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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Introduction

As the year draws to a close it is a good time to reflect on the good and bad of 2014.

In this article I am going to list my favourite alternative Linux distributions of the year.

What constitutes as an alternative Linux distro? To define the alternative, we need to look at the mainstream distributions first.

I consider the mainstream distributions to be any of the following:
  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • Fedora
  • CentOS
  • Arch
  • Mageia
  • openSUSE
  • Gentoo
  • Slackware
These distributions have one or more of the following characteristics:
  • A large number of users
  • A large number of developers
  • A large support base
  • They are not derived from any other distribution
  • Have their own software repositories
An alternative distribution is one that either doesn't have these characteristics or it has been created for a specific purpose.

I would like to clarify that Ubuntu is deemed to include Ubuntu Gnome, Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Kubuntu which is why they don't make this list.

Whilst the list is numbered the Linux distributions are listed in no particular order.

1. Puppy Linux


There is a reason that Puppy Linux has its own category on this site (Look at the top menu).

Puppy Linux is unique in so many ways.

Packed into a download of less than 200 megabytes, Puppy Linux is designed to run from a pen drive.

The performance of this miniature distribution is incredible, even allowing for a slow USB 2.0 drive.

I recently reviewed the latest version of Tahr Puppy and I was really impressed by the Quickpet installer for installing common packages.

Puppy Linux is perfect for older hardware and for computers without hard drives.

Click here for a full review of Puppy Linux

Click here to get Puppy and install it to a USB drive

Click here to buy a Puppy Linux USB drive

2. Makulu


I reviewed Makulu earlier in the year and my opinion is that if you are going to steer clear of the mainstream distributions then Makulu has to be a contender.

A lot of effort has gone into the look and feel of Makulu. There are a number of different desktop versions available but I chose to install the MATE version and to be honest it compares very well against Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint MATE.

The themes for Makulu look particularly good and there are some nice cosmetic touches such as the quote of the day.

If you prefer a dash for choosing applications rather than a menu there is  Slingscold.

Makulu comes with Thunderbird, Dropbox, Kingsoft Office, Audacious and VLC.

Makulu also comes with a good selection of games including Frets On Fire and Dreamchess. The Steam installer is also included.

There are two ways of installing applications within Makulu, the Linux Mint installer and Makulu's own Sofware Installer.

If you remember the artwork that use to come with Fuduntu and Point Linux then you will really like the artwork within Makulu.

Click here for a full review of Makulu

Click here for a guide showing how to install Makulu as a virtual machine within Windows

Click here for the full Makulu installation guide

Click here to buy a DVD or USB drive containing Makulu

3. SparkyLinux (Gameover Edition)


If you are looking for a Linux distribution dedicated to gaming then look no further than SparkyLinux Gameover Edition.

This distribution utilises the LXDE desktop environment keeping it lightweight in nature.

The best part about SparkyLinux is obviously the sheer library of applications that are installed.

SparkyLinux isn't all about games. There are applications for listening to music and watching videos as well as graphics editors. Dropbox is also installed as is the Transmission bittorrent client.

There are literally hundreds of games installed including Linux standards such as Battle For Wesnoth, SuperTuxKart and SuperTux. If you are into retrogaming there are some clones of classic games including breakout, lemmings and tetris.

The best part of SparkyLinux Gameover Edition is the games emulators. Whether you want to emulate a SEGA, Nintendo, Sony or Atari games system everything you need is included within SparkyLinux Gameover Edition.

Click here for a full review of SparkyLinux Gameover Edition

Click here for a SparkyLinux installation guide

Click here to buy a SparkyLinux DVD or USB drive

4. Peppermint OS


Peppermint OS provides a great fusion between a desktop Linux distribution and a web kiosk.

LXDE is the default desktop within Peppermint. The applications are kept to a minimum including Gnome MPlayer, Guayadeque Audio Player, a text editor, file manager, web browser, terminal application and screenshot tool.

The main feature of Peppermint is the ICE editor which enables you to incorporate web applications into the desktop.

In my review of Peppermint OS 4 I showed you how to make Peppermint OS look like a Google Chromebook and to be honest if you have a mid range laptop and you mainly use web applications you could easily utilise the laptop in this way.

Click here for a full review of Peppermint OS

Click here for a Peppermint OS installation guide

5. Netrunner


There are a lot of people who like Ubuntu. There are a lot of people who don't. There are many people who like most of the things Ubuntu has to offer but prefer to use an alternative desktop environment such as KDE desktop.

Netrunner takes everything that is good about Kubuntu and adds a little extra value.

Installing Netrunner is easy, with a linear approach showing you all the steps required to get from point A (from a live distribution) to point Z (a fully installed system).

The added value comes mainly in the form of extra applications.

Click here for a full review (including installation guide) of Netrunner

Click here to buy a Netrunner DVD or USB drive

6. Simplicity Linux


Earlier on in this article I sang the praises of Puppy Linux.

Simplicity Linux is based on the Slacko version of Puppy which gives you access to the Slackware repositories for installing applications that are not installed by default.

There are three versions available:
  • Minimal
  • Netbook
  • Full
Simplicity Linux looks and feels more like a standard desktop distribution but has all the great little applications and most of the performance benefits.

Click here for a full review of Simplicity Linux

Click here to buy a Simplicity Linux USB drive or DVD

7. Zorin


As with most products a solution survives either by being the best, being the cheapest or by having a unique selling point.

Trying to be the cheapest in realms of free software is a little bit hard to achieve and being the best is largely subjective and virtually impossible to achieve unless you have a huge developer base.

The survival of the alternative distributions is therefore achieved by having a unique selling point.

Zorin OS goes for the glitz and sex appeal of the desktop and is not afraid to include all the desktop effects that are provided with Compiz.

Zorin's USP however is the look changer which enables the user to switch between a Windows look, a Gnome 2 look and even an OSX look.

Click here for a full review of Zorin OS

Click here for a ZorinOS installation guide

Summary

I am sure there are other alternative distributions that you would have included as part of this list. Feel free to add them by using the comments section below.

Thankyou for reading.


The 7 Best Alternative Linux Distributions Of 2014

Introduction

As the year draws to a close it is a good time to reflect on the good and bad of 2014.

In this article I am going to list my favourite alternative Linux distributions of the year.

What constitutes as an alternative Linux distro? To define the alternative, we need to look at the mainstream distributions first.

I consider the mainstream distributions to be any of the following:
  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • Fedora
  • CentOS
  • Arch
  • Mageia
  • openSUSE
  • Gentoo
  • Slackware
These distributions have one or more of the following characteristics:
  • A large number of users
  • A large number of developers
  • A large support base
  • They are not derived from any other distribution
  • Have their own software repositories
An alternative distribution is one that either doesn't have these characteristics or it has been created for a specific purpose.

I would like to clarify that Ubuntu is deemed to include Ubuntu Gnome, Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Kubuntu which is why they don't make this list.

Whilst the list is numbered the Linux distributions are listed in no particular order.

1. Puppy Linux


There is a reason that Puppy Linux has its own category on this site (Look at the top menu).

Puppy Linux is unique in so many ways.

Packed into a download of less than 200 megabytes, Puppy Linux is designed to run from a pen drive.

The performance of this miniature distribution is incredible, even allowing for a slow USB 2.0 drive.

I recently reviewed the latest version of Tahr Puppy and I was really impressed by the Quickpet installer for installing common packages.

Puppy Linux is perfect for older hardware and for computers without hard drives.

Click here for a full review of Puppy Linux

Click here to get Puppy and install it to a USB drive

Click here to buy a Puppy Linux USB drive

2. Makulu


I reviewed Makulu earlier in the year and my opinion is that if you are going to steer clear of the mainstream distributions then Makulu has to be a contender.

A lot of effort has gone into the look and feel of Makulu. There are a number of different desktop versions available but I chose to install the MATE version and to be honest it compares very well against Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint MATE.

The themes for Makulu look particularly good and there are some nice cosmetic touches such as the quote of the day.

If you prefer a dash for choosing applications rather than a menu there is  Slingscold.

Makulu comes with Thunderbird, Dropbox, Kingsoft Office, Audacious and VLC.

Makulu also comes with a good selection of games including Frets On Fire and Dreamchess. The Steam installer is also included.

There are two ways of installing applications within Makulu, the Linux Mint installer and Makulu's own Sofware Installer.

If you remember the artwork that use to come with Fuduntu and Point Linux then you will really like the artwork within Makulu.

Click here for a full review of Makulu

Click here for a guide showing how to install Makulu as a virtual machine within Windows

Click here for the full Makulu installation guide

Click here to buy a DVD or USB drive containing Makulu

3. SparkyLinux (Gameover Edition)


If you are looking for a Linux distribution dedicated to gaming then look no further than SparkyLinux Gameover Edition.

This distribution utilises the LXDE desktop environment keeping it lightweight in nature.

The best part about SparkyLinux is obviously the sheer library of applications that are installed.

SparkyLinux isn't all about games. There are applications for listening to music and watching videos as well as graphics editors. Dropbox is also installed as is the Transmission bittorrent client.

There are literally hundreds of games installed including Linux standards such as Battle For Wesnoth, SuperTuxKart and SuperTux. If you are into retrogaming there are some clones of classic games including breakout, lemmings and tetris.

The best part of SparkyLinux Gameover Edition is the games emulators. Whether you want to emulate a SEGA, Nintendo, Sony or Atari games system everything you need is included within SparkyLinux Gameover Edition.

Click here for a full review of SparkyLinux Gameover Edition

Click here for a SparkyLinux installation guide

Click here to buy a SparkyLinux DVD or USB drive

4. Peppermint OS


Peppermint OS provides a great fusion between a desktop Linux distribution and a web kiosk.

LXDE is the default desktop within Peppermint. The applications are kept to a minimum including Gnome MPlayer, Guayadeque Audio Player, a text editor, file manager, web browser, terminal application and screenshot tool.

The main feature of Peppermint is the ICE editor which enables you to incorporate web applications into the desktop.

In my review of Peppermint OS 4 I showed you how to make Peppermint OS look like a Google Chromebook and to be honest if you have a mid range laptop and you mainly use web applications you could easily utilise the laptop in this way.

Click here for a full review of Peppermint OS

Click here for a Peppermint OS installation guide

5. Netrunner


There are a lot of people who like Ubuntu. There are a lot of people who don't. There are many people who like most of the things Ubuntu has to offer but prefer to use an alternative desktop environment such as KDE desktop.

Netrunner takes everything that is good about Kubuntu and adds a little extra value.

Installing Netrunner is easy, with a linear approach showing you all the steps required to get from point A (from a live distribution) to point Z (a fully installed system).

The added value comes mainly in the form of extra applications.

Click here for a full review (including installation guide) of Netrunner

Click here to buy a Netrunner DVD or USB drive

6. Simplicity Linux


Earlier on in this article I sang the praises of Puppy Linux.

Simplicity Linux is based on the Slacko version of Puppy which gives you access to the Slackware repositories for installing applications that are not installed by default.

There are three versions available:
  • Minimal
  • Netbook
  • Full
Simplicity Linux looks and feels more like a standard desktop distribution but has all the great little applications and most of the performance benefits.

Click here for a full review of Simplicity Linux

Click here to buy a Simplicity Linux USB drive or DVD

7. Zorin


As with most products a solution survives either by being the best, being the cheapest or by having a unique selling point.

Trying to be the cheapest in realms of free software is a little bit hard to achieve and being the best is largely subjective and virtually impossible to achieve unless you have a huge developer base.

The survival of the alternative distributions is therefore achieved by having a unique selling point.

Zorin OS goes for the glitz and sex appeal of the desktop and is not afraid to include all the desktop effects that are provided with Compiz.

Zorin's USP however is the look changer which enables the user to switch between a Windows look, a Gnome 2 look and even an OSX look.

Click here for a full review of Zorin OS

Click here for a ZorinOS installation guide

Summary

I am sure there are other alternative distributions that you would have included as part of this list. Feel free to add them by using the comments section below.

Thankyou for reading.


Posted at 22:10 |  by Gary Newell

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Introduction

It has been quite some time since I last reviewed a Puppy Linux distribution and I forgot how much fun it could be.

Barry Kauler has stopped developing Puppy Linux but the mantra has been taken up by the community and there are two main forks. Slacko Puppy is a version of Puppy Linux which utilises the Slackware Repositories and Puppy Tahr utilises the Ubuntu repositories.

In the past I have reviewed Lucid Puppy and Precise Puppy and I felt it was about time to give Puppy Tahr a go.

How To Get Puppy Tahr

I have written a guide at about.com showing how to download Puppy Tahr and how to create a bootable Puppy Tahr USB drive.

You can use UNetbootin to create a USB drive but I would advise using the tools that come with Puppy Linux.

After you have created a bootable USB drive it is worth rebooting your computer and creating the save file before continuing. The save file is used to provide persistence within Puppy Linux.

If you would prefer to you can click here to buy a Puppy Tahr DVD or Puppy Tahr USB Drive.

First Impressions




















As it has been so long since I last reviewed Puppy Linux I am going to treat this as a whole new review as opposed to just listing the changes since the last version.

The first thing you should notice is that Puppy Tahr boots insanely fast even on the oldest of computers.

The screen is split into a number of different sections.

At the bottom is a standard panel with a menu and quick launch icons for showing the desktop, opening the web browser and opening a terminal. Next to the quick launch icons are the virtual workspace icons.

In the bottom right corner are icons for the firewall, clipboard manager, power settings, network settings, storage, audio settings and a clock.

There are lots of icons on the desktop.

The icons on the left side of the screen are split into 6 distinct rows.

The first row is about navigation and setting up Puppy Linux. Icons are included for the file manager, mounting drives, installing Puppy, setting up Puppy, opening an editor and opening a terminal window.

The second row of icons is about productivity. Abiword, Gnumeric, MTPaint and Inkscape Lite.

The third row of icons are web based tools including the browser icon, email icon and chat icon.

The fourth row is more of a mish-mash and includes icons for a calendar and media player.

The fifth row has one icon for connecting to the internet and the sixth row also has one icon which provides access to the quickpet tool which I will come to later.

Just above the panel at the bottom of the screen you will see a list of icons for the drives that are currently mounted.

On the right side of the screen there are further icons and these are for locking the screen, archive management and recycle bin.

There is one final icon which is located to the centre of the screen. This icon saves any changes you have made since the last savepoint to the save file.

The Puppy menu is a fairly basic affair. The menu has a list of categories and hovering over a category brings up the items within that category.

You can open the Puppy menu by clicking the icon in the bottom left or right clicking on the desktop.

Puppy Setup

The Puppy Setup tool can be accessed by clicking on the "Setup" icon on the desktop.

From the setup tool you can change your language (keyboard layout, language, timezone), choose startup options, configure your mouse and keyboard, adjust your audio settings, change your screen resolution, setup 3D graphics and setup a printer.

When Puppy boots it loads in a default save file. You can add further save files for Puppy to load during boot up by clicking on the "Startup" button in the Puppy Setup screen. You can also load extra kernel modules and drivers.


A single package in Puppy Linux is called a PET. An SFS file (save file) is like a collection of packages (PETs) which can be loaded all at once.

Simply download the SFS file and place it in /mnt/home and then click the button in the SFS-Packages tab and load the SFS file in.









Connecting To The Internet

The initial setting up of the internet connection in Puppy Linux has always been a little bit hit and miss.

There are a number of tools available for setting up an internet connection but I find it is a case of trial and error trying to find the one that is going to work for each particular release of Puppy Linux.




To set up an internet connection either open up the Puppy Setup application and choose "Internet" or click on the "Connect" icon on the desktop.

There are a number of options to choose from. If you want to connect to an ethernet or wireless connection choose the "Wired or Wireless LAN" option.

As mentioned previously there are a few options to choose from for connecting to the internet.
  • Simple Network Setup
  • Frisbee
  • Network Wizard
The Simple Network Setup in theory is the easiest way to get connected and the Network Wizard is the most difficult but more complete tool for adjusting settings.

The good news is that once you have your network set up you don't have to go through the same pain again. (Unless of course you need to connect to a different network).







Flash And MP3

Flash isn't installed by default but can easily be installed by clicking on the Quickpet icon.

I will cover that application more fully later on but to install Flash simply click on Quickpet, choose the "Internet" tab and click on "Flash".

You will be given the option to choose from a number of different versions of Flash.






MP3s didn't provide any cause for concern and played straight away without having to install codecs.
















Applications

Puppy Tahr has a lot of applications installed by default but they are in the main lightweight in nature meaning that the performance is exceptional.

For productivity there is Abiword and Gnumeric. (Word processing and spreadsheets). These applications won't set your world on fire but are functional.

Inkscape Lite is fairly good as a drawing package but I'm not that enamoured with MTPaint which is the closest Puppy Linux gets to a Microsoft Paint clone.

I am quite impressed however with the Palemoon web browser. It is lightweight but has all the features I am looking for in a browser including tabs, bookmarks, decent rendering and the ability to play Flash videos. (Once Flash is installed).

I am also impressed with Sylpheed which is the email client. Again it is lightweight in nature but connecting to GMail was easy and the client supports many of the basic features you would expect from an email client.

There is an IRC chat client called XChat which has been pretty much a standard for IRC chat until recently. (Hexchat seems to be the client of choice for many distributions now though).

For watching videos the VLC media player is available and for listening to music there is DeaDBeeF. My main complaint with DeaDBeeF is the name. Trying to work out which letters to capitalise is a nightmare.

DeaDBeeF isn't going to win awards for beauty and it isn't as fully featured as Rhythmbox or Clementine but it sticks to the mantra of doing one thing and doing it well.

Puppy has a lot of little applications that make it stand out. For instance there are CD Rippers and DVD rippers. There is also an application called pupRadio/pupTelly which lets you stream online radio and television programs.

Installing Applications

There are two main ways to install applications using Puppy Linux. The first wy is to use the Quickpet application.

I touched upon this earlier on in the review.

Basically the Quickpet application provides a tabbed display split into categories:

  • Browsers
  • Internet
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Graphics
  • Games
  • Office and Other
  • Useful PETs
  • Desktops
  • Drivers
The Browsers tab lets you choose from a list of browsers including Firefox, Chromium, Seamonkey, Opera, Chrome, Tor and Slimboat.

The Internet tab gives options for installing Java, Flash, Skype, etc.

The Audio tab provides links for other audio players such as Guayadeque and qmmp. You can also install Spotify.

The Video tab has links to video players and editors and the Graphics tab has links to applications such as GIMP.

The Office tab has links for LibreOffice and fun stuff such as Virtualbox and WINE.

The Useful Pets tab has links for things like Conky and the Desktops tab lets you install LXDE and Compiz.

The other way to install applications is via the Install icon on the desktop.

The Install application not only enables you to create installation media for Puppy Linux it also provides links to the Puppy Package Manager.

You can also install official SFS files such as LibreOffice and Spotify from the Install application.











The Puppy Package Manager is a fairly standard application.

There is a list of repositories to choose from in the top left corner and below that a list of package types.

In the centre is a list of categories. Selecting a category changes the list of applications in the right pane.



Customising The Desktop

Puppy Linux provides a whole host of tools for customising the desktop including a wallpaper changer, theme changer, theme maker, icon changer, etc.

Puppy is like a swiss army knife of small Linux tools.

For something that comes in such a small package it is truly amazing.



Users

Puppy Linux is set to run as a single user system and therefore you are always the root user on a Puppy Linux system.

For those of you who feel uncomfortable about running as a root user you can change Puppy to run in either Spot or FIDO mode.

Summary

Puppy Linux continues to be a tremendous distribution. The performance is incredible and the amount of quality applications that are provided in such a small download is breathtaking.

The default applications won't appeal to everyone and they are built for functionality over style but the Quickpet application makes it possible to install old favourites like LibreOffice and GIMP.

It would be good if Puppy could get around booting on UEFI based machines but modern machines probably aren't the target market at the moment.

I would definitely recommend Puppy Linux for netbooks, older laptops and for computers that have no hard drives. It proves once and for all that you can teach an old dog (of a computer) new tricks.

Thankyou for reading.









An Everyday Linux User Review Of Puppy Linux Tahr 6.0 CE

Introduction

It has been quite some time since I last reviewed a Puppy Linux distribution and I forgot how much fun it could be.

Barry Kauler has stopped developing Puppy Linux but the mantra has been taken up by the community and there are two main forks. Slacko Puppy is a version of Puppy Linux which utilises the Slackware Repositories and Puppy Tahr utilises the Ubuntu repositories.

In the past I have reviewed Lucid Puppy and Precise Puppy and I felt it was about time to give Puppy Tahr a go.

How To Get Puppy Tahr

I have written a guide at about.com showing how to download Puppy Tahr and how to create a bootable Puppy Tahr USB drive.

You can use UNetbootin to create a USB drive but I would advise using the tools that come with Puppy Linux.

After you have created a bootable USB drive it is worth rebooting your computer and creating the save file before continuing. The save file is used to provide persistence within Puppy Linux.

If you would prefer to you can click here to buy a Puppy Tahr DVD or Puppy Tahr USB Drive.

First Impressions




















As it has been so long since I last reviewed Puppy Linux I am going to treat this as a whole new review as opposed to just listing the changes since the last version.

The first thing you should notice is that Puppy Tahr boots insanely fast even on the oldest of computers.

The screen is split into a number of different sections.

At the bottom is a standard panel with a menu and quick launch icons for showing the desktop, opening the web browser and opening a terminal. Next to the quick launch icons are the virtual workspace icons.

In the bottom right corner are icons for the firewall, clipboard manager, power settings, network settings, storage, audio settings and a clock.

There are lots of icons on the desktop.

The icons on the left side of the screen are split into 6 distinct rows.

The first row is about navigation and setting up Puppy Linux. Icons are included for the file manager, mounting drives, installing Puppy, setting up Puppy, opening an editor and opening a terminal window.

The second row of icons is about productivity. Abiword, Gnumeric, MTPaint and Inkscape Lite.

The third row of icons are web based tools including the browser icon, email icon and chat icon.

The fourth row is more of a mish-mash and includes icons for a calendar and media player.

The fifth row has one icon for connecting to the internet and the sixth row also has one icon which provides access to the quickpet tool which I will come to later.

Just above the panel at the bottom of the screen you will see a list of icons for the drives that are currently mounted.

On the right side of the screen there are further icons and these are for locking the screen, archive management and recycle bin.

There is one final icon which is located to the centre of the screen. This icon saves any changes you have made since the last savepoint to the save file.

The Puppy menu is a fairly basic affair. The menu has a list of categories and hovering over a category brings up the items within that category.

You can open the Puppy menu by clicking the icon in the bottom left or right clicking on the desktop.

Puppy Setup

The Puppy Setup tool can be accessed by clicking on the "Setup" icon on the desktop.

From the setup tool you can change your language (keyboard layout, language, timezone), choose startup options, configure your mouse and keyboard, adjust your audio settings, change your screen resolution, setup 3D graphics and setup a printer.

When Puppy boots it loads in a default save file. You can add further save files for Puppy to load during boot up by clicking on the "Startup" button in the Puppy Setup screen. You can also load extra kernel modules and drivers.


A single package in Puppy Linux is called a PET. An SFS file (save file) is like a collection of packages (PETs) which can be loaded all at once.

Simply download the SFS file and place it in /mnt/home and then click the button in the SFS-Packages tab and load the SFS file in.









Connecting To The Internet

The initial setting up of the internet connection in Puppy Linux has always been a little bit hit and miss.

There are a number of tools available for setting up an internet connection but I find it is a case of trial and error trying to find the one that is going to work for each particular release of Puppy Linux.




To set up an internet connection either open up the Puppy Setup application and choose "Internet" or click on the "Connect" icon on the desktop.

There are a number of options to choose from. If you want to connect to an ethernet or wireless connection choose the "Wired or Wireless LAN" option.

As mentioned previously there are a few options to choose from for connecting to the internet.
  • Simple Network Setup
  • Frisbee
  • Network Wizard
The Simple Network Setup in theory is the easiest way to get connected and the Network Wizard is the most difficult but more complete tool for adjusting settings.

The good news is that once you have your network set up you don't have to go through the same pain again. (Unless of course you need to connect to a different network).







Flash And MP3

Flash isn't installed by default but can easily be installed by clicking on the Quickpet icon.

I will cover that application more fully later on but to install Flash simply click on Quickpet, choose the "Internet" tab and click on "Flash".

You will be given the option to choose from a number of different versions of Flash.






MP3s didn't provide any cause for concern and played straight away without having to install codecs.
















Applications

Puppy Tahr has a lot of applications installed by default but they are in the main lightweight in nature meaning that the performance is exceptional.

For productivity there is Abiword and Gnumeric. (Word processing and spreadsheets). These applications won't set your world on fire but are functional.

Inkscape Lite is fairly good as a drawing package but I'm not that enamoured with MTPaint which is the closest Puppy Linux gets to a Microsoft Paint clone.

I am quite impressed however with the Palemoon web browser. It is lightweight but has all the features I am looking for in a browser including tabs, bookmarks, decent rendering and the ability to play Flash videos. (Once Flash is installed).

I am also impressed with Sylpheed which is the email client. Again it is lightweight in nature but connecting to GMail was easy and the client supports many of the basic features you would expect from an email client.

There is an IRC chat client called XChat which has been pretty much a standard for IRC chat until recently. (Hexchat seems to be the client of choice for many distributions now though).

For watching videos the VLC media player is available and for listening to music there is DeaDBeeF. My main complaint with DeaDBeeF is the name. Trying to work out which letters to capitalise is a nightmare.

DeaDBeeF isn't going to win awards for beauty and it isn't as fully featured as Rhythmbox or Clementine but it sticks to the mantra of doing one thing and doing it well.

Puppy has a lot of little applications that make it stand out. For instance there are CD Rippers and DVD rippers. There is also an application called pupRadio/pupTelly which lets you stream online radio and television programs.

Installing Applications

There are two main ways to install applications using Puppy Linux. The first wy is to use the Quickpet application.

I touched upon this earlier on in the review.

Basically the Quickpet application provides a tabbed display split into categories:

  • Browsers
  • Internet
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Graphics
  • Games
  • Office and Other
  • Useful PETs
  • Desktops
  • Drivers
The Browsers tab lets you choose from a list of browsers including Firefox, Chromium, Seamonkey, Opera, Chrome, Tor and Slimboat.

The Internet tab gives options for installing Java, Flash, Skype, etc.

The Audio tab provides links for other audio players such as Guayadeque and qmmp. You can also install Spotify.

The Video tab has links to video players and editors and the Graphics tab has links to applications such as GIMP.

The Office tab has links for LibreOffice and fun stuff such as Virtualbox and WINE.

The Useful Pets tab has links for things like Conky and the Desktops tab lets you install LXDE and Compiz.

The other way to install applications is via the Install icon on the desktop.

The Install application not only enables you to create installation media for Puppy Linux it also provides links to the Puppy Package Manager.

You can also install official SFS files such as LibreOffice and Spotify from the Install application.











The Puppy Package Manager is a fairly standard application.

There is a list of repositories to choose from in the top left corner and below that a list of package types.

In the centre is a list of categories. Selecting a category changes the list of applications in the right pane.



Customising The Desktop

Puppy Linux provides a whole host of tools for customising the desktop including a wallpaper changer, theme changer, theme maker, icon changer, etc.

Puppy is like a swiss army knife of small Linux tools.

For something that comes in such a small package it is truly amazing.



Users

Puppy Linux is set to run as a single user system and therefore you are always the root user on a Puppy Linux system.

For those of you who feel uncomfortable about running as a root user you can change Puppy to run in either Spot or FIDO mode.

Summary

Puppy Linux continues to be a tremendous distribution. The performance is incredible and the amount of quality applications that are provided in such a small download is breathtaking.

The default applications won't appeal to everyone and they are built for functionality over style but the Quickpet application makes it possible to install old favourites like LibreOffice and GIMP.

It would be good if Puppy could get around booting on UEFI based machines but modern machines probably aren't the target market at the moment.

I would definitely recommend Puppy Linux for netbooks, older laptops and for computers that have no hard drives. It proves once and for all that you can teach an old dog (of a computer) new tricks.

Thankyou for reading.









Posted at 09:01 |  by Gary Newell

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The subjects that I write about on Everyday Linux User really just scrape the surface in terms of what Linux really is.

The point of Everyday Linux User is to help ordinary people decide whether they want to make the transition to Linux and to help them make that transition.

The idea is to let the average person find out about the best Linux distributions and the purpose of those distributions.

 


Beyond the reviews I also provide how-to guides including tutorials for creating live USB drives, testing virtual machines and installing the Linux distributions that I review.

I also write reviews of applications such as video editors, audio players, video players, graphics programs, office suites and games emulators.

There are areas that I don't touch and that is because I, in Linux terms, am just an end user or at best a power user. I know how to drive the thing and I have a rudimentary understanding of the engine but if you ask me to change a gasket and I am likely to end up with a warped head.

“How Linux Works (2nd Edition)”, authored by Brian Ward, is a book that really shows you the inner workings of Linux. 

For those of you that bought the original version of "How Linux Works" it is worth knowing that the second edition has been completely revised and expanded with new content.
  You won't find instructions for dual booting Ubuntu with Windows 8 in “How Linux Works” and nor will you find out how to install a particular graphical environment. That is not what 
“How Linux Works” is about.

“How Linux Works” looks at the inner workings and details the philosophy of why Linux works the way it does.

The book is over 300 pages and split into 16 chapters. It starts with a chapter called “The Big Picture” which highlights the various levels that encompass a Linux system. At the very lowest level there is the physical hardware such as your hard drive and RAM. In the middle sits the Kernel which manages the memory, process and device drivers and at the top is the user space (which is the area Everyday Linux User focuses on).

The 2nd chapter gives an overview of the basic commands used within Linux such as ls, cat, awk, grep and find. This chapter also covers the Linux folder structure.

The Linux folder structure is actually a very important concept to understand but most consumers of GNU/Linux probably don't venture much further than their own home folder.

For day to day use it isn't really an issue not knowing what all the other folders are for because package managers deal with installing applications and graphical tools handle settings but when it comes to switching from one distribution to another or upgrading a distribution that doesn't provide an upgrade tool it is vital to know the folders you need to back up.

Chapter 3 gives an overview of devices, how the dd command works and provides details of udev.

The book has lots to offer on almost every aspect of the Linux architecture but there is one chapter that should make most Linux newbies add this book to their basket and that is the chapter on disks and file systems.

The disks and file systems chapter gives a really good insight into partitions and file systems. One of the most common questions I am asked is “how do I partition my hard drive?” and that is usually followed by “how big should my swap partition be and do I need it?”.

How Linux Works has a good section detailing what swap space is and the reasons it is used. By understanding how something works and why it exists you can make a better judgement as to whether you need it or not.

Following on from the disks and file systems chapter there is another great chapter detailing the often hazardous and touchy subject of bootloaders. There is a good section showing how to install and configure Grub as well as information about UEFI.

Other chapters in the book deal with networking, resource utilisation, system configuration and shell scripting.

Before the finale, “How Linux Works” briefly encroaches into the world of Everyday Linux User looking at desktop environments, window managers and applications. What sets “How Linux Works” apart in this area though is the way it approaches the subject, giving a great amount of detail about how X works and the tools available. The book also touches upon potential forthcoming technologies such as Wayland and MIR.

My day job is as a software developer, writing Windows and web applications. I am also a qualified SQL Server database administrator. One thing that I have barely touched upon is developing software for Linux, although I have developed websites using PHP and MySQL.

For the uninitiated, working out how to obtain the source, edit the source and compile the packages is a daunting and confusing experience. “How Linux Works” gives a great overview on this very subject and helps to join up some of the dots.

In the past I have found books of a similar ilk as “How Linux Works” to be quite dry and difficult to read. They are usually very good for helping to get to sleep at night. “How Linux Works” is different though. It is very well written and each subject is clear and provides a good level of information without burying you in detail.

I would be lying if I told you that I understood every word that I read from cover to cover but on the whole I gained a lot of knowledge by reading this book and I thoroughly recommend it, especially if you want to get to grips with the inner workings and stray away from the comforts of the desktop.

“How Linux Works” is available from Amazon, nostarch.com and all major booksellers.

















How Linux Works

The subjects that I write about on Everyday Linux User really just scrape the surface in terms of what Linux really is.

The point of Everyday Linux User is to help ordinary people decide whether they want to make the transition to Linux and to help them make that transition.

The idea is to let the average person find out about the best Linux distributions and the purpose of those distributions.

 


Beyond the reviews I also provide how-to guides including tutorials for creating live USB drives, testing virtual machines and installing the Linux distributions that I review.

I also write reviews of applications such as video editors, audio players, video players, graphics programs, office suites and games emulators.

There are areas that I don't touch and that is because I, in Linux terms, am just an end user or at best a power user. I know how to drive the thing and I have a rudimentary understanding of the engine but if you ask me to change a gasket and I am likely to end up with a warped head.

“How Linux Works (2nd Edition)”, authored by Brian Ward, is a book that really shows you the inner workings of Linux. 

For those of you that bought the original version of "How Linux Works" it is worth knowing that the second edition has been completely revised and expanded with new content.
  You won't find instructions for dual booting Ubuntu with Windows 8 in “How Linux Works” and nor will you find out how to install a particular graphical environment. That is not what 
“How Linux Works” is about.

“How Linux Works” looks at the inner workings and details the philosophy of why Linux works the way it does.

The book is over 300 pages and split into 16 chapters. It starts with a chapter called “The Big Picture” which highlights the various levels that encompass a Linux system. At the very lowest level there is the physical hardware such as your hard drive and RAM. In the middle sits the Kernel which manages the memory, process and device drivers and at the top is the user space (which is the area Everyday Linux User focuses on).

The 2nd chapter gives an overview of the basic commands used within Linux such as ls, cat, awk, grep and find. This chapter also covers the Linux folder structure.

The Linux folder structure is actually a very important concept to understand but most consumers of GNU/Linux probably don't venture much further than their own home folder.

For day to day use it isn't really an issue not knowing what all the other folders are for because package managers deal with installing applications and graphical tools handle settings but when it comes to switching from one distribution to another or upgrading a distribution that doesn't provide an upgrade tool it is vital to know the folders you need to back up.

Chapter 3 gives an overview of devices, how the dd command works and provides details of udev.

The book has lots to offer on almost every aspect of the Linux architecture but there is one chapter that should make most Linux newbies add this book to their basket and that is the chapter on disks and file systems.

The disks and file systems chapter gives a really good insight into partitions and file systems. One of the most common questions I am asked is “how do I partition my hard drive?” and that is usually followed by “how big should my swap partition be and do I need it?”.

How Linux Works has a good section detailing what swap space is and the reasons it is used. By understanding how something works and why it exists you can make a better judgement as to whether you need it or not.

Following on from the disks and file systems chapter there is another great chapter detailing the often hazardous and touchy subject of bootloaders. There is a good section showing how to install and configure Grub as well as information about UEFI.

Other chapters in the book deal with networking, resource utilisation, system configuration and shell scripting.

Before the finale, “How Linux Works” briefly encroaches into the world of Everyday Linux User looking at desktop environments, window managers and applications. What sets “How Linux Works” apart in this area though is the way it approaches the subject, giving a great amount of detail about how X works and the tools available. The book also touches upon potential forthcoming technologies such as Wayland and MIR.

My day job is as a software developer, writing Windows and web applications. I am also a qualified SQL Server database administrator. One thing that I have barely touched upon is developing software for Linux, although I have developed websites using PHP and MySQL.

For the uninitiated, working out how to obtain the source, edit the source and compile the packages is a daunting and confusing experience. “How Linux Works” gives a great overview on this very subject and helps to join up some of the dots.

In the past I have found books of a similar ilk as “How Linux Works” to be quite dry and difficult to read. They are usually very good for helping to get to sleep at night. “How Linux Works” is different though. It is very well written and each subject is clear and provides a good level of information without burying you in detail.

I would be lying if I told you that I understood every word that I read from cover to cover but on the whole I gained a lot of knowledge by reading this book and I thoroughly recommend it, especially if you want to get to grips with the inner workings and stray away from the comforts of the desktop.

“How Linux Works” is available from Amazon, nostarch.com and all major booksellers.

















Posted at 23:45 |  by Gary Newell

Sunday, 30 November 2014

GoodGame Empire



























Spoiler alert. This article has nothing to do with Linux.

This is a review of the game "Goodgame Empire" which is a free online strategy game that you can play in your browser or via your Android phone.

Goodgame Empire is about building up a medieval village by expanding a settlement, building battlements, adding buildings, building up armies and collecting taxes.
You start off with a small settlement and through various tutorials expand the settlement by adding buildings and troops.

The game is multifaceted. Your job is to make sure that your villagers are happy and that your village remains guarded against enemy attacks.

You can add more troops and add buildings to help train the troops and then set about attacking other villages controlled by other players.






















































Planning attacks involves building up and placing troops and choosing whether to attack head on or outflank the opposition.

You have different types of warrior to help you attack enemy villages and they must be placed wisely to prevent annihilation.

The game isn't all about attacking other villages though. You have to keep the villagers happy and that is achieved by adding decorative features and keeping them well fed.

In order to be able to afford new troops, food and decorative features you have to earn money. You can earn money by adding new buildings where people can settle and then collect taxes from those people.

The game starts off quite slowly as you learn all of the features but once you get into it becomes quite addictive.

Goodgame Empire is free to play.

Click here to play.




GoodGame Empire - The Free Online Strategy Game

GoodGame Empire



























Spoiler alert. This article has nothing to do with Linux.

This is a review of the game "Goodgame Empire" which is a free online strategy game that you can play in your browser or via your Android phone.

Goodgame Empire is about building up a medieval village by expanding a settlement, building battlements, adding buildings, building up armies and collecting taxes.
You start off with a small settlement and through various tutorials expand the settlement by adding buildings and troops.

The game is multifaceted. Your job is to make sure that your villagers are happy and that your village remains guarded against enemy attacks.

You can add more troops and add buildings to help train the troops and then set about attacking other villages controlled by other players.






















































Planning attacks involves building up and placing troops and choosing whether to attack head on or outflank the opposition.

You have different types of warrior to help you attack enemy villages and they must be placed wisely to prevent annihilation.

The game isn't all about attacking other villages though. You have to keep the villagers happy and that is achieved by adding decorative features and keeping them well fed.

In order to be able to afford new troops, food and decorative features you have to earn money. You can earn money by adding new buildings where people can settle and then collect taxes from those people.

The game starts off quite slowly as you learn all of the features but once you get into it becomes quite addictive.

Goodgame Empire is free to play.

Click here to play.




Posted at 23:02 |  by Gary Newell

Introduction

The most popular graphics package in the world is much like the most popular search engine in the word. The name of the package isn't just a noun, it is now also a verb.

When you want to find information about something you don't just search on the internet for it, you Google it. The ability "To Google" didn't exist 20 years ago but it is now a term used daily in the office in which I work. For instance "The program keeps crashing with a strange error", "Have you tried Googling it to see if there is a solution".

Other search engines don't have the same clout. You don't hear people say "Have you Bing'd it?" or "Have you Duck Duck Go'd it?".

The most popular graphics package is Photoshop. Any picture that appears to be doctored in any way is now said to be "Photoshopped". 

Photoshop is a difficult act to follow and the closest thing that Linux has to Photoshop is GIMP. Expecting somebody to move from Photoshop to GIMP is probably as difficult as getting somebody to switch from Google to Bing. It doesn't matter how good GIMP is it probably isn't going to happen. GIMP users though are also unlikely to switch to Photoshop.

There is a category of user though that couldn't care less about either Photoshop or GIMP because there are just too many features and the learning curve is just too high.

Some people are more than happy drawing pictures or editing basic images using Microsoft Paint and that is what this article is about.

Linux has a number of applications that provide similar functionality to MS Paint and in this article I will be looking at 8 of them.

Microsoft Paint

To be able to compare Microsoft Paint with some Linux alternatives I thought I would start off by showing the features of the latest version of Paint.





















Paint is one of those programs that hasn't changed much over the years but the latest version in Windows 8.1 does have the now standard ribbon bar.

The ribbon bar has a number of shapes to choose from and they can be drawn onto a variable sized canvas.

The lines for the shapes can be set at varying thicknesses and can be one of a preset colour palette or a user defined colour. The shapes can be filled in or left empty.





















Text can be added to the canvas. The text can be set to one of a number of fonts, font sizes and styles such as bold or underline.

The image can be resized and saved in a number of different formats.

There is nothing particularly special about Microsoft Paint but it is a good toy for kids to play with. It can also be used for resizing images and for adding funny captions to photos.

Imagemagick






















Imagemagick doesn't look anything like MS Paint and it is much better for editing photos than it is for drawing images.

You can create a canvas in the same way as you can for MS Paint and you can add all sorts of shapes including triangles, rectangles and circles.

The width of the lines can be adjusted and you can fill in the shapes using different colours.

There are some nice effects such as wavy lines and bricks that can be used to fill shapes and as you can see in the image above there are some nice shading effects.

One feature that appears to be missing is the ability to add text.

Image Magick doesn't look as clean as MS Paint but it is easy enough to use. I don't think it would suit younger children in the same way that MS Paint would.

Kolour Paint



As part of the KDE desktop, KolourPaint looks much like the versions of MS Paint that would have been released with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

This is probably the closest package that I have found to Microsoft Paint on Linux. The package is lacking the predefined shapes that come with Microsoft Paint but you can create basic rectangles, circles and polygons. There is also the ability to add text with varying fonts. 

You can resize images using KolourPaint and save them in a number of different formats including JPEG, BMP and PNG.

This is an ideal package for kids to use for creating pictures.

MT Paint
































I found MT Paint to be horrendously difficult to use which begs a question, "Who is it for?".

The toolbar has a number of tools including the ability to paint, select shapes, fill shapes, draw straight lines, clone, make a selection, make a polygon selection, add a gradient, lasso selection and add text.

The issue I found was getting it to keep any of the selections to hold and then to fill the selections with colours. It just isn't very intuitive.

You can resize the canvas and adding text was simple enough. The image can be saved in a number of different formats although JPEG doesn't appear to be one of them.

Gnome Paint























Gnome Paint is the Gnome equivalent of Kolour Paint.

At first glance Gnome Paint looks much the same as Kolour Paint and older versions of MS Paint. There are tools for drawing, erasing, and selecting shapes including circles, rectangles, rounded rectangles and polygons.

Gnome Paint works quite well but there are a few issues.

First of all there appears to be no way of editing the colour palette so you are stuck with the 32 colours. 

If you select the text tool a message appears stating that this function is not yet available.

It isn't obvious how to finish editing a polygon. You basically continue selecting the shape until you are finished and then right click. There are no clues that this is the case and it is fairly unintuitive.

Gnome Paint could also do with some tool tips so that it is obvious when picking an item in the toolbox what that tool does.

GNU Paint


GNU Paint is another drawing program that looks and acts much like MS Paint. The actual design is more basic than Gnome Paint but functionality wise it is more advanced.

You can create basic shapes such as rectangles and circles and you can add free format lines.

The colour palette enables you to add more than the default 32 colours and the text function works.

Not quite as easy to use as Kolour Paint and it is a shame that there is no undo feature. Your average child would get to grips with it in no time at all.

Tux Paint


Tux Paint is unique compared to all the other packages and clearly the target audience is children.

The Tux Paint package is great. Not only can you add the standard shapes such as circles and rectangles but there are a whole host of effects that can be added such as grass, rain and bricks.

There is also a number of pre-defined images or stamps that can be added including Tux the penguin.

Grafx


Do you remember Deluxe Paint from the Commodore Amiga? Grafx is a clone of that package.

Some things from the past belong firmly in the past and in my opinion the Deluxe Paint way of doing things is definitely in that category.

The application is far too difficult and convoluted compared to many of the other packages.

I couldn't get to grips with the software at all. The mouse would get lost on the screen and even doing something as simple as changing the canvas background was too challenging.

I could have read the manual but I couldn't get the mouse to behave long enough to click on the icon.

XPaint


XPaint provides a good balance between functionality and ease of use. There is a canvas and a toolbox.

Each shape can be filled in or left hollow. There are a plethora of colours to choose from and you can define your own.

The text tool works well and there are even a few extras including filters. The shapes to choose from include rectangles, circles and polygons.

The Verdict

The best and most complete package was Tux Paint. It isn't a clone of MS Paint and has far more features, yet it is still easy to use.

The next best was Kolour Paint. It was more in line with the traditional paint package and included most of the features of MS Paint except the colour palettes were limited and there weren't as many predefined shapes. XPaint is also a decent enough application for basic drawing purposes.

Image Magick and GNU Paint were both reasonable but not really spectacular. Image Magick is much better utilised for basic image editing such as cropping and resizing photos.

Gnome Paint wasn't as polished as Kolour Paint but given a bit of love and care could easily be improved.

MT Paint, well, I'm not sure what the purpose of MT Paint is and Grafx is just overly confusing with no really good selling point.

Thankyou for reading.








8 Linux Microsoft Paint Alternatives

Introduction

The most popular graphics package in the world is much like the most popular search engine in the word. The name of the package isn't just a noun, it is now also a verb.

When you want to find information about something you don't just search on the internet for it, you Google it. The ability "To Google" didn't exist 20 years ago but it is now a term used daily in the office in which I work. For instance "The program keeps crashing with a strange error", "Have you tried Googling it to see if there is a solution".

Other search engines don't have the same clout. You don't hear people say "Have you Bing'd it?" or "Have you Duck Duck Go'd it?".

The most popular graphics package is Photoshop. Any picture that appears to be doctored in any way is now said to be "Photoshopped". 

Photoshop is a difficult act to follow and the closest thing that Linux has to Photoshop is GIMP. Expecting somebody to move from Photoshop to GIMP is probably as difficult as getting somebody to switch from Google to Bing. It doesn't matter how good GIMP is it probably isn't going to happen. GIMP users though are also unlikely to switch to Photoshop.

There is a category of user though that couldn't care less about either Photoshop or GIMP because there are just too many features and the learning curve is just too high.

Some people are more than happy drawing pictures or editing basic images using Microsoft Paint and that is what this article is about.

Linux has a number of applications that provide similar functionality to MS Paint and in this article I will be looking at 8 of them.

Microsoft Paint

To be able to compare Microsoft Paint with some Linux alternatives I thought I would start off by showing the features of the latest version of Paint.





















Paint is one of those programs that hasn't changed much over the years but the latest version in Windows 8.1 does have the now standard ribbon bar.

The ribbon bar has a number of shapes to choose from and they can be drawn onto a variable sized canvas.

The lines for the shapes can be set at varying thicknesses and can be one of a preset colour palette or a user defined colour. The shapes can be filled in or left empty.





















Text can be added to the canvas. The text can be set to one of a number of fonts, font sizes and styles such as bold or underline.

The image can be resized and saved in a number of different formats.

There is nothing particularly special about Microsoft Paint but it is a good toy for kids to play with. It can also be used for resizing images and for adding funny captions to photos.

Imagemagick






















Imagemagick doesn't look anything like MS Paint and it is much better for editing photos than it is for drawing images.

You can create a canvas in the same way as you can for MS Paint and you can add all sorts of shapes including triangles, rectangles and circles.

The width of the lines can be adjusted and you can fill in the shapes using different colours.

There are some nice effects such as wavy lines and bricks that can be used to fill shapes and as you can see in the image above there are some nice shading effects.

One feature that appears to be missing is the ability to add text.

Image Magick doesn't look as clean as MS Paint but it is easy enough to use. I don't think it would suit younger children in the same way that MS Paint would.

Kolour Paint



As part of the KDE desktop, KolourPaint looks much like the versions of MS Paint that would have been released with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

This is probably the closest package that I have found to Microsoft Paint on Linux. The package is lacking the predefined shapes that come with Microsoft Paint but you can create basic rectangles, circles and polygons. There is also the ability to add text with varying fonts. 

You can resize images using KolourPaint and save them in a number of different formats including JPEG, BMP and PNG.

This is an ideal package for kids to use for creating pictures.

MT Paint
































I found MT Paint to be horrendously difficult to use which begs a question, "Who is it for?".

The toolbar has a number of tools including the ability to paint, select shapes, fill shapes, draw straight lines, clone, make a selection, make a polygon selection, add a gradient, lasso selection and add text.

The issue I found was getting it to keep any of the selections to hold and then to fill the selections with colours. It just isn't very intuitive.

You can resize the canvas and adding text was simple enough. The image can be saved in a number of different formats although JPEG doesn't appear to be one of them.

Gnome Paint























Gnome Paint is the Gnome equivalent of Kolour Paint.

At first glance Gnome Paint looks much the same as Kolour Paint and older versions of MS Paint. There are tools for drawing, erasing, and selecting shapes including circles, rectangles, rounded rectangles and polygons.

Gnome Paint works quite well but there are a few issues.

First of all there appears to be no way of editing the colour palette so you are stuck with the 32 colours. 

If you select the text tool a message appears stating that this function is not yet available.

It isn't obvious how to finish editing a polygon. You basically continue selecting the shape until you are finished and then right click. There are no clues that this is the case and it is fairly unintuitive.

Gnome Paint could also do with some tool tips so that it is obvious when picking an item in the toolbox what that tool does.

GNU Paint


GNU Paint is another drawing program that looks and acts much like MS Paint. The actual design is more basic than Gnome Paint but functionality wise it is more advanced.

You can create basic shapes such as rectangles and circles and you can add free format lines.

The colour palette enables you to add more than the default 32 colours and the text function works.

Not quite as easy to use as Kolour Paint and it is a shame that there is no undo feature. Your average child would get to grips with it in no time at all.

Tux Paint


Tux Paint is unique compared to all the other packages and clearly the target audience is children.

The Tux Paint package is great. Not only can you add the standard shapes such as circles and rectangles but there are a whole host of effects that can be added such as grass, rain and bricks.

There is also a number of pre-defined images or stamps that can be added including Tux the penguin.

Grafx


Do you remember Deluxe Paint from the Commodore Amiga? Grafx is a clone of that package.

Some things from the past belong firmly in the past and in my opinion the Deluxe Paint way of doing things is definitely in that category.

The application is far too difficult and convoluted compared to many of the other packages.

I couldn't get to grips with the software at all. The mouse would get lost on the screen and even doing something as simple as changing the canvas background was too challenging.

I could have read the manual but I couldn't get the mouse to behave long enough to click on the icon.

XPaint


XPaint provides a good balance between functionality and ease of use. There is a canvas and a toolbox.

Each shape can be filled in or left hollow. There are a plethora of colours to choose from and you can define your own.

The text tool works well and there are even a few extras including filters. The shapes to choose from include rectangles, circles and polygons.

The Verdict

The best and most complete package was Tux Paint. It isn't a clone of MS Paint and has far more features, yet it is still easy to use.

The next best was Kolour Paint. It was more in line with the traditional paint package and included most of the features of MS Paint except the colour palettes were limited and there weren't as many predefined shapes. XPaint is also a decent enough application for basic drawing purposes.

Image Magick and GNU Paint were both reasonable but not really spectacular. Image Magick is much better utilised for basic image editing such as cropping and resizing photos.

Gnome Paint wasn't as polished as Kolour Paint but given a bit of love and care could easily be improved.

MT Paint, well, I'm not sure what the purpose of MT Paint is and Grafx is just overly confusing with no really good selling point.

Thankyou for reading.








Posted at 00:31 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 21 November 2014

Introduction

This week I wrote a tutorial at About.com showing how to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

I have written a number of installation guides over the past few years. On many occasions I have included the installation steps as part of the reviews but for trickier installs and for more recent reviews I have created separate guides.

This article lists all of the Linux installation tutorials and guides that I have created with a brief description of each one.

1. How To Dual Boot Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04



I have written a couple of guides about dual booting Windows 8 and Ubuntu. This is the updated version with extra steps incorporated for the 8.1 release of Windows.

The guide shows you:
  • how to backup Windows 8.1
  • how to create a bootable USB drive
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to turn off fast boot
  • how to turn off secure boot
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to use boot repair
  • how to fix the Windows 8 boot loader
I am about to update the guide once again as the process appears to be getting easier. One of the key updates in the new guide will be how to backup Windows 8.1.

I can no longer recommend using the native Microsoft backup and recovery tools. I have been let down by them too many times.

Instead I recommend following this guide for backing up all versions of Windows.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu

2. Install Ubuntu Alongside Windows 8 In 10 Easy Steps

This was the original Ubuntu and Windows 8 dual boot guide.

The guide shows

  • how to backup Windows
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to create a bootable USB drive using UNetbootin
  • how to turn off fastboot and secureboot
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to partition the disk
  • how to run boot repair
Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 8

3. How To Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu

I created this guide as an alternative to the Linux Mint and Windows 7 dual boot guide which appears later in the list.

The guide shows
  • how to backup Windows 7
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to download Ubuntu
  • how to create a Ubuntu DVD
  • how to create a Ubuntu USB drive
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to partition the hard drive
There are full step by step instructions as well as screenshots

Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 7

4. How To Install Ubuntu and Minecraft On A Chromebook

I try to cover as many devices as I can get my hands on when writing installation guides.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a Chromebook and this guide provides the basic concepts for dual booting Ubuntu and ChromeOS on a Chromebook.

The guide shows you:

  • how to create recovery media
  • how to switch to developer mode
  • how to download Crouton
  • how to run Crouton
  • how to switch between Ubuntu and Chrome
  • how to install extra packages and Synaptic
  • how to install Minecraft
Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and ChromeOS on a Chromebook

5. How To Install Ubuntu As A Virtual Machine In Windows

If you want to try Ubuntu out as a virtual machine then follow this guide.

There are step by step instructions and screenshots. At the time of writing there was an issue with Virtualbox which has now been resolved but the guide is still perfectly valid.

The guide shows
  • how to get VirtualBox
  • how to install VirtualBox
  • how to download Ubuntu
  • how to create a virtual machine
  • how to install Ubuntu
Click here to read how to install Ubuntu as a virtual machine within Windows

6. Upgrade Ubuntu From 13.04 To 13.10 When Dual Booting With Windows 8

Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10 are both very much in the past but the guide works for upgrading from 13.10 to 14.04 and 14.04 to 14.10.

If you want to upgrade Ubuntu within a dual boot system this guide shows you how to do that.

The guide shows
  • how to backup Windows 
  • how to backup Ubuntu
  • how to upgrade Ubuntu
  • how to fix Grub
 Click here to read how to upgrade Ubuntu when dual booting with Windows 8

7. How To Install Linux Mint Alongside Windows 7


If you would like to try out Linux as a dual boot system then this guide shows how to install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7.

Linux Mint is one of the more popular Linux distributions because it has a very familiar look and feel and because it is easy to use.

The guide shows you
  • how to create Windows 7 recovery media
  • how to get Linux Mint
  • how to create a bootable Linux Mint DVD
  • how to make a bootable Linux Mint USB drive
  • how to boot into a Linux Mint live desktop
  • how to partition your hard drive
  • how to install Linux Mint
The guide has full step by step instructions incorporating screenshots for clarity.

Click here to read the Linux Mint and Windows 7 dual boot tutorial

8. How To Install Linux Mint Alongside OSX on the MacBook Air

This guide shows how to dual boot Linux Mint and OSX on a MacBook Air.

The guide shows you
  • how to backup the MacBook Air
  • how to get Linux Mint
  • how to create a bootable USB drive
  • how to partition the drive
  • how to boot into Linux Mint
  • how to install Linux Mint
  • how to fix the boot loader
  • how to fix the Grub menu
  • how to connect to the internet
As with the other guides this one comes with step by step instructions and screenshots.

Click here to read the Linux Mint and OSX dual boot tutorial

9. How to install Linux Mint As A Virtual Machine Using Windows

Virtual machines are a popular method for testing out distributions and Linux Mint is one of the more popular Linux distributions.

This guide shows how to install Linux Mint as a virtual machine using Virtualbox within Windows.

The guide includes:

  • how to get Oracle Virtualbox
  • how to download Linux Mint
  • how to install Virtualbox
  • how to create a virtual machine
  • how to install Linux Mint
Click here to read how to install Linux Mint As A Virtual Machine

10. How To Dual Boot Windows Vista and Linux



If you are still running Windows Vista then you might consider dual booting with Linux for a while before deciding on your next move (whether that will be a new Windows 8 computer or a full time switch to Linux).

This guide shows

  • how to create a bootable DVD and USB
  • how to backup Windows Vista
  • how to prepare your disk for installing Linux
  • how to install PCLinuxOS
There are screenshots to help you through each step.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows Vista with PCLinuxOS

11. How To Dual Boot Windows XP and Linux

I wouldn't particularly recommend dual booting Windows XP and Linux anymore because Windows XP is out of support.

However if you want to do it, this guide shows how to dual boot PCLinuxOS and Windows XP.

The guide includes steps for:

  • how to create a bootable DVD and USB
  • how to backup Windows XP
  • how to prepare your disk for installing Linux
  • how to install PCLinuxOS
There are screenshots to help you through the installation process.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows XP with PCLinuxOS

12. How To Replace Windows XP With Lubuntu



This tutorial is for those of you running Windows XP on an older computer.

Lubuntu is a great replacement for Windows XP and will be supported for a number of years to come.

This guide links to other tutorials which show how to create a live DVD and USB drive as well as step by step instructions for replacing Windows XP with Lubuntu.

Click here to read how to replace Windows XP with Lubuntu

13. How To Upgrade From Lubuntu 13.10 To 14.04

If you already have Lubuntu installed then this guide shows how to upgrade to the next version.

The guide shows you how to backup your system, how to update the system and how to upgrade.

You can use this guide for upgrading from 14.04 to 14.10 as well

Click here to read the Lubuntu upgrade tutorial

 

14. The Ultimate Ubuntu MATE Installation Guide


This guide shows how to install Ubuntu MATE.

In the main it shows the installation procedure one step at a time and includes screenshots.

The guide also links to other guides which show how to backup your computer and how to create a bootable DVD and USB drive.

Click here to read the Ubuntu MATE Installation Tutorial

15. How to replace your operating system with Zorin OS 9


This guide shows how to install Zorin OS 9 on a non-UEFI based computer.

As with the Ubuntu MATE tutorial it links to another guide showing how to create a bootable USB drive.

Click here to read the Zorin OS 9 Installation Tutorial

16. A Guide To Setting Up Makulu Linux In Virtualbox


Makulu has been one of the distributions of the year as far as I am concerned. It combines ease of use with a nice blend of pre-installed applications and some really amazing artwork not seen since Fuduntu disappeared.

This guide shows you how to set up Makulu Linux as a virtual machine.

Click here to read how to set up Makulu as a virtual machine

17. How To Install openSUSE


If you are looking for an alternative to the Debian and Ubuntu based distributions then it is worthwhile checking out openSUSE.

I spent a number of weeks during the middle of the year writing articles about the KDE version of openSUSE including posts about the KDE games, picture editing software, Kopete, Konqueror, Choqok, KMail, KTorrent and audio players.

This guide shows you:

  • how to download openSUSE
  • how to create a bootable DVD
  • how to create a bootable USB
  • how to install openSUSE
Click here to read how to install openSUSE

18. How To Install Peppermint Linux In 10 Easy Steps


Another great distribution for older machines, Peppermint Linux provides a way of integrating web applications into the desktop for a seamless experience.

This guide shows you:

  • how to download Peppermint OS
  • how to run a live DVD/USB
  • how to install Peppermint OS
The guide doesn't show how to create the live DVD and USB but it does link to another tutorial showing how to use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB.

There are full step by step instructions with screenshots.

Click here to read how to install Peppermint Linux

19. Installing And Booting Multiple Distros On A USB Drive


This guide shows how to use YUMI to create a USB drive with multiple live distributions installed on it.

The guide shows
  • how to get YUMI
  • how to add Linux distributions to a USB drive
Click here to read how to create a multiboot Linux USB drive

Summary

Number 20 is on its way and will be released sometime in the next fortnight.

Having all of the Linux installation tutorials listed in one place will hopefully make them easier for you to find.

Simply bookmark this page and every time I add a new installation tutorial I will add it to this list.

Thankyou for reading.






19 Ways To Install Linux

Introduction

This week I wrote a tutorial at About.com showing how to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

I have written a number of installation guides over the past few years. On many occasions I have included the installation steps as part of the reviews but for trickier installs and for more recent reviews I have created separate guides.

This article lists all of the Linux installation tutorials and guides that I have created with a brief description of each one.

1. How To Dual Boot Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04



I have written a couple of guides about dual booting Windows 8 and Ubuntu. This is the updated version with extra steps incorporated for the 8.1 release of Windows.

The guide shows you:
  • how to backup Windows 8.1
  • how to create a bootable USB drive
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to turn off fast boot
  • how to turn off secure boot
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to use boot repair
  • how to fix the Windows 8 boot loader
I am about to update the guide once again as the process appears to be getting easier. One of the key updates in the new guide will be how to backup Windows 8.1.

I can no longer recommend using the native Microsoft backup and recovery tools. I have been let down by them too many times.

Instead I recommend following this guide for backing up all versions of Windows.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu

2. Install Ubuntu Alongside Windows 8 In 10 Easy Steps

This was the original Ubuntu and Windows 8 dual boot guide.

The guide shows

  • how to backup Windows
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to create a bootable USB drive using UNetbootin
  • how to turn off fastboot and secureboot
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to partition the disk
  • how to run boot repair
Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 8

3. How To Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu

I created this guide as an alternative to the Linux Mint and Windows 7 dual boot guide which appears later in the list.

The guide shows
  • how to backup Windows 7
  • how to shrink the Windows partition
  • how to download Ubuntu
  • how to create a Ubuntu DVD
  • how to create a Ubuntu USB drive
  • how to install Ubuntu
  • how to partition the hard drive
There are full step by step instructions as well as screenshots

Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 7

4. How To Install Ubuntu and Minecraft On A Chromebook

I try to cover as many devices as I can get my hands on when writing installation guides.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a Chromebook and this guide provides the basic concepts for dual booting Ubuntu and ChromeOS on a Chromebook.

The guide shows you:

  • how to create recovery media
  • how to switch to developer mode
  • how to download Crouton
  • how to run Crouton
  • how to switch between Ubuntu and Chrome
  • how to install extra packages and Synaptic
  • how to install Minecraft
Click here to read how to dual boot Ubuntu and ChromeOS on a Chromebook

5. How To Install Ubuntu As A Virtual Machine In Windows

If you want to try Ubuntu out as a virtual machine then follow this guide.

There are step by step instructions and screenshots. At the time of writing there was an issue with Virtualbox which has now been resolved but the guide is still perfectly valid.

The guide shows
  • how to get VirtualBox
  • how to install VirtualBox
  • how to download Ubuntu
  • how to create a virtual machine
  • how to install Ubuntu
Click here to read how to install Ubuntu as a virtual machine within Windows

6. Upgrade Ubuntu From 13.04 To 13.10 When Dual Booting With Windows 8

Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10 are both very much in the past but the guide works for upgrading from 13.10 to 14.04 and 14.04 to 14.10.

If you want to upgrade Ubuntu within a dual boot system this guide shows you how to do that.

The guide shows
  • how to backup Windows 
  • how to backup Ubuntu
  • how to upgrade Ubuntu
  • how to fix Grub
 Click here to read how to upgrade Ubuntu when dual booting with Windows 8

7. How To Install Linux Mint Alongside Windows 7


If you would like to try out Linux as a dual boot system then this guide shows how to install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7.

Linux Mint is one of the more popular Linux distributions because it has a very familiar look and feel and because it is easy to use.

The guide shows you
  • how to create Windows 7 recovery media
  • how to get Linux Mint
  • how to create a bootable Linux Mint DVD
  • how to make a bootable Linux Mint USB drive
  • how to boot into a Linux Mint live desktop
  • how to partition your hard drive
  • how to install Linux Mint
The guide has full step by step instructions incorporating screenshots for clarity.

Click here to read the Linux Mint and Windows 7 dual boot tutorial

8. How To Install Linux Mint Alongside OSX on the MacBook Air

This guide shows how to dual boot Linux Mint and OSX on a MacBook Air.

The guide shows you
  • how to backup the MacBook Air
  • how to get Linux Mint
  • how to create a bootable USB drive
  • how to partition the drive
  • how to boot into Linux Mint
  • how to install Linux Mint
  • how to fix the boot loader
  • how to fix the Grub menu
  • how to connect to the internet
As with the other guides this one comes with step by step instructions and screenshots.

Click here to read the Linux Mint and OSX dual boot tutorial

9. How to install Linux Mint As A Virtual Machine Using Windows

Virtual machines are a popular method for testing out distributions and Linux Mint is one of the more popular Linux distributions.

This guide shows how to install Linux Mint as a virtual machine using Virtualbox within Windows.

The guide includes:

  • how to get Oracle Virtualbox
  • how to download Linux Mint
  • how to install Virtualbox
  • how to create a virtual machine
  • how to install Linux Mint
Click here to read how to install Linux Mint As A Virtual Machine

10. How To Dual Boot Windows Vista and Linux



If you are still running Windows Vista then you might consider dual booting with Linux for a while before deciding on your next move (whether that will be a new Windows 8 computer or a full time switch to Linux).

This guide shows

  • how to create a bootable DVD and USB
  • how to backup Windows Vista
  • how to prepare your disk for installing Linux
  • how to install PCLinuxOS
There are screenshots to help you through each step.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows Vista with PCLinuxOS

11. How To Dual Boot Windows XP and Linux

I wouldn't particularly recommend dual booting Windows XP and Linux anymore because Windows XP is out of support.

However if you want to do it, this guide shows how to dual boot PCLinuxOS and Windows XP.

The guide includes steps for:

  • how to create a bootable DVD and USB
  • how to backup Windows XP
  • how to prepare your disk for installing Linux
  • how to install PCLinuxOS
There are screenshots to help you through the installation process.

Click here to read how to dual boot Windows XP with PCLinuxOS

12. How To Replace Windows XP With Lubuntu



This tutorial is for those of you running Windows XP on an older computer.

Lubuntu is a great replacement for Windows XP and will be supported for a number of years to come.

This guide links to other tutorials which show how to create a live DVD and USB drive as well as step by step instructions for replacing Windows XP with Lubuntu.

Click here to read how to replace Windows XP with Lubuntu

13. How To Upgrade From Lubuntu 13.10 To 14.04

If you already have Lubuntu installed then this guide shows how to upgrade to the next version.

The guide shows you how to backup your system, how to update the system and how to upgrade.

You can use this guide for upgrading from 14.04 to 14.10 as well

Click here to read the Lubuntu upgrade tutorial

 

14. The Ultimate Ubuntu MATE Installation Guide


This guide shows how to install Ubuntu MATE.

In the main it shows the installation procedure one step at a time and includes screenshots.

The guide also links to other guides which show how to backup your computer and how to create a bootable DVD and USB drive.

Click here to read the Ubuntu MATE Installation Tutorial

15. How to replace your operating system with Zorin OS 9


This guide shows how to install Zorin OS 9 on a non-UEFI based computer.

As with the Ubuntu MATE tutorial it links to another guide showing how to create a bootable USB drive.

Click here to read the Zorin OS 9 Installation Tutorial

16. A Guide To Setting Up Makulu Linux In Virtualbox


Makulu has been one of the distributions of the year as far as I am concerned. It combines ease of use with a nice blend of pre-installed applications and some really amazing artwork not seen since Fuduntu disappeared.

This guide shows you how to set up Makulu Linux as a virtual machine.

Click here to read how to set up Makulu as a virtual machine

17. How To Install openSUSE


If you are looking for an alternative to the Debian and Ubuntu based distributions then it is worthwhile checking out openSUSE.

I spent a number of weeks during the middle of the year writing articles about the KDE version of openSUSE including posts about the KDE games, picture editing software, Kopete, Konqueror, Choqok, KMail, KTorrent and audio players.

This guide shows you:

  • how to download openSUSE
  • how to create a bootable DVD
  • how to create a bootable USB
  • how to install openSUSE
Click here to read how to install openSUSE

18. How To Install Peppermint Linux In 10 Easy Steps


Another great distribution for older machines, Peppermint Linux provides a way of integrating web applications into the desktop for a seamless experience.

This guide shows you:

  • how to download Peppermint OS
  • how to run a live DVD/USB
  • how to install Peppermint OS
The guide doesn't show how to create the live DVD and USB but it does link to another tutorial showing how to use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB.

There are full step by step instructions with screenshots.

Click here to read how to install Peppermint Linux

19. Installing And Booting Multiple Distros On A USB Drive


This guide shows how to use YUMI to create a USB drive with multiple live distributions installed on it.

The guide shows
  • how to get YUMI
  • how to add Linux distributions to a USB drive
Click here to read how to create a multiboot Linux USB drive

Summary

Number 20 is on its way and will be released sometime in the next fortnight.

Having all of the Linux installation tutorials listed in one place will hopefully make them easier for you to find.

Simply bookmark this page and every time I add a new installation tutorial I will add it to this list.

Thankyou for reading.






Posted at 23:58 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Service Update

The Google anti-spam approach for handling comments isn't working.

Last night I had to delete upwards of 700 spam comments from this blog which was both time consuming, dull and annoying. This morning they were back.

I have therefore decided to change the comments section so that you can no longer post comments anonymously. The only way to post comments is to sign up for a Google account.

I am sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause to those of you who leave genuine comments.

Nobody wants to read about virility drugs or designer handbags on a blog about Linux, so I had to do something.

If you have any comments that you would like to make about this service update feel free. Some of you might not like to sign up to Google to leave comments, if that is the case I am on twitter (@dailylinuxuser) and there is an email link in the top right corner.

Update On The Update

Well limiting the posters to Google only accounts didn't work. The spammers just created a Google account.

I have turned on comment moderation for the time being until whoever it is that has decided to spam the site gives up and moves on.


Service Update - The Comments Section On Everyday Linux User

Service Update

The Google anti-spam approach for handling comments isn't working.

Last night I had to delete upwards of 700 spam comments from this blog which was both time consuming, dull and annoying. This morning they were back.

I have therefore decided to change the comments section so that you can no longer post comments anonymously. The only way to post comments is to sign up for a Google account.

I am sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause to those of you who leave genuine comments.

Nobody wants to read about virility drugs or designer handbags on a blog about Linux, so I had to do something.

If you have any comments that you would like to make about this service update feel free. Some of you might not like to sign up to Google to leave comments, if that is the case I am on twitter (@dailylinuxuser) and there is an email link in the top right corner.

Update On The Update

Well limiting the posters to Google only accounts didn't work. The spammers just created a Google account.

I have turned on comment moderation for the time being until whoever it is that has decided to spam the site gives up and moves on.


Posted at 08:08 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 17 November 2014

Introduction

One of my favourite gadgets is the trusty Acer Aspire One D255 Netbook. It isn't very powerful and in modern standards is not particularly cool but it is small, lightweight and great for taking on journeys.

Up until last week the netbook was running Lubuntu 14.04 and before that it was running Lubuntu 13.10 and before that Lubuntu 13.04. I have tried a number of different distributions on this netbook over the years but Lubuntu has been the go to distribution because of its performance.

I was preparing to write about the latest Lubuntu 14.10 release but instead decided to give the new Ubuntu MATE edition a go after seeing it in action as a live distribution on my far more powerful Toshiba Satellite Pro.

The specifications for the Acer Aspire One D255 are as follows:

  • Intel Atom Processor  N450 1.66 ghz, 512kb cache
  • 1 GB Memory
  • 160 GB HDD
The Atom processor isn't particularly powerful and there is clearly a shortage with regards to memory so any operating system that is installed on this netbook has to manage its resources well.

There are many benefits to using Lubuntu on this netbook. The performance is excellent. The desktop doesn't have lots of panels taking up screen real estate and the applications installed are all lightweight.

There are some issues with using Lubuntu. Abiword is both a blessing and a hindrance. I use Abiword for preparing articles for this site and for about.com on the way home on the train.

Whilst Abiword is great for basic notetaking and for maybe writing the odd letter it isn't as fully featured as LibreOffice Writer.

Lubuntu doesn't have any presentation tools or anything like LibreOffice draw. There is however Gnumeric for creating spreadsheets. I can honestly say that I have never used Gnumeric on this netbook, which means it is not a necessity.

On a netbook the most commonly used applications are the audio players, video players and of course the web browser. Lubuntu has Firefox, Audacious and MPlayer for these purposes.

So how well does Ubuntu MATE shape up against Lubuntu on this netbook?

How to get Ubuntu MATE

The first step of course is to show you where and how to get Ubuntu MATE.

The installation steps in these reviews can take up quite a bit of room so I decided to create a separate article showing how to download and install Ubuntu MATE.

The first thing to note is that the download kept failing with a network error and so I had to use the bittorrent link in order to retrieve the ISO.

The installation also took quite a while on the Acer Aspire One D255 netbook. It was a process that took around 30 minutes which was a fair bit longer than Lubuntu.

In complete contrast the installation of Ubuntu MATE on the Toshiba Satellite Pro took around 10 minutes to complete.

First Impressions






















If you used to use Ubuntu before Unity was released then you will notice that the Ubuntu MATE edition bares a striking resemblence to Ubuntu 10.04 (and every version prior to that).

The desktop has the traditional two panels associated with Ubuntu (circa 2010).

The top panel has three menus:
  • Applications
  • Places
  • System
The "Applications" menu consists of a list of categories including accessories, education, graphics, internet, office, sound and video, system tools and universal access.

Clicking on a category shows a sub-menu with the applications that are available for the chosen category.


The "Places" menu links to various folders on your computer including your home folder, the desktop, external devices, network folders and servers.

You can also search for files and view your most recently accessed documents.



The "System" menu lets you configure your computer.

For instance you can add printers, configure networks, keyboard layouts and display settings.





The top panel for Ubuntu MATE also includes system panel style icons such as network settings, audio settings, power settings and the calendar.

The bottom panel has an icon to show the desktop and a list of all the currently running applications. There are also workspace switching icons and the recycle bin.

Connecting To The Internet


Connecting to the internet with Ubuntu MATE is dead simple.

Simply click on the appropriate network icon in the system tray which is located in the top right corner and then choose the network you wish to connect to. If required enter the security key for the network.

Customisation

One of the nicest things about Lubuntu is the ability to customise the desktop.

Unlike the main version of Ubuntu that comes with the Unity desktop the Ubuntu MATE edition also provides a wealth of customisation options.

You can choose to leave the standard two panel setup as it is or you can remove one of the panels or add more panels.

The panels can also be set up the way you want them to be. For example the bottom panel can be amended to work more like a dock with a series of commonly used applications.

Each panel can have other items added to it including application launchers, clocks, applets, window selectors, weather reports, etc.



The thing that nearly everybody likes to change is their desktop wallpaper.

With Ubuntu MATE it is simply a case of right clicking on the desktop and choosing "Change desktop background".

A window appears with a number of available backgrounds. You can also choose your own by clicking on "Add" and navigating to the image.






















Applications

The thing that sets Lubuntu and Ubuntu MATE apart is the choice of applications.

Lubuntu strictly sticks to lightweight applications such as Abiword and Gnumeric and lightweight games.

Ubuntu MATE has pretty much the same applications available as the default Ubuntu Unity edition.

Accessories

  • Engrampa Archive Manager - Zip File Management
  • Galculator - Calculator
  • Pluma - Text Editor

Education

  • LibreOffice Math

Graphics


  • Eye Of MATE - Image Viewer
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • LibreOffice Draw

Internet


  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Hexchat - IRC Chat
  • Thunderbird - Email Client
  • Pidgin - Instant Messenger
  • Transmission - Bittorrent Client

Office


  • LibreOffice Calc - Spreadsheet
  • LibreOffice Draw - A bit like Visio
  • LibreOffice Impress - Presentation tool
  • LibreOffice Math - Maths tools
  • LibreOffice Writer - Word processor
  • Atril Document Viewer - PDF Viewer

Sound And Video

  • Brasero - Disc Burning
  • Cheese - Webcam Viewer
  • Rhythmbox - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
The main thing to note is that Ubuntu MATE provides a more complete set of applications.

Thunderbird is a decent email client for those of you that still prefer to use a mail client over the standard webmail tools that are provided by services such as GMail.

Rhythmbox is a better audio player than the one provided by Lubuntu. You have the ability to import your music collection, listen to podcasts, Last.FM and there is great support for external audio devices such as MP3 players.

The Shotwell photo manager is a great tool for viewing all your images and totem is a decent video player.

All of these tools are great for when you are on the move and the fact that you can use Firefox for browsing the web makes Ubuntu MATE a great choice.

There is a little bit of a trade off though in terms of performance. Whilst using LibreOffice on the netbook there was a little bit of degradation. The cursor hung at various intervals and the menus would sometimes get stuck as shown below.






















It is worth noting that if you are using Lubuntu then there is no need to switch to Ubuntu MATE in order to use LibreOffice, Rhythmbox or Shotwell. All of these applications are available in the Lubuntu repositories.

Similarly if you choose to use Ubuntu MATE and you find that LibreOffice is too overkill you can install Abiword, Gnumeric and any of the other tools that come with the default Lubuntu installation.

At this point of course the only difference between Lubuntu and Ubuntu MATE is the desktop environment.

Installing Applications

There are a couple of tools provided by Ubuntu MATE for installing further applications.

The main application is the Ubuntu Software Centre.

The Software Centre provides a list of categories and a search tool to make it easy to find and manage software installations.

The alternative to the software centre is to use the apt command line tool.

In order to play MP3 files, watch Flash videos and play Flash games you either need to have checked the third party tools option whilst installing Ubuntu MATE or you can install the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package.

Issues

There were no real issues running the Ubuntu MATE edition on the netbook except that compared to Lubuntu there was more lag.

The menus in LibreOffice refused to hide once they were shown on the odd occasion.

Whilst importing music into Rhythmbox and importing photos into Shotwell the system became a little bit unresponsive but these two processes took most of the processing power of the netbook.

The netbook worked well when performing simple tasks such as watching videos, listening to music or browsing the web.

Summary

If you are going to use an older style netbook such as the Acer Aspire One then Lubuntu still rules due to the lighter desktop and lighter applications.

Ubuntu MATE wins when it comes to the choice of applications. Rhythmbox, Shotwell and LibreOffice are far better than the Lubuntu equivalents.

On a slightly more powerful machine the Ubuntu MATE edition is perfect. It certainly outperforms the Unity version on both my Dell Inspiron and Toshiba Satellite Pro.

Ubuntu MATE provides a glimpse of where we might have been today if Unity hadn't been developed. Having lived with Unity for 3 years though I have to say that I now prefer Unity over the older style interface. MATE might be fast but does it make you more productive?

This was the main reason that I chose to compare Ubuntu MATE with Lubuntu as I believe it is in direct competition for older style computers or computers with less power.

I think the Unity version of Ubuntu is superior to Ubuntu MATE and I also think that the Cinnamon version of Mint is better than the MATE version of Mint.

A more interesting comparison might be to compare Ubuntu MATE with the MATE version of Mint. Will Ubuntu MATE win back some of the users that switched to Mint because of Unity?

Personally I like the double panel that Ubuntu MATE provides over the single Mint panel. Other than that there really isn't much reason to switch back to Ubuntu or switch from Ubuntu MATE to Linux Mint.

If you are yet to make the decision as to whether to choose Ubuntu MATE or Mint then it really is difficult to separate them. You can read my review of the Mint MATE edition here (note version 17 has been released since then).

So to sum up, Lubuntu for speed and performance, Ubuntu MATE for applications and the toss of a coin to choose between Ubuntu MATE and Mint MATE.

It is worth noting that Ubuntu MATE worked reasonably well on the netbook but you don't have to have many applications open for performance to degrade. Lubuntu performs better with more applications open but limited memory, limited graphics and a limited ATOM processor obviously provides a somewhat limited experience.

Using Ubuntu MATE with lighter applications will make things slightly better but there is always going to be that trade off between performance and usability.

Finally, before I sign off, why is Ubuntu MATE called Ubuntu MATE?

  • Ubuntu is called Ubuntu because it is the main product. 
  • Kubuntu is Ubuntu with the KDE desktop. 
  • Xubuntu is Ubuntu with the XFCE desktop. 
  • Lubuntu is Ubuntu with the LXDE desktop. 
So why not Mubuntu? Why is it Ubuntu MATE? The same question could of course be asked for Ubuntu Gnome. Gubuntu anyone?

Thanks for reading.

Ubuntu MATE VS Lubuntu On An Old Netbook

Introduction

One of my favourite gadgets is the trusty Acer Aspire One D255 Netbook. It isn't very powerful and in modern standards is not particularly cool but it is small, lightweight and great for taking on journeys.

Up until last week the netbook was running Lubuntu 14.04 and before that it was running Lubuntu 13.10 and before that Lubuntu 13.04. I have tried a number of different distributions on this netbook over the years but Lubuntu has been the go to distribution because of its performance.

I was preparing to write about the latest Lubuntu 14.10 release but instead decided to give the new Ubuntu MATE edition a go after seeing it in action as a live distribution on my far more powerful Toshiba Satellite Pro.

The specifications for the Acer Aspire One D255 are as follows:

  • Intel Atom Processor  N450 1.66 ghz, 512kb cache
  • 1 GB Memory
  • 160 GB HDD
The Atom processor isn't particularly powerful and there is clearly a shortage with regards to memory so any operating system that is installed on this netbook has to manage its resources well.

There are many benefits to using Lubuntu on this netbook. The performance is excellent. The desktop doesn't have lots of panels taking up screen real estate and the applications installed are all lightweight.

There are some issues with using Lubuntu. Abiword is both a blessing and a hindrance. I use Abiword for preparing articles for this site and for about.com on the way home on the train.

Whilst Abiword is great for basic notetaking and for maybe writing the odd letter it isn't as fully featured as LibreOffice Writer.

Lubuntu doesn't have any presentation tools or anything like LibreOffice draw. There is however Gnumeric for creating spreadsheets. I can honestly say that I have never used Gnumeric on this netbook, which means it is not a necessity.

On a netbook the most commonly used applications are the audio players, video players and of course the web browser. Lubuntu has Firefox, Audacious and MPlayer for these purposes.

So how well does Ubuntu MATE shape up against Lubuntu on this netbook?

How to get Ubuntu MATE

The first step of course is to show you where and how to get Ubuntu MATE.

The installation steps in these reviews can take up quite a bit of room so I decided to create a separate article showing how to download and install Ubuntu MATE.

The first thing to note is that the download kept failing with a network error and so I had to use the bittorrent link in order to retrieve the ISO.

The installation also took quite a while on the Acer Aspire One D255 netbook. It was a process that took around 30 minutes which was a fair bit longer than Lubuntu.

In complete contrast the installation of Ubuntu MATE on the Toshiba Satellite Pro took around 10 minutes to complete.

First Impressions






















If you used to use Ubuntu before Unity was released then you will notice that the Ubuntu MATE edition bares a striking resemblence to Ubuntu 10.04 (and every version prior to that).

The desktop has the traditional two panels associated with Ubuntu (circa 2010).

The top panel has three menus:
  • Applications
  • Places
  • System
The "Applications" menu consists of a list of categories including accessories, education, graphics, internet, office, sound and video, system tools and universal access.

Clicking on a category shows a sub-menu with the applications that are available for the chosen category.


The "Places" menu links to various folders on your computer including your home folder, the desktop, external devices, network folders and servers.

You can also search for files and view your most recently accessed documents.



The "System" menu lets you configure your computer.

For instance you can add printers, configure networks, keyboard layouts and display settings.





The top panel for Ubuntu MATE also includes system panel style icons such as network settings, audio settings, power settings and the calendar.

The bottom panel has an icon to show the desktop and a list of all the currently running applications. There are also workspace switching icons and the recycle bin.

Connecting To The Internet


Connecting to the internet with Ubuntu MATE is dead simple.

Simply click on the appropriate network icon in the system tray which is located in the top right corner and then choose the network you wish to connect to. If required enter the security key for the network.

Customisation

One of the nicest things about Lubuntu is the ability to customise the desktop.

Unlike the main version of Ubuntu that comes with the Unity desktop the Ubuntu MATE edition also provides a wealth of customisation options.

You can choose to leave the standard two panel setup as it is or you can remove one of the panels or add more panels.

The panels can also be set up the way you want them to be. For example the bottom panel can be amended to work more like a dock with a series of commonly used applications.

Each panel can have other items added to it including application launchers, clocks, applets, window selectors, weather reports, etc.



The thing that nearly everybody likes to change is their desktop wallpaper.

With Ubuntu MATE it is simply a case of right clicking on the desktop and choosing "Change desktop background".

A window appears with a number of available backgrounds. You can also choose your own by clicking on "Add" and navigating to the image.






















Applications

The thing that sets Lubuntu and Ubuntu MATE apart is the choice of applications.

Lubuntu strictly sticks to lightweight applications such as Abiword and Gnumeric and lightweight games.

Ubuntu MATE has pretty much the same applications available as the default Ubuntu Unity edition.

Accessories

  • Engrampa Archive Manager - Zip File Management
  • Galculator - Calculator
  • Pluma - Text Editor

Education

  • LibreOffice Math

Graphics


  • Eye Of MATE - Image Viewer
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • LibreOffice Draw

Internet


  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Hexchat - IRC Chat
  • Thunderbird - Email Client
  • Pidgin - Instant Messenger
  • Transmission - Bittorrent Client

Office


  • LibreOffice Calc - Spreadsheet
  • LibreOffice Draw - A bit like Visio
  • LibreOffice Impress - Presentation tool
  • LibreOffice Math - Maths tools
  • LibreOffice Writer - Word processor
  • Atril Document Viewer - PDF Viewer

Sound And Video

  • Brasero - Disc Burning
  • Cheese - Webcam Viewer
  • Rhythmbox - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
The main thing to note is that Ubuntu MATE provides a more complete set of applications.

Thunderbird is a decent email client for those of you that still prefer to use a mail client over the standard webmail tools that are provided by services such as GMail.

Rhythmbox is a better audio player than the one provided by Lubuntu. You have the ability to import your music collection, listen to podcasts, Last.FM and there is great support for external audio devices such as MP3 players.

The Shotwell photo manager is a great tool for viewing all your images and totem is a decent video player.

All of these tools are great for when you are on the move and the fact that you can use Firefox for browsing the web makes Ubuntu MATE a great choice.

There is a little bit of a trade off though in terms of performance. Whilst using LibreOffice on the netbook there was a little bit of degradation. The cursor hung at various intervals and the menus would sometimes get stuck as shown below.






















It is worth noting that if you are using Lubuntu then there is no need to switch to Ubuntu MATE in order to use LibreOffice, Rhythmbox or Shotwell. All of these applications are available in the Lubuntu repositories.

Similarly if you choose to use Ubuntu MATE and you find that LibreOffice is too overkill you can install Abiword, Gnumeric and any of the other tools that come with the default Lubuntu installation.

At this point of course the only difference between Lubuntu and Ubuntu MATE is the desktop environment.

Installing Applications

There are a couple of tools provided by Ubuntu MATE for installing further applications.

The main application is the Ubuntu Software Centre.

The Software Centre provides a list of categories and a search tool to make it easy to find and manage software installations.

The alternative to the software centre is to use the apt command line tool.

In order to play MP3 files, watch Flash videos and play Flash games you either need to have checked the third party tools option whilst installing Ubuntu MATE or you can install the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package.

Issues

There were no real issues running the Ubuntu MATE edition on the netbook except that compared to Lubuntu there was more lag.

The menus in LibreOffice refused to hide once they were shown on the odd occasion.

Whilst importing music into Rhythmbox and importing photos into Shotwell the system became a little bit unresponsive but these two processes took most of the processing power of the netbook.

The netbook worked well when performing simple tasks such as watching videos, listening to music or browsing the web.

Summary

If you are going to use an older style netbook such as the Acer Aspire One then Lubuntu still rules due to the lighter desktop and lighter applications.

Ubuntu MATE wins when it comes to the choice of applications. Rhythmbox, Shotwell and LibreOffice are far better than the Lubuntu equivalents.

On a slightly more powerful machine the Ubuntu MATE edition is perfect. It certainly outperforms the Unity version on both my Dell Inspiron and Toshiba Satellite Pro.

Ubuntu MATE provides a glimpse of where we might have been today if Unity hadn't been developed. Having lived with Unity for 3 years though I have to say that I now prefer Unity over the older style interface. MATE might be fast but does it make you more productive?

This was the main reason that I chose to compare Ubuntu MATE with Lubuntu as I believe it is in direct competition for older style computers or computers with less power.

I think the Unity version of Ubuntu is superior to Ubuntu MATE and I also think that the Cinnamon version of Mint is better than the MATE version of Mint.

A more interesting comparison might be to compare Ubuntu MATE with the MATE version of Mint. Will Ubuntu MATE win back some of the users that switched to Mint because of Unity?

Personally I like the double panel that Ubuntu MATE provides over the single Mint panel. Other than that there really isn't much reason to switch back to Ubuntu or switch from Ubuntu MATE to Linux Mint.

If you are yet to make the decision as to whether to choose Ubuntu MATE or Mint then it really is difficult to separate them. You can read my review of the Mint MATE edition here (note version 17 has been released since then).

So to sum up, Lubuntu for speed and performance, Ubuntu MATE for applications and the toss of a coin to choose between Ubuntu MATE and Mint MATE.

It is worth noting that Ubuntu MATE worked reasonably well on the netbook but you don't have to have many applications open for performance to degrade. Lubuntu performs better with more applications open but limited memory, limited graphics and a limited ATOM processor obviously provides a somewhat limited experience.

Using Ubuntu MATE with lighter applications will make things slightly better but there is always going to be that trade off between performance and usability.

Finally, before I sign off, why is Ubuntu MATE called Ubuntu MATE?

  • Ubuntu is called Ubuntu because it is the main product. 
  • Kubuntu is Ubuntu with the KDE desktop. 
  • Xubuntu is Ubuntu with the XFCE desktop. 
  • Lubuntu is Ubuntu with the LXDE desktop. 
So why not Mubuntu? Why is it Ubuntu MATE? The same question could of course be asked for Ubuntu Gnome. Gubuntu anyone?

Thanks for reading.

Posted at 00:12 |  by Gary Newell

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