ Beryl-AIGLX, Torrent
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars:

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Review of E/OS LX 0.29 February 5, 2007

Posted by Andrew Min in Uncategorized.
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E/OS LX is an GNU/Linux operating system that is different. Most operating systems want to make you use their software, but E/OS is different. Utilizing utilities such as Wine and MESS, E/OS is meant to try to run any program from any operating system, such as Windows, Mac OS, BeOS, OS/2, DOS, or Linux. The project, according to Wikipedia, was

started in 1995 with the goal of a free DOS. Until 1998 it was based exclusively on FreeDOS, since then based on SEAL GUI In 2000 the E/OS project switched to a larger focus, to create a system capable of running programs written for multiple platforms, including BeOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, OS/2, MS-DOS, and Linux, on the same computer simultaneously.

I loved the idea. So, I downloaded and installed it in QEMU.

Programs

E/OS will run Windows programs out of the box (though not all of them either, take a look at the Wine AppDB page for more). It also will run a ton of gaming ROMs via MESS. In addition, E/OS also has it’s own file format, known as “iFiles”, but there aren’t very many of them (see the iFiles page at the E/OS homepage for more). For non-Windows (like Linux, FreeBSD, and Darwin), you need to put the respective libraries in the “posix” directory. One thing I did wish E/OS would do is bundle more programs. It has a calculator, two file browsers (Midnight Commander and BExplorer), Wine and MESS, and a notepad. Adding some office programs like OpenOffice.org, an email client like Thunderbird, and an Internet browser like Firefox.

GUI

E/OS’s GUI is based on FLTK and the Equinox Desktop Environment. It has a definitely Mac-like look, but a more GNOME-like feel for the menus. I personally think this is a good choice, since OS X in my opinion is the most beautiful, while GNOME is one of the more user friendly.

Minimal Requirements

According to the site’s Minimal Requirements Page,

Any Intel Pentium or Celeron processor and any AMD K6/II/III, Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP/MP processor with RAM 128 MB and a Hard Disk with 300 MB of available space.

Installation

You can install E/OS via an emulator, or a live CD.

External Links

Homepage: http://meos.sourceforge.net/
Download: Sourceforge source, Sourceforge QEMU Image, Sourceforge QEMU Windows EXE
Screenshots: Official, OS Wars

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