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Friday, 26 August 2016

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote an article highlighting the 5 Linux distributions I would recommend to the Everyday Linux User.

A number of comments came in recommending other distributions so I set a challenge asking people to nominate the 5 distributions they would recommend to the ordinary guy or girl.

One of the suggestions that came up multiple times was Antergos. 

Antergos is an Arch based distribution and for the average Joe I would ordinarily stay clear of Arch because it requires a certain dedication to keep your system running.

The way I like to think of it is that most of us drive cars. Some of us drive cars to get from A to B and others of us really drive cars. Some people know about engines and care about really intricate things that the rest of us don't care about. I'm thinking along the lines of "Pimp My Ride".

Not everybody is going to take their brand new Kia and add twin exhausts, a spoiler and an expensive sound system in the back. Some of us just need a way of getting the dog to the beach.

In that sense Linux is the same. Some people just want to browse the internet, watch videos, keep up to date with friends and write the odd letter. Arch isn't for these people.

However Antergos is branded as a user friendly operating system which just so happens to have an Arch underbelly and knowing how well Manjaro have achieved the same feat I decided it is definitely worth giving Antergos a go.

So here it is.... my first review of Antergos Linux.

How To Get Antergos Linux






















The Antergos website is available at https://antergos.com/.

On the website you will find a section called "Our Story" which sets out the purpose of Antergos:

The purpose of Antergos is to provide a modern, elegant, and powerful operating system based on one of the best Linux distributions available, Arch Linux. Users need not be linux experts nor developers in order to use Antergos. From long-time linux users to linux users of only a few months, Antergos is for everyone.

You can download Antergos by visiting https://antergos.com/try-it/.

There are two download options on the page:


  • Live image
  • Minimal image
The live image lets you try out Antergos with the GNOME desktop although you don't have to stick with that and I will explain why later on.

I recommend downloading the live image over the minimal image unless you know what you are doing.

You can create a live USB drive from the downloaded live image by using the Win32 Disk Imager tool. 

This guide shows how to create a bootable USB drive. Simply replace the Ubuntu image suggested with the downloaded Antergos image.

If you would prefer to buy a bootable DVD or USB drive you can do so by visiting this page.

Installation


When you boot into the live image of Antergos you are given the choice to try it out or to install it to the hard drive.

It is worth trying the live image to get a look and feel as to how it works but if you plan on using a different desktop to GNOME then you might want to go straight to the install.

Before you start you should backup your computer especially if you plan to dual boot because the Antergos installer states that it is in BETA.

The installation itself is fairly straight forward except for perhaps the partitioning when you want to dual boot with another operating system as it doesn't appear to pick up other operating systems so you have to manually set the partitions for installing Antergos.


So to briefly whizz through the installation, the first thing you have to do is choose the installation language.


The second screen shows you how well prepared you are for installing Antergos. One key element is that you must be connected to the internet in order for the installation to succeed.


To connect to the internet simply click anywhere in the top right corner and choose networks. A list of wireless networks will appear. Choose one of the networks and enter the security key.

If you are using an ethernet connection your internet should already be working.

The reason why you need an internet connection will be made clear later on.


The next step is to choose your location from a list of territories.


This is shortly followed by a screen where you have to pick your exact location for the timezone.


You will then be asked to select your keyboard layout.



Up until now this is all fairly standard stuff but the Antergos installer lets you choose the elements you wish to install.

For example the first stage is to choose the desktop you wish to use. The options are Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE, Openbox and Xfce. If you want something else then you can either choose one of these now and install another one later or go for the base install which doesn't install a desktop at all and then install a desktop post installation.




The next step lets you choose from a range of elements to install. For instance you can choose whether to use the Arch User Repository (and I recommend that you do). The AUR is one of the largest repositories for software applications there is.

You can add bluetooth support, choose either or both of the Firefox and Chromium browsers, add Flash support, add extra fonts, add LibreOffice, include printing support, add Steam and PlayOnLinux and Windows sharing.

The more you turn on, the longer the installation takes.


The next step is the partitioning. 

If you want Antergos to be your only operating system then all you have to do is choose the first option.u

If you want to dual boot then you need to choose manual partitioning. Within the manual partitioning you can choose which partitions are used for root, home and swap and you can choose where the EFI boot loader is.

For installing standalone as a single operating system it is simple. For dual booting it isn't as straight forward as perhaps Linux Mint or Manjaro.


Before you start the installation a summary appears telling you what is about to happen. 


Having reached the summary I thought that would be it but suddenly the user setup screen appears. I would have expected this to be earlier in the piece.

Creating a user is as simple as entering your name, giving the computer a name and setting the password.


You can now sit back and relax whilst the installer does it stuff.

Now here is a little issue and it is an issue many people outside of city centres face. My internet connection isn't the greatest and the way the installer works is much like the Debian minimum install. The files that are required for the installation to occur are downloaded as part of the installation.

I have already downloaded 1.7 gigabytes to get the live image but now I have to wait ages to get the full version to install to my hard drive.

I ended up leaving the process going overnight.

When I woke up I was happy to see that Antergos has installed correctly...... well almost.

I had set Antergos to dual boot with Windows 10 but when I rebooted the system booted straight to the GRUB screen and the GRUB screen didn't contain an entry for booting to Windows.

Some people might get alarmed at this point. "Where has Windows gone? Has it been deleted? Oh flips all my files were on the Windows partition!!!!". 

I rebooted the computer and pressed the F12 key to show the bootable operating systems and Windows was still there. All I needed to do therefore was to fix GRUB so that it added Windows as an option. (I will show you how to do this in another guide).

First Impressions


I chose the GNOME desktop as it is my favourite and most people will find it easy to navigate and use.

The background for Antergos is tidy if not very exciting.


To find your applications and files you can simply press the super key and a dashboard style interface appears.

The easiest way to find what you are looking for is to enter a term into the search bar.

Changing The Wallpaper



I know this part of the review isn't everybody's favourite but I think that a nice vibrant desktop wallpaper makes me more productive because it isn't dull and boring.

To change the wallpaper click on the super key and start entering "background" into the search bar. An option will appear called "Background".

Antergos has a nice selection of wallpapers available but you can choose one of your own or download one from the internet. You can also choose a plain colour if you so wish.

MP3 Audio






























Antergos is fairly minimalist in terms of the software that comes with it and I will come on to this later on in the review.

The audio application within Antergos (GNOME version) is GNOME Music. In order to play music you need to copy it to the Music folder on your computer.

I didn't have any music on this computer as it was a clean install so I decided to see how well some of my external devices behaved.


Whilst audio devices don't appear to work directly with GNOME Music you can open them using the file manager and as you can see my mobile phone was picked up correctly as a storage device.

I was therefore able to copy files from the phone to the music folder.


I also had my Sony Walkman with me (no not the big cassette player from the 1980s) and so I plugged it in and it too was picked up as a storage device.

I copied all the music from the Walkman to my Music folder and GNOME music picked it up correctly and I was able to browse by artist, album, song and playlist.


MP3 playback worked perfectly and there was no need to install any extra codecs. To be honest I can't remember the last time I installed a Linux distribution that required me to install extra codecs unless you count Linux Mint and Ubuntu but I don't think they count because they both provide an option during the installation stage.

Whilst we are on the subject of audio playback I decided to try and play a song straight from the file manager but this isn't an option so I clicked on the file and it opened in the Totem video player.


I'm not sure if this is deliberate but it seems strange that the video player is set up as the default player for audio and not the audio player.

Videos


The default video player in GNOME is Totem. I'm not sure why though. It always feels very clunky to me.

Look at the screenshot above. Totem has picked my Walkman and my phone as videos. If you click on them they of course fail.

The channels option used to have Youtube but now it has a list of fairly random channels that I will never watch.

You can add your own local videos by clicking the plus symbol and navigating to them or you can just find the file within the file manager and click on it but the interface is very strange. I much prefer VLC.

The video playback works perfectly well.

Steam


Now here is a subject I like to rant about. The one program guaranteed not to work anywhere ever except on a Wednesday whilst dancing on one leg, whilst singing the Finnish national anthem is Steam.

I can choose the same distribution on 2 different machines and Steam will work on one and not the other. Instantly the cries come in about it being a graphics issue except for the fact that I can use another distribution on the same 2 machines and the one that was working before now doesn't work and vice versa.

Why is it so hard for Steam to build an installer that works every time. I am so hoping that Ubuntu produces a snap package for it.

Needless to say that with Antergos Steam fell on its knees and begged for mercy. I tried jumping through the hoops on the forums and these are the same hoops I jumped through for Ubuntu and many other distributions but to no avail.



Initially it just didn't run and then after running a command it did the update thing and then nothing. 

Don't let this put you off Antergos because it isn't an Antergos thing. The problem is with the naff Steam installer and you will probably install Antergos and it will work perfectly for you.

Printing



I opted to add the printing support as part of the installation stage and it didn't let me down. Simply search for printing in the dashboard and the print settings option will appear.

You can choose to add a printer and as you can see it picked up the printer that was available from the hotel I am staying in this week.

I printed a few test pages and it worked flawlessly.

Online Video



I have largely stopped worrying whether Flash works or not because most videos nowadays don't use it. Youtube is a good example of this.

Video playback online was largely ok but because the default browser is Chromium I did have an issue whilst trying to play a video from the Google Play store as shown below:

The error complained above a plugin required to play proprietary videos. 

It was easy enough to fix the issue. All I did was open a terminal window and enter the following command:

yaourt chromium-widevine

This will add the Chromium Widevine plugin into Chromium. You then have to visit chrome://plugins within the Chromium browser and check the box to allow it to run.

The moral is to not let one small issue "Curb Your Enthusiasm" towards Antergos.

Connecting To The Internet


I covered this earlier on during the installation stage but just in case you missed it here it is again. Connecting to the internet using GNOME is as simple as clicking in the top right corner and choose the network connection option.

A list of wireless networks will appear and you can choose one from the list and enter the password.

If you chose an internet connection whilst installing Antergos it will have been retained post installation.

Software

Antergos doesn't come with much software by default but you do get the basics which include a web browser, chat client, audio player, video player, file manager etc.

If you chose to install Steam and PlayOnLinux during the install then they will be installed as will LibreOffice.

Installing Software



Antergos has a fairly basic software tool for installing software but it is all purpose and does the job well.

Simply enter what you are looking for into the search box and a list of options will appear.

It is worth learning how to use command line with Antergos as you will inevitably want to use both pacman and yaourt to install other software packages.

Summary

So Antergos was recommended to me by a number of people and I have to say that the experience was decent.

It isn't difficult to install Antergos but if you have a slow internet connection then you have to be a bit patient.

Most things worked ok and hardware support was fine across the board. 

The Steam thing I put down to something that the Steam developers need to resolve. Come up with a better installer.

Would Antergos make my top five now that I have tried it? I would say no to that. It isn't as good as Manjaro and that is the best distribution to pitch it against because they are both based on Arch. Manjaro has a more polished look and feel.

Nevertheless Antergos is a good distribution and well worth a try.
.



An Everyday Linux User Review Of Antergos Linux

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote an article highlighting the 5 Linux distributions I would recommend to the Everyday Linux User.

A number of comments came in recommending other distributions so I set a challenge asking people to nominate the 5 distributions they would recommend to the ordinary guy or girl.

One of the suggestions that came up multiple times was Antergos. 

Antergos is an Arch based distribution and for the average Joe I would ordinarily stay clear of Arch because it requires a certain dedication to keep your system running.

The way I like to think of it is that most of us drive cars. Some of us drive cars to get from A to B and others of us really drive cars. Some people know about engines and care about really intricate things that the rest of us don't care about. I'm thinking along the lines of "Pimp My Ride".

Not everybody is going to take their brand new Kia and add twin exhausts, a spoiler and an expensive sound system in the back. Some of us just need a way of getting the dog to the beach.

In that sense Linux is the same. Some people just want to browse the internet, watch videos, keep up to date with friends and write the odd letter. Arch isn't for these people.

However Antergos is branded as a user friendly operating system which just so happens to have an Arch underbelly and knowing how well Manjaro have achieved the same feat I decided it is definitely worth giving Antergos a go.

So here it is.... my first review of Antergos Linux.

How To Get Antergos Linux






















The Antergos website is available at https://antergos.com/.

On the website you will find a section called "Our Story" which sets out the purpose of Antergos:

The purpose of Antergos is to provide a modern, elegant, and powerful operating system based on one of the best Linux distributions available, Arch Linux. Users need not be linux experts nor developers in order to use Antergos. From long-time linux users to linux users of only a few months, Antergos is for everyone.

You can download Antergos by visiting https://antergos.com/try-it/.

There are two download options on the page:


  • Live image
  • Minimal image
The live image lets you try out Antergos with the GNOME desktop although you don't have to stick with that and I will explain why later on.

I recommend downloading the live image over the minimal image unless you know what you are doing.

You can create a live USB drive from the downloaded live image by using the Win32 Disk Imager tool. 

This guide shows how to create a bootable USB drive. Simply replace the Ubuntu image suggested with the downloaded Antergos image.

If you would prefer to buy a bootable DVD or USB drive you can do so by visiting this page.

Installation


When you boot into the live image of Antergos you are given the choice to try it out or to install it to the hard drive.

It is worth trying the live image to get a look and feel as to how it works but if you plan on using a different desktop to GNOME then you might want to go straight to the install.

Before you start you should backup your computer especially if you plan to dual boot because the Antergos installer states that it is in BETA.

The installation itself is fairly straight forward except for perhaps the partitioning when you want to dual boot with another operating system as it doesn't appear to pick up other operating systems so you have to manually set the partitions for installing Antergos.


So to briefly whizz through the installation, the first thing you have to do is choose the installation language.


The second screen shows you how well prepared you are for installing Antergos. One key element is that you must be connected to the internet in order for the installation to succeed.


To connect to the internet simply click anywhere in the top right corner and choose networks. A list of wireless networks will appear. Choose one of the networks and enter the security key.

If you are using an ethernet connection your internet should already be working.

The reason why you need an internet connection will be made clear later on.


The next step is to choose your location from a list of territories.


This is shortly followed by a screen where you have to pick your exact location for the timezone.


You will then be asked to select your keyboard layout.



Up until now this is all fairly standard stuff but the Antergos installer lets you choose the elements you wish to install.

For example the first stage is to choose the desktop you wish to use. The options are Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE, Openbox and Xfce. If you want something else then you can either choose one of these now and install another one later or go for the base install which doesn't install a desktop at all and then install a desktop post installation.




The next step lets you choose from a range of elements to install. For instance you can choose whether to use the Arch User Repository (and I recommend that you do). The AUR is one of the largest repositories for software applications there is.

You can add bluetooth support, choose either or both of the Firefox and Chromium browsers, add Flash support, add extra fonts, add LibreOffice, include printing support, add Steam and PlayOnLinux and Windows sharing.

The more you turn on, the longer the installation takes.


The next step is the partitioning. 

If you want Antergos to be your only operating system then all you have to do is choose the first option.u

If you want to dual boot then you need to choose manual partitioning. Within the manual partitioning you can choose which partitions are used for root, home and swap and you can choose where the EFI boot loader is.

For installing standalone as a single operating system it is simple. For dual booting it isn't as straight forward as perhaps Linux Mint or Manjaro.


Before you start the installation a summary appears telling you what is about to happen. 


Having reached the summary I thought that would be it but suddenly the user setup screen appears. I would have expected this to be earlier in the piece.

Creating a user is as simple as entering your name, giving the computer a name and setting the password.


You can now sit back and relax whilst the installer does it stuff.

Now here is a little issue and it is an issue many people outside of city centres face. My internet connection isn't the greatest and the way the installer works is much like the Debian minimum install. The files that are required for the installation to occur are downloaded as part of the installation.

I have already downloaded 1.7 gigabytes to get the live image but now I have to wait ages to get the full version to install to my hard drive.

I ended up leaving the process going overnight.

When I woke up I was happy to see that Antergos has installed correctly...... well almost.

I had set Antergos to dual boot with Windows 10 but when I rebooted the system booted straight to the GRUB screen and the GRUB screen didn't contain an entry for booting to Windows.

Some people might get alarmed at this point. "Where has Windows gone? Has it been deleted? Oh flips all my files were on the Windows partition!!!!". 

I rebooted the computer and pressed the F12 key to show the bootable operating systems and Windows was still there. All I needed to do therefore was to fix GRUB so that it added Windows as an option. (I will show you how to do this in another guide).

First Impressions


I chose the GNOME desktop as it is my favourite and most people will find it easy to navigate and use.

The background for Antergos is tidy if not very exciting.


To find your applications and files you can simply press the super key and a dashboard style interface appears.

The easiest way to find what you are looking for is to enter a term into the search bar.

Changing The Wallpaper



I know this part of the review isn't everybody's favourite but I think that a nice vibrant desktop wallpaper makes me more productive because it isn't dull and boring.

To change the wallpaper click on the super key and start entering "background" into the search bar. An option will appear called "Background".

Antergos has a nice selection of wallpapers available but you can choose one of your own or download one from the internet. You can also choose a plain colour if you so wish.

MP3 Audio






























Antergos is fairly minimalist in terms of the software that comes with it and I will come on to this later on in the review.

The audio application within Antergos (GNOME version) is GNOME Music. In order to play music you need to copy it to the Music folder on your computer.

I didn't have any music on this computer as it was a clean install so I decided to see how well some of my external devices behaved.


Whilst audio devices don't appear to work directly with GNOME Music you can open them using the file manager and as you can see my mobile phone was picked up correctly as a storage device.

I was therefore able to copy files from the phone to the music folder.


I also had my Sony Walkman with me (no not the big cassette player from the 1980s) and so I plugged it in and it too was picked up as a storage device.

I copied all the music from the Walkman to my Music folder and GNOME music picked it up correctly and I was able to browse by artist, album, song and playlist.


MP3 playback worked perfectly and there was no need to install any extra codecs. To be honest I can't remember the last time I installed a Linux distribution that required me to install extra codecs unless you count Linux Mint and Ubuntu but I don't think they count because they both provide an option during the installation stage.

Whilst we are on the subject of audio playback I decided to try and play a song straight from the file manager but this isn't an option so I clicked on the file and it opened in the Totem video player.


I'm not sure if this is deliberate but it seems strange that the video player is set up as the default player for audio and not the audio player.

Videos


The default video player in GNOME is Totem. I'm not sure why though. It always feels very clunky to me.

Look at the screenshot above. Totem has picked my Walkman and my phone as videos. If you click on them they of course fail.

The channels option used to have Youtube but now it has a list of fairly random channels that I will never watch.

You can add your own local videos by clicking the plus symbol and navigating to them or you can just find the file within the file manager and click on it but the interface is very strange. I much prefer VLC.

The video playback works perfectly well.

Steam


Now here is a subject I like to rant about. The one program guaranteed not to work anywhere ever except on a Wednesday whilst dancing on one leg, whilst singing the Finnish national anthem is Steam.

I can choose the same distribution on 2 different machines and Steam will work on one and not the other. Instantly the cries come in about it being a graphics issue except for the fact that I can use another distribution on the same 2 machines and the one that was working before now doesn't work and vice versa.

Why is it so hard for Steam to build an installer that works every time. I am so hoping that Ubuntu produces a snap package for it.

Needless to say that with Antergos Steam fell on its knees and begged for mercy. I tried jumping through the hoops on the forums and these are the same hoops I jumped through for Ubuntu and many other distributions but to no avail.



Initially it just didn't run and then after running a command it did the update thing and then nothing. 

Don't let this put you off Antergos because it isn't an Antergos thing. The problem is with the naff Steam installer and you will probably install Antergos and it will work perfectly for you.

Printing



I opted to add the printing support as part of the installation stage and it didn't let me down. Simply search for printing in the dashboard and the print settings option will appear.

You can choose to add a printer and as you can see it picked up the printer that was available from the hotel I am staying in this week.

I printed a few test pages and it worked flawlessly.

Online Video



I have largely stopped worrying whether Flash works or not because most videos nowadays don't use it. Youtube is a good example of this.

Video playback online was largely ok but because the default browser is Chromium I did have an issue whilst trying to play a video from the Google Play store as shown below:

The error complained above a plugin required to play proprietary videos. 

It was easy enough to fix the issue. All I did was open a terminal window and enter the following command:

yaourt chromium-widevine

This will add the Chromium Widevine plugin into Chromium. You then have to visit chrome://plugins within the Chromium browser and check the box to allow it to run.

The moral is to not let one small issue "Curb Your Enthusiasm" towards Antergos.

Connecting To The Internet


I covered this earlier on during the installation stage but just in case you missed it here it is again. Connecting to the internet using GNOME is as simple as clicking in the top right corner and choose the network connection option.

A list of wireless networks will appear and you can choose one from the list and enter the password.

If you chose an internet connection whilst installing Antergos it will have been retained post installation.

Software

Antergos doesn't come with much software by default but you do get the basics which include a web browser, chat client, audio player, video player, file manager etc.

If you chose to install Steam and PlayOnLinux during the install then they will be installed as will LibreOffice.

Installing Software



Antergos has a fairly basic software tool for installing software but it is all purpose and does the job well.

Simply enter what you are looking for into the search box and a list of options will appear.

It is worth learning how to use command line with Antergos as you will inevitably want to use both pacman and yaourt to install other software packages.

Summary

So Antergos was recommended to me by a number of people and I have to say that the experience was decent.

It isn't difficult to install Antergos but if you have a slow internet connection then you have to be a bit patient.

Most things worked ok and hardware support was fine across the board. 

The Steam thing I put down to something that the Steam developers need to resolve. Come up with a better installer.

Would Antergos make my top five now that I have tried it? I would say no to that. It isn't as good as Manjaro and that is the best distribution to pitch it against because they are both based on Arch. Manjaro has a more polished look and feel.

Nevertheless Antergos is a good distribution and well worth a try.
.



Posted at 17:59 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote a list of the 5 Linux distributions that I would recommend for the Everyday Linux User.

Within minutes of its release I was asked why various other distributions weren't considered for the list.

I therefore set a challenge asking people to submit their own lists with reasons as to why they would choose those distributions.

Here is an entry by David Bley who obliged my request. This in my opinion is the most well thought out and elaborated entry as yet so I thought I would share it with you first.

The Top 5 Linux Distributions

By David Bley


I don't fit your definition of an everyday linux user but I consider myself one. My favourite Windows OS was XP.  I did not care for Windows 7 and did not like the gestapo tactics that MS used to roll out Windows 10.

I started in IBM PC's at dos 2.1, so the terminal works OK for me, but I have become more used to a GUI to do things and prefer it.  I want the OS to fade into the background and let me run the software I need to perform the task.

Also, in the mid to late 80's I used an IBM AT (12MHz !) that had a UNIX co-processor board in it without a GUI, so I learned some basic UNIX commands for copying files, listing directories, etc.

I will assume that everyday linux users are coming from a windows environment or that they have gotten a workable piece of hardware (desktop or laptop) that the original OS has become obsolete on and are installing Linux because updating their current OS is not possible or too expensive. I am assuming that everyday linux users are not buying a system with linux pre-installed, unless it is a Raspberry-PI or a C.H.I.P. computer.

So my requirements for a Linux distribution are that the installation should be easy, not ask me questions that I don't understand, and work with minimal fiddling, which includes installing a printer.  As far as all the things that most developers seem to worry about, what the screen looks like and what apps are installed​ and how fast it is, are of secondary importance.  If it is too slow, then I am mostly using the wrong hardware although I grew up before computers and any wordprocessor is faster than a typewriter.

Other requirements that I come across is a distribution that will run on older hardware. this includes being small (fits on single CD), being lightweight (runs adequately on minimal RAM - approx 256MB) and supports all hardware on older machines.

I have examined many different distributions for the hardware that I have.


My top distribution for 32 bit machines is Lubuntu as it was the first distribution that I installed on my constantly used Windows XP netbook. My current version is 14.04 LTS, mostly because at this point in time I don't want to update and possibly convert a working computer to a non-working one.

On my 64 bit computer, I am running Ubuntu Mate 14.04  This computer is a return from lease that had XP installed.  I tried to install the 64 bit version of Lubuntu but it did not work properly.  Even with Mate, the graphics driver had an issue, but some poking around on the Ubuntu website got me an answer.  This is my everyday computer (desktop) with a 25" monitor and I have not updated for a similar reason as the first.  I also want to max out RAM to 8G and change out harddisk with a 1T before I change OS.  I am not one to change everything at once and fire it up!

On my oldest systems, which are intended for single purpose use (file server, audio player, home control, etc.) I need a distribution that fits on a CD, will run on older cpu with 256MB of RAM at OK speed.  I have tried many "lightweight" distributions even ones that I had to install from a USB drive using PLOP on boot CD and I keep coming back to Damn Small Linux.  It will fit on a small CD, supports hardware that was running Windows ME, installs easily, and is quite fast.  There is some question as to whether DSL is an active project, but it seems like it is still being maintained even though the releases don't come out very often.

I seem be be stuck in Ubuntu-land.  I have tried other distributions, SUSE, Fedora, Mint and they did not meet my requirements as well even though I did try many.

When I first started down the road of moving from Windows XP to Linux, I found that the number of distributions was daunting.  I used selection aids but they were not as helpful to me as I would have liked.

I have tried to think of two final distributions to add to the list but I cannot.

Summary

David has come up with three Linux distributions: Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Damn Small Linux.

Ubuntu MATE would definitely be close to reaching my top five and I would recommend Lubuntu for low end computers and older netbooks.

Damn Small Linux might be a bit daunting for non-technical users and for something of that size it might be worth thinking about a Puppy Linux such as Simplicity.

Thanks for sharing David.

If you think you can do better read this article and submit your list.

I have received a number of good suggestions in my inbox and as well as posting more of your lists I will be reviewing the likes of Antergos and openSUSE Leap.

Thanks for reading.

An Alternative List Of The Top 3 Linux Distributions For The Everyday Linux User

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote a list of the 5 Linux distributions that I would recommend for the Everyday Linux User.

Within minutes of its release I was asked why various other distributions weren't considered for the list.

I therefore set a challenge asking people to submit their own lists with reasons as to why they would choose those distributions.

Here is an entry by David Bley who obliged my request. This in my opinion is the most well thought out and elaborated entry as yet so I thought I would share it with you first.

The Top 5 Linux Distributions

By David Bley


I don't fit your definition of an everyday linux user but I consider myself one. My favourite Windows OS was XP.  I did not care for Windows 7 and did not like the gestapo tactics that MS used to roll out Windows 10.

I started in IBM PC's at dos 2.1, so the terminal works OK for me, but I have become more used to a GUI to do things and prefer it.  I want the OS to fade into the background and let me run the software I need to perform the task.

Also, in the mid to late 80's I used an IBM AT (12MHz !) that had a UNIX co-processor board in it without a GUI, so I learned some basic UNIX commands for copying files, listing directories, etc.

I will assume that everyday linux users are coming from a windows environment or that they have gotten a workable piece of hardware (desktop or laptop) that the original OS has become obsolete on and are installing Linux because updating their current OS is not possible or too expensive. I am assuming that everyday linux users are not buying a system with linux pre-installed, unless it is a Raspberry-PI or a C.H.I.P. computer.

So my requirements for a Linux distribution are that the installation should be easy, not ask me questions that I don't understand, and work with minimal fiddling, which includes installing a printer.  As far as all the things that most developers seem to worry about, what the screen looks like and what apps are installed​ and how fast it is, are of secondary importance.  If it is too slow, then I am mostly using the wrong hardware although I grew up before computers and any wordprocessor is faster than a typewriter.

Other requirements that I come across is a distribution that will run on older hardware. this includes being small (fits on single CD), being lightweight (runs adequately on minimal RAM - approx 256MB) and supports all hardware on older machines.

I have examined many different distributions for the hardware that I have.


My top distribution for 32 bit machines is Lubuntu as it was the first distribution that I installed on my constantly used Windows XP netbook. My current version is 14.04 LTS, mostly because at this point in time I don't want to update and possibly convert a working computer to a non-working one.

On my 64 bit computer, I am running Ubuntu Mate 14.04  This computer is a return from lease that had XP installed.  I tried to install the 64 bit version of Lubuntu but it did not work properly.  Even with Mate, the graphics driver had an issue, but some poking around on the Ubuntu website got me an answer.  This is my everyday computer (desktop) with a 25" monitor and I have not updated for a similar reason as the first.  I also want to max out RAM to 8G and change out harddisk with a 1T before I change OS.  I am not one to change everything at once and fire it up!

On my oldest systems, which are intended for single purpose use (file server, audio player, home control, etc.) I need a distribution that fits on a CD, will run on older cpu with 256MB of RAM at OK speed.  I have tried many "lightweight" distributions even ones that I had to install from a USB drive using PLOP on boot CD and I keep coming back to Damn Small Linux.  It will fit on a small CD, supports hardware that was running Windows ME, installs easily, and is quite fast.  There is some question as to whether DSL is an active project, but it seems like it is still being maintained even though the releases don't come out very often.

I seem be be stuck in Ubuntu-land.  I have tried other distributions, SUSE, Fedora, Mint and they did not meet my requirements as well even though I did try many.

When I first started down the road of moving from Windows XP to Linux, I found that the number of distributions was daunting.  I used selection aids but they were not as helpful to me as I would have liked.

I have tried to think of two final distributions to add to the list but I cannot.

Summary

David has come up with three Linux distributions: Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Damn Small Linux.

Ubuntu MATE would definitely be close to reaching my top five and I would recommend Lubuntu for low end computers and older netbooks.

Damn Small Linux might be a bit daunting for non-technical users and for something of that size it might be worth thinking about a Puppy Linux such as Simplicity.

Thanks for sharing David.

If you think you can do better read this article and submit your list.

I have received a number of good suggestions in my inbox and as well as posting more of your lists I will be reviewing the likes of Antergos and openSUSE Leap.

Thanks for reading.

Posted at 19:46 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 1 August 2016

Introduction

Last week I wrote a list of the 5 Linux distributions I recommend for the everyday linux user.

As expected I am receiving comments asking why I didn't include this distribution or that distribution.

I am therefore opening the floor to you guys and girls.

The Challenge

Your challenge is to write a list of the 5 Linux distributions you would recommend to the everyday linux user.

What Is The Everyday Linux User

My criteria for the everyday user is somebody who isn't particularly technically skilled.

They don't know or care how to program or script and they don't particularly want to spend time messing around in the terminal or scouring the internet searching for solutions to things that should be easy to set up.

The Everyday user wants tools such as office suites, browsers, chat clients, audio programs, video players and image viewers.

The Everyday Linux User wants to be able to find and install software easily.

The Reward

Each sensible submission (ie no spam posts) will be posted on this site.

At the end of August I will place a poll and you will be able to vote on the best submission.

The top 2 submissions will receive a £10 Amazon gift card (which is between $15 and $20 dollars and changing on a daily basis due to the recent brexit vote in the UK).

The winners will be announced on the 10th September.

So not only do you get to have your say you also get a chance to win a prIze as well.

How To Submit Your Entry

Simply email everydaylinuxuser@gmail.com with your list of the best 5 distributions for the everyday linux user.

Please state why you are submitting each item in the list.

Please also supply your name so that you can receive credit for your entry.

Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone that enters.

Remember if you don't enter you can't complain that your chosen distributions weren't considered.

Terms and conditions

You agree that your submission can be posted on this site.

Slight grammatical changes may be made. (Such as spelling mistakes).

Your data will not be used for any other purposes and will not be retained after the end of the contest.



Submit Your Top 5 Linux Distributions

Introduction

Last week I wrote a list of the 5 Linux distributions I recommend for the everyday linux user.

As expected I am receiving comments asking why I didn't include this distribution or that distribution.

I am therefore opening the floor to you guys and girls.

The Challenge

Your challenge is to write a list of the 5 Linux distributions you would recommend to the everyday linux user.

What Is The Everyday Linux User

My criteria for the everyday user is somebody who isn't particularly technically skilled.

They don't know or care how to program or script and they don't particularly want to spend time messing around in the terminal or scouring the internet searching for solutions to things that should be easy to set up.

The Everyday user wants tools such as office suites, browsers, chat clients, audio programs, video players and image viewers.

The Everyday Linux User wants to be able to find and install software easily.

The Reward

Each sensible submission (ie no spam posts) will be posted on this site.

At the end of August I will place a poll and you will be able to vote on the best submission.

The top 2 submissions will receive a £10 Amazon gift card (which is between $15 and $20 dollars and changing on a daily basis due to the recent brexit vote in the UK).

The winners will be announced on the 10th September.

So not only do you get to have your say you also get a chance to win a prIze as well.

How To Submit Your Entry

Simply email everydaylinuxuser@gmail.com with your list of the best 5 distributions for the everyday linux user.

Please state why you are submitting each item in the list.

Please also supply your name so that you can receive credit for your entry.

Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone that enters.

Remember if you don't enter you can't complain that your chosen distributions weren't considered.

Terms and conditions

You agree that your submission can be posted on this site.

Slight grammatical changes may be made. (Such as spelling mistakes).

Your data will not be used for any other purposes and will not be retained after the end of the contest.



Posted at 14:15 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 25 July 2016

Introduction

I have written a relatively large number of reviews over the past few years. I mean just check out this page!!!

There are three questions that I am asked quite regularly:

The questions are as follows:

  • Which Linux Distributions would I recommend to new users?
  • Which Linux Distributions should the average user use? (not necessarily asked in that way but in a way similar to this)
  • Which Linux Distributions do I use?
I aim to answer the top 2 questions in this article and I will save the other one for another day.

The list will contain just 5 distributions because I believe that the Linux distributions that suit new users to Linux are the same that will suit people who just want to go about their day without overly customising and administering their systems/

Without further ado then lets start with the list. Unlike other lists this is in the order in which I recommend them.

1. Linux Mint






















There is a very fine line between deciding whether to recommend Linux Mint over Ubuntu or Ubuntu over Linux Mint and I have hedged my bets at About.com by writing the following 2 guides:

When I use Linux Mint it always feels like it has been well thought out and that there has been a really decent level of testing.

Cinnamon improves with each and every release and things just seem to work that little bit better than Ubuntu. 

An obvious example is with regards to package management. The user interface for installing software in Linux Mint is still much easier to get working in its entirety than Ubuntu. 

I think Ubuntu would suit people who have a little bit more experience with Linux whereas Linux Mint is a far better entry point distribution.

My major issue with Linux Mint which is also one of its strengths is the fact that it aligns itself to the Ubuntu LTS release. What this means is that for now Linux Mint is perfectly up to date but in two years time whilst it will have had all the security updates it requires the interface begins to look a little bit tired compared to Ubuntu which continually improves every 6 months.

What you can be assured of is stability. You can also be assured when it comes to hardware detection but as the kernel gets older you will find that newer hardware will be harder to incorporate because the version of the kernel becomes out of date.

The software with Linux Mint is as good as it gets with the Banshee audio player, LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Thunderbird email client, Firefox web browser and VLC media player.

I personally recommend the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint over the MATE version. When it comes to MATE I have to recommend Ubuntu MATE over Linux Mint MATE.


2. Ubuntu






















It may be number 2 on this list but there is barely anything between Linux Mint and Ubuntu. The whole decision for me still comes down to the mess that is the software installer within Ubuntu.

The GNOME Software Manager has always been very good when I have used it with openSUSE and Fedora but for some reason in Ubuntu it just doesn't show all the software it should be showing. For instance Steam.

This guide will show you a neat way of installing all the software that you can't readily find via the GNOME Software Manager.

Ubuntu is great for a number of reasons. It is easy to install and the hardware detection is second to none.

Ubuntu is also incredibly well supported and if you have a problem then you can guarantee that somebody else has come across the same issue and found a resolution.

The Unity desktop is really easy to navigate and the applications integrate well with the desktop.

As with Linux Mint you get all of the software the average person requires installed as part of the operating system including Firefox for web browsing, the LibreOffice office suite, Thunderbird email client and the Totem video player. The audio player is Rhythmbox.

If you ask the question "which distribution should I use?" on some sites such as Reddit then you are instantly going to get the reply recommending all sorts of so called cool distributions such as Arch or Slackware.

You really can't go far wrong with Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

Click here for my review of Ubuntu 16.04.

3. Peppermint OS























Maybe a little bit controversial this one but there are many reasons why Peppermint OS is on this list.

I follow a guy on Youtube called EnglishBob who has waxed lyrical about two distributions over the past 12 months and I have to say I agree with him on both of them.

The great thing about Peppermint OS is that it is lightweight and doesn't install more software than you actually need. Basically you get the desktop and you get to choose the rest.

As Peppermint OS has a Ubuntu base you get the full LTS support that you will get with Linux Mint and Ubuntu but you also get something a bit different.

Peppermint OS also has the ICE tool which makes it easy for use to embed web applications into your desktop experience.


Another reason why Peppermint OS is on this list is the fact that the releases have been nice and regular. Other distributions of a similar size have been somewhat irregular and it is a testament to the Peppermint team that they have kept going as long as they have.

I could easily have plumped for Lubuntu, Xubuntu or LXLE on this list but I find Peppermint OS gets it just about right when it comes to style and substance.

Click here for my review of Peppermint OS

4. Manjaro






















I have to say that when I first used Manjaro a few years ago I thought it was good but not spectacular. When I installed the KDE version earlier this year however I was blown away by how far this distribution has come along.

Manjaro is based on Arch Linux but like with Ubuntu you don't really need to care what it is based on because it makes most of the difficult stuff easy.

The installer is every bit as easy to use as the Ubuntu, Mint and Peppermint installers and it comes with all the software you need to get going.

The software selection probably isn't quite as strong for the new user as Ubuntu and Mint. For example the audio player is Cantata which is fine but not as fully featured as Banshee, Rhythmbox or Clementine.

The KDE version comes with KMail as an email client, there is the fully LibreOffice suite, there are video editing tools, image viewers, chat clients, image editors, photo management tools and many more little utilities.

Steam is also installed by default and it works without any errors which isn't always guaranteed.

I'm not as convinced that this would be 100% suitable for somebody using Linux for the first time but if you have been using Linux Mint or Ubuntu for a while and want to try something different then it is definitely worth trying out.

Click here for my review of Manjaro

5. PCLinuxOS























When trying to recommend Linux distributions to people I have to consider more than just about how good a distribution is.

There have been many distributions come and go since I first started using Linux and so one thing I have kept in mind when coming up with this list is how long the distributions have been around.

PCLinuxOS is the oldest distribution that I have featured and it is included because generally speaking it is every bit as good as a Ubuntu based distribution.

The installer is solid, the hardware support is very good and the support forums are active and helpful although not everyone will testify to that.

Applications wise you get the LibreOffice office suite, the GIMP image editor, Clementine audio player (my personal favourite), VLC media player, Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client.

There is a version of PCLinuxOS available called the full monty which has more application that you could ever possibly need but the download size is also very big as well.

The package manager is Synaptic which whilst not necessarily pleasing on the eye is straight forward, easy to use and it works without fuss.

I did have some issues with PCLinuxOS when I reviewed it in the sense that I struggled to get Steam to work.

PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution which means your system stays up to date without having to reinstall or upgrade.

Click here for my review of PCLinuxOS

Summary

Why 5? Why not 10? 

The more distributions that I list, the more confusion that I will introduce to potentially new users. If I had to recommend 1 it would be Linux Mint but we are all different so I have tried to add a bit of variety.

The list includes 2 main stream behemoths, a rolling release distribution, a lightweight distribution and a cool modern distribution. I think that covers most bases.

Thankyou for reading.

Disagree With This List

If you disagree with this list why not submit your own.


The Top 5 Linux Distributions For The Everyday Linux User

Introduction

I have written a relatively large number of reviews over the past few years. I mean just check out this page!!!

There are three questions that I am asked quite regularly:

The questions are as follows:

  • Which Linux Distributions would I recommend to new users?
  • Which Linux Distributions should the average user use? (not necessarily asked in that way but in a way similar to this)
  • Which Linux Distributions do I use?
I aim to answer the top 2 questions in this article and I will save the other one for another day.

The list will contain just 5 distributions because I believe that the Linux distributions that suit new users to Linux are the same that will suit people who just want to go about their day without overly customising and administering their systems/

Without further ado then lets start with the list. Unlike other lists this is in the order in which I recommend them.

1. Linux Mint






















There is a very fine line between deciding whether to recommend Linux Mint over Ubuntu or Ubuntu over Linux Mint and I have hedged my bets at About.com by writing the following 2 guides:

When I use Linux Mint it always feels like it has been well thought out and that there has been a really decent level of testing.

Cinnamon improves with each and every release and things just seem to work that little bit better than Ubuntu. 

An obvious example is with regards to package management. The user interface for installing software in Linux Mint is still much easier to get working in its entirety than Ubuntu. 

I think Ubuntu would suit people who have a little bit more experience with Linux whereas Linux Mint is a far better entry point distribution.

My major issue with Linux Mint which is also one of its strengths is the fact that it aligns itself to the Ubuntu LTS release. What this means is that for now Linux Mint is perfectly up to date but in two years time whilst it will have had all the security updates it requires the interface begins to look a little bit tired compared to Ubuntu which continually improves every 6 months.

What you can be assured of is stability. You can also be assured when it comes to hardware detection but as the kernel gets older you will find that newer hardware will be harder to incorporate because the version of the kernel becomes out of date.

The software with Linux Mint is as good as it gets with the Banshee audio player, LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Thunderbird email client, Firefox web browser and VLC media player.

I personally recommend the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint over the MATE version. When it comes to MATE I have to recommend Ubuntu MATE over Linux Mint MATE.


2. Ubuntu






















It may be number 2 on this list but there is barely anything between Linux Mint and Ubuntu. The whole decision for me still comes down to the mess that is the software installer within Ubuntu.

The GNOME Software Manager has always been very good when I have used it with openSUSE and Fedora but for some reason in Ubuntu it just doesn't show all the software it should be showing. For instance Steam.

This guide will show you a neat way of installing all the software that you can't readily find via the GNOME Software Manager.

Ubuntu is great for a number of reasons. It is easy to install and the hardware detection is second to none.

Ubuntu is also incredibly well supported and if you have a problem then you can guarantee that somebody else has come across the same issue and found a resolution.

The Unity desktop is really easy to navigate and the applications integrate well with the desktop.

As with Linux Mint you get all of the software the average person requires installed as part of the operating system including Firefox for web browsing, the LibreOffice office suite, Thunderbird email client and the Totem video player. The audio player is Rhythmbox.

If you ask the question "which distribution should I use?" on some sites such as Reddit then you are instantly going to get the reply recommending all sorts of so called cool distributions such as Arch or Slackware.

You really can't go far wrong with Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

Click here for my review of Ubuntu 16.04.

3. Peppermint OS























Maybe a little bit controversial this one but there are many reasons why Peppermint OS is on this list.

I follow a guy on Youtube called EnglishBob who has waxed lyrical about two distributions over the past 12 months and I have to say I agree with him on both of them.

The great thing about Peppermint OS is that it is lightweight and doesn't install more software than you actually need. Basically you get the desktop and you get to choose the rest.

As Peppermint OS has a Ubuntu base you get the full LTS support that you will get with Linux Mint and Ubuntu but you also get something a bit different.

Peppermint OS also has the ICE tool which makes it easy for use to embed web applications into your desktop experience.


Another reason why Peppermint OS is on this list is the fact that the releases have been nice and regular. Other distributions of a similar size have been somewhat irregular and it is a testament to the Peppermint team that they have kept going as long as they have.

I could easily have plumped for Lubuntu, Xubuntu or LXLE on this list but I find Peppermint OS gets it just about right when it comes to style and substance.

Click here for my review of Peppermint OS

4. Manjaro






















I have to say that when I first used Manjaro a few years ago I thought it was good but not spectacular. When I installed the KDE version earlier this year however I was blown away by how far this distribution has come along.

Manjaro is based on Arch Linux but like with Ubuntu you don't really need to care what it is based on because it makes most of the difficult stuff easy.

The installer is every bit as easy to use as the Ubuntu, Mint and Peppermint installers and it comes with all the software you need to get going.

The software selection probably isn't quite as strong for the new user as Ubuntu and Mint. For example the audio player is Cantata which is fine but not as fully featured as Banshee, Rhythmbox or Clementine.

The KDE version comes with KMail as an email client, there is the fully LibreOffice suite, there are video editing tools, image viewers, chat clients, image editors, photo management tools and many more little utilities.

Steam is also installed by default and it works without any errors which isn't always guaranteed.

I'm not as convinced that this would be 100% suitable for somebody using Linux for the first time but if you have been using Linux Mint or Ubuntu for a while and want to try something different then it is definitely worth trying out.

Click here for my review of Manjaro

5. PCLinuxOS























When trying to recommend Linux distributions to people I have to consider more than just about how good a distribution is.

There have been many distributions come and go since I first started using Linux and so one thing I have kept in mind when coming up with this list is how long the distributions have been around.

PCLinuxOS is the oldest distribution that I have featured and it is included because generally speaking it is every bit as good as a Ubuntu based distribution.

The installer is solid, the hardware support is very good and the support forums are active and helpful although not everyone will testify to that.

Applications wise you get the LibreOffice office suite, the GIMP image editor, Clementine audio player (my personal favourite), VLC media player, Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client.

There is a version of PCLinuxOS available called the full monty which has more application that you could ever possibly need but the download size is also very big as well.

The package manager is Synaptic which whilst not necessarily pleasing on the eye is straight forward, easy to use and it works without fuss.

I did have some issues with PCLinuxOS when I reviewed it in the sense that I struggled to get Steam to work.

PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution which means your system stays up to date without having to reinstall or upgrade.

Click here for my review of PCLinuxOS

Summary

Why 5? Why not 10? 

The more distributions that I list, the more confusion that I will introduce to potentially new users. If I had to recommend 1 it would be Linux Mint but we are all different so I have tried to add a bit of variety.

The list includes 2 main stream behemoths, a rolling release distribution, a lightweight distribution and a cool modern distribution. I think that covers most bases.

Thankyou for reading.

Disagree With This List

If you disagree with this list why not submit your own.


Posted at 21:22 |  by Gary Newell

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