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Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 1

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KDE
Reviews
Ubuntu

It has been a few weeks since I purchased my lovely Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu 18.04 on it. A few weeks during which I put the laptop and its operating system through a series of real-life usage tests, just as I've promised. I do use Linux in my production setup, but only sparingly, mostly because the domains of gaming and writing are not as good as on the Windows side of things.

This attempt is a no-nonsense approach to using Linux fully and completely for serious tasks, without any glamor and fanboyism. While Linux has always served me superbly in the data center space, on the desktop and in the office, it's always taken a second place to Windows. Well, Slimbook + Kubuntu might shatter my preconceptions and exceed my expectations. Might. Also, henceforth, I shall call my machine Slimbuntu. Or not. Anyway, after me.

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Also: Plasma 5.14.2 available in Cosmic backports PPA

Review: System76 Oryx Pro Laptop

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Linux
Reviews

I should start by saying that although I'm definitely no newbie to Linux, I'm new to the world of dedicated Linux laptops. I started with Linux in 1996, when Red Hat 4.0 had just adopted the 2.0 kernel and Debian 1.3 hadn't yet been released. I've run a variety of distros with varying degrees of satisfaction ever since, always looking for the Holy Grail of a desktop UNIX that just plain worked.

About 15 years ago after becoming frustrated with the state of Linux on laptop hardware (in a phrase, "nonexistent hardware support"), I switched my laptops over to Macs and didn't look back. It was a true-blue UNIX that just plain worked, and I was happy. But I increasingly found myself frustrated by things I expected from Linux that weren't available on macOS, and which things like Homebrew and MacPorts and Fink could only partly address.

My last MacBook Pro is now four years old, so it was time to shop around again. After being underwhelmed by this generation of MacBooks, I decided to take the risk on a Linux laptop again.

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DistroWatch Weekly and For The Record Look at elementary OS 5.0

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Reviews
  • Review: elementary OS 5.0

    I found a lot to like about Juno. The release announcement is detailed and shows lots of examples and screen shots. The operating system is easy to install, thanks to Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer and there is a nice collection of default software that will likely appeal to inexperienced users.

    The Pantheon desktop and icons are beautiful. I sometimes ran into sluggish moments with the desktop, but usually only when the disk was under load or I had a video playing. I was really impressed by how Pantheon was put together and I like a lot of the little convenience features. The picture-in-picture preview and the shared edge window resizing are great. I also love that tapping the meta key will show a list of desktop short-cuts. It is little details like these which give the distribution a polished, friendly feel.

    I already mentioned the icons look good and it bears repeating. Minimal icon design drives me mildly mad. I don't like functions represented by vague dots or arrows, I want a detailed icon and (preferably) text to let me know what a button does. elementary does a good job of making icons distinct, clear in purpose and typically accompanied by a text label or tooltip.

    There were a few problems. Some of them were fairly minor, like Epiphany using high CPU load, especially in the virtual machine, or X11 gobbling CPU cycles on my workstation. There were other little touches like the release notes link in the installer not working, that are perhaps only worth mentioning because the rest of the experience was generally so polished and showed a lot of attention to detail.

    My few serious complaints were with user accounts. Specifically, there appears to be a guest account enabled, but I could not find any way to sign into it. It is not a big deal to set up another account for guests, but it makes me wonder if the enabled (and hidden) account could be exploited. I also found it disappointing the parental controls did not work to block application access or forbidden websites.

    On the other hand, I think Pantheon includes some great features and I like that it is fairly flexible in its look and behaviour. The flexible notification area and the quick switching between application menu styles were welcome features.

    Generally speaking, I think elementary OS looks and feels professional. I hope it gets picked up by more hardware sellers, like System76, as I think Juno feels polished and looks good. I think it will especially appeal to less experienced users, but many of the features and the Code tool will likely be useful to more advanced users and developers too.

  • elementary os 5 Juno – For The Record

    elementary os 5 Juno first look. What’s working, what’s not and what happens to be brand new with elementary os. This first look at elementary os 5 Juno includes some things to make upgrading a little easier, suggestions for the next release and list of features I think are simply fantastic.

A Bright Spotlight on elementary OS 5.0

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Reviews

It's really bright. elementary OS 5.0 is the best release so far by mainly it's AppCenter uniqueness and richest of desktop features ever among the prior releases. The thing I love the most is the fact that elementary OS developers contribute greatly to our community which we didn't see anything like that before: they created a new software distribution platform similar to what we previously saw on Apple macOS, except it's for free/libre open source software, by allowing app developers to get paid directly by the users (with the so-called "pay-what-you-want" system). elementary OS is popular, as you may see on Distrowatch, so we can expect bright future for the health of its apps market (and hope more developers getting attracted to join).

The desktop is really usable, the shortcut keys are visible (by pressing Super key) and customizable, its enhanced with parental control as well as Night Light, the apps are plenty and still growing in numbers, plus it's compatible with Ubuntu 18.04 so you can install thousands of packages if you wish right now.

I can run it really smooth on an Intel 967 CPU with 4GB RAM (Intel Graphics). I hope it will be smoother on your systems. I wish this quick review of mine helps you a lot to get attracted to elementary OS and soon be a happy user.

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2nd New MakuluLinux Release Offers Flash and Substance

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The MakuluLinux Flash distro is splashy and fast with a spiffy new look and new features.

MakuluLinux developer Jacque Montague Raymer on Thursday announced the second of this year's three major releases in the Series 15 distro family. The Flash edition follows last month's LinDoz edition release. The much-awaited innovative Core edition will debut between the end of November and mid-December.

MakuluLinux is a relatively new Linux OS. Its positive reputation has been developing since 2015. The three-year growth spurt involved a variety of desktop environments.

Its small developer team has delivered a surprisingly efficient and productive desktop distribution in a relatively short time period. It is unusual to see a startup rise so quickly to offer an innovative and highly competitive computing platform.

Series 15 is not an update of last year's editions. This latest release introduces some radical changes that were under development for the last two years. The Series 15 releases of LinDoz and Flash include a complete rip-and-replace rebuild on top of an in-house developed computing base. LinDoz and Flash have been reworked completely from the ground up.

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Plasma 5.14 – Phasers on stun

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KDE
Reviews

Linux is much like the stock market. Moments of happiness broken by crises. Or is the other way around? Never mind. Today shall hopefully be a day of joy, for I am about to test Plasma 5.14, the latest version of this neat desktop environment. Recently, I’ve had a nice streak of good energy with Linux, mostly thanks to my experience with Slimbook Pro2, which I configured with Kubuntu Beaver. Let’s see if we can keep the momentum.

Now, before we begin, there are more good news woven into this announcement. As you can imagine, you do need some kind of demonstrator to test the new desktop. Usually, it’s KDE neon, which offers a clean, lean, mean KDE-focused testing environment. You can boot into the live session, try the desktop, and if you like it, you can even install it. Indeed, neon is an integral part of my eight-boot setup on the Lenovo G50 machine. But what makes things really interesting is that neon has also switched to the latest Ubuntu LTS base. It now comes aligned to the 18.04 family, adorned with this brand new Plasma. Proceed.

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Review: Reborn OS 2018.09.09 and Nitrux 1.0.15

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Reviews

This month I spent some time digging through the waiting list and trimming projects that have not survived the harsh and demanding growing period of their first year of existence. Among them I found a project which seemed simple on the surface, an Antergos-based distribution offering even more install-time options than its parent. What caught my attention was the specific list of extra options: 15 desktop environments to choose from, able to run Android apps through the Anbox compatibility software, optional Flatpak support, and the Mycroft desktop assistant. All of this on a rolling release base provided by Arch Linux.

The distribution is called Reborn OS and I downloaded what was, at the time, the latest build. Reborn is available as a 64-bit build only. The ISO I downloaded was 1.5GB in size and, booting from this ISO brought up the Budgie desktop environment. At the top of the desktop is a panel with the application menu, a couple of quick-launch buttons and a system tray. The Budgie desktop seemed to respond well once it finished loading and I was eager to get started.

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GNU/Linux Review: Xubuntu 18.04 LTS

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Reviews

Xubuntu 18.04 LTS is an official flavor of Ubuntu Bionic Beaver which uses XFCE Desktop Environment. In this release, it's still as lightweight as before (~350MB of RAM at idle time), with user-friendliness you can expect as always. Yes, it still supports 32-bit so you don't have to buy new computer to upgrade or install it; for the next 3 years. It supports Snappy out of the box with GNOME Software integration. It brings Firefox 59, LibreOffice 6.0, and XFCE 4.12 for us, in only 1.3GB sized ISO image file. And yeah, in this review, I show you that Compiz works here with 3D Cube and stuffs we really missed from our old Ubuntu era.

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New Manjaro Beta Builds a Better Arch

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Linux
Reviews

Regardless of which desktop you select, the welcome screen introduces Manjaro tools and get-acquainted details such as documentation, support tips, and links to the project site.

You can get a full experience in using the live session ISOs without making any changes to the computer's hard drive. That is another advantage to running Manjaro Linux over a true Arch distro. Arch distros usually do not provide live session environments. Most that do lack any automatic installation launcher from within the live session.

Caution: When you attempt to run the boot menu from the Manjaro DVD, pay attention to the startup menu. It is a bit confusing. To start the live session, go halfway down the list of loading choices to select the Boot Manjaro option. The other menu options let you configure non-default choices for keyboard, language, etc.

After the live medium loads the Manjaro live session, browse the categories in the welcome window. You can click the Launch Installer button in the welcome window or launch it after experiencing the live session by clicking on the desktop install icon or running the installation program from the main menu.

Installation is a simple and straightforward process. The Calamares installer allows newcomers to easily set up the distro. It gives advanced users lots of customization options.

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Review: Hamara 2.1

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Reviews

One of the more recent additions to the DistroWatch database is Hamara, a Debian-based desktop distribution developed by an Indian company. The project's website reports that Hamara is developed with the idea of making an operating system more familiar to Indian users, with particular attention paid to supporting the country's more popular spoken languages. The Hamara website also claims the company behind the distribution will provide commercial support though I could not find details on what services were offered or how much they cost. The support page has a contact form for people who wish to make inquiries into support options.

The latest version of Hamara is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. There is an ARM build too, but it is listed as a beta release and carries an older version number, suggesting the ARM branch may have been abandoned. When I was looking at the available download options, I noticed the project's FAQ page seems to suggest Hamara ships with the GNOME 3 and MATE desktops (or a combination of these technologies, another page claims the distro uses LXDE and GNOME 3) but I only found download options featuring the MATE desktop. The 64-bit edition I downloaded was 1.5GB in size.

Booting from the live media brought up a blank screen. There was no prompt, no welcome window and no visible desktop controls. The blank screen appeared both in VirtualBox and on my physical desktop computer. The display would remain blank until I switched to a text terminal (by pressing CTRL+ALT+F2) and then switched back to the desktop display (CTRL+ALT+F7). Once I had switched back to the desktop display, the MATE desktop would begin to load and the live session would present me with a working environment.

The MATE desktop uses a two panel layout. There is a task switcher in the bottom panel. The top panel displays the application menu, system tray and a second task switcher. The top panel's task switcher displays small application icons without text while the bottom panel displays a list of open windows with their title text.

Something I noticed early on is that the Hamara website and the ISO's filename indicate the latest version of the distribution is 2.1. However, when running the live media the system installer and the lsb_release program both label the latest version as being 2.0.

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Photography and Linux

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Linux 3.18.130

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