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Reviews

Manjaro 17.1.6 Hakoila Plasma - A rollercoaster of Tux

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Wow, there could not be a more bi-polar distro than Manjaro Hakoila. On one hand, it's the state-of-art, bleeding-edge tech demonstrator with some rather brilliant and unique features, belying its Archy roots. On the other, it's rife with bugs and problems that are typical of small distros and badly integrated products. The network and smartphone side of things are particularly bad. You cannot excuse pale fonts or the menu error either, and then, if you've actually read a review, there were a dozen different issues through my test session.

That said, Manjaro 17.1.6 is pretty, inviting, elegant, largely robust and stable, fast enough on ancient hardware, it gives you Nvidia support out of the box, it gives you media goodies, it gives you the Microsoft Office access right there on your desktop, and it's got charm and character that goes beyond the bland copypasta you get elsewhere in the Linux world.

And then, I got meself thinking. I tried a few small but reasonably brilliant distros recently - Manjaro, MX Linux, Antergos. They all have unique, powerful features, all covering different angles. Imagine if they combined their efforts - MX Linux live session data import and its tools, Antergos software wizard, Manjaro office stuff. What a killer distro we could have then! But that's an article for a different time.

Back to Manjaro - I am actually liking this particular edition quite a lot. It's far from perfect, but then, with some hard work and attention to details, this could be an excellent choice for a desktop system. Perhaps more than any other distro did in recent times. Of course, there's still a huge amount of effort needed to make this a fully integrated, offline-online Windows competitor, but it's making steady progress, and I like that. A sure sign of greatness to come. Grade wise, about 7.5/10, just watch out for the buggy parts. And I will extend the testing onto my UEFI-powered Lenovo G50 laptop.

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Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS: What’s New?

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Ubuntu

Ahead of the Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS release next month you may be wondering what new features and changes the update will bring.

Well, wonder no more.

In this post we round up all of the key information about the next release of one Ubuntu’s most popular community flavors.

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Review: ArchMerge 6.4.1

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The distribution I have been asked most frequently to cover so far in 2018 is ArchMerge, an Arch-based project which runs the Xfce desktop environment and can be installed using the Calamares system installer. If the description sounds familiar, it should, as this summary could equally well apply to Archman, SwagArch and one edition of the Revenge OS distribution.

There are two main features which set ArchMerge apart from its close relatives. First, ArchMerge is available in two flavours. The full featured desktop edition ships with three graphical user interfaces (Xfce, Openbox and i3). A second, minimal flavour is available for people who want to start with a text console and build from the ground up.

The other point which helps ArchMerge stand out from the crowd of Arch-based distributions is its documentation. Arch Linux is famous for its detailed wiki, and rightfully so. ArchMerge takes a slightly different approach and, instead of supplying detailed pages for virtually every aspect of the distribution, the project supplies quick overviews and tutorials for common tasks and issues. These overviews are each accompanied by a video which shows the user how to perform the task.

The ArchMerge website places a strong emphasis on learning and the tutorial pages guide visitors through how to install the distribution, how to configure the desktop, how to install additional software and how to set up file synchronizing through Dropbox. There is also a section dedicated to fixing common problems, a sort of FAQ for distribution issues. Since there are videos for the topics covered, we are shown where to go and what each step should look like, rather than just being given a written description.

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SwagArch 18.02 - U Got Swag?

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SwagArch sounds like an interesting concept. The aesthetic side of things is reasonable, although brown as a color and a dark theme make for a tricky choice. The fonts are pretty good overall. But the visual element is the least of the distro's problems. SwagArch 18.02 didn't deliver the basics, and that's what made Dedoimedo sad.

Network support plus the clock issue, horrible package management and broken programs, those are things that must work perfectly. Without them, the system has no value. So you do get multimedia support and a few unique apps, however that cannot balance out all the woes and problems that I encountered. All in all, Swag needs a lot more work. Also, it will have a tough time competing with Manjaro and Antergos, which are already established and fairly robust Arch spins. Lastly, it needs to narrow down its focus. The overall integration of elements is pretty weak. Eclectic, jumbled, not really tested. 2/10 for now. Let's see how it evolves.

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Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition Review – For The Record

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KDE
Reviews

Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition Review. Linux Mint and KDE haven’t always been on my list of favorite things. That said, Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition really surprised me – there is a lot to like! Great pulseaudio settings, an improved package manager, plus a whole lot more!

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MATE 1.20 review - Are you all right, mate?

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Overall, MATE 1.20 is a nice desktop environment. It has its legacy quirks, especially when it comes to panel management and overall cross-integration between programs. But it can be styled and tamed and used with flair and elegance. However, you do feel that it's aged in some areas, and that those areas remain neglected. Modern does not mean better, but some aspects of the 2018 computing model are superior to what we had a decade ago. The same way some aspects of MATE (Gnome 2) remain better than the touchesque flat-fest we have today.

Xfce seems to have weathered these changes more successfully, but then it also had no identity crisis, no betrayal, and it benefits from more overall focus and attention. MATE not only had to fight Gnome 3, it also has Cinnamon to take into account. Those aside, if you do want an old-school, no-nonsense desktop environment, MATE is a good choice. Perhaps not the best one, but it will serve you loyally without any bells and whistles. Just be ready for an odd ghost of the past striking at you now and then.

Remember, once upon a time, I didn't like Xfce, like not at all, and look where it's now. So MATE has survived the rite of passage, and it's evolving steadily. The next step should be pro looks, tight integration and some acknowledgment of modernity, on a system level, and perhaps it could become the desktop environment that Gnome 3 should have been in the first place. There's still hope. Keep an eye, and let's see what happens. I guess that would be all.

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A Quick Look to Ubuntu 18.04 Beta 1

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Ubuntu

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS "Bionic Beaver" Beta 1 released few days ago. This Beta 1 is the first pre-release version designed for testing to prepare the final release next April. I have installed Beta 1 and this short review covers where to download Bionic Beta 1, what applications available, how the desktop looks, how much RAM it takes, and more links and information about it. In short, Bionic Beta 1 brings GNOME 3.27 and Linux Kernel 4.15, with LibreOffice 6.0 and bunch of GNOME Applications, and with Firefox Quantum beside the improved Ubuntu Software. Finally, this article is for all of you wanting to know Bionic in brief without installing it. I hope you enjoy it!

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Review: Sabayon and Antergos

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Gentoo
Reviews

Sabayon is a Gentoo-based distribution which is available in many desktop editions as well as a server edition. Sabayon strives to provide a working system out-of-the-box, saving the user a lot of time when it comes to configuring the operating system. Sabayon provides several categories of installation media. The project uses a rolling release model and the distribution's many editions are provided in Stable, Monthly and Daily snapshots. It has been about a year since the last Stable set of installation media was produced and so I decided to explore one of the monthly snapshots.

I began with the MATE edition of Sabayon's Monthly snapshot, a 2GB download which I confirmed downloaded properly using the distribution's checksums. Booting from the live media brought up a menu asking if we would like to start a live desktop environment, launch a text-based installer, start in safe mode or launch a live text console. I was surprised when taking the live desktop option booted the distribution to a text console and showed me a login prompt.

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Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 Looks like a Brilliant Upgrade

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Ubuntu

I have to say folks, Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 is shaping up to be a one heck of a release.

It’s no secret that I think the nimble GNOME-based Budgie desktop is one of the best alternatives to GNOME Shell or Unity. It is lighter and leaner than either of those, but has a more cohesive and modern design than MATE or XFCE.

Naturally I’m also a fan of Ubuntu Budgie, the official Ubuntu flavor that uses the Budgie desktop by default. It provides all the benefits of Ubuntu and its ecosystem, but feathered beneath a clean, modern looking desktop interface.

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Void Linux Review – For The Record

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Void Linux Review. Today I finally get to a requested review of Void Linux. Using Void Linux reminds me a little bit of using Arch, since it only installs what you ask it to. Void Linux configuration is straight forward, although as I mention in the video, the documentation is hit and miss.

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Purism's Librem 5 Linux Phone Will Support Ubuntu Touch, Thanks to UBports

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Ubuntu-Based ExTiX Distro, the Ultimate Linux System, Updates Its Deepin Edition

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Stable kernels 4.16.4, 4.14.36, 4.9.96, 4.4.129 and 3.18.106