Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MMMM Minty with a hint of Cinnamon (Linux Mint 14 review)

Linux Mint has soared in popularity ever since it's introduction. Offering the best of Ubuntu without the negative aspects of Ubuntu. It replaces Unity along with its invasive Amazon product referral feature. Mint keeps the PPA's and packages of Ubuntu. Along with what seems like a rolled back Ubuntu Store. The Linux Mint store has no paid packages unlike the app store that the Ubuntu Store has become. So what does Mint do that Ubuntu could do before Unity? It supports UEFI and EFI. Cinnamon looks a little better. Supports most of the Ubuntu synaptic packages. So it has the best of a modern distro and tries to update and keep alive the Gnome 2 days of Ubuntu. So how is does this Cinnamon thing look? I love the look of Cinnamon, so much so that I installed it as my GUI for Arch. It has a Gnome 2 kinda feel to it, but it is updated. With features like the effects of Gnome Shell; yet it has the practicality of Gnome 2. The file manager Nemo is functional and easy to use. There are also a lot of themes for Cinnamon in case you do not like the stock look. When I am using Mint I like to use the green and soft grey stock theme. The menu presents you with your favorite software and like in Windows 7 a bunch of categories of your software. It is easy to navigate for new users who ventured away from Windows 7. It also provides a functional and fast interface for general desktop use for more experienced Linux users. The best feature out of everything is the ability to alt-tab through windows. A feature sadly lacking in other distros. The usability of Linux Mint comes down to your hardware. Since Cinnamon isn't designed to be a light weight desktop and does require 3D acceleration to work. But unlike some interfaces where resources jump around; in Cinnamon there is more consistent resource use. Some of the criticisms levied against cinnamon is that it is not progressive. I think the Cinnamon team is smart for making gradual slow changes in the interface. I think Cinnamon will continue to evolve and grow as a traditional type interface. The software that is included in Mint has been cited as lacking by Linux User and Developer, but I think the small software selection allows users to make their own decisions on software. The main included apps are Libre Office and Firefox and all the other basics like transmission. But one trip to the software center will have your system loaded up with everything you need. I appreciate the idea of giving the user the opportunity to decide what software they want. It prevents excess software from taking up space. The software center does not have any paid software. The software center the first time I installed Mint 13 was terrible; Wine wouldn't install and it froze and was full of glitches. But they got that fixed and now it works perfectly. Also you sign in under Sudo before you enter the software center; so you don't have to enter your password every time you try to install something. Linux Mint 14 is great release and we can only hope that Mint 15, coming this May continues the legacy. Linux Mint 14 lives up to the line from its splash screen:"From freedom came elegance."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dissecting "Dispelling FUD About Ubuntu by: Matt Hartley"

The article starts by saying that Linux users are up at arms at every change Ubuntu makes. The changes Ubuntu makes currently does effect another very popular disto. Linux Mint users have every reason to analyze and be wary of the decisions that Ubuntu is making. On the issue of Ubuntu switching to a more closed inner circle development, the angered reaction from the community is understandable.

I agree with the article that Flash was not Canonical's responsibility. Also Ubuntu is more mainstream and accepted outside the community than other ditros and that is why it is always first to be supported. 

The amazon feature no matter how creepy, is just not necessary. The problem is in the way Shuttleworth handled it, by saying "We have a right to your data." This only angered the community.

The article concludes with  presenting the idea the Ubuntu is a gift and not a right. That is a 100% correct. People need to stop treating Ubuntu like a right and appreciate as a gift. If you don't like it you can make the choice to switch to a non Ubuntu based disto.

All in all the article made a lot of valid points. It was a great condensed way to rebut all of the wild Ubuntu criticisms. But remember some of those critics have been some of FOSS's biggest figures. For example Richard Stallman called the amazon auto search referral system spyware. I felt that the article could have mentioned some of the people behind the criticisms.

Original Article: Dispelling FUD About Ubuntu by: Matt Hartley

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Arch Way (A Arch Linux review)

As many people would start a review of Arch Linux or any Linux for that matter they have to discuss the philosophy that is behind it. For Arch there is the philosophy of the Arch way. Which is simplicity of code over ease of use. What does this mean for the end user. Well unless you are at least an intermediate Linux user then you should have no problem installing it using the extensive documentation provided at the arch wiki. You put the your live USB in, and you are ready to get your Arch on. You boot the USB and it brings to a relatively nice looking grub menu, unless you booted from UEFI or EFI. Then it Presents you with a standard black and white grub. You select either 32 bit or 64 bit options. And you boot, but no GUI is showing up. That's because Arch Linux simply doesn't have one. Arch has only one option for official ISO and that is text only install. So make sure you have your partition formatted first with something like Gparted. The documentation and the beginner's guide make the install doable. You need another device to access those while you are installing for the first time. By having this text only install really makes you get to know the basic commands and how Arch works. Arch comes with almost no programs with a default install. So that means if you don't want to run as root all the time that you have to install Sudo. You want a GUI your going to need a Display Manager and a Desktop Environment A Display Manager is essentially a login screen. Arch with its unique package manager Pacman, makes it easy to install lots of packages. You can just put pacman -S (list of packages to install) then you list the packages you want separated only by a space.Then there is the Arch User Repository or AUR for short. This is where users upload packages so you don't have to manually compile them. To be able to access this wonderful repository you need a manager for it. However the manager is not available in the Official Repositories so you have to install manually. It is Not to hard once you have a GUI installed. The most popular AUR manager is Yaourt; that is what I am using on the system that I am writing this review on. Yaourt works the same as pacman same syntax just replace pacman with yaourt. Arch is a rolling release which means it update constantly. How does it look? It can use any current desktop manager and a lot of cool tiling ones to. Arch is so highly customizable, is because you can build your own user experience out front instead of doing after the install. At the end of the review I will post what my desktop on arch looks like. So to answer how does it look, any way you want it to. Is Arch Fast? That answer depends on what you where using before arch I came from Mint and installed Cinnamon on Arch and notice little to no difference in speed. If you are coming from Cinnamon and install Xfce or Lxde then maybe you will see a difference. Coming from a windows it is faster. Arch is a great intermediate to advanced Linux Distro. If you are looking for something to tinker with or like the idea of a rolling release, then Arch is definitely for you.