Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mint OS 9.0

Mint OS 9.0 code name Isadora, origin Ireland.
I went with the Gnome version. In loading the Live Cd the logo came up quick and installation was an easy graphical environment. The installation fixed my previous grub problem.
Mint has Internet packages Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission (torrent), Xchat, Pigeon (messaging) and Gwibber (a social client which consumes most of your CPU power every time it checks your Twitter, etc, about every 10 minutes, which can crash your computer. Turn this bad boy off). Graphics came with Gimp. Open Office 3.2.0 was included for office. Sound & video came with Rhythmbox, Gnome Mplayer (movies) and Sound Recorder. There were no games installed, but the software manager had a multitude of games to install.
Mint has an easy access menu. Update Manager 4.0.4, indicates the priority of updates. Annoyingly, it exits after a partial update. While running Synaptic update, I experienced a full lock-up . Not since my last Blue Screen of Death on windows has this happened to me on Linux. After a total of 4 lock-ups, I was starting to get worried. A search on the Internet revealed that something was going on with the download bar image and the number of times it checked download or something like that, supposedly being fixed in a future version. Mint is similar to PCLinuxOS, but a bit more appealing despite its crashing problem. It also has a large support base. I will give Mint 9.0 a 'B+' and maybe a 'Magically delicious'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


PCLinuxOS or PCLOS is based on Mandrake. The Gnome version comes equipped with an ugly gray colored background. I attribute this to the fact that most PCLOS users are KDE desktoppers and don't really care what color Gnome is.

The OS has a larger repository than Debian and is not afraid to try newer programs.
The office programs consist of Abiword (dictionary and word processor), an icon for installing Open Office (by leaving off OO, it makes installation faster), gedit a smaller editor, glabels and evince (pdf viewer).
The audio comes with Audacity, Rhythmbox, Xmms a multimedia player.
Video has Cheese a web cam application, MeTV (digital TV viewer), Totem (movie player), Gnome mplayer, Imagination DVD slide show maker, Brasero a CD/DVD disk burner and Gsopcast a streaming direct broadcast system (make your own radio programs). Got to try that someday.
PCLOS comes with the usual games that come with Ubuntu.
The graphics programs are Gimp and Photo Frame.
Internet includes Firefox (with Flash already installed), gmail notifier, Pigeon, Thunderbird, Transmission, Xchat and Tucan ( a download/upload sharing program).
PCLOS also has a tweak program to get the most out of your machine.

Adding software and packages is a snap, this is what Linux is about, not some primitive terminal command (If I want old style, I'll get out my 8088. It still runs and I remember some of the DOS commands). In addition it uses Synaptic update manager, but the status reload is extremely slow.
Despite the fact that most PCLinuxOS users are KDE and get most of the support, the Gnome version is very good, I will give this OS an 'A-'.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Power Down

 Power DownPower Down by Ben Coes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A technical thriller with evil villains. Ben Coes exhibited expertise on a wide range of subjects combined in an exciting plot. In the tradition of Clancy. I really couldn't put the book down.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, July 26, 2010

Arch Linux

I was going to review a different distro, but when I installed Arch Linux it trashed my grub (got to remember to back it up next time).

Installing Arch was the most difficult OS yet. I'm not the kind of guy to read instructions before I put things together, this was hard without them. After 8 attempts to partition the drive and set up the mounting points (because it didn't like my choices) I had to go with the defaults and I went for help on YouTube. Using step by step instructions from various videos (many thanks to James Manes for the best vid), I finally got the basic Arch Gnome installed (KDE has too much bloat and complicated menus). It contained only the bare necessities and I knew more had to be installed. All installations were done in terminal (using pacman) and editing (I used nano), from which I got in some good practice for learning Linux and Arch. After I installed gnome-extras (about 30 more packages), it started looking like all the other Gnome distros with a lot of cruft. Then I used a beginners guide at an Arch Linux site to getting my sound and some gnome tools. I removed Evolution (not all of it, can't remember which packages are safe to remove), then installed Thunderbird.

Still, nowhere was there any graphical package managers. The internet listed some obsolete ones, but none of the them would even install using pacman. Many times I would see a package that I wanted installed and pacman couldn't find it in the repositories (core, extra, community). Maybe I spelled them wrong and pacman refused to recognized them. I really miss Synaptic or Mint graphical package managers; set up the basics, give me a good package manager and I'll do the rest. I like being able to browse a package manager, you never know what you'll find.

I wouldn't install Arch in a small office with more than 3 computers; its not worth the time. Anyway I give this dog of an OS a 'C' for challenging, its fast and has a lot of rabid fans and support, but its Archcrap.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Debian LXDE OS

I started this time with an old computer 450mhz Pentium II, 192 MB Ram and a 6.4 GB hard-drive. I decided to push this old thing to its limits. I installed Debian LXDE OS.

LXDE Lightweight X-11 Desktop Environment is supposed to be lightweight enough to try on an old computer. Well it worked with an amazing 85 seconds to boot from the grub.

Debian LXDE uses Open Office 2.4 and Leafpad for a smaller text editor.
It has Iceweasel installed as a browser. A cheap version of Gimp and that is it.

Not even a package or update manager. I could probably waste my time downloading all the good stuff through terminal commands. But if Linux designers want to get a bigger foothold on the operating system arena, they've got to do a better job in wooing Windows users away by using at least a package manager.

I give Debian LXDE a 'D-' and only that high, because it worked on this old piece of crap computer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Peppermint OS

Peppermint, based on Ubuntu OS and Mint OS, installs fast and takes about half the disk space as other Linux operation systems. It boots up fast at about 20 secs from the Grub menu. It is a small operating system, because it depends on cloud computing. It uses Mint Update Manager 4.0.4 which is easy to use and understand, giving update priorities. Although update manager gives no total size of selected packages and has to be restarted after a partial update.

Cloud Computing
Instead of a word processor, it uses Google Docs, Google Mail and Google Calendar.
It uses an on-line drawing program called Pixlr which is very much like Photo Shop. It is deficient on textures and other filters, but it has a large selection of brushes. Trusting all my artwork and documents to be stored on-line is still an issue for me.
It comes with on-line music, Last-FM, Pandora, The Cloud Player (which doesn't work) and Exaile (radio streams) also links to Hulu and Youtube.

Peppermint lacks many packages, many of which can be added. Much of the administration can't be solved graphically and has to be solved in terminal. You could spend many hours fixing custom settings. If you want to experiment with cloud computing, try Peppermint OS. You can even try Peppermint as a live CD without installation. I give Peppermint a 'C+', maybe a later distro will be better.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Debian Gnome OS

Debian Gnome 5.0 was installed from the same small install CD disk as Debian KDE. After installing I noticed that it looked too much like Windows 95, large icons, large tool bar and icons on the desktop (which I immediately tried to remove, unsuccessfully). Debian Gnome is similar to Ubuntu so moving about was familiar. It came equipped with Abiword and Open Office 2.4.1, to do word processing, but Open Office 3.0 or greater is needed to read MS Word 'docx' and other newer formats. Gimp which resembles Photo Shop is also added and Inkscape a vector graphics editor. The browser was Ice Weasel for which I couldn't get custom themes or to find where to update. One good thing included, was my favorite mail reader, Thunderbird instead of Ubuntu's favorite Evolution, (which can't be completely removed from Ubuntu). Most of the packages were outdated, I suppose for further testing. How long must a package be tested before being included in the final version?

As in Debian KDE, I was once again struggling to obtain administration rights (It's my computer give me a break!). The power management kept turning on power saving on the monitor, where I wanted a screensaver only. Although many OS systems are based on Debian, I will still only give Debian Gnome a 'B', and like my Viking ancestors, I will be moving on to another village to pillage.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Debian KDE OS

The name Debian is a combination of its creator Ian and his wife Debbie. KDE is the graphical desktop version.

Installation was done from a small install CD, with the computer connected to the Internet. When the installation menu came up, it was totally confusing. Moving in and out of various menus and trees, I finally found the KDE version. The first part of the installation was fast and then the Internet download for the rest of the OS took over 5 hours on my DSL at .2 MHz. Once installed I found an overwhelming number of items on the menus, many of which started with a 'K', it was also confusing. There were two browsers, one called Konqueror which was the same as the directory navigation. The other had a cool name called Ice Weasel, which was just an old version of Firefox with different icons.

Working with it for about a week and removing many of the menu items, I still found the enormity a bit of an overkill. In addition I found Debian's administration policies too tight for MY computer, “If I can't open it, it doesn't belong to me”. It took me half an hour just to get sudo privileges (terminal administration rights). As for the ability to make wonderful changes to the desktop, KDE is the tops. The desktop looked great and had lots of gadgets. The CD ripper K3B is the best that I've used.

Most KDE users are almost fanatical about their KDE desktops. Although, I found many of the same features on my Ubuntu Gnome (Gnome another graphical desktop version). I'd give KDE a 'B', it is fun. As for Debian...well wait for my review of the Gnome version first.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Alien Abduction

Some say that I've lost my sense of humor others say that I'm not the same. My writers constipation is greater than the Hoover Dam. All the symptoms point to me being abducted by aliens, like Betty and Barney Hill, although I remember none of it. I found an electrical implant embedded under my skin. Dug it out using self trepanation with a dremel tool. It was hard as a rock...Oh, wait it is a rock...from some long forgotten head plant that I did in a motorcycle accident. Well anyway, I hope to do little bit more writing. Some of my writing will be about different operating systems (not self trepanation) on computers.

In addition to my 2 other computers, I decided to create another box. I gathered up miscellaneous computer parts and junk that I had kicking around and built a Micron/Dell/Compaq. An Intel 733mhz PIII, with 512MB RAM and 2 hard drives. Each drive having a different operating system, which I plan on reviewing in future blogs. One of the operating systems is a cloud computing system and this blog is composed using Google Docs. Google Docs has a cloud dictionary and thesaurus, word counting, grade level and readability analysis. A real decent word processor.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ubuntu OS

I have been using Ubuntu Operating System for about 2 and half years now. If you are using Windows 98 or older, you should consider a newer OS. Ubuntu is a Linux based OS and is the most popular, at least for now. Even if you are using XP, you should think about a new OS. Most Linux distributions have more up to date drivers, features and software programs. Also it is great on-line, worrying about malware and viruses is minimal. Using Firefox on a Linux OS is no different than on Windows.

The biggest draw-back is what to do for Windows programs. There is a decent windows emulator called Wine, in which many programs will run. My favorite Windows program is Ancestral Quest, a genealogy program. Unfortunately, I can only view the people and families on AQ. If I make any changes or click on any web links it crashes when I exit the program.

I haven't quite given up my XP machine. I use two machines with a KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch. It allows me to jump back and forth between computers. Its especially good for surfing genealogy sites on my Ubuntu computer and jumping to my XP to compare family info. Listening to music on one and downloading on the other. I can do true multitasking without lagging down a single processor.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

High Five?

If only four fingers touch in a high-five, is it still a high-five?