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.