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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Introduction

Last year I wrote a review of openSUSE 13.1 and I followed up the review with a series of articles looking at the applications that were released as part of the distribution:
That particular review looked at the KDE version of openSUSE. This is a review of openSUSE 13.2 and focuses on the GNOME desktop environment.

In my recent review of Fedora 21 I pointed out how far I believe the GNOME desktop has come in the past few years. I would go so far as saying that it is now so good that it is at least on a par with Unity and potentially the best desktop environment available.

The main desktop itself has excellent navigational features and keyboard shortcuts. GNOME 3 is more than just a pretty desktop. Look at this list of applications which are built to run on top of GNOME.

How To Get openSUSE 13.2

Click here for the openSUSE download page.

The initial download option on that page is 4.7 gigabytes in size. If you have a poor internet connection or a download limit that may seem extreme and to be honest you can guarantee that if you download that file then many of the applications will need to be updated after installing them anyway and you probably wouldn't use most of the software that makes up the 4.7 gigabytes.

Note that there is a link halfway down the page which reads "Click here to display these alternative versions". This option provides links to download a live GNOME and a live KDE version.

You can also buy a DVD or USB drive.

Minimum Requirements

This page on the openSUSE website lists the following minimum requirements.

  • Pentium III 500 mhz or higher (Pentium 4 2.4 ghz or any AMD64/Intel 64 recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB Hard Drive space (5 GB or more recommended)
  • Supports most sound and graphics cards. (minimum 800 x 600 resolution, recommended 1024 x 768 or higher)
  • USB port or DVD drive

New Features In openSUSE 13.2

  • Linux Kernel 3.16
  • btrfs is new default filesystem
  • Live images are persistent by default
  • Revamped Yast installer (which I will come to shortly)
  • New Yast is faster, more stable and better integrated with SystemD
  • Latest stable version of KDE desktop available (4.11.12)
  • Newer GNOME desktop (3.14.1)
  • HiDPI Screen Support
  • Much improved searching in GNOME shell
  • Touch screen gestures supported
  • GNOME Maps includes route mapping
  • Google Account support for GNOME Photos
  • Playlist support in GNOME Music
  • New videos interface
  • Polari - a modern IRC client
Click here for a full list of new features in openSUSE 13.2 

Installation

I recently developed a guide showing how to install openSUSE whilst replacing your current operating system.

According to the new features list the YAST installer has been improved and in some areas this is true and in others I have a few issues.

The partitioning section is still just plain awful for the everyday user. I know it is easy to always fall back to the installers used by Ubuntu and Linux Mint but they do right what many other installers do wrong.

What is wrong with a simple "replace your current operating system with openSUSE" option which simply wipes your drive and sets up a sensible partitioning scheme?

What is wrong with a simple "install openSUSE alongside Windows" or "install openSUSE alongside your current operating system" option?

Instead, what you get is a long list of planned changes that the installer is going to make, which you have to work through and think about before moving on.

There is an option to enter a setup screen which lets you choose your hard drive and then select all partitions thereby replacing your current operating system with openSUSE but it isn't plainly in sight and even when you choose this option you are back to the big scary list showing dozens of potential partition changes.

Worse than that however, I previously had Fedora 21 on this drive which used an LVM partition. openSUSE couldn't handle replacing that with the partitioning structure I chose to set up. I ended up having to use gParted to remove the Fedora partitions and restart the installer.

There are people out there that will want all of the verbose options, giving access to every available installation option but maybe there could be a general installer and a custom installer to make it easier for the masses.

To be honest I found the openSUSE installer more difficult than the Anaconda installer that is shipped with Fedora and that has taken heaps of criticism over the years. Now I would say that the Fedora installer has greatly improved but the openSUSE installer still has some way to go.

On to the good news though, well kind of. This machine has a standard BIOS and there is no EFI in sight. The openSUSE installer actually throws up an error when installing the bootloader but there is an option to continue trying to set it up. If you choose to continue you are presented with the option to choose between GRUB 2 - EFI and plain old GRUB 2.

What this means of course is that the installer will work perfectly on older and newer computers. The GRUB 2 - EFI option even includes options for handling secure boot. Very good.

First Impressions





















The GNOME desktop is fairly typical although the choice of wallpaper for openSUSE is fairly dull.

GNOME has a panel at the top with the "Activities" option in the top left and a series of icons in the top right which provide access to power management, network settings and user settings.





















Pressing the super key or clicking on activities brings up the activities screen.

The screen basically has a search box in the top middle, a series of favourite applications icons on the left and access to virtual workspaces on the right. The workspaces hover in from the right when you move the mouse over to that section of the screen.

The favourite icons link to Firefox, Evolution, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Shotwell, LibreOffice and Files.

Pressing the super key and the A key brings up the applications view. Alternatively click on the bottom icon in the left bar.





















There are two views available which are frequent and all. Clicking the "all" option shows a grid with icons for all of your applications. As you can see from the screenshot the "frequent" option shows a handful of icons to applications used regularly.





















Navigation is particularly easy but it is worth learning all of the GNOME keyboard shortcuts.

The main thing I noticed about the openSUSE version of GNOME is that it performed much better than the Fedora version. The Fedora GNOME desktop performed better when I switched to GNOME Wayland. The trouble is that after switching to Wayland there were more errors and it was unpredictable at times. openSUSE however has performed well and has never crashed on me.



As mentioned previously the main wallpaper is fairly plain. To change the wallpaper all you have to do is right click on the desktop and choose "change background".

You are given the option to change the background for the main desktop or the lock screen.

The trouble is that there are no other wallpapers supplied with the live version of the GNOME desktop.

Luckily there was this cool invention made a while back now called the internet and an even cooler add-on to the internet called Google and after a little bit of searching you can do something like this.





















Flash and MP3

openSUSE is a community distribution (although it is backed by a larger corporation much like Ubuntu).

The upshot of this is that proprietary components such as MP3 codecs and Flash aren't installed by default.

You can install both of these options using 1 click installs. I have a guide coming up shortly showing how to do this.

Applications

I have never tried the full installation (4.7 gigabytes!) and so there maybe more applications installed by default with that version.

This review focuses on the live version with the GNOME desktop and as such the applications provided are as follows:

  • Aisleriot - solitaire card game
  • Brasero - disk burning software
  • Cheese - webcam viewer
  • Chess - chess game
  • Clocks - stopwatch, timer, world clock
  • Contacts - address book
  • Documents - pdf viewer
  • Empathy - chat client
  • Evolution - mail client
  • Files - file manager
  • Firefox - web browser
  • gedit - text editor
  • gimp - image editing tool
  • grsync - backup/syncing tool
  • lagno - game
  • k3b - disk burning software
  • libreoffice - office software (includes word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing package etc)
  • liferea - RSS reader
  • lights off - game
  • Mahjongg - game
  • Maps - mapping tool
  • Midnight commander - file manager
  • Mines - game
  • Music - Gnome music player
  • Network tools
  • Notes - Note taking tool
  • Polari - chat client
  • Quadrapassel - game
  • Rhythmbox - audio player
  • Shotwell - photo manager
  • Sudoku - game
  • Swell foop - game
  • Transmission - bittorrent client
  • Totem - video player
There are quite a few applications really. There is certainly everything that the average person needs for basic homeworking and play with a full office suite, video players, audio players, photo managers, web browsers, chat clients and email clients.


I have written about Rhythmbox a number of times including a full recent review which can be found here.

I haven't however touched on the GNOME music player before which integrates nicely with the GNOME desktop.

There are a number of nice views available including by album, by artist, songs and playlists.

Creating playlists is relatively straight forward. You can either start selecting tracks and click the "Add to playlist" option or you can choose "Create a playlist" from the menu.

Whilst the interface is good it doesn't perform as well as Rhythmbox.





















The GNOME video player also integrates itself well to the GNOME desktop. There are options for playing local videos or searching online libraries such as Youtube and Vimeo.

Installing Applications

























There are a number of ways to install applications using openSUSE.

The first and most obvious way is to use the GNOME Packaging tool which can be found by typing "Software" into the search box within the activities window.

This tool is like the software centre within Ubuntu and boasts a search box, multiple categories, iconised views of applications, reviews and ratings.

The tool more commonly recognised for installing applications in openSUSE is YAST.

YAST is used for most configuration activities in openSUSE including security, setting up printers, scanners, sound and installing applications.

YAST can also set up and manage other software repositories including the non-free ones used for installing Flash and Java.

My main issue with YAST is the same as it has always been. I chose to install one application and it automatically added 300 megabytes worth of updates to the install without even warning me it was going to do so. Now I know that certain updates are important but it should be my choice when to update and at least a warning message should appear telling me that is going to happen.

The other way to install software in openSUSE is via the terminal window using a tool called zypper which is much like apt or yum.

Summary

openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint. There isn't much between them now in terms of usability.

The openSUSE installer could do with a user friendly option (some people are going to disagree with this as they hate dumbing down) for replacing current operating systems and basic dual booting.

The main GNOME interface is very good and the GNOME tools such as the music player, weather application and video player integrate nicely.

The applications included with openSUSE are also very good. Most users will have everything they need to get going and the package managers will help install everything else.

Installing things like Flash, Steam and Skype require using 1-click installs (for everyday users) and the method for doing this can easily be found by searching using Google.

1-click installs could be dangerous security-wise if somebody decides to integrate something malicious into one of them. Users just have to be sensible about how they source their software and use the standard repositories as much as possible.

Stability is very good within openSUSE. I haven't experienced any notifications or errors whilst running openSUSE which is in complete contrast to Fedora which ran ok under the standard GNOME desktop (albeit a bit sluggish) but on the speedy Wayland version there were a number of big bangs.

All in all openSUSE is a good alternative to Ubuntu and Linux Mint. You just need to get it installed first.

Thankyou for reading.



An Everyday Linux Review Of openSUSE 13.2

Introduction

Last year I wrote a review of openSUSE 13.1 and I followed up the review with a series of articles looking at the applications that were released as part of the distribution:
That particular review looked at the KDE version of openSUSE. This is a review of openSUSE 13.2 and focuses on the GNOME desktop environment.

In my recent review of Fedora 21 I pointed out how far I believe the GNOME desktop has come in the past few years. I would go so far as saying that it is now so good that it is at least on a par with Unity and potentially the best desktop environment available.

The main desktop itself has excellent navigational features and keyboard shortcuts. GNOME 3 is more than just a pretty desktop. Look at this list of applications which are built to run on top of GNOME.

How To Get openSUSE 13.2

Click here for the openSUSE download page.

The initial download option on that page is 4.7 gigabytes in size. If you have a poor internet connection or a download limit that may seem extreme and to be honest you can guarantee that if you download that file then many of the applications will need to be updated after installing them anyway and you probably wouldn't use most of the software that makes up the 4.7 gigabytes.

Note that there is a link halfway down the page which reads "Click here to display these alternative versions". This option provides links to download a live GNOME and a live KDE version.

You can also buy a DVD or USB drive.

Minimum Requirements

This page on the openSUSE website lists the following minimum requirements.

  • Pentium III 500 mhz or higher (Pentium 4 2.4 ghz or any AMD64/Intel 64 recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB Hard Drive space (5 GB or more recommended)
  • Supports most sound and graphics cards. (minimum 800 x 600 resolution, recommended 1024 x 768 or higher)
  • USB port or DVD drive

New Features In openSUSE 13.2

  • Linux Kernel 3.16
  • btrfs is new default filesystem
  • Live images are persistent by default
  • Revamped Yast installer (which I will come to shortly)
  • New Yast is faster, more stable and better integrated with SystemD
  • Latest stable version of KDE desktop available (4.11.12)
  • Newer GNOME desktop (3.14.1)
  • HiDPI Screen Support
  • Much improved searching in GNOME shell
  • Touch screen gestures supported
  • GNOME Maps includes route mapping
  • Google Account support for GNOME Photos
  • Playlist support in GNOME Music
  • New videos interface
  • Polari - a modern IRC client
Click here for a full list of new features in openSUSE 13.2 

Installation

I recently developed a guide showing how to install openSUSE whilst replacing your current operating system.

According to the new features list the YAST installer has been improved and in some areas this is true and in others I have a few issues.

The partitioning section is still just plain awful for the everyday user. I know it is easy to always fall back to the installers used by Ubuntu and Linux Mint but they do right what many other installers do wrong.

What is wrong with a simple "replace your current operating system with openSUSE" option which simply wipes your drive and sets up a sensible partitioning scheme?

What is wrong with a simple "install openSUSE alongside Windows" or "install openSUSE alongside your current operating system" option?

Instead, what you get is a long list of planned changes that the installer is going to make, which you have to work through and think about before moving on.

There is an option to enter a setup screen which lets you choose your hard drive and then select all partitions thereby replacing your current operating system with openSUSE but it isn't plainly in sight and even when you choose this option you are back to the big scary list showing dozens of potential partition changes.

Worse than that however, I previously had Fedora 21 on this drive which used an LVM partition. openSUSE couldn't handle replacing that with the partitioning structure I chose to set up. I ended up having to use gParted to remove the Fedora partitions and restart the installer.

There are people out there that will want all of the verbose options, giving access to every available installation option but maybe there could be a general installer and a custom installer to make it easier for the masses.

To be honest I found the openSUSE installer more difficult than the Anaconda installer that is shipped with Fedora and that has taken heaps of criticism over the years. Now I would say that the Fedora installer has greatly improved but the openSUSE installer still has some way to go.

On to the good news though, well kind of. This machine has a standard BIOS and there is no EFI in sight. The openSUSE installer actually throws up an error when installing the bootloader but there is an option to continue trying to set it up. If you choose to continue you are presented with the option to choose between GRUB 2 - EFI and plain old GRUB 2.

What this means of course is that the installer will work perfectly on older and newer computers. The GRUB 2 - EFI option even includes options for handling secure boot. Very good.

First Impressions





















The GNOME desktop is fairly typical although the choice of wallpaper for openSUSE is fairly dull.

GNOME has a panel at the top with the "Activities" option in the top left and a series of icons in the top right which provide access to power management, network settings and user settings.





















Pressing the super key or clicking on activities brings up the activities screen.

The screen basically has a search box in the top middle, a series of favourite applications icons on the left and access to virtual workspaces on the right. The workspaces hover in from the right when you move the mouse over to that section of the screen.

The favourite icons link to Firefox, Evolution, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Shotwell, LibreOffice and Files.

Pressing the super key and the A key brings up the applications view. Alternatively click on the bottom icon in the left bar.





















There are two views available which are frequent and all. Clicking the "all" option shows a grid with icons for all of your applications. As you can see from the screenshot the "frequent" option shows a handful of icons to applications used regularly.





















Navigation is particularly easy but it is worth learning all of the GNOME keyboard shortcuts.

The main thing I noticed about the openSUSE version of GNOME is that it performed much better than the Fedora version. The Fedora GNOME desktop performed better when I switched to GNOME Wayland. The trouble is that after switching to Wayland there were more errors and it was unpredictable at times. openSUSE however has performed well and has never crashed on me.



As mentioned previously the main wallpaper is fairly plain. To change the wallpaper all you have to do is right click on the desktop and choose "change background".

You are given the option to change the background for the main desktop or the lock screen.

The trouble is that there are no other wallpapers supplied with the live version of the GNOME desktop.

Luckily there was this cool invention made a while back now called the internet and an even cooler add-on to the internet called Google and after a little bit of searching you can do something like this.





















Flash and MP3

openSUSE is a community distribution (although it is backed by a larger corporation much like Ubuntu).

The upshot of this is that proprietary components such as MP3 codecs and Flash aren't installed by default.

You can install both of these options using 1 click installs. I have a guide coming up shortly showing how to do this.

Applications

I have never tried the full installation (4.7 gigabytes!) and so there maybe more applications installed by default with that version.

This review focuses on the live version with the GNOME desktop and as such the applications provided are as follows:

  • Aisleriot - solitaire card game
  • Brasero - disk burning software
  • Cheese - webcam viewer
  • Chess - chess game
  • Clocks - stopwatch, timer, world clock
  • Contacts - address book
  • Documents - pdf viewer
  • Empathy - chat client
  • Evolution - mail client
  • Files - file manager
  • Firefox - web browser
  • gedit - text editor
  • gimp - image editing tool
  • grsync - backup/syncing tool
  • lagno - game
  • k3b - disk burning software
  • libreoffice - office software (includes word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing package etc)
  • liferea - RSS reader
  • lights off - game
  • Mahjongg - game
  • Maps - mapping tool
  • Midnight commander - file manager
  • Mines - game
  • Music - Gnome music player
  • Network tools
  • Notes - Note taking tool
  • Polari - chat client
  • Quadrapassel - game
  • Rhythmbox - audio player
  • Shotwell - photo manager
  • Sudoku - game
  • Swell foop - game
  • Transmission - bittorrent client
  • Totem - video player
There are quite a few applications really. There is certainly everything that the average person needs for basic homeworking and play with a full office suite, video players, audio players, photo managers, web browsers, chat clients and email clients.


I have written about Rhythmbox a number of times including a full recent review which can be found here.

I haven't however touched on the GNOME music player before which integrates nicely with the GNOME desktop.

There are a number of nice views available including by album, by artist, songs and playlists.

Creating playlists is relatively straight forward. You can either start selecting tracks and click the "Add to playlist" option or you can choose "Create a playlist" from the menu.

Whilst the interface is good it doesn't perform as well as Rhythmbox.





















The GNOME video player also integrates itself well to the GNOME desktop. There are options for playing local videos or searching online libraries such as Youtube and Vimeo.

Installing Applications

























There are a number of ways to install applications using openSUSE.

The first and most obvious way is to use the GNOME Packaging tool which can be found by typing "Software" into the search box within the activities window.

This tool is like the software centre within Ubuntu and boasts a search box, multiple categories, iconised views of applications, reviews and ratings.

The tool more commonly recognised for installing applications in openSUSE is YAST.

YAST is used for most configuration activities in openSUSE including security, setting up printers, scanners, sound and installing applications.

YAST can also set up and manage other software repositories including the non-free ones used for installing Flash and Java.

My main issue with YAST is the same as it has always been. I chose to install one application and it automatically added 300 megabytes worth of updates to the install without even warning me it was going to do so. Now I know that certain updates are important but it should be my choice when to update and at least a warning message should appear telling me that is going to happen.

The other way to install software in openSUSE is via the terminal window using a tool called zypper which is much like apt or yum.

Summary

openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint. There isn't much between them now in terms of usability.

The openSUSE installer could do with a user friendly option (some people are going to disagree with this as they hate dumbing down) for replacing current operating systems and basic dual booting.

The main GNOME interface is very good and the GNOME tools such as the music player, weather application and video player integrate nicely.

The applications included with openSUSE are also very good. Most users will have everything they need to get going and the package managers will help install everything else.

Installing things like Flash, Steam and Skype require using 1-click installs (for everyday users) and the method for doing this can easily be found by searching using Google.

1-click installs could be dangerous security-wise if somebody decides to integrate something malicious into one of them. Users just have to be sensible about how they source their software and use the standard repositories as much as possible.

Stability is very good within openSUSE. I haven't experienced any notifications or errors whilst running openSUSE which is in complete contrast to Fedora which ran ok under the standard GNOME desktop (albeit a bit sluggish) but on the speedy Wayland version there were a number of big bangs.

All in all openSUSE is a good alternative to Ubuntu and Linux Mint. You just need to get it installed first.

Thankyou for reading.



Posted at 23:51 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Introduction

Imagine you wanted access to your entire music collection all over the house and on multiple devices.

For instance, you are sitting in the kitchen and you decide to listen to some rock music whilst washing up. Meanwhile upstairs your daughter wants to practice becoming an XFactor star to her favourite tunes.

Traditionally each person would have their own media player with the songs stored on it.

If you wanted to listen to songs on your laptop and you wanted to listen to the same songs on your tablet you would need to have them stored in both places.

In this guide I am going to introduce the concept of a DAAP server. (Digital Audio Access Protocol). The basic idea is that your music is stored in one place called the DAAP server. You can connect from DAAP clients and play the songs from the DAAP server.

DAAP servers can be created using Windows, Linux or OSX but the Raspberry PI lends itself perfectly to this task. 

The Raspberry PI is small and can be placed anywhere unlike a desktop computer. You don't want to use a laptop as a server either because

You can follow this guide if you are using a standard computer running Linux but this article was written with the Raspberry PI in mind.

Connect To The Raspberry PI

If you are using Windows you will need a terminal program capable of connecting to the Raspberry PI via SSH.

If you are using Linux open up a terminal and type the following:

ssh pi@192.168.1.x 

You will need to replace the x with the relevant number which represents your Raspberry PI.

When asked, enter the password for the pi user.

Install Tangerine

After you have connected to the Raspberry PI run the following command:

sudo apt-get install tangerine

Create .tangerine configuration file

Type "cd ~" to navigate to the /home/pi folder and enter the following command:

sudo nano .tangerine

Enter the following text into the window that opens:

[Tangerine]
name = <enter a descriptive name>
password_file = /home/pi/.tangerine-passwd
debug = false
max_users = <enter the maximum number of users to connect>
log_file = /home/pi/.tangerine-log
port = 0
publish = True
plugins = file,session
[FilePlugin]
directories=/home/pi/Music

Press CTRL and O to save the file and then CTRL and X to exit nano.

The name is just a descriptive name which will help you find the server from a DAAP client.

The password file is a file that contains the password required to connect to the server. A password isn't mandatory and you can omit this line if you want to.

The max_users is the maximum number of users that you want to connect at one time.

The directories is the path to the music files to publish for clients to find. This is where you will need to copy your music to.

If you have specified a passwd file then you must create it. To do so type the following:

sudo nano /home/pi/.tangerine-passwd

Enter the password you wish to use in the file and press CTRL and O to save and CTRL and X to exit.

Start Tangerine

To start tangerine enter the following command:

nohup tangerine &

You can now exit the ssh session.

Connecting from an Android phone/tablet

You can connect to the DAAP server using an Android phone or tablet by installing the application "Music Pump". There are free applications out there but Music Pump has a really nice user interface.



Music Pump has options to reconnect, change DAAP server, play local files and settings.

The first thing you will want to do is connect to a DAAP server and you can do this by clicking "change DAAP server".



If there are any DAAP servers available they will appear in the "Active DAAP servers" list. If you have previously connected to a server it will appear as a "cached server". 

There are little green arrows next to the cached servers that are currently available.

If the server you want to connect to doesn't appear you can click the little plus symbol in the top corner and enter the IP address to your Raspberry PI in the box provided. You will also need to enter the password if you specified one. Press save and then connect. If you can't connect to the server it isn't running properly. Also make sure your phone and tablet are connected to the same wireless network as the Raspberry PI.



Other Ways To Connect To A DAAP Server

If you are running Linux you can use Rhythmbox, Banshee or Amarok to connect to a DAAP server.

iPods and iPads can use the simple DAAP client (remember iTunes can act as a DAAP server as well).

There are dozens of DAAP clients for Windows.

How To Get Your Music Onto The Raspberry PI

The easiest way to store your music on the Raspberry PI is to use an SD card that is of a decent size in the first place.

I currently have about 20 gigabytes worth of music and so I use a 32 gigabyte SD card. I store all of my audio files on the SD card in the /home/pi/Music folder.

To get the music into that folder I plugged a USB drive into one of the USB ports on the Raspberry PI and copied the files across using the file manager within Raspbian.

This is obviously the simplest way to copy files across.

You could if you wanted install vsftpd and set up the Raspberry PI as an FTP server in order to copy the files across. If you have physical access to the Raspberry PI I don't see why you would do this over simply copying them onto a USB drive and copying from the USB drive to the Raspberry PI's SD card.

Talking of the SD card, if you have loads of music then you might want to just use a big USB drive and set the folder within the tangerine configuration file to point to the USB drive or you could use SAMBA to connect the Raspberry PI to a NAS drive to provide access to incredibly large music collections.

Summary

I have been using this method for distributing music to all of my devices for a while now and because the Raspberry PI and Linux is extremely stable it hardly ever needs to be rebooted.

I access all of my music from my phone, tablet, chromebook and other devices.

Thankyou for reading.

 

How To Turn Your Raspberry PI Into A DAAP Audio Server

Introduction

Imagine you wanted access to your entire music collection all over the house and on multiple devices.

For instance, you are sitting in the kitchen and you decide to listen to some rock music whilst washing up. Meanwhile upstairs your daughter wants to practice becoming an XFactor star to her favourite tunes.

Traditionally each person would have their own media player with the songs stored on it.

If you wanted to listen to songs on your laptop and you wanted to listen to the same songs on your tablet you would need to have them stored in both places.

In this guide I am going to introduce the concept of a DAAP server. (Digital Audio Access Protocol). The basic idea is that your music is stored in one place called the DAAP server. You can connect from DAAP clients and play the songs from the DAAP server.

DAAP servers can be created using Windows, Linux or OSX but the Raspberry PI lends itself perfectly to this task. 

The Raspberry PI is small and can be placed anywhere unlike a desktop computer. You don't want to use a laptop as a server either because

You can follow this guide if you are using a standard computer running Linux but this article was written with the Raspberry PI in mind.

Connect To The Raspberry PI

If you are using Windows you will need a terminal program capable of connecting to the Raspberry PI via SSH.

If you are using Linux open up a terminal and type the following:

ssh pi@192.168.1.x 

You will need to replace the x with the relevant number which represents your Raspberry PI.

When asked, enter the password for the pi user.

Install Tangerine

After you have connected to the Raspberry PI run the following command:

sudo apt-get install tangerine

Create .tangerine configuration file

Type "cd ~" to navigate to the /home/pi folder and enter the following command:

sudo nano .tangerine

Enter the following text into the window that opens:

[Tangerine]
name = <enter a descriptive name>
password_file = /home/pi/.tangerine-passwd
debug = false
max_users = <enter the maximum number of users to connect>
log_file = /home/pi/.tangerine-log
port = 0
publish = True
plugins = file,session
[FilePlugin]
directories=/home/pi/Music

Press CTRL and O to save the file and then CTRL and X to exit nano.

The name is just a descriptive name which will help you find the server from a DAAP client.

The password file is a file that contains the password required to connect to the server. A password isn't mandatory and you can omit this line if you want to.

The max_users is the maximum number of users that you want to connect at one time.

The directories is the path to the music files to publish for clients to find. This is where you will need to copy your music to.

If you have specified a passwd file then you must create it. To do so type the following:

sudo nano /home/pi/.tangerine-passwd

Enter the password you wish to use in the file and press CTRL and O to save and CTRL and X to exit.

Start Tangerine

To start tangerine enter the following command:

nohup tangerine &

You can now exit the ssh session.

Connecting from an Android phone/tablet

You can connect to the DAAP server using an Android phone or tablet by installing the application "Music Pump". There are free applications out there but Music Pump has a really nice user interface.



Music Pump has options to reconnect, change DAAP server, play local files and settings.

The first thing you will want to do is connect to a DAAP server and you can do this by clicking "change DAAP server".



If there are any DAAP servers available they will appear in the "Active DAAP servers" list. If you have previously connected to a server it will appear as a "cached server". 

There are little green arrows next to the cached servers that are currently available.

If the server you want to connect to doesn't appear you can click the little plus symbol in the top corner and enter the IP address to your Raspberry PI in the box provided. You will also need to enter the password if you specified one. Press save and then connect. If you can't connect to the server it isn't running properly. Also make sure your phone and tablet are connected to the same wireless network as the Raspberry PI.



Other Ways To Connect To A DAAP Server

If you are running Linux you can use Rhythmbox, Banshee or Amarok to connect to a DAAP server.

iPods and iPads can use the simple DAAP client (remember iTunes can act as a DAAP server as well).

There are dozens of DAAP clients for Windows.

How To Get Your Music Onto The Raspberry PI

The easiest way to store your music on the Raspberry PI is to use an SD card that is of a decent size in the first place.

I currently have about 20 gigabytes worth of music and so I use a 32 gigabyte SD card. I store all of my audio files on the SD card in the /home/pi/Music folder.

To get the music into that folder I plugged a USB drive into one of the USB ports on the Raspberry PI and copied the files across using the file manager within Raspbian.

This is obviously the simplest way to copy files across.

You could if you wanted install vsftpd and set up the Raspberry PI as an FTP server in order to copy the files across. If you have physical access to the Raspberry PI I don't see why you would do this over simply copying them onto a USB drive and copying from the USB drive to the Raspberry PI's SD card.

Talking of the SD card, if you have loads of music then you might want to just use a big USB drive and set the folder within the tangerine configuration file to point to the USB drive or you could use SAMBA to connect the Raspberry PI to a NAS drive to provide access to incredibly large music collections.

Summary

I have been using this method for distributing music to all of my devices for a while now and because the Raspberry PI and Linux is extremely stable it hardly ever needs to be rebooted.

I access all of my music from my phone, tablet, chromebook and other devices.

Thankyou for reading.

 

Posted at 23:19 |  by Gary Newell

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Introduction

It has been a while since my last Raspberry PI article. I have recently been given the new Raspberry PI 2 so I thought I would produce a new tutorial showing how to set it up.

My previous guide for setting up the original Raspberry PI is somewhat out of date. You should follow this guide regardless as to whether you have bought (or are going to buy) the Raspberry PI B+ or the Raspberry PI 2.

Who Is The Raspberry PI For?

There are so many uses for the Raspberry PI that it is hard to define one single user but here are a few reasons to get one:

  • Great for children and teenagers to learn how to use computers and create their own programs
  • Great for children and teenagers who have an interest in electronics
  • Can be used for a web kiosk in a cafe, small bed and breakfast, guest house or hotel
  • Can be used for digital signage in small outlets such as local shops
  • Can be used to run XBMC to turn your television into a media centre
  • Can be used to run games emulators for retro gaming
  • Can be used as a small file server, web server or print server
  • Can be used to download large files from the internet 
In the coming weeks I will explore some of these concepts.

What Equipment Do You Need?






















The image above shows the equipment I have for the Raspberry PI 2.

The items and reasons why they are required are as follows:

The Keyboard

You will need a keyboard to set up the Raspberry PI the first time.

If you are going to use the PI as an actual computer then you would probably be better off buying a standard USB keyboard but if you are more likely to use the PI as a server or fpr digital signage you can buy a mini keyboard.

Remember this is a one time only purchase as you will be able to use the same keyboard whether you use the original Raspberry PI, Raspberry PI B+, Raspberry PI 2 or in the future the 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.



The Mouse

The mouse is also required during the initial setup of your Raspberry PI.

Again if you use the Raspberry PI as an actual desktop computer you will need the mouse all the time but if you use the Raspberry PI as a server you will probably only need to use the mouse once.


SD Card



You will need a micro SD card for running the operating system on the Raspberry PI and for storage space.

You can buy a 16 Gigabyte SD card for as little as £5.53 and install the Raspberry PI operating system yourself (as this guide shows) or you can pay a little bit extra and buy a 16 Gigabyte SD card for £12.99 with NOOBS pre-installed.

To be honest it will take you no time at all to install NOOBS onto an SD card but you do need an SD card reader. (either built into your computer or available for purchase).

If you need to buy an SD card reader you might be better off buying an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed.

The Raspberry PI


You will of course need a Raspberry PI 2.

This little computer is fantastic. There are other single board computers out there and they all claim to be better than the Raspberry PI because they either provide more memory, a better chip or some other unique selling point.

The beauty of the Raspberry PI is how much you get for so little money.

Just £29.99.





WIFI Dongle

If you plan to keep your Raspberry PI next to your router then you can get away with using the ethernet port with an ethernet cable and connect via a wired link but most people like to connect wirelessly to the internet from their Raspberry PI.

If you plan to use the Raspberry PI for digital signage you will almost certainly need a WIFI dongle.

Be careful when choosing the WIFI dongle because not all of them are as simple as plug and play.

The LP Link dongles are particularly hard to use.

Bluetooth Dongle


A bluetooth dongle isn't particularly necessary but if you plan to use your Raspberry PI as a retro gaming console you will need one in order to pair up games controllers.

You can use a WII controller or an OUYA controller with the Raspberry PI using a cheap bluetooth dongle.








Raspberry PI Case


A case isn't 100% necessary but if you are using the Raspberry PI as a media centre or for retro gaming it will certainly look better than a small circuit board with lots of protruding cables.

If you use your Raspberry PI for electronics then the case might get in the way when trying to connect breadboards.

A case will help however to keep dust off the Raspberry PI.

Powered Hub


The Raspberry PI 2 consumes less power than the original Raspberry PI but you will almost certainly need a powered USB hub.

Everything you plug in to the Raspberry PI's USB ports draws power and it doesn't take much to stop your little computer in its tracks.

By using a powered USB hub you can add bluetooth dongles and even an external USB hard drive without crashing the Raspberry PI.

This is pretty much an essential requirement.



Power Supply

You will need a power supply in order to make the Raspberry PI 2 work.

Be very careful when buying a power supply and make sure that it is designed to work with the Raspberry PI 2 otherwise you might fry the board.


Formatting The SD Card

Note: Skip this section if you bought an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed

That last section was longer than I intended it to be. Hopefully you have what you need in order to set up and use your Raspberry PI.

To actually get started however you will need to put NOOBs onto the SD Card.





















Before you can put NOOBS onto the SD card you will need to format it.

Insert the SD card into your SD card reader. (If you are using an external card reader connect the reader to your computer).

This guide assumes you are using Windows to format the drive.

Visit https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/eula_windows/index.html, read the agreement and click "Accept".

The SD Formatting software will be downloaded to your downloads folder. Open the downloads folder and double click on the SDFormatter zip file.

When the zip file opens double click on the Setup file.

A welcome screen will appear. Click "Next" to continue.





The second screen asks you to choose where to install the SDFormatter.

Unless you wish to change the default folder click "Next".










Finally you are ready to install the software.

Click "Install" and answer yes to any question that asks whether you are sure or you need to give permission to install the software.










An icon should appear on your desktop for the SD Formatter.

Double click on the icon and this screen will appear.

Add a volume label and click the "Option" button.







Make sure the format type is "quick" and that the format size adjustment is set to "On".

Click "OK" to continue.







When you return to the main screen click the "Format" button.

The SD Card will be formatted and a screen will appear telling you that the process is complete.








Install NOOBS To The SD Card





















Note: Skip this section if you bought an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed

NOOBS stands for New Out Of Box System.

When the original Raspberry PI was created you had to perform a number of steps to install Raspbian which is the most popular operating system available for the Raspberry PI.

The NOOBS system makes setting up the PI easier and allows you to choose how you will use the PI and includes options for setting the PI up as an XBMC device.

To get NOOBS visit www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

Click the "Download Zip" link next to NOOBS.



























Navigate to the downloads folder and open the NOOBS zip file by double clicking on it.

Click the "Extract All" button to extract all of the files.

You can choose the location where the files are extracted to.

At this stage it is worth sticking with the defaults.

Click "Extract"





Go to the extracted folder containing the NOOBS files and press CTRL and A to select all of the files.

Now drag the selected files to the drive letter assigned to the SD card.

Open the SD card and make sure the files have copied correctly.





Set Up The Raspberry PI Using NOOBS






















I apologise for the quality of the images for this bit but they are direct camera shots of the Raspberry PI connected to a monitor as there is no internet connectivity at this stage.

Insert the SD card into your Raspberry PI. (Don't bother enclosing the Raspberry PI in a case at this stage in case the image has been copied incorrectly).

Make sure that you have a USB keyboard and mouse connected via the USB ports on the Raspberry PI and add a WIFI dongle or an ethernet cable from the PI to your router.

Power up the Raspberry PI. A screen should appear as shown above with an option to install Raspbian.

Check the box and click the "Install" button.

A message will appear telling you that your SD card will be overwritten with the Raspbian software. Click "Yes" to continue.

The files required to run Raspbian will be extracted to the SD card.

The process takes between 15 and 20 minutes.

A message will appear stating the OSes have installed successfully.




After pressing OK the Raspberry PI will reboot into a config screen.

As you are using NOOBS you will not need to choose option 1 as the file system will automatically be expanded.

You should however change the password for the PI. Select option 2 and press return on the keyboard.

A message will be displayed saying that you will be asked for a new password. Press OK to continue. The request for the new password will appear in the bottom left corner of the screen. Enter the password, press return and repeat the password when asked to do so. Press return again.

You can choose whether the Raspberry PI boots to the command line or a desktop operating system. You can also request for the PI to boot straight to SCRATCH which is a game programming environment aimed at kids.

By default the system boots to the command line. If you require a graphical user interface choose option 3 and press return.


If you need to change the language or keyboard layout choose option 4.

If you have a Raspberry PI camera choose option 5 to enable the camera module.

Option 6 lets you add your Raspberry PI to a global map showing all of the places where the Raspberry PI is being used.

When the original Raspberry PI was released you almost had to overclock it in order to be able to use it properly. The Raspberry PI 2 has 1 gigabyte of RAM which isn't massive but the requirement to overclock has diminished slightly.

Overclocking provides a small amount of risk and it can reduce the lifespan of your Raspberry PI. If you find that you can't use the PI for what you want to use it for then consider overclocking the device. 

To finish the setup press the tab key until the "Finish" option is selected and press return.

Raspbian






















After clicking "Finish" you will be asked to reboot the PI.

A loading screen will appear and eventually you will get to the main desktop.

There is a single panel at the top with icons for the menu, web browser, file manager and terminal.

A full review of Raspbian and the Raspberry PI 2 will be coming shortly so I won't go much further than that at this stage.

The last thing I am going to focus on in this article is connecting to the internet.

Connecting To The Internet

If you have a wired internet connection via the ethernet port then you can browse the web from the PI by clicking on the icon next to the menu icon.

This section deals with setting up a wireless connection.

Click on the menu and choose "Preferences" and then "WIFI Configuration".

The GUI for setting up WIFI isn't particularly user friendly.

Press the "Scan" button.







A list of wireless networks will appear.

Double click on the one you wish to connect to.








You will now need to enter your security key.

The screen used for this is fairly large and encompasses all encryption methods and authentication types.

As you can see from the screenshot, to connect to a WPA Personal network all you have to do is enter your security key into the PSK box and click "Add".












Your internet connection should now be set up and you should see a status of completed.

After you have set up a network once you can connect to it on subsequent occasions by selecting it from the network dropdown list.

Clicking "Connect" connects you to the internet.



Further Reading

I hope you found this guide useful. I will be writing further guides in the coming weeks including taking a look at Scratch and the GPIO functions of the Raspberry PI.

Thankyou for reading.




Setting Up The Raspberry PI 2

Introduction

It has been a while since my last Raspberry PI article. I have recently been given the new Raspberry PI 2 so I thought I would produce a new tutorial showing how to set it up.

My previous guide for setting up the original Raspberry PI is somewhat out of date. You should follow this guide regardless as to whether you have bought (or are going to buy) the Raspberry PI B+ or the Raspberry PI 2.

Who Is The Raspberry PI For?

There are so many uses for the Raspberry PI that it is hard to define one single user but here are a few reasons to get one:

  • Great for children and teenagers to learn how to use computers and create their own programs
  • Great for children and teenagers who have an interest in electronics
  • Can be used for a web kiosk in a cafe, small bed and breakfast, guest house or hotel
  • Can be used for digital signage in small outlets such as local shops
  • Can be used to run XBMC to turn your television into a media centre
  • Can be used to run games emulators for retro gaming
  • Can be used as a small file server, web server or print server
  • Can be used to download large files from the internet 
In the coming weeks I will explore some of these concepts.

What Equipment Do You Need?






















The image above shows the equipment I have for the Raspberry PI 2.

The items and reasons why they are required are as follows:

The Keyboard

You will need a keyboard to set up the Raspberry PI the first time.

If you are going to use the PI as an actual computer then you would probably be better off buying a standard USB keyboard but if you are more likely to use the PI as a server or fpr digital signage you can buy a mini keyboard.

Remember this is a one time only purchase as you will be able to use the same keyboard whether you use the original Raspberry PI, Raspberry PI B+, Raspberry PI 2 or in the future the 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.



The Mouse

The mouse is also required during the initial setup of your Raspberry PI.

Again if you use the Raspberry PI as an actual desktop computer you will need the mouse all the time but if you use the Raspberry PI as a server you will probably only need to use the mouse once.


SD Card



You will need a micro SD card for running the operating system on the Raspberry PI and for storage space.

You can buy a 16 Gigabyte SD card for as little as £5.53 and install the Raspberry PI operating system yourself (as this guide shows) or you can pay a little bit extra and buy a 16 Gigabyte SD card for £12.99 with NOOBS pre-installed.

To be honest it will take you no time at all to install NOOBS onto an SD card but you do need an SD card reader. (either built into your computer or available for purchase).

If you need to buy an SD card reader you might be better off buying an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed.

The Raspberry PI


You will of course need a Raspberry PI 2.

This little computer is fantastic. There are other single board computers out there and they all claim to be better than the Raspberry PI because they either provide more memory, a better chip or some other unique selling point.

The beauty of the Raspberry PI is how much you get for so little money.

Just £29.99.





WIFI Dongle

If you plan to keep your Raspberry PI next to your router then you can get away with using the ethernet port with an ethernet cable and connect via a wired link but most people like to connect wirelessly to the internet from their Raspberry PI.

If you plan to use the Raspberry PI for digital signage you will almost certainly need a WIFI dongle.

Be careful when choosing the WIFI dongle because not all of them are as simple as plug and play.

The LP Link dongles are particularly hard to use.

Bluetooth Dongle


A bluetooth dongle isn't particularly necessary but if you plan to use your Raspberry PI as a retro gaming console you will need one in order to pair up games controllers.

You can use a WII controller or an OUYA controller with the Raspberry PI using a cheap bluetooth dongle.








Raspberry PI Case


A case isn't 100% necessary but if you are using the Raspberry PI as a media centre or for retro gaming it will certainly look better than a small circuit board with lots of protruding cables.

If you use your Raspberry PI for electronics then the case might get in the way when trying to connect breadboards.

A case will help however to keep dust off the Raspberry PI.

Powered Hub


The Raspberry PI 2 consumes less power than the original Raspberry PI but you will almost certainly need a powered USB hub.

Everything you plug in to the Raspberry PI's USB ports draws power and it doesn't take much to stop your little computer in its tracks.

By using a powered USB hub you can add bluetooth dongles and even an external USB hard drive without crashing the Raspberry PI.

This is pretty much an essential requirement.



Power Supply

You will need a power supply in order to make the Raspberry PI 2 work.

Be very careful when buying a power supply and make sure that it is designed to work with the Raspberry PI 2 otherwise you might fry the board.


Formatting The SD Card

Note: Skip this section if you bought an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed

That last section was longer than I intended it to be. Hopefully you have what you need in order to set up and use your Raspberry PI.

To actually get started however you will need to put NOOBs onto the SD Card.





















Before you can put NOOBS onto the SD card you will need to format it.

Insert the SD card into your SD card reader. (If you are using an external card reader connect the reader to your computer).

This guide assumes you are using Windows to format the drive.

Visit https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/eula_windows/index.html, read the agreement and click "Accept".

The SD Formatting software will be downloaded to your downloads folder. Open the downloads folder and double click on the SDFormatter zip file.

When the zip file opens double click on the Setup file.

A welcome screen will appear. Click "Next" to continue.





The second screen asks you to choose where to install the SDFormatter.

Unless you wish to change the default folder click "Next".










Finally you are ready to install the software.

Click "Install" and answer yes to any question that asks whether you are sure or you need to give permission to install the software.










An icon should appear on your desktop for the SD Formatter.

Double click on the icon and this screen will appear.

Add a volume label and click the "Option" button.







Make sure the format type is "quick" and that the format size adjustment is set to "On".

Click "OK" to continue.







When you return to the main screen click the "Format" button.

The SD Card will be formatted and a screen will appear telling you that the process is complete.








Install NOOBS To The SD Card





















Note: Skip this section if you bought an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed

NOOBS stands for New Out Of Box System.

When the original Raspberry PI was created you had to perform a number of steps to install Raspbian which is the most popular operating system available for the Raspberry PI.

The NOOBS system makes setting up the PI easier and allows you to choose how you will use the PI and includes options for setting the PI up as an XBMC device.

To get NOOBS visit www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

Click the "Download Zip" link next to NOOBS.



























Navigate to the downloads folder and open the NOOBS zip file by double clicking on it.

Click the "Extract All" button to extract all of the files.

You can choose the location where the files are extracted to.

At this stage it is worth sticking with the defaults.

Click "Extract"





Go to the extracted folder containing the NOOBS files and press CTRL and A to select all of the files.

Now drag the selected files to the drive letter assigned to the SD card.

Open the SD card and make sure the files have copied correctly.





Set Up The Raspberry PI Using NOOBS






















I apologise for the quality of the images for this bit but they are direct camera shots of the Raspberry PI connected to a monitor as there is no internet connectivity at this stage.

Insert the SD card into your Raspberry PI. (Don't bother enclosing the Raspberry PI in a case at this stage in case the image has been copied incorrectly).

Make sure that you have a USB keyboard and mouse connected via the USB ports on the Raspberry PI and add a WIFI dongle or an ethernet cable from the PI to your router.

Power up the Raspberry PI. A screen should appear as shown above with an option to install Raspbian.

Check the box and click the "Install" button.

A message will appear telling you that your SD card will be overwritten with the Raspbian software. Click "Yes" to continue.

The files required to run Raspbian will be extracted to the SD card.

The process takes between 15 and 20 minutes.

A message will appear stating the OSes have installed successfully.




After pressing OK the Raspberry PI will reboot into a config screen.

As you are using NOOBS you will not need to choose option 1 as the file system will automatically be expanded.

You should however change the password for the PI. Select option 2 and press return on the keyboard.

A message will be displayed saying that you will be asked for a new password. Press OK to continue. The request for the new password will appear in the bottom left corner of the screen. Enter the password, press return and repeat the password when asked to do so. Press return again.

You can choose whether the Raspberry PI boots to the command line or a desktop operating system. You can also request for the PI to boot straight to SCRATCH which is a game programming environment aimed at kids.

By default the system boots to the command line. If you require a graphical user interface choose option 3 and press return.


If you need to change the language or keyboard layout choose option 4.

If you have a Raspberry PI camera choose option 5 to enable the camera module.

Option 6 lets you add your Raspberry PI to a global map showing all of the places where the Raspberry PI is being used.

When the original Raspberry PI was released you almost had to overclock it in order to be able to use it properly. The Raspberry PI 2 has 1 gigabyte of RAM which isn't massive but the requirement to overclock has diminished slightly.

Overclocking provides a small amount of risk and it can reduce the lifespan of your Raspberry PI. If you find that you can't use the PI for what you want to use it for then consider overclocking the device. 

To finish the setup press the tab key until the "Finish" option is selected and press return.

Raspbian






















After clicking "Finish" you will be asked to reboot the PI.

A loading screen will appear and eventually you will get to the main desktop.

There is a single panel at the top with icons for the menu, web browser, file manager and terminal.

A full review of Raspbian and the Raspberry PI 2 will be coming shortly so I won't go much further than that at this stage.

The last thing I am going to focus on in this article is connecting to the internet.

Connecting To The Internet

If you have a wired internet connection via the ethernet port then you can browse the web from the PI by clicking on the icon next to the menu icon.

This section deals with setting up a wireless connection.

Click on the menu and choose "Preferences" and then "WIFI Configuration".

The GUI for setting up WIFI isn't particularly user friendly.

Press the "Scan" button.







A list of wireless networks will appear.

Double click on the one you wish to connect to.








You will now need to enter your security key.

The screen used for this is fairly large and encompasses all encryption methods and authentication types.

As you can see from the screenshot, to connect to a WPA Personal network all you have to do is enter your security key into the PSK box and click "Add".












Your internet connection should now be set up and you should see a status of completed.

After you have set up a network once you can connect to it on subsequent occasions by selecting it from the network dropdown list.

Clicking "Connect" connects you to the internet.



Further Reading

I hope you found this guide useful. I will be writing further guides in the coming weeks including taking a look at Scratch and the GPIO functions of the Raspberry PI.

Thankyou for reading.




Posted at 23:34 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 16 March 2015

I have added a forum to the site. It is just an experiment at the moment but if it works it will stay full time.

The reason for creating the forum is that the comments section at the end of articles sometimes get really long.

In addition I am asked a large number of questions every week and it would be good if everybody had visibility of all of the questions so that we can try and help each other. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to answering queries by which time it might be too late.

The forum might also be a place where you can get to know each other as readers and share views and resources.

I haven't published any rules yet because it is in its infancy and I don't know where this will end up. In other words I am winging it.

I just want it to stay friendly and be useful. If you have any Linux based questions or suggestions for the site, sign up for the forum and add a new thread.

Thankyou

Click here to view the forum

Click here to register

I have created a new forum

I have added a forum to the site. It is just an experiment at the moment but if it works it will stay full time.

The reason for creating the forum is that the comments section at the end of articles sometimes get really long.

In addition I am asked a large number of questions every week and it would be good if everybody had visibility of all of the questions so that we can try and help each other. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to answering queries by which time it might be too late.

The forum might also be a place where you can get to know each other as readers and share views and resources.

I haven't published any rules yet because it is in its infancy and I don't know where this will end up. In other words I am winging it.

I just want it to stay friendly and be useful. If you have any Linux based questions or suggestions for the site, sign up for the forum and add a new thread.

Thankyou

Click here to view the forum

Click here to register

Posted at 10:43 |  by Gary Newell

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Thoughts on using Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition 17.1

I had long been attracted to the idea of using Linux. When Microsoft ceased to provide security patches for XP I got an excellent independent computer shop to install Lubuntu on my netbook for me. This allowed me to get used to the ways of Linux, and experiment with different programs. Any fears I may have had regarding ease of use were soon forgotten, and despite my experimentation, installing and uninstalling lots of programs, the system remained far more responsive than XP.



My wife is a keen photographer and uses our Windows 7 desktop far more than she used to, so my mind turned to a new laptop, and Linux. After a lot of deliberation I settled on Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.1, and had the same local computer shop install it on a new laptop for me.



As well the many testimonials to Mint's ease of use for beginners, I was also drawn to its clean good looks. The expression eye-candy is often used to describe the graphical appearance of operating systems. I would describe Mint as attractive, clean, easy on the eye. Eye-candy feels superficial to me. To use a Hi-Fi metaphor, many people are attracted to Hi-Fi when they hear it in the dealers showroom because of false emphasis, a little unnatural excitement imparted to the treble and bass. When they have lived with such systems they find them tiring over extended listening. Such it is, in my experience, with eye-candy. No such problem with Mint, its clean, understated good looks, and remarkable consistency of appearance have remained a pleasure to use.



I suppose I should come up with some criticisms, nothing can be perfect can it, but after using Windows for so many years, and never being satisfied with it, Mint feels like a dream to me. Far from Linux being difficult, in the form of Mint it is a pleasure to use, and I found myself wondering why Windows has become so awkward.



As has been remarked in many reviews, Mint comes with pretty much everything you need already installed. I have used Libre Office for ages, and like it, so that was not a new experience for me.



If there was one thing I find useful that was not installed, it was a Font Manager. After Installing a few extra fonts I wanted I seemed to have far too many, especially a lot of rather similar sans serif ones. When I had experimented with Lubuntu I (mistakenly as it turned out) installed the Edubuntu fonts, most of which seemed neither useful or attractive to me. Uninstalling them had not worked, so I was left with a lot of unwanted fonts. I tried Fonty Python, which I had problems with, and eventually settled on Fontmatrix, which solved the problem for me. This time I tried Font Manager, which suits me even more for its simplicity of use, and it seems to me that it ties in nicely with the Mint look and feel.



I am a writer, so a good dictionary and thesaurus is essential. On Windows the excellent Oxford Concise was my choice, but as far as I can see is not available under Linux. I didn't want one that is tied to an internet connection, and after a lot of looking found Artha, which uses the Princeton University word net project for its definitions, and although it describes itself as a thesaurus, actually provides good definitions as well. In fact, the method of displaying both definitions, synonyms, antonyms and much more, in one place, beats the Oxford Dictionaries method hands down. I thoroughly recommend it if you haven't come across it before. And yes, it recognises English spellings as well as American ones.



At the same time as the laptop I purchased a new printer. After working out that I needed to turn off the Firewall (yes, old habits are difficult to cast aside, and I installed a firewall and the ClamTk virus checker, but I will occasionally exchange files with our Windows PC, so I am being extra cautious) it was incredibly easy to connect to the printer wirelessly, and as I found afterwards, just as easy to select a rule for the firewall to allow the printer through. What was it people say about Linux being difficult to use? Rubbish, it's easy.



The only thing that did make me scratch my head was how to create more than one workspace. Not that I use this facility, but I like to have as full an understanding of the operating system I use as possible. In case you are new to Mint 17.1, and haven't figured it out yet, just try pressing ctrl+alt+the up key, and you should be presented with two available workspaces. The second one only becomes available to the little icon in the bottom right hand corner of the system tray, that usually says workspace 1 and shows the programs you are using, when you actually open a program in the second workspace. There is also a large plus sign that allows you to create more workspaces.



So, as a newbie I can only say that I am deeply impressed with the ease of use of Linux, and Mint Cinnamon edition 17.1 in particular. Like new believers often are, I am in serious danger of becoming evangelical about it. Next time I think I will have plucked up courage to do the install for myself.

Paul Surman is a poet living in Oxford. He says he regards his computer as a useful tool, but without being obsessed he tries to understand how they work as best he can

Thank you for the article Paul.

If you would like to contribute to Everyday Linux User send me an email and if the content is good then I will be happy to publish it.

What are your thoughts about Linux Mint? Why not leave a message on the new Everyday Linux User Forum telling everyone about your experiences.







Thoughts on using Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition 17.1


Thoughts on using Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition 17.1

I had long been attracted to the idea of using Linux. When Microsoft ceased to provide security patches for XP I got an excellent independent computer shop to install Lubuntu on my netbook for me. This allowed me to get used to the ways of Linux, and experiment with different programs. Any fears I may have had regarding ease of use were soon forgotten, and despite my experimentation, installing and uninstalling lots of programs, the system remained far more responsive than XP.



My wife is a keen photographer and uses our Windows 7 desktop far more than she used to, so my mind turned to a new laptop, and Linux. After a lot of deliberation I settled on Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.1, and had the same local computer shop install it on a new laptop for me.



As well the many testimonials to Mint's ease of use for beginners, I was also drawn to its clean good looks. The expression eye-candy is often used to describe the graphical appearance of operating systems. I would describe Mint as attractive, clean, easy on the eye. Eye-candy feels superficial to me. To use a Hi-Fi metaphor, many people are attracted to Hi-Fi when they hear it in the dealers showroom because of false emphasis, a little unnatural excitement imparted to the treble and bass. When they have lived with such systems they find them tiring over extended listening. Such it is, in my experience, with eye-candy. No such problem with Mint, its clean, understated good looks, and remarkable consistency of appearance have remained a pleasure to use.



I suppose I should come up with some criticisms, nothing can be perfect can it, but after using Windows for so many years, and never being satisfied with it, Mint feels like a dream to me. Far from Linux being difficult, in the form of Mint it is a pleasure to use, and I found myself wondering why Windows has become so awkward.



As has been remarked in many reviews, Mint comes with pretty much everything you need already installed. I have used Libre Office for ages, and like it, so that was not a new experience for me.



If there was one thing I find useful that was not installed, it was a Font Manager. After Installing a few extra fonts I wanted I seemed to have far too many, especially a lot of rather similar sans serif ones. When I had experimented with Lubuntu I (mistakenly as it turned out) installed the Edubuntu fonts, most of which seemed neither useful or attractive to me. Uninstalling them had not worked, so I was left with a lot of unwanted fonts. I tried Fonty Python, which I had problems with, and eventually settled on Fontmatrix, which solved the problem for me. This time I tried Font Manager, which suits me even more for its simplicity of use, and it seems to me that it ties in nicely with the Mint look and feel.



I am a writer, so a good dictionary and thesaurus is essential. On Windows the excellent Oxford Concise was my choice, but as far as I can see is not available under Linux. I didn't want one that is tied to an internet connection, and after a lot of looking found Artha, which uses the Princeton University word net project for its definitions, and although it describes itself as a thesaurus, actually provides good definitions as well. In fact, the method of displaying both definitions, synonyms, antonyms and much more, in one place, beats the Oxford Dictionaries method hands down. I thoroughly recommend it if you haven't come across it before. And yes, it recognises English spellings as well as American ones.



At the same time as the laptop I purchased a new printer. After working out that I needed to turn off the Firewall (yes, old habits are difficult to cast aside, and I installed a firewall and the ClamTk virus checker, but I will occasionally exchange files with our Windows PC, so I am being extra cautious) it was incredibly easy to connect to the printer wirelessly, and as I found afterwards, just as easy to select a rule for the firewall to allow the printer through. What was it people say about Linux being difficult to use? Rubbish, it's easy.



The only thing that did make me scratch my head was how to create more than one workspace. Not that I use this facility, but I like to have as full an understanding of the operating system I use as possible. In case you are new to Mint 17.1, and haven't figured it out yet, just try pressing ctrl+alt+the up key, and you should be presented with two available workspaces. The second one only becomes available to the little icon in the bottom right hand corner of the system tray, that usually says workspace 1 and shows the programs you are using, when you actually open a program in the second workspace. There is also a large plus sign that allows you to create more workspaces.



So, as a newbie I can only say that I am deeply impressed with the ease of use of Linux, and Mint Cinnamon edition 17.1 in particular. Like new believers often are, I am in serious danger of becoming evangelical about it. Next time I think I will have plucked up courage to do the install for myself.

Paul Surman is a poet living in Oxford. He says he regards his computer as a useful tool, but without being obsessed he tries to understand how they work as best he can

Thank you for the article Paul.

If you would like to contribute to Everyday Linux User send me an email and if the content is good then I will be happy to publish it.

What are your thoughts about Linux Mint? Why not leave a message on the new Everyday Linux User Forum telling everyone about your experiences.







Posted at 22:09 |  by Gary Newell

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Introduction

It has been a long time since I last reviewed Fedora. Many of the distributions that I have reviewed recently are based on Debian and Ubuntu.

I felt that it was time to even the balance somewhat and take another look at Fedora.

The version I will be reviewing is the one provided with the default download link from the Fedora website which includes the Gnome 3 desktop environment.

What Is Fedora?

Fedora /fɨˈdɒr.ə/ (formerly Fedora Core) is an operating system based on the Linux kernel, developed by the community-supported Fedora Project and owned by Red Hat. Fedora contains software distributed under a free and open source license and aims to be on the leading edge of such technologies

Fedora contains no proprietary software or drivers and therefore every part of the operating system is free to use, distribute and amend.

Fedora focuses on being cutting edge with all the latest software packages and technologies.

Click here for the Fedora Wikipedia Page.

Installation

Fedora uses the Anaconda installer which has matured to a point where it is fairly straight forward to follow.

I have created a couple of guides to help you install Fedora:

If you have a poor internet connection you can click here to buy a Fedora USB drive.

I did have a few problems during the installation process whilst making screenshots as the installer crashed when taking a screenshot of the users screen.

I don't think this is an issue that will affect many people however as most people just install the operating system and don't bother taking snapshots for their photo albums.

First Impressions



After you have gone through the installation and Gnome setup steps you are left with a simple looking desktop with a panel at the top.

The way modern desktop environments seem to be going is to make good use of the super key (Windows key) and keyboard shortcuts in order to find and run applications.

Unity for example brings up a dash when the super key is pressed and you can enter text into a search box to filter the applications by name. Windows 8.1 is much the same. If you are on the tiled window view you can start typing and the applications you wish to run will appear on the right side of the screen.

Gnome 3 works in much the same way. The super key pulls up the activities window with a search box and a list of favourite icons down the left. Entering text into the search box filters the relevant applications and files.





















The Gnome 3 desktop has been around for quite some time and has matured well. There was a time when people dismissed Gnome 3 because it  wasn't deemed as good as Gnome 2 and it seemed to be going in a direction people didn't like.

I think the developers have been vindicated by their decisions however because Gnome 3 is a really decent desktop environment.

When you bring up the activities window (either by pressing the super key or clicking the activities icon in the top left corner) you are shown an overlay screen with a search box in the middle, a list of favourites in a panel on the left side of the screen and a list of workspaces in the right panel.

The default icons in the favourites panel are as follows:
  • Firefox Web Browser
  • Evolution Email Client
  • Rhythmbox Audio Player
  • Shotwell Photo Manager
  • Files, File Manager
  • Software Installer
  • Show Applications
Clicking on the "show applications" icon brings up a list of all the applications on your system.

Note that there are two tabs at the bottom of the screen:
  1. Frequent - shows frequently used applications
  2. All - shows all applications
There are many things that make Gnome 3 good.

For example pressing the super key whilst you are using an application such as Firefox zooms out to show all the open applications on your system.

There are loads of keyboard shortcuts to help you switch applications, move applications to new workspaces and basically navigate your system.

You can also snap application windows so that they sit side by side.

To bring up notifications and messages you have to press the Windows and M key.


If you preferred the look and feel of Gnome 2 you can change the settings for your user to use Gnome Classic. Gnome Classic has a more traditional menu system.

The one thing that I noticed whilst running the Gnome 3 desktop was that it was fairly sluggish.

One of the other desktop options other than Gnome 3 and Gnome Classic is Gnome 3 with Wayland.

Wayland is developed by a group of volunteers led by Kristian Høgsberg as a free and open-source software community-driven project with the aim of replacing the X Window System with a modern, simpler windowing system in Linux and Unix-like operating systems.[5] The project's source code is published under the terms of the MIT License.[3]
Click here for the Wayland Wikipedia page.

Basically the X System has been around for virtually ever and has been the sole way to display windows within Linux.

Wayland is one of the replacement options being developed and Fedora has a Gnome 3 desktop environment utilising Wayland.

I have to say that it works brilliantly. My system performs a million times better using the Gnome 3 desktop with Wayland than without.

Customising the desktop

Gnome 3 isn't as customisable as Gnome 2 used to be but it really doesn't need to be. You can find what you are looking for and get on with your work with the minimum of fuss.

There is a tool you can install called the Gnome Tweak Tool.





















The tweak tool allows you to adjust themes, change the desktop wallpaper, lock screen wallpaper, icons and cursors.

You can also use a menu instead of the Gnome 3 dash style interface and add a window list at the bottom of the screen.

There are loads of options available within the tweak tool.

If you are just interested in changing the desktop wallpaper you can right click on the main desktop and choose "Change Background".

A window appears with two options available; change the desktop wallpaper and change the lock screen wallpaper.

Clicking on the background wallpaper brings up a settings screen.

























You can choose to use one of the wallpapers provided or choose one of your own pictures. You can also choose to use plain colours.

Connecting to the internet





















To connect to the internet click the icon in the top right corner and click "Select Network".





















A list of available networks will appear. Click on the one you wish to use and enter the security key.

Flash and MP3

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Fedora comes with free software, drivers and codecs and therefore Flash and MP3 don't work out of the box.






















To be honest Flash is dying and not something I am overly worried about except that one of my favourite online games utilises Flash.

Youtube is largely unaffected by the lack of Flash as it uses alternative technologies such as HTML 5 and Web-M.




Installing Flash isn't that difficult. You can visit the Adobe website where there are RPM packages for 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

From within the Gnome Package Installer (which I will come to later on) you can check the Flash add-on box to install it and get it working with Firefox.










MP3s also do not play natively. You have to install the "GStreamer Multimedia Codecs - Non Free package".

In order to do so you need to add the RPMFusion repositories.

The easiest way to install the repositories is to visit http://rpmfusion.org/Configuration.

There are links to RPM Free Package repositories for versions 20 and 21 of Fedora and links to RPM Non Free Package repositories for versions 20 and 21 of Fedora.




Click the RPM Non Free Package repository link and open with "Software Installer" in order to get access to the good stuff.

All you have to do now is click the "Install" button to add the repository.

You will now be able to find the "GStreamer Non Free Package" within the Gnome Package Installer.

Simply click the "Install" button to install the codecs and you will now be able to import and play MP3 files within Rhythmbox.









Applications

Fedora has a good selection of applications and most things the average user will need to get them up and running.

To start off with there is the full LibreOffice suite (Version 4.3.2.2) complete with a word processor, spreadsheet package, presentation package, drawing package and database package.

The Shotwell Photo Manager is also installed which makes it easier to organise and view your photos.

Rhythmbox is the default audio player.

With Rhythmbox you can import your music collection, buy music from last.fm, listen to podcasts and online radio stations.

Rhythmbox also works well with external audio devices such as the Sony Walkman and Samsung Galaxy phones.




For watching movies there is the Totem media player. This is a really up to date version of Totem which integrates nicely into the Gnome desktop.

You have the choice of watching your own videos or choosing from video channels such as Youtube.

The default web browser within Fedora is Firefox (version 33.1) and the mail client is Evolution.



Evolution provides step by step instructions for connecting to your email client. The interface for Evolution is great by the way and more than matches anything provided by Outlook.

If you like to use a messenging application there is Empathy. Empathy can connect to many different types of chat including AOL, Google Talk and IRC.

Fedora includes a tool called "Dev Assistant" which is useful for software developers.

It doesn't matter whether you are a C programmer or a Java programmer, a Perl scripter or a Python guy.

The DevAssistant provides options for installing and using development tools for all of these and more.












The other real application of note is Boxes which is a tool for creating and running virtual machines.

Installing Software








The tool used for installing software is the Gnome Package Installer. Within the menu system it just comes up as "Software".

It is much like the Ubuntu Software Centre and pretty much every other graphical software installer available nowadays with a list of categories depicted with icons and a search box.

One thing I would say about this tool is that it doesn't always pick everything up that is available. For instance I wanted to install Steam and despite having the necessary repositories installed it just doesn't show up in the Gnome Package Installer. I had to use the command line tool Yum to install Steam. I now have Steam installed and it still doesn't show up as an installed package.

(If anyone knows how to help with that I would appreciate it).

Issues

Performance was fairly poor using Gnome until I switched to using Wayland. My experience with Wayland thus far is phenomenal.

During the install phase the installer kept crashing whilst trying to take screenshots of the users screen.

Sometimes when installing packages the package manager said "Cannot install" and then when I clicked install again the package installed correctly.

Trying to get the package installer to show everything is proving tricky. This might be a lack of knowledge on my behalf but this site is all about the everyday linux user and so if it is tricky for me it will be tricky for others as well.

Summary

I really like the Gnome 3 desktop environment now. It looks and feels incredibly professional and polished and the keyboard shortcuts work a treat.

Wayland has been a huge hit with me and if Ubuntu is going to use MIR then it had better be really good in order to beat this.

Fedora itself comes with a decent set of applications and you can get everything that it doesn't have via the graphical installer and by utilising the RPMFusion repositories.

The downsides have all been listed in the issues section above.

How have you found Fedora 21? Have you been left confused by the graphical package manager? Use the comments section below to let me know and to also inform me if you think there are errors with this review.

Thankyou for reading.




















An Everyday Linux User Review Of Fedora 21

Introduction

It has been a long time since I last reviewed Fedora. Many of the distributions that I have reviewed recently are based on Debian and Ubuntu.

I felt that it was time to even the balance somewhat and take another look at Fedora.

The version I will be reviewing is the one provided with the default download link from the Fedora website which includes the Gnome 3 desktop environment.

What Is Fedora?

Fedora /fɨˈdɒr.ə/ (formerly Fedora Core) is an operating system based on the Linux kernel, developed by the community-supported Fedora Project and owned by Red Hat. Fedora contains software distributed under a free and open source license and aims to be on the leading edge of such technologies

Fedora contains no proprietary software or drivers and therefore every part of the operating system is free to use, distribute and amend.

Fedora focuses on being cutting edge with all the latest software packages and technologies.

Click here for the Fedora Wikipedia Page.

Installation

Fedora uses the Anaconda installer which has matured to a point where it is fairly straight forward to follow.

I have created a couple of guides to help you install Fedora:

If you have a poor internet connection you can click here to buy a Fedora USB drive.

I did have a few problems during the installation process whilst making screenshots as the installer crashed when taking a screenshot of the users screen.

I don't think this is an issue that will affect many people however as most people just install the operating system and don't bother taking snapshots for their photo albums.

First Impressions



After you have gone through the installation and Gnome setup steps you are left with a simple looking desktop with a panel at the top.

The way modern desktop environments seem to be going is to make good use of the super key (Windows key) and keyboard shortcuts in order to find and run applications.

Unity for example brings up a dash when the super key is pressed and you can enter text into a search box to filter the applications by name. Windows 8.1 is much the same. If you are on the tiled window view you can start typing and the applications you wish to run will appear on the right side of the screen.

Gnome 3 works in much the same way. The super key pulls up the activities window with a search box and a list of favourite icons down the left. Entering text into the search box filters the relevant applications and files.





















The Gnome 3 desktop has been around for quite some time and has matured well. There was a time when people dismissed Gnome 3 because it  wasn't deemed as good as Gnome 2 and it seemed to be going in a direction people didn't like.

I think the developers have been vindicated by their decisions however because Gnome 3 is a really decent desktop environment.

When you bring up the activities window (either by pressing the super key or clicking the activities icon in the top left corner) you are shown an overlay screen with a search box in the middle, a list of favourites in a panel on the left side of the screen and a list of workspaces in the right panel.

The default icons in the favourites panel are as follows:
  • Firefox Web Browser
  • Evolution Email Client
  • Rhythmbox Audio Player
  • Shotwell Photo Manager
  • Files, File Manager
  • Software Installer
  • Show Applications
Clicking on the "show applications" icon brings up a list of all the applications on your system.

Note that there are two tabs at the bottom of the screen:
  1. Frequent - shows frequently used applications
  2. All - shows all applications
There are many things that make Gnome 3 good.

For example pressing the super key whilst you are using an application such as Firefox zooms out to show all the open applications on your system.

There are loads of keyboard shortcuts to help you switch applications, move applications to new workspaces and basically navigate your system.

You can also snap application windows so that they sit side by side.

To bring up notifications and messages you have to press the Windows and M key.


If you preferred the look and feel of Gnome 2 you can change the settings for your user to use Gnome Classic. Gnome Classic has a more traditional menu system.

The one thing that I noticed whilst running the Gnome 3 desktop was that it was fairly sluggish.

One of the other desktop options other than Gnome 3 and Gnome Classic is Gnome 3 with Wayland.

Wayland is developed by a group of volunteers led by Kristian Høgsberg as a free and open-source software community-driven project with the aim of replacing the X Window System with a modern, simpler windowing system in Linux and Unix-like operating systems.[5] The project's source code is published under the terms of the MIT License.[3]
Click here for the Wayland Wikipedia page.

Basically the X System has been around for virtually ever and has been the sole way to display windows within Linux.

Wayland is one of the replacement options being developed and Fedora has a Gnome 3 desktop environment utilising Wayland.

I have to say that it works brilliantly. My system performs a million times better using the Gnome 3 desktop with Wayland than without.

Customising the desktop

Gnome 3 isn't as customisable as Gnome 2 used to be but it really doesn't need to be. You can find what you are looking for and get on with your work with the minimum of fuss.

There is a tool you can install called the Gnome Tweak Tool.





















The tweak tool allows you to adjust themes, change the desktop wallpaper, lock screen wallpaper, icons and cursors.

You can also use a menu instead of the Gnome 3 dash style interface and add a window list at the bottom of the screen.

There are loads of options available within the tweak tool.

If you are just interested in changing the desktop wallpaper you can right click on the main desktop and choose "Change Background".

A window appears with two options available; change the desktop wallpaper and change the lock screen wallpaper.

Clicking on the background wallpaper brings up a settings screen.

























You can choose to use one of the wallpapers provided or choose one of your own pictures. You can also choose to use plain colours.

Connecting to the internet





















To connect to the internet click the icon in the top right corner and click "Select Network".





















A list of available networks will appear. Click on the one you wish to use and enter the security key.

Flash and MP3

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Fedora comes with free software, drivers and codecs and therefore Flash and MP3 don't work out of the box.






















To be honest Flash is dying and not something I am overly worried about except that one of my favourite online games utilises Flash.

Youtube is largely unaffected by the lack of Flash as it uses alternative technologies such as HTML 5 and Web-M.




Installing Flash isn't that difficult. You can visit the Adobe website where there are RPM packages for 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

From within the Gnome Package Installer (which I will come to later on) you can check the Flash add-on box to install it and get it working with Firefox.










MP3s also do not play natively. You have to install the "GStreamer Multimedia Codecs - Non Free package".

In order to do so you need to add the RPMFusion repositories.

The easiest way to install the repositories is to visit http://rpmfusion.org/Configuration.

There are links to RPM Free Package repositories for versions 20 and 21 of Fedora and links to RPM Non Free Package repositories for versions 20 and 21 of Fedora.




Click the RPM Non Free Package repository link and open with "Software Installer" in order to get access to the good stuff.

All you have to do now is click the "Install" button to add the repository.

You will now be able to find the "GStreamer Non Free Package" within the Gnome Package Installer.

Simply click the "Install" button to install the codecs and you will now be able to import and play MP3 files within Rhythmbox.









Applications

Fedora has a good selection of applications and most things the average user will need to get them up and running.

To start off with there is the full LibreOffice suite (Version 4.3.2.2) complete with a word processor, spreadsheet package, presentation package, drawing package and database package.

The Shotwell Photo Manager is also installed which makes it easier to organise and view your photos.

Rhythmbox is the default audio player.

With Rhythmbox you can import your music collection, buy music from last.fm, listen to podcasts and online radio stations.

Rhythmbox also works well with external audio devices such as the Sony Walkman and Samsung Galaxy phones.




For watching movies there is the Totem media player. This is a really up to date version of Totem which integrates nicely into the Gnome desktop.

You have the choice of watching your own videos or choosing from video channels such as Youtube.

The default web browser within Fedora is Firefox (version 33.1) and the mail client is Evolution.



Evolution provides step by step instructions for connecting to your email client. The interface for Evolution is great by the way and more than matches anything provided by Outlook.

If you like to use a messenging application there is Empathy. Empathy can connect to many different types of chat including AOL, Google Talk and IRC.

Fedora includes a tool called "Dev Assistant" which is useful for software developers.

It doesn't matter whether you are a C programmer or a Java programmer, a Perl scripter or a Python guy.

The DevAssistant provides options for installing and using development tools for all of these and more.












The other real application of note is Boxes which is a tool for creating and running virtual machines.

Installing Software








The tool used for installing software is the Gnome Package Installer. Within the menu system it just comes up as "Software".

It is much like the Ubuntu Software Centre and pretty much every other graphical software installer available nowadays with a list of categories depicted with icons and a search box.

One thing I would say about this tool is that it doesn't always pick everything up that is available. For instance I wanted to install Steam and despite having the necessary repositories installed it just doesn't show up in the Gnome Package Installer. I had to use the command line tool Yum to install Steam. I now have Steam installed and it still doesn't show up as an installed package.

(If anyone knows how to help with that I would appreciate it).

Issues

Performance was fairly poor using Gnome until I switched to using Wayland. My experience with Wayland thus far is phenomenal.

During the install phase the installer kept crashing whilst trying to take screenshots of the users screen.

Sometimes when installing packages the package manager said "Cannot install" and then when I clicked install again the package installed correctly.

Trying to get the package installer to show everything is proving tricky. This might be a lack of knowledge on my behalf but this site is all about the everyday linux user and so if it is tricky for me it will be tricky for others as well.

Summary

I really like the Gnome 3 desktop environment now. It looks and feels incredibly professional and polished and the keyboard shortcuts work a treat.

Wayland has been a huge hit with me and if Ubuntu is going to use MIR then it had better be really good in order to beat this.

Fedora itself comes with a decent set of applications and you can get everything that it doesn't have via the graphical installer and by utilising the RPMFusion repositories.

The downsides have all been listed in the issues section above.

How have you found Fedora 21? Have you been left confused by the graphical package manager? Use the comments section below to let me know and to also inform me if you think there are errors with this review.

Thankyou for reading.




















Posted at 20:28 |  by Gary Newell

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