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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

This is just a quick update to let you know what I have planned for the next few weeks.

I have been a bit slack in the past week as I went away to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham between the 9th and the 13th. I have some pictures and videos which I will be sharing via PInterest and Youtube.

I will be continuing to look at the openSUSE KDE applications this week and I have written a couple of articles about the chat applications which will be released shortly. There are a number of other applications that I will look at in the coming weeks.

As well as those articles I have some reviews lined up including the latest Puppy Arcade release, (version 11) which I am really excited about. I also have Makulu 6 on the radar.

This month obviously sees the release of Ubuntu 14.04, Xubuntu 14.04, Kubuntu 14.04 and Lubuntu 14.04. As these are LTS releases I will be looking at how each distribution brings something different to the table.





A quick update

This is just a quick update to let you know what I have planned for the next few weeks.

I have been a bit slack in the past week as I went away to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham between the 9th and the 13th. I have some pictures and videos which I will be sharing via PInterest and Youtube.

I will be continuing to look at the openSUSE KDE applications this week and I have written a couple of articles about the chat applications which will be released shortly. There are a number of other applications that I will look at in the coming weeks.

As well as those articles I have some reviews lined up including the latest Puppy Arcade release, (version 11) which I am really excited about. I also have Makulu 6 on the radar.

This month obviously sees the release of Ubuntu 14.04, Xubuntu 14.04, Kubuntu 14.04 and Lubuntu 14.04. As these are LTS releases I will be looking at how each distribution brings something different to the table.





Posted at 08:17 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Introduction

Earlier this week I was asked the question "Do I need virus protection for my Chromebook?" by a visitor to Everyday Linux User.

This isn't going to be the longest article I have ever written but it is something I have decided to write about as it might be a question that gets asked again and again in the future.

Do you need antivirus software on a Chromebook?

The simple answer is no.

The Chromebook is based on Linux but is implemented in such a way that it is very hard to install anything that would compromise your device.

Your Chromebook in the default state allows you to really only use web applications and therefore the applications you use are as safe as the site that they are stored on. Turn off your computer and turn it on again and it will work exactly as it did before.

If anything goes wrong with your Chromebook it is very easy to reset it to the default factory settings and continue where you left off.

This article would be very short if I left it there but I think there are a few more things to consider that you might like to think about.

What if you decided that you wanted to dual boot Ubuntu alongside ChromeOS? Now, because you have turned on developer mode and because you have a different operating system running, your Chromebook is now only as secure as the new operating system that you have introduced.

Ubuntu and other Linux distributions aren't known for contracting viruses but there has been the odd thing mentioned in the press. I have been using Linux for a long long time and I have never had a single nasty thing happen that is caused by malware, trojans or viruses. Quite frankly there is a lot of scaremongering in the news whenever anything happens on a UNIX or Linux device. 

What you do need to do though is think about how your actions can affect other users. Imagine you receive an email from somebody and it is the proverbial dancing cat style video that makes you laugh and you decide to forward on that email to your friends.

On your Chromebook the video file has either played perfectly well or it has failed due to an error caused by a hidden nasty. If it fails then it is unlikely that you will forward it on but if it plays then you may forward it on to your friends.

Imagine that your friends use an operating system that isn't very secure and is known for viruses. Your friends open the cat video and for them it downloads and installs something horrific like Cryptolocker. You are going to be about as popular as a flatulent car insurance singing opera singer in a lift.

Just because you can't catch viruses on your computer doesn't mean everyone is so lucky or as savvy as you. Of course in reality your friends should have their own anti-virus protection.

Another thing to consider is that just because viruses and malware are no longer issues doesn't mean you can lower your guard online.

Phishing emails are just as dangerous for Chromebook users as they are for any other computer user. If somebody asks for your bank details and you aren't sure about the site or source of the person asking for those details then politely tell them to go away.

In theory it is also possible that browser vulnerabilities exist whether you are running on a Chromebook or a Windows 8 computer. 

What I am trying to highlight from this post is that if you use a Chromebook you have given yourself a great chance to remain safe from viruses but it doesn't mean you should go gung-ho and believe that you are invincible online. 

Thankyou for reading.



Do you need virus protection on a Chromebook?

Introduction

Earlier this week I was asked the question "Do I need virus protection for my Chromebook?" by a visitor to Everyday Linux User.

This isn't going to be the longest article I have ever written but it is something I have decided to write about as it might be a question that gets asked again and again in the future.

Do you need antivirus software on a Chromebook?

The simple answer is no.

The Chromebook is based on Linux but is implemented in such a way that it is very hard to install anything that would compromise your device.

Your Chromebook in the default state allows you to really only use web applications and therefore the applications you use are as safe as the site that they are stored on. Turn off your computer and turn it on again and it will work exactly as it did before.

If anything goes wrong with your Chromebook it is very easy to reset it to the default factory settings and continue where you left off.

This article would be very short if I left it there but I think there are a few more things to consider that you might like to think about.

What if you decided that you wanted to dual boot Ubuntu alongside ChromeOS? Now, because you have turned on developer mode and because you have a different operating system running, your Chromebook is now only as secure as the new operating system that you have introduced.

Ubuntu and other Linux distributions aren't known for contracting viruses but there has been the odd thing mentioned in the press. I have been using Linux for a long long time and I have never had a single nasty thing happen that is caused by malware, trojans or viruses. Quite frankly there is a lot of scaremongering in the news whenever anything happens on a UNIX or Linux device. 

What you do need to do though is think about how your actions can affect other users. Imagine you receive an email from somebody and it is the proverbial dancing cat style video that makes you laugh and you decide to forward on that email to your friends.

On your Chromebook the video file has either played perfectly well or it has failed due to an error caused by a hidden nasty. If it fails then it is unlikely that you will forward it on but if it plays then you may forward it on to your friends.

Imagine that your friends use an operating system that isn't very secure and is known for viruses. Your friends open the cat video and for them it downloads and installs something horrific like Cryptolocker. You are going to be about as popular as a flatulent car insurance singing opera singer in a lift.

Just because you can't catch viruses on your computer doesn't mean everyone is so lucky or as savvy as you. Of course in reality your friends should have their own anti-virus protection.

Another thing to consider is that just because viruses and malware are no longer issues doesn't mean you can lower your guard online.

Phishing emails are just as dangerous for Chromebook users as they are for any other computer user. If somebody asks for your bank details and you aren't sure about the site or source of the person asking for those details then politely tell them to go away.

In theory it is also possible that browser vulnerabilities exist whether you are running on a Chromebook or a Windows 8 computer. 

What I am trying to highlight from this post is that if you use a Chromebook you have given yourself a great chance to remain safe from viruses but it doesn't mean you should go gung-ho and believe that you are invincible online. 

Thankyou for reading.



Posted at 07:00 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 7 April 2014

Introduction

In my last openSUSE based article I took a look at the KDE games that are installed by default.

I was slightly surprised that so many people still played card games such as Patience and Mahjongg.

The point of these articles is to elaborate a bit more on the software that is pre-packaged within openSUSE.

Quite often I write reviews listing the applications but without knowing how good the software is or even what the software does.

This time I will be looking at the graphics applications.

I have two confessions to make at this stage. The first is that I am to art what Corey Feldman is to music. The second confession will become all too obvious as we continue.

DNG Image Converter


I am not going to be spending long reviewing DNG Image Converter because to be honest I can't get it to do anything.

In theory clicking on the plus (+) icon allows you to pick an image file and then you can press the convert button to convert the image into another format.

In reality nothing happens.



Pressing the plus button shows an open file dialog. When I select any of the image file types allowed nothing happens.

Exposure Blending

I am afraid this review is going to start off a bit flat.

DNG Image Converter doesn't work and I have absolutely no idea what the point of the Exposure Blending tool is for.

The text on the screen says that it fuses bracketed images with different exposures to make pseudo HDR image.

There is also a link to a Wikipedia page which defines the bracketing process.

Unfortunately I know very little about photography and I really only ever use a point and click camera.

It really is a case of going back to photography school for me on this one.

What I can say about the tool is that before I can even continue I need to download the "hugin" plugin. Clicking the download link takes me to this page.

I couldn't actually find a plugin that was available for install from the site. The plugin  can be installed from Yast though.


In theory and it has to be theory because I couldn't get it to do anything (but please note this is my fault and not the tool's fault) is that you press the plus (+) icon and select two images.

It says the two images have to be from the same stack. I assume to photography experts this means something.

Upon selecting two images from the same stack you press next and it does the bracketing thing that it is supposed to do.


For a good tutorial and guide about how the exposure blending tool works visit this link.

Panorama


I would like to say that this review is now going to get better but it isn't.

The next graphics application in the list is Panorama.

This application just crashes when I try and open it.


Photo Layouts Editor
























The KIPI Photo Layouts Editor is a rather crude tool for editing and laying out photos.

Basically you start off with a canvas which you define the size of and then you add images to the canvas. These are created as layers.

Each individual layer can have effects applied, borders applied, be resized and rotated.

If you are looking for a serious tool then I guess something like GIMP would be a better fit but this tool works for basic editing.

In case you are wondering the images in the picture are Loch Ness, a replica of the Knight Rider car, a Storm Trooper at the Grampian Transport Museum and Britney Spears. (Yes I like Britney Spears. Confession number 2).

I guess the Grampian Transport Museum take security fairly seriously though, hiring storm troopers.


On a more serious note the Photo Layout Editor crashed on more than one occasion, especially when trying to add the Polaroid border with text.

DigiKam/ ShowFoto


DigiKam lets you organise and edit photos. ShowFoto is used to display the images and enhance them. You can run ShowFoto on its own or it will be opened from within DigiKam when you click on a thumbnail.

When you open DigiKam for the first time you have to go through a number of screens to define your settings such as where you store your photos and how to handle thumbnails etc.

You can import photos from various sources including digital cameras, web cameras, external USB drives, Facebook, scanners and Picasa.

Once imported you can navigate through the albums and open photos for viewing or for editing.

There are lots of things you can do to photos such as add borders, text, special effects etc.


Out of all the tools I have looked at this is the one I might use as a normal everyday user. It is a good tool for brightening up images, removing red eye and doing stuff to ordinary family photos.

Unfortunately it did crash on more than one occasion.

GwenView

 
GwenView is an image viewing tool. 

You can use it to quickly browse through folders of photos or to run a slideshow.

Simply navigate to a folder of photos using the file manager and right click.

Under the actions will be an option to open with GwenView.





Summary

My attempts at using the graphic tools within openSUSE weren't particularly successful.

Some tools just wouldn't start and those that did had their fair share of crashes.

As someone with very little artistic talent (if any), there are some useful tools,most notably DigiKam, ShowFoto and GwenView.

The other tools are more for specialists if indeed they can get them working.

I would be interested to hear from people who are keen photographers to find out which Linux applications they use and what their experience is of such applications.

In the next article in this series I will be back to territory that I am more comfortable with as I will be dealing with the Internet and chat applications.

Thankyou for reading.
 




















The KDE picture editing software applications included with openSUSE

Introduction

In my last openSUSE based article I took a look at the KDE games that are installed by default.

I was slightly surprised that so many people still played card games such as Patience and Mahjongg.

The point of these articles is to elaborate a bit more on the software that is pre-packaged within openSUSE.

Quite often I write reviews listing the applications but without knowing how good the software is or even what the software does.

This time I will be looking at the graphics applications.

I have two confessions to make at this stage. The first is that I am to art what Corey Feldman is to music. The second confession will become all too obvious as we continue.

DNG Image Converter


I am not going to be spending long reviewing DNG Image Converter because to be honest I can't get it to do anything.

In theory clicking on the plus (+) icon allows you to pick an image file and then you can press the convert button to convert the image into another format.

In reality nothing happens.



Pressing the plus button shows an open file dialog. When I select any of the image file types allowed nothing happens.

Exposure Blending

I am afraid this review is going to start off a bit flat.

DNG Image Converter doesn't work and I have absolutely no idea what the point of the Exposure Blending tool is for.

The text on the screen says that it fuses bracketed images with different exposures to make pseudo HDR image.

There is also a link to a Wikipedia page which defines the bracketing process.

Unfortunately I know very little about photography and I really only ever use a point and click camera.

It really is a case of going back to photography school for me on this one.

What I can say about the tool is that before I can even continue I need to download the "hugin" plugin. Clicking the download link takes me to this page.

I couldn't actually find a plugin that was available for install from the site. The plugin  can be installed from Yast though.


In theory and it has to be theory because I couldn't get it to do anything (but please note this is my fault and not the tool's fault) is that you press the plus (+) icon and select two images.

It says the two images have to be from the same stack. I assume to photography experts this means something.

Upon selecting two images from the same stack you press next and it does the bracketing thing that it is supposed to do.


For a good tutorial and guide about how the exposure blending tool works visit this link.

Panorama


I would like to say that this review is now going to get better but it isn't.

The next graphics application in the list is Panorama.

This application just crashes when I try and open it.


Photo Layouts Editor
























The KIPI Photo Layouts Editor is a rather crude tool for editing and laying out photos.

Basically you start off with a canvas which you define the size of and then you add images to the canvas. These are created as layers.

Each individual layer can have effects applied, borders applied, be resized and rotated.

If you are looking for a serious tool then I guess something like GIMP would be a better fit but this tool works for basic editing.

In case you are wondering the images in the picture are Loch Ness, a replica of the Knight Rider car, a Storm Trooper at the Grampian Transport Museum and Britney Spears. (Yes I like Britney Spears. Confession number 2).

I guess the Grampian Transport Museum take security fairly seriously though, hiring storm troopers.


On a more serious note the Photo Layout Editor crashed on more than one occasion, especially when trying to add the Polaroid border with text.

DigiKam/ ShowFoto


DigiKam lets you organise and edit photos. ShowFoto is used to display the images and enhance them. You can run ShowFoto on its own or it will be opened from within DigiKam when you click on a thumbnail.

When you open DigiKam for the first time you have to go through a number of screens to define your settings such as where you store your photos and how to handle thumbnails etc.

You can import photos from various sources including digital cameras, web cameras, external USB drives, Facebook, scanners and Picasa.

Once imported you can navigate through the albums and open photos for viewing or for editing.

There are lots of things you can do to photos such as add borders, text, special effects etc.


Out of all the tools I have looked at this is the one I might use as a normal everyday user. It is a good tool for brightening up images, removing red eye and doing stuff to ordinary family photos.

Unfortunately it did crash on more than one occasion.

GwenView

 
GwenView is an image viewing tool. 

You can use it to quickly browse through folders of photos or to run a slideshow.

Simply navigate to a folder of photos using the file manager and right click.

Under the actions will be an option to open with GwenView.





Summary

My attempts at using the graphic tools within openSUSE weren't particularly successful.

Some tools just wouldn't start and those that did had their fair share of crashes.

As someone with very little artistic talent (if any), there are some useful tools,most notably DigiKam, ShowFoto and GwenView.

The other tools are more for specialists if indeed they can get them working.

I would be interested to hear from people who are keen photographers to find out which Linux applications they use and what their experience is of such applications.

In the next article in this series I will be back to territory that I am more comfortable with as I will be dealing with the Internet and chat applications.

Thankyou for reading.
 




















Posted at 07:00 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Introduction

This is the third and final part of the current series of interviews looking at the distro development from the developers point of view.

If you would like to read the first two interviews you can do so by clicking the following links:
This week's interview is with Pavroo, the founder and solo developer of SparkyLinux.

According to the website, SparkyLinux is a lightweight, fast and simple Linux distribution designed for both old and new computers featuring customized Enlightenment and LXDE desktops. It has been built on the “testing” branch of Debian GNU/Linux. 

I reviewed the Razor-QT edition of SparkyLinux back in November of 2013. My general opinion is that it is functional and comes with a good range of software. There are a few quirks that could be ironed out but nothing that makes SparkyLinux unuseable.

Flash works out of the box, multimedia codecs are installed by default, PlayOnLinux is installed. The radiotray and minitubes application are good inclusions as is DropBox.

The interview is actually very interesting and clearly there are some frustrations that occur from time to time and is part and parcel of being a distro developer.

Pavroo asked me to correct his English as it isn't his native language and where necessary I have done so but I have tried not to change the tone and structure.

Who is Pavroo?

I am a Linux enthusiast.

I started my Linux adventure 7 years ago - my colleague gave me Kubuntu 7.04.

I didn't realise how much it could change my life and my point of view for good.

My wife and I like traveling very much - it's our second (maybe the first) passion.

Why did you start SparkyLinux? 

It's a difficult question.

I think it started when I installed the same Linux distribution with the same set of applications, configuration and layout as mine, to my wife's and then to my colleague's computers. Then somebody asked me why should I not try to share my point of view with more people.

Who is SparkyLinux aimed at?

Sparky is targeted to home computer users in general. It can be used for networking, watching movies, listening to music, writing documents, etc.

With such a small team how do you determine what goes in to each release?

It's quite simple - I listen to what Sparky users say on our forums and external forums, blogs and communities. Then I use some of the ideas and solutions which are useful for the system. I am aware that I can't make everyone happy, but who can?

Do you have a release schedule or does it just go when it is ready?

I try to release Sparky 3-4 times per year to provide up to date iso images.

Can you estimate how many users you have?

Not really, it's rather difficult to count users. I only know (everybody can find out) how many downloads of the iso images we have and how many users on forums are there.

Is it hard to stay motivated for each new release?

It's my passion so it is not.

But sometimes I am not sure I should keep doing that because some people create bullshits for me.

It happens because users are on the other side than me as a developer, they don't want to understand my point of view.

It's a difficult situation but I believe that interviews like this can open some people's eyes and let them understand that we (developers) spend our time (usually for free) trying to make something for others.

Are you looking to expand your team and if so what are you looking for?

We have some nice guys helping on Sparky forums, community pages and IRC channel.

My wife, Aneta, keeps her eye on the project's page, forum, structure, layout and SEO. I develop Sparky myself now and I've been looking for people with programming knowledge to help solve problems and put new solutions into the system. A guy with graphics skills will be helpful too.

If somebody said to you that they were thinking of starting a new distro what advice would you give them?

Listen to the people.

Don't paint a picture which is already painted.

It means - don't make your distro as close as possible to an existing one, but make something different and give what people need.

Do you use SparkyLinux as your main operating system?

Yes, I do. This is the only way to keep my eye on fast changes in Debian testing based system to make sure that everything still works fine.

Is SparkyLinux a full time commitment or is it something you do in your spare time?

It's my full time job now because I don't have a 'normal' job for a while.
I split my time to an another project around Linux called Linuxiarze.pl

Summary

I had a dilemma when including the question and answer to do with motivation as Pavroo used the word "bullshits" and he qualified this in the email to me saying that it is up to me whether I think it should be included or replaced with another word.

In the end I left it in because it is the word that Pavroo chose and it retains the authenticity of the sentiment.

The truth is that it doesn't matter what sort of project you are involved in, whether you develop software, write a blog or produce a podcast, there are always people out there that will knock what you are doing.

This can be terribly frustrating if you let it but if you enjoy what you are doing and you get rewarded for your work (and that doesn't mean financially) then you shouldn't give up just because of the naysayers.

If you stop enjoying what you are doing then you need to re-evaluate the situation. That doesn't necessarily mean stop, it just means you need to think about why you are no longer enjoying it and maybe look for a solution.

I think I mentioned in previous interviews that it is important to give back and sometimes giving back is just a morale boost. If you think somebody is doing a good job, tell them so.

Pavroo actively uses his own distribution as does his wife Aneta and his colleagues and friends. SparkyLinux is also Pavroo's full time job.

As mentioned in the interview you can contribute if you have programming knowledge or if you have graphical skills. You can also contribute financially as there is a donate button on the SparkyLinux website.

Thankyou for reading.

If you like the format of these interviews leave a comment below and I will see if I can set up a few more. 

Inside SparkyLinux - An interview with Pawel "Pavroo" Pijanowski

Introduction

This is the third and final part of the current series of interviews looking at the distro development from the developers point of view.

If you would like to read the first two interviews you can do so by clicking the following links:
This week's interview is with Pavroo, the founder and solo developer of SparkyLinux.

According to the website, SparkyLinux is a lightweight, fast and simple Linux distribution designed for both old and new computers featuring customized Enlightenment and LXDE desktops. It has been built on the “testing” branch of Debian GNU/Linux. 

I reviewed the Razor-QT edition of SparkyLinux back in November of 2013. My general opinion is that it is functional and comes with a good range of software. There are a few quirks that could be ironed out but nothing that makes SparkyLinux unuseable.

Flash works out of the box, multimedia codecs are installed by default, PlayOnLinux is installed. The radiotray and minitubes application are good inclusions as is DropBox.

The interview is actually very interesting and clearly there are some frustrations that occur from time to time and is part and parcel of being a distro developer.

Pavroo asked me to correct his English as it isn't his native language and where necessary I have done so but I have tried not to change the tone and structure.

Who is Pavroo?

I am a Linux enthusiast.

I started my Linux adventure 7 years ago - my colleague gave me Kubuntu 7.04.

I didn't realise how much it could change my life and my point of view for good.

My wife and I like traveling very much - it's our second (maybe the first) passion.

Why did you start SparkyLinux? 

It's a difficult question.

I think it started when I installed the same Linux distribution with the same set of applications, configuration and layout as mine, to my wife's and then to my colleague's computers. Then somebody asked me why should I not try to share my point of view with more people.

Who is SparkyLinux aimed at?

Sparky is targeted to home computer users in general. It can be used for networking, watching movies, listening to music, writing documents, etc.

With such a small team how do you determine what goes in to each release?

It's quite simple - I listen to what Sparky users say on our forums and external forums, blogs and communities. Then I use some of the ideas and solutions which are useful for the system. I am aware that I can't make everyone happy, but who can?

Do you have a release schedule or does it just go when it is ready?

I try to release Sparky 3-4 times per year to provide up to date iso images.

Can you estimate how many users you have?

Not really, it's rather difficult to count users. I only know (everybody can find out) how many downloads of the iso images we have and how many users on forums are there.

Is it hard to stay motivated for each new release?

It's my passion so it is not.

But sometimes I am not sure I should keep doing that because some people create bullshits for me.

It happens because users are on the other side than me as a developer, they don't want to understand my point of view.

It's a difficult situation but I believe that interviews like this can open some people's eyes and let them understand that we (developers) spend our time (usually for free) trying to make something for others.

Are you looking to expand your team and if so what are you looking for?

We have some nice guys helping on Sparky forums, community pages and IRC channel.

My wife, Aneta, keeps her eye on the project's page, forum, structure, layout and SEO. I develop Sparky myself now and I've been looking for people with programming knowledge to help solve problems and put new solutions into the system. A guy with graphics skills will be helpful too.

If somebody said to you that they were thinking of starting a new distro what advice would you give them?

Listen to the people.

Don't paint a picture which is already painted.

It means - don't make your distro as close as possible to an existing one, but make something different and give what people need.

Do you use SparkyLinux as your main operating system?

Yes, I do. This is the only way to keep my eye on fast changes in Debian testing based system to make sure that everything still works fine.

Is SparkyLinux a full time commitment or is it something you do in your spare time?

It's my full time job now because I don't have a 'normal' job for a while.
I split my time to an another project around Linux called Linuxiarze.pl

Summary

I had a dilemma when including the question and answer to do with motivation as Pavroo used the word "bullshits" and he qualified this in the email to me saying that it is up to me whether I think it should be included or replaced with another word.

In the end I left it in because it is the word that Pavroo chose and it retains the authenticity of the sentiment.

The truth is that it doesn't matter what sort of project you are involved in, whether you develop software, write a blog or produce a podcast, there are always people out there that will knock what you are doing.

This can be terribly frustrating if you let it but if you enjoy what you are doing and you get rewarded for your work (and that doesn't mean financially) then you shouldn't give up just because of the naysayers.

If you stop enjoying what you are doing then you need to re-evaluate the situation. That doesn't necessarily mean stop, it just means you need to think about why you are no longer enjoying it and maybe look for a solution.

I think I mentioned in previous interviews that it is important to give back and sometimes giving back is just a morale boost. If you think somebody is doing a good job, tell them so.

Pavroo actively uses his own distribution as does his wife Aneta and his colleagues and friends. SparkyLinux is also Pavroo's full time job.

As mentioned in the interview you can contribute if you have programming knowledge or if you have graphical skills. You can also contribute financially as there is a donate button on the SparkyLinux website.

Thankyou for reading.

If you like the format of these interviews leave a comment below and I will see if I can set up a few more. 

Posted at 22:24 |  by Gary Newell

Monday, 31 March 2014

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed openSUSE 13.1. In that review I listed all the applications which came pre-installed with the KDE live DVD.

I mentioned at the time that simply listing the applications doesn't particularly help, especially if you don't know what those applications are and what they do.

I have been using openSUSE non-stop over the past 2 weeks and I have been trying out the applications.

In this article I will be looking at the games that come pre-installed with the KDE desktop within openSUSE.

Who plays these games?

There are five games that come pre-installed with the KDE desktop within openSUSE 13.1:
  • KMahjongg
  • KReversi
  • KMines
  • KPatience
  • KSudoku 
When I was younger (a lot younger, maybe 10, 11 or 12) my parents used to take me on a summer holiday. Invariably the holiday would be to the Isle of Wight, which is a small island to the south of Portsmouth in England, or to Devon in the south west of England.

One year we went to a place called Teignmouth in Devon and we stayed in a small hotel (can't remember its name) but lets just say that Teignmouth isn't far away from Torquay and Torquay was the setting for the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers.

The owner of the hotel in Teignmouth clearly used videos of Fawlty Towers as a training video.

The first year we went to the hotel it was fine. We were treated well and we had a great holiday. The hotel owners were very hospitable and they even had one of those long play records that had horse races on it. You could check the betting guide and make small bets and then the owner would play the record and the pot was split between the winners.

The second year was completely different. The rooms were horrible, the food had gone completely bonkers. No porridge for breakfast only Special K and one night we were told the pudding would be "Pear surprise". When we asked what "Pear surprise" was the reply came "It is peaches". (That reminded me of the episode of Fawlty Towers where Cybill said "Well it is a bit tricky, it does mean chef will have to open another tin".

The hotel that year also had a number of German guests. (which is of course one of the classic Fawlty Towers episodes).

Why am I telling you all this you may ask and why are we not talking about games? The point is coming I promise.

There was no entertainment in the hotel and the weather was terrible. There is absolutely nothing to do in Teignmouth when it is raining. Nothing except for playing board games.

Jenga, Chess, Draughts, Risk, they were all there. I spent a whole week learning how to play each game and I had a good time. I remember playing a couple of the German lads at Risk and lets just say they re-wrote history on more than one occasion.

The truth is that I haven't played any of these games in a long long time with the exception of Risk. The same can be said of the games within openSUSE.

KMines is a copy of the game minesweeper that I first played in Windows 3.1. I remember when I was at IBM I had a competition with another guy in the IT department to see who could complete each level of minesweeper in the quickest time. I managed 7 seconds for the small one. As for Solitaire I remember playing it when I got my first desktop computer but I have never really played it since.

I never turn on my computer and think "oh, I must have a game of Reversi". There is just too much other stuff available to even consider playing that game. It isn't that Reversi is a bad game it just doesn't feel relevant anymore.

So my questions to you are as follows:-

Do you ever play the games that come pre-installed with a desktop environment or distribution? Would you miss them if they weren't there?

KMahjongg






















Mahjongg is a bit like the card game pairs.

If you have young children I am sure you have played a card game where you flip a pack of cards over and each of you takes it in turn to flip 2 cards over. If the 2 cards match then you put them to one side and have another go. The winner is the person with the most pairs.

Mahjongg is a similar game but for one person. The cards are laid out similarly to the image above.

The cards are spread out across the board and stacked. The idea is to match the pairs. There are certain rules however. You can only pick cards at the edge or on top of stacks. You can't leave cards orphaned so that they are on their own.

You win the game when there are no cards left but lose if there are no more moves available.

The game itself is well written and there are lots of settings. For instance, you can change the layout of the cards, the tiles that are used and the background.

KReversi






















KReversi is an incredibly simple game. It is actually the sort of game you can play with your kids if you are travelling on a train. All you really need is a piece of paper and a pen.

Again the computer game version is well polished and works very well.

The rules of the game are simple yet the game takes tactical skill in order to win. The game starts with 2 black and 2 white markers in the centre of the grid laid out black, white, white black.

The player always gets to go first and is in control of the black markers. To make a move the player has to place a black marker in a place to make a line. For instance the horizontal line might be black, white. The player would place the marker at the end to make it black, white, black. This would then turn the whole line black.

The computer then makes its move and places a white marker on the board to form a line and this would turn all markers in that line white.

The player with the most markers on the board when the board is full wins the game.

Believe me, it isn't as easy as it sounds.

The game itself hasn't got as many customisable features as KMahjongg but you can change the markers to be different colours and you can define the difficulty setting.

KMines

I used to really like Minesweeper and playing this the other day was actually a blast from the past. I am a very competitive person and I wasted far more time playing this than I had initially wanted to.

The board starts out as a grid of squares. Clicking on one of the squares opens the grid up with numbers defining how many mines there are in the vicinity. Based on the numbers given you can eliminate the squares that don't have mines by clicking on them.

If you manage to clear all the good squares then you win the game. If you hit a mine then you lose.

There are three difficulty levels and a custom setting. Difficulty is defined by the size of the board.


There are various other settings available including different themes including a graveyard theme.

KSudoku 

Sudoku has become a gaming phenomenon and now regularly appears in the puzzles column of most newspapers alongside the classic crossword.

The idea is to place each of the 9 numbers in each little square so that they appear only once. You also need to make sure that each row only contains the numbers 1 to 9 so that they appear once and the same for each column.

I have to admit to doing the Sudoku on the train every night. There are 3 puzzles in the local paper with different skill levels, easy, medium and challenging. 

The KSudoku version has 6 levels, very easy, easy, medium, hard, diabolical and unlimited. The diabolical and unlimited levels are fairly pointless as there is a lot of guesswork.

The KSudoku version also lets you play with the dynamics of the game. For example you can make it a 4 x 4 grid (good for kids) or you can do a 3 dimensional puzzle (a cube). Personally I am a traditionalist and prefer the original game. 

I was slightly disappointed with the controls for KSudoku. You pick the number on the left and click into the cell in the grid. I would prefer just to be able to use the keyboard.

It is also possible to change the style of the grid and various other cosmetic settings to make it the way you want it.

KPatience


Patience is a series of card games that you play whilst you are on your own. The KPatience  game is actually very good.


There are lots of different games but I must admit that some I didn't get even after reading the rules. Aces Up for instance seemed to be a case of randomly clicking cards.

The game that most people will recognise is Klondike.



The idea in Klondike is to build up 4 sets of cards in suit order. So pile 1 would be Ace of Hearts, 2 of hearts and onwards until the King of Hearts. Pile 2 would be clubs, then diamonds and then spades.

To fill up the piles you have to move cards around by mixing suits so that the cards are in descending number order, for instance 10 clubs, 9 diamonds, 8 spades, 7 hearts etc. 

When an ace is revealed it will be moved into position automatically. You can then begin to add each card in turn.

If you run out of moves you can click on the pack in the top left corner to reveal more cards.

There are a number of difficulty settings and you can determine whether to only play winnable games.

The whole KPatience game has loads of different games, settings and themes.

Summary

The games are definitely well written and are arguably better than the Windows equivalents.

The question has to be asked though whether they are still relevant. 

Do you play these games? Are they still popular?

Do you fancy a challenge?. Why not play KMines and post a link here to an image showing your fastest time. 

Thankyou for reading.






 

 


KDE Games - Does anybody play them?

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed openSUSE 13.1. In that review I listed all the applications which came pre-installed with the KDE live DVD.

I mentioned at the time that simply listing the applications doesn't particularly help, especially if you don't know what those applications are and what they do.

I have been using openSUSE non-stop over the past 2 weeks and I have been trying out the applications.

In this article I will be looking at the games that come pre-installed with the KDE desktop within openSUSE.

Who plays these games?

There are five games that come pre-installed with the KDE desktop within openSUSE 13.1:
  • KMahjongg
  • KReversi
  • KMines
  • KPatience
  • KSudoku 
When I was younger (a lot younger, maybe 10, 11 or 12) my parents used to take me on a summer holiday. Invariably the holiday would be to the Isle of Wight, which is a small island to the south of Portsmouth in England, or to Devon in the south west of England.

One year we went to a place called Teignmouth in Devon and we stayed in a small hotel (can't remember its name) but lets just say that Teignmouth isn't far away from Torquay and Torquay was the setting for the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers.

The owner of the hotel in Teignmouth clearly used videos of Fawlty Towers as a training video.

The first year we went to the hotel it was fine. We were treated well and we had a great holiday. The hotel owners were very hospitable and they even had one of those long play records that had horse races on it. You could check the betting guide and make small bets and then the owner would play the record and the pot was split between the winners.

The second year was completely different. The rooms were horrible, the food had gone completely bonkers. No porridge for breakfast only Special K and one night we were told the pudding would be "Pear surprise". When we asked what "Pear surprise" was the reply came "It is peaches". (That reminded me of the episode of Fawlty Towers where Cybill said "Well it is a bit tricky, it does mean chef will have to open another tin".

The hotel that year also had a number of German guests. (which is of course one of the classic Fawlty Towers episodes).

Why am I telling you all this you may ask and why are we not talking about games? The point is coming I promise.

There was no entertainment in the hotel and the weather was terrible. There is absolutely nothing to do in Teignmouth when it is raining. Nothing except for playing board games.

Jenga, Chess, Draughts, Risk, they were all there. I spent a whole week learning how to play each game and I had a good time. I remember playing a couple of the German lads at Risk and lets just say they re-wrote history on more than one occasion.

The truth is that I haven't played any of these games in a long long time with the exception of Risk. The same can be said of the games within openSUSE.

KMines is a copy of the game minesweeper that I first played in Windows 3.1. I remember when I was at IBM I had a competition with another guy in the IT department to see who could complete each level of minesweeper in the quickest time. I managed 7 seconds for the small one. As for Solitaire I remember playing it when I got my first desktop computer but I have never really played it since.

I never turn on my computer and think "oh, I must have a game of Reversi". There is just too much other stuff available to even consider playing that game. It isn't that Reversi is a bad game it just doesn't feel relevant anymore.

So my questions to you are as follows:-

Do you ever play the games that come pre-installed with a desktop environment or distribution? Would you miss them if they weren't there?

KMahjongg






















Mahjongg is a bit like the card game pairs.

If you have young children I am sure you have played a card game where you flip a pack of cards over and each of you takes it in turn to flip 2 cards over. If the 2 cards match then you put them to one side and have another go. The winner is the person with the most pairs.

Mahjongg is a similar game but for one person. The cards are laid out similarly to the image above.

The cards are spread out across the board and stacked. The idea is to match the pairs. There are certain rules however. You can only pick cards at the edge or on top of stacks. You can't leave cards orphaned so that they are on their own.

You win the game when there are no cards left but lose if there are no more moves available.

The game itself is well written and there are lots of settings. For instance, you can change the layout of the cards, the tiles that are used and the background.

KReversi






















KReversi is an incredibly simple game. It is actually the sort of game you can play with your kids if you are travelling on a train. All you really need is a piece of paper and a pen.

Again the computer game version is well polished and works very well.

The rules of the game are simple yet the game takes tactical skill in order to win. The game starts with 2 black and 2 white markers in the centre of the grid laid out black, white, white black.

The player always gets to go first and is in control of the black markers. To make a move the player has to place a black marker in a place to make a line. For instance the horizontal line might be black, white. The player would place the marker at the end to make it black, white, black. This would then turn the whole line black.

The computer then makes its move and places a white marker on the board to form a line and this would turn all markers in that line white.

The player with the most markers on the board when the board is full wins the game.

Believe me, it isn't as easy as it sounds.

The game itself hasn't got as many customisable features as KMahjongg but you can change the markers to be different colours and you can define the difficulty setting.

KMines

I used to really like Minesweeper and playing this the other day was actually a blast from the past. I am a very competitive person and I wasted far more time playing this than I had initially wanted to.

The board starts out as a grid of squares. Clicking on one of the squares opens the grid up with numbers defining how many mines there are in the vicinity. Based on the numbers given you can eliminate the squares that don't have mines by clicking on them.

If you manage to clear all the good squares then you win the game. If you hit a mine then you lose.

There are three difficulty levels and a custom setting. Difficulty is defined by the size of the board.


There are various other settings available including different themes including a graveyard theme.

KSudoku 

Sudoku has become a gaming phenomenon and now regularly appears in the puzzles column of most newspapers alongside the classic crossword.

The idea is to place each of the 9 numbers in each little square so that they appear only once. You also need to make sure that each row only contains the numbers 1 to 9 so that they appear once and the same for each column.

I have to admit to doing the Sudoku on the train every night. There are 3 puzzles in the local paper with different skill levels, easy, medium and challenging. 

The KSudoku version has 6 levels, very easy, easy, medium, hard, diabolical and unlimited. The diabolical and unlimited levels are fairly pointless as there is a lot of guesswork.

The KSudoku version also lets you play with the dynamics of the game. For example you can make it a 4 x 4 grid (good for kids) or you can do a 3 dimensional puzzle (a cube). Personally I am a traditionalist and prefer the original game. 

I was slightly disappointed with the controls for KSudoku. You pick the number on the left and click into the cell in the grid. I would prefer just to be able to use the keyboard.

It is also possible to change the style of the grid and various other cosmetic settings to make it the way you want it.

KPatience


Patience is a series of card games that you play whilst you are on your own. The KPatience  game is actually very good.


There are lots of different games but I must admit that some I didn't get even after reading the rules. Aces Up for instance seemed to be a case of randomly clicking cards.

The game that most people will recognise is Klondike.



The idea in Klondike is to build up 4 sets of cards in suit order. So pile 1 would be Ace of Hearts, 2 of hearts and onwards until the King of Hearts. Pile 2 would be clubs, then diamonds and then spades.

To fill up the piles you have to move cards around by mixing suits so that the cards are in descending number order, for instance 10 clubs, 9 diamonds, 8 spades, 7 hearts etc. 

When an ace is revealed it will be moved into position automatically. You can then begin to add each card in turn.

If you run out of moves you can click on the pack in the top left corner to reveal more cards.

There are a number of difficulty settings and you can determine whether to only play winnable games.

The whole KPatience game has loads of different games, settings and themes.

Summary

The games are definitely well written and are arguably better than the Windows equivalents.

The question has to be asked though whether they are still relevant. 

Do you play these games? Are they still popular?

Do you fancy a challenge?. Why not play KMines and post a link here to an image showing your fastest time. 

Thankyou for reading.






 

 


Posted at 23:11 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 28 March 2014

When I was a child there were only three television channels in the United Kingdom, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. The only programmes dedicated to children were shown between 4pm and 5.30pm every weekday and between 9 am and 1pm on a Saturday morning.


The choice of programmes on offer were Dangermouse, Scooby Doo and Knightmare on ITV and lord knows what on BBC because they were usually pretty poor affairs until after 5pm when Grange Hill would start.
Every night after school I would walk the 2 miles back to my nan’s house and my nan would invariably let my sister and I choose the viewing. Of course on occasion this led to arguments and my poor nan and granddad would have to adjudicate based on reasonable arguments put forth by us squabbling kids.
In the mid to late 1980s something bad happened. Something very bad happened. Channel 4 made its way onto our television screens and our viewing pleasure was ruined forever. Channel 4 had a new television series called Countdown and if you are in the UK you will appreciate the effect this has on old people and students.
My nan was instantly hooked on the word and numbers gameshow and no longer did we have control over the television. I never did find out what happened in Jossie’s Giants or Press Gang.
As childhood turned to adulthood I became addicted to all things football and cricket. On ITV there was “The Match” and during the summer the BBC would show all the test matches (which my mum moaned about during Wimbledon fortnight, “Why do they show so much cricket, we are missing the tennis”).
There was a scheduling problem for the BBC. Only 2 television channels and 2 major sporting events but they couldn’t possibly give 2 whole channels over to sport.
Alas this wasn’t a problem that ITV and BBC had to contend with for long because a new television phenomenon was just around the corner in the shape of Sky television.
Sky brought satellite television to the UK and promptly set about stealing the football, cricket, golf, motor racing and any sport that had more than 5 people interested in it.
For a while Sky was prohibitively expensive and so my enjoyment of football and cricket was limited to highlight packages and the odd cup game.
Every now and then a new competitor to Sky would come along like the ill-fated OnDigital and latterly Setanta sports but they disappeared without a trace leaving Sky with complete domination.
Fortunately Sky reduced their prices and satellite television was available to the masses including myself.
Suddenly 5 channels (I neglected to mention that Channel 5 came to the UK because on the whole it barely registers as a television channel with the exceptions of “The Gadget Show” and “Cowboy Builders”) became 50 and 50 became 100 and still you will hear the following:
“What is on television tonight?”
“Nothing. It is all rubbish”.
This is of course nonsense. There are plenties of programs on television but because we are so spoilt now we dismiss things that in the 1980s we’d have been happy to watch.
For instance when they used to show re-runs of “Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em” in the 1980s you would have heard a collective “brilliant, I like that” but now if you see re-runs of anything you think “Are they really showing that again?”.
In the 1980s I would happily have watched game shows like “Bullseye” and endless repeats of “Knight Rider”, “The A-Team” and “The Fall Guy”. Nowadays, unless it is new I don’t really want to watch it.
Of course the truth is I still watch endless re-runs, shows that are default options when there is nothing else to watch such as “Peep Show”, “The IT Crowd” and “The Big Bang Theory”. I don’t really want to watch them but if there is nothing else available, they will have to do.

At this point most of you will be wondering what any of this has to do with Linux and distro-hopping. Distro-hoppers suffer from what I like to call “Cable television syndrome”.
“Cable Television Syndrome” is the act of stating that there is nothing available on any of the 100s of television channels and is a direct cause of too much choice, therefore settling for none of them.
Distro-hoppers clearly suffer from the same affliction. They like desktop A but like the applications in distro B but the installer from distro C. Distro C doesn’t come with Flash yet distro D has Flash and all the multimedia codecs already installed but for some reason can’t run Steam. Distro E can run all of the above but has been dumbed down too darned much.
Sky television has done something to help those of us with “Cable Television Syndrome” by giving us “Sky Plus” which lets us look in advance to what is coming on and record and watch programs as and when we choose to watch them thereby giving us our own virtual television channel. If that isn’t enough there is an on demand channel which lets us watch 3 months of Sky movies by pressing a little red button.
It isn’t just Sky helping the “CTS” sufferers. As good as Sky plus is you can only record 2 programs at the same time or record 1 program whilst watching another. There are occasions when you want to record 2 programs but watch a third program that is on another channel. Luckily the clever television people have given us +1 channels which show the same program just one hour later. All in all there really is no excuse for ever saying “There is nothing on”.
Distro-hoppers have a choice as well and it is called the Ubuntu Minimal ISO or the Debian Minimal ISO. (Already I have given you 2 choices and there are loads more but then I would be giving you a whole new syndrome).
Take the Ubuntu Minimal ISO (Or Debian one), install the desktop environment of your choice, install the packages of your choice and customise it to be exactly how you would like it to be. The minimal ISOs are the Linux equivalent of Sky Plus. You are in control, it is your distro and you can do with it whatever you please.
Thankyou for reading

Distrohoppers suffer from "Cable Television Syndrome"

When I was a child there were only three television channels in the United Kingdom, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. The only programmes dedicated to children were shown between 4pm and 5.30pm every weekday and between 9 am and 1pm on a Saturday morning.


The choice of programmes on offer were Dangermouse, Scooby Doo and Knightmare on ITV and lord knows what on BBC because they were usually pretty poor affairs until after 5pm when Grange Hill would start.
Every night after school I would walk the 2 miles back to my nan’s house and my nan would invariably let my sister and I choose the viewing. Of course on occasion this led to arguments and my poor nan and granddad would have to adjudicate based on reasonable arguments put forth by us squabbling kids.
In the mid to late 1980s something bad happened. Something very bad happened. Channel 4 made its way onto our television screens and our viewing pleasure was ruined forever. Channel 4 had a new television series called Countdown and if you are in the UK you will appreciate the effect this has on old people and students.
My nan was instantly hooked on the word and numbers gameshow and no longer did we have control over the television. I never did find out what happened in Jossie’s Giants or Press Gang.
As childhood turned to adulthood I became addicted to all things football and cricket. On ITV there was “The Match” and during the summer the BBC would show all the test matches (which my mum moaned about during Wimbledon fortnight, “Why do they show so much cricket, we are missing the tennis”).
There was a scheduling problem for the BBC. Only 2 television channels and 2 major sporting events but they couldn’t possibly give 2 whole channels over to sport.
Alas this wasn’t a problem that ITV and BBC had to contend with for long because a new television phenomenon was just around the corner in the shape of Sky television.
Sky brought satellite television to the UK and promptly set about stealing the football, cricket, golf, motor racing and any sport that had more than 5 people interested in it.
For a while Sky was prohibitively expensive and so my enjoyment of football and cricket was limited to highlight packages and the odd cup game.
Every now and then a new competitor to Sky would come along like the ill-fated OnDigital and latterly Setanta sports but they disappeared without a trace leaving Sky with complete domination.
Fortunately Sky reduced their prices and satellite television was available to the masses including myself.
Suddenly 5 channels (I neglected to mention that Channel 5 came to the UK because on the whole it barely registers as a television channel with the exceptions of “The Gadget Show” and “Cowboy Builders”) became 50 and 50 became 100 and still you will hear the following:
“What is on television tonight?”
“Nothing. It is all rubbish”.
This is of course nonsense. There are plenties of programs on television but because we are so spoilt now we dismiss things that in the 1980s we’d have been happy to watch.
For instance when they used to show re-runs of “Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em” in the 1980s you would have heard a collective “brilliant, I like that” but now if you see re-runs of anything you think “Are they really showing that again?”.
In the 1980s I would happily have watched game shows like “Bullseye” and endless repeats of “Knight Rider”, “The A-Team” and “The Fall Guy”. Nowadays, unless it is new I don’t really want to watch it.
Of course the truth is I still watch endless re-runs, shows that are default options when there is nothing else to watch such as “Peep Show”, “The IT Crowd” and “The Big Bang Theory”. I don’t really want to watch them but if there is nothing else available, they will have to do.

At this point most of you will be wondering what any of this has to do with Linux and distro-hopping. Distro-hoppers suffer from what I like to call “Cable television syndrome”.
“Cable Television Syndrome” is the act of stating that there is nothing available on any of the 100s of television channels and is a direct cause of too much choice, therefore settling for none of them.
Distro-hoppers clearly suffer from the same affliction. They like desktop A but like the applications in distro B but the installer from distro C. Distro C doesn’t come with Flash yet distro D has Flash and all the multimedia codecs already installed but for some reason can’t run Steam. Distro E can run all of the above but has been dumbed down too darned much.
Sky television has done something to help those of us with “Cable Television Syndrome” by giving us “Sky Plus” which lets us look in advance to what is coming on and record and watch programs as and when we choose to watch them thereby giving us our own virtual television channel. If that isn’t enough there is an on demand channel which lets us watch 3 months of Sky movies by pressing a little red button.
It isn’t just Sky helping the “CTS” sufferers. As good as Sky plus is you can only record 2 programs at the same time or record 1 program whilst watching another. There are occasions when you want to record 2 programs but watch a third program that is on another channel. Luckily the clever television people have given us +1 channels which show the same program just one hour later. All in all there really is no excuse for ever saying “There is nothing on”.
Distro-hoppers have a choice as well and it is called the Ubuntu Minimal ISO or the Debian Minimal ISO. (Already I have given you 2 choices and there are loads more but then I would be giving you a whole new syndrome).
Take the Ubuntu Minimal ISO (Or Debian one), install the desktop environment of your choice, install the packages of your choice and customise it to be exactly how you would like it to be. The minimal ISOs are the Linux equivalent of Sky Plus. You are in control, it is your distro and you can do with it whatever you please.
Thankyou for reading

Posted at 08:00 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Introduction

Everyday Linux User was created for the average person who uses their computer for ordinary everyday tasks.

The site includes how-to guides, product reviews and of course reviews of the latest Linux distributions.

On the other side of the fence from the users are the distro developers and in this series of articles I am trying to get into the mindset of the teams that make your favourite operating system what it is.

Previously I have interviewed Klaus Knopper, the founder of Knoppix, and more recently Jerry Bezencon from the Linux Lite project.

This time however I have been lucky enough to get not just one member of the team but two. I recently sent an email to the Peppermint Linux team with a series of questions and what follows are the answers provided by Shane Remington (COO of Peppermint) and Kendall Weaver (CTO of Peppermint).

I would like to thank in advance Shane and Kendall for not only agreeing to answer my questions but also for the time and effort they have put into the Peppermint Linux project.

I reviewed Peppermint Linux 4 just a few weeks ago and it was clear to me at that point that you could easily integrate web applications so that they would sit alongside standard applications giving you the full hybrid desktop experience.

If you think about the Chromebook then the one thing it lacks is the ability to run standard Linux applications (unless you use Crouton). With Peppermint you can integrate online applications into menus and the panels and you can also run standard Linux applications.

All in all this gives Peppermint a unique quality that doesn't exist in other distributions.

Who came up with the concept of Peppermint Linux?

Shane Remington:

It all started one night at the Black Rose Pub. At this point in time Kendall and I only knew each other as acquaintances but for some reason that evening the conversation switched over to desktop Linux and we were both on fire.

We both shared similar frustrations with Windows, Mac and certain Linux distributions. And we both agreed where things could be retooled and reworked in the operating system as well as a deliberately open and friendly community that we would nurture from the ground up.

Kendall Weaver:

As Shane mentioned, it was a conversation at our favorite local pub, the Black Rose.

It was a Monday evening in January 2010 when a favorite locally brewed pale ale was the daily special.

I can't quite recall exactly what started the conversation, but we agreed that we were both unhappy with pretty much all other desktop operating systems in some capacity.

I was working as a distribution maintainer for Linux Mint at the time, but Mint's tendency to err on the conservative side when it comes to included software left me wanting something edgier and more streamlined.

We came up with the name Peppermint because we wanted something kind of like Mint, but “spicier”.

What is the single most important feature that sets Peppermint apart from other distros?

Shane Remington:

Personally, its the cloud to desktop integration via the ICE application. After that, its speed. There's no other operating system as fast and responsive as Peppermint, that I've ever used...

Kendall Weaver:

For me it's a combination of the level of polish and speed more than anything else.

Peppermint serves as an excellent platform for putting together the desktop that many people want with minimal hassle. Most other distros that use the LXDE desktop tend to put function way over form and I feel we reach a very satisfying balance while not sacrificing in either.

Compared to some distros you have quite a large team, how do you determine what goes in to each release?

Shane Remington:

Another major difference in Peppermint from other distributions is that we are less focused on software inclusion and more focused on streamlined experience. So, we're more light on our feet in that regard.

Kendall Weaver:

Most of our team is focused on support, graphics, and the user interface.

What goes into each release tends to revolve more around those aspects and less around other things such as included software. We spend far more time working on the system components than we do testing applications.

Regarding the applications we don't actually include much locally installed stuff when compared to most other distros, rather we keep it simple and include some web apps that fill the gaps nicely.

Is there a new release of Peppermint Linux imminent and how do you determine the release cycle for Peppermint Linux?

Kendall Weaver:

The Peppermint release cycle is dependent upon Ubuntu's release cycle. We use the Ubuntu repositories for each April release so new versions of Peppermint tend to release in May or June of each year.

Shane Remington:

Peppermint Five is right around the corner. Can't wait!

Who is Peppermint Linux aimed at?

Shane Remington:

Peppermint is aimed at being user friendly and a perfect cross­over from Microsoft and Apple.

We wanted to show the world that getting into Linux should be an easy and hassle free experience. We've proven that you can give a Linux newcomer an out­of­the­box solution the just works. They love it and they're hooked.

Kendall Weaver:

Peppermint is aimed at pretty much everyone. We've seen adoption from new computer users, veteran coders, die­hard Windows junkies, and a host of others. We don't go out of our way to target a specific demographic.

With so many distros coming and going each year, how do you stay motivated?

Shane Remington:

The whole concept of Peppermint is to focus our energy on lightweight, portability, speed and the freedom of cruft and bloat. Making sure that you have the absolute best starting point as a base operating system is what we want to deliver.

Every release has new challenges and new technology keeps approaching so its not hard being motivated if you strive on delivering consistency, year after year...

Kendall Weaver:

A large part of it is the sense of accomplishment associated with knowing that I'm working on a system that genuinely makes life easier for a number of people in the world.

Are you looking to expand your team and if so what are you looking for?

Shane Remington:

We're welcome to anyone who wants to contribute. In fact, I'm in need of a dedicated, Peppermint and Linux and Open Source loving, positive minded, cloud believing, social media / community manager type. If you want to join an open source project in a unique and challenging way by using your social media and marketing skills, I need you now!

Kendall Weaver:

I'm always willing to accept a hand from other developers, but honestly we're not doing an awful lot of coding at the moment.

Rather what I'm looking for is people who can test unconventional desktop configurations, properly research and file bug reports, and provide general desktop and application support in our forum.

If somebody said to you that they were thinking of starting a new distro what advice would you give them?

Shane Remington:

Most Linux distributions don't survive very long. Do you see yourself doing this, with consistency, with a sustained level of conviction, combined with a sacrifice of your free time and little to no payment in return, for over a five year period? Yes? Perfect, you are now ready for Phase One ;)

Kendall Weaver:

Unless you have something legitimately new to offer, then don't start a new distro at this point.

There are now distros that cover pretty much every major concept that exists in the world of desktop Linux. Many of those distros are extremely good and the vast majority of them could use an extra hand rather than increased competition from a new distro.

Peppermint started because nobody else was doing it, not because we simply wanted to make our own distro.


Does everyone in the team use Peppermint Linux and if so in what capacity?

Shane Remington:

I have used Peppermint exclusively since the first testing versions. I haven't needed anything else for the past five years.

Kendall Weaver:

I keep a Peppermint partition on my desktop for development and for playing Minecraft, but outside of that I rarely use it.

In order to try and keep fresh ideas coming in I'm frequently distro­hopping on my laptops, which I use most of the time.

The other partition on my desktop is Windows 7, which I use for some Adobe programs my other business requires that don't run particularly well in Wine.

If not for the need to be drumming up new ideas and my other business requirements, I'd be on Peppermint 100% of the time.

Summary

I think there are a number of things that can be taken from the interviews that I have conducted thus far (and there is another one on the way next week) but the one overriding point is that if you are thinking of starting a new distro the advice is to really think hard about it.

Do you need to create a new distro? Is there another project that has similar ideas and beliefs to you that you can participate in? Do you really have the time and motivation not just for today but for years to come?

Kendall and I share the common requirement to distrohop. Kendall distrohops to glean new ideas for Peppermint and I distrohop in order to write reviews for Everyday Linux User.

I think that if I didn't write this blog I would still distrohop and I think that it is a syndrome and on Friday I will be posting an article about that very subject and my theory that distrohoppers have acquired "CTS" (Cable Television Syndrome). If you want to read more about that why not subscribe to this blog by entering your email address into the box on the right hand side.

To find out more about Peppermint Linux visit http://peppermintos.com/ and to find out more about the team visit http://peppermintos.com/about/.

Once again I would like to thank Shane and Kendall for their help and to all of you who have read this article.




Inside Peppermint Linux - An interview with Shane Remington and Kendall Weaver

Introduction

Everyday Linux User was created for the average person who uses their computer for ordinary everyday tasks.

The site includes how-to guides, product reviews and of course reviews of the latest Linux distributions.

On the other side of the fence from the users are the distro developers and in this series of articles I am trying to get into the mindset of the teams that make your favourite operating system what it is.

Previously I have interviewed Klaus Knopper, the founder of Knoppix, and more recently Jerry Bezencon from the Linux Lite project.

This time however I have been lucky enough to get not just one member of the team but two. I recently sent an email to the Peppermint Linux team with a series of questions and what follows are the answers provided by Shane Remington (COO of Peppermint) and Kendall Weaver (CTO of Peppermint).

I would like to thank in advance Shane and Kendall for not only agreeing to answer my questions but also for the time and effort they have put into the Peppermint Linux project.

I reviewed Peppermint Linux 4 just a few weeks ago and it was clear to me at that point that you could easily integrate web applications so that they would sit alongside standard applications giving you the full hybrid desktop experience.

If you think about the Chromebook then the one thing it lacks is the ability to run standard Linux applications (unless you use Crouton). With Peppermint you can integrate online applications into menus and the panels and you can also run standard Linux applications.

All in all this gives Peppermint a unique quality that doesn't exist in other distributions.

Who came up with the concept of Peppermint Linux?

Shane Remington:

It all started one night at the Black Rose Pub. At this point in time Kendall and I only knew each other as acquaintances but for some reason that evening the conversation switched over to desktop Linux and we were both on fire.

We both shared similar frustrations with Windows, Mac and certain Linux distributions. And we both agreed where things could be retooled and reworked in the operating system as well as a deliberately open and friendly community that we would nurture from the ground up.

Kendall Weaver:

As Shane mentioned, it was a conversation at our favorite local pub, the Black Rose.

It was a Monday evening in January 2010 when a favorite locally brewed pale ale was the daily special.

I can't quite recall exactly what started the conversation, but we agreed that we were both unhappy with pretty much all other desktop operating systems in some capacity.

I was working as a distribution maintainer for Linux Mint at the time, but Mint's tendency to err on the conservative side when it comes to included software left me wanting something edgier and more streamlined.

We came up with the name Peppermint because we wanted something kind of like Mint, but “spicier”.

What is the single most important feature that sets Peppermint apart from other distros?

Shane Remington:

Personally, its the cloud to desktop integration via the ICE application. After that, its speed. There's no other operating system as fast and responsive as Peppermint, that I've ever used...

Kendall Weaver:

For me it's a combination of the level of polish and speed more than anything else.

Peppermint serves as an excellent platform for putting together the desktop that many people want with minimal hassle. Most other distros that use the LXDE desktop tend to put function way over form and I feel we reach a very satisfying balance while not sacrificing in either.

Compared to some distros you have quite a large team, how do you determine what goes in to each release?

Shane Remington:

Another major difference in Peppermint from other distributions is that we are less focused on software inclusion and more focused on streamlined experience. So, we're more light on our feet in that regard.

Kendall Weaver:

Most of our team is focused on support, graphics, and the user interface.

What goes into each release tends to revolve more around those aspects and less around other things such as included software. We spend far more time working on the system components than we do testing applications.

Regarding the applications we don't actually include much locally installed stuff when compared to most other distros, rather we keep it simple and include some web apps that fill the gaps nicely.

Is there a new release of Peppermint Linux imminent and how do you determine the release cycle for Peppermint Linux?

Kendall Weaver:

The Peppermint release cycle is dependent upon Ubuntu's release cycle. We use the Ubuntu repositories for each April release so new versions of Peppermint tend to release in May or June of each year.

Shane Remington:

Peppermint Five is right around the corner. Can't wait!

Who is Peppermint Linux aimed at?

Shane Remington:

Peppermint is aimed at being user friendly and a perfect cross­over from Microsoft and Apple.

We wanted to show the world that getting into Linux should be an easy and hassle free experience. We've proven that you can give a Linux newcomer an out­of­the­box solution the just works. They love it and they're hooked.

Kendall Weaver:

Peppermint is aimed at pretty much everyone. We've seen adoption from new computer users, veteran coders, die­hard Windows junkies, and a host of others. We don't go out of our way to target a specific demographic.

With so many distros coming and going each year, how do you stay motivated?

Shane Remington:

The whole concept of Peppermint is to focus our energy on lightweight, portability, speed and the freedom of cruft and bloat. Making sure that you have the absolute best starting point as a base operating system is what we want to deliver.

Every release has new challenges and new technology keeps approaching so its not hard being motivated if you strive on delivering consistency, year after year...

Kendall Weaver:

A large part of it is the sense of accomplishment associated with knowing that I'm working on a system that genuinely makes life easier for a number of people in the world.

Are you looking to expand your team and if so what are you looking for?

Shane Remington:

We're welcome to anyone who wants to contribute. In fact, I'm in need of a dedicated, Peppermint and Linux and Open Source loving, positive minded, cloud believing, social media / community manager type. If you want to join an open source project in a unique and challenging way by using your social media and marketing skills, I need you now!

Kendall Weaver:

I'm always willing to accept a hand from other developers, but honestly we're not doing an awful lot of coding at the moment.

Rather what I'm looking for is people who can test unconventional desktop configurations, properly research and file bug reports, and provide general desktop and application support in our forum.

If somebody said to you that they were thinking of starting a new distro what advice would you give them?

Shane Remington:

Most Linux distributions don't survive very long. Do you see yourself doing this, with consistency, with a sustained level of conviction, combined with a sacrifice of your free time and little to no payment in return, for over a five year period? Yes? Perfect, you are now ready for Phase One ;)

Kendall Weaver:

Unless you have something legitimately new to offer, then don't start a new distro at this point.

There are now distros that cover pretty much every major concept that exists in the world of desktop Linux. Many of those distros are extremely good and the vast majority of them could use an extra hand rather than increased competition from a new distro.

Peppermint started because nobody else was doing it, not because we simply wanted to make our own distro.


Does everyone in the team use Peppermint Linux and if so in what capacity?

Shane Remington:

I have used Peppermint exclusively since the first testing versions. I haven't needed anything else for the past five years.

Kendall Weaver:

I keep a Peppermint partition on my desktop for development and for playing Minecraft, but outside of that I rarely use it.

In order to try and keep fresh ideas coming in I'm frequently distro­hopping on my laptops, which I use most of the time.

The other partition on my desktop is Windows 7, which I use for some Adobe programs my other business requires that don't run particularly well in Wine.

If not for the need to be drumming up new ideas and my other business requirements, I'd be on Peppermint 100% of the time.

Summary

I think there are a number of things that can be taken from the interviews that I have conducted thus far (and there is another one on the way next week) but the one overriding point is that if you are thinking of starting a new distro the advice is to really think hard about it.

Do you need to create a new distro? Is there another project that has similar ideas and beliefs to you that you can participate in? Do you really have the time and motivation not just for today but for years to come?

Kendall and I share the common requirement to distrohop. Kendall distrohops to glean new ideas for Peppermint and I distrohop in order to write reviews for Everyday Linux User.

I think that if I didn't write this blog I would still distrohop and I think that it is a syndrome and on Friday I will be posting an article about that very subject and my theory that distrohoppers have acquired "CTS" (Cable Television Syndrome). If you want to read more about that why not subscribe to this blog by entering your email address into the box on the right hand side.

To find out more about Peppermint Linux visit http://peppermintos.com/ and to find out more about the team visit http://peppermintos.com/about/.

Once again I would like to thank Shane and Kendall for their help and to all of you who have read this article.




Posted at 21:45 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 21 March 2014

Introduction

I last wrote about openSUSE in April 2013 and at the time I asked whether openSUSE was a real alternative to Ubuntu.

The article sparked a number of comments by openSUSE and Ubuntu users and some people said yes, some said no.

Today I will be reviewing the latest version of openSUSE to see what has changed.

About openSUSE

According to the openSUSE WIKI page the aim of openSUSE is as follows:
The openSUSE distribution is a stable, easy to use and complete multi-purpose distribution.
It is aimed towards users and developers working on the desktop or server. It is great for beginners, experienced users and ultra geeks alike, in short, it is perfect for everybody! The latest release, openSUSE 13.1, features new and massively improved versions of all useful server and desktop applications. It comes with more than 1,000 open source applications.
The website for openSUSE can be found at http://www.opensuse.org/en/.

How to get openSUSE


To download openSUSE visit http://www.opensuse.org/en/

Click here if you would prefer to buy a copy of openSUSE due to a slow internet connection or download limits.

System Requirements

  • Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
  • 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
  • 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

Installation

Click here for a guide showing how to install openSUSE.

Note that you can't use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB drive. You have to either use the command line or use the Image Writer tool. To be honest as I don't use Windows I find it easier to just install using a DVD.

The installation process itself is ok but the partitioning bit could be a bit more intuitive.

I had a fairly basic setup with a root partition, home partition and swap partition from my previous Linux install yet the openSUSE installer said that it couldn't find a suitable plan. I then had to create a partition plan and choose my hard drive and jump through a couple more hoops before I was able to continue.

That was the only real hardship in the installation. Everything else is fairly obvious.

First Impressions





















openSUSE has a fairly standard looking KDE interface with one shelf in the top left corner, a panel at the bottom with a menu in the left corner and system tray style icons in the bottom right.

The icons in the system tray change depending on what you have running but the standard set include an icon for the clipboard manager, audio settings, bluetooth, network management and a clock.






















The menu consists of 5 tabs, menu options and a search bar.

If you want to find an application quickly and if it doesn't appear as a favourite, enter a search term in the search bar.

The "Favourites" tab shows the software you use most often. To add an item to the "Favourites" tab, select it from the applications tab and right click. An option will appear with the text "add to favorites".

The "applications" tab shows a list of categories and when you click on the category a list of applications appear.

The "computer" tab has options such as the Yast control center and the Yast package manager as well as the KInfoCenter, which provides information about your installation including OS version, KDE version and disk information. You can also use the "computer" tab to navigate around your system.

The "Recently" used tab shows the items you have used most recently.

The "Leave" tab has options for switching users, logging out and shutting down.

Customising the desktop

The KDE desktop is heavily customisable and can't possibly be covered in full here.

The basic premise is as follows: Each virtual workspace is called an activity. You can switch activities by clicking on the icon with three dots next to the menu icon.





The available activities will be shown and you can switch to the activity you wish to use. You can also get to this screen by selecting the desktop option in the top right corner of the screen and choosing activities.

Now an activity can be a standard desktop like the first one you see with a shelf on it or it can be a more traditional desktop with icons on it.


Other activities include a photos activity, a newspaper layout and search.





















Each shelf can have panels and widgets added. For instance you can add desktop clocks, weather widgets etc.


You can change the desktop wallpaper of each activity individually by right clicking and clicking configure.



There are only a couple of desktop images available by default but by clicking "Get new wallpapers" you are able to install more.

 

 

 

 







Simply scroll down the list and choose the images you wish to install.









Connecting to the internet


To connect to the internet click on the network settings icon in the system tray. A screen similar to the one above will appear showing available networks.

When you select a network for the first time you will be able to configure it by entering details such as the security key and whether you want to connect automatically.
 
You will now be asked to setup KWallet which will store your passwords for you. Basically every time you connect to the network it will ask for your KWallet password.

Flash and MP3

openSUSE is a community distribution and as such you have to install Flash and multimedia codecs yourself.

A great resource for helping out with this sort of thing is opensuse-guide.org and specifically this page which shows how to install browser plugins for openSUSE.


The opensuse-guide site will show you how to install Flash, Java, multimedia plugins, Silverlight and Google Voice and Chat.

You will also want to check out this chapter which shows how to get MP3s working in openSUSE.


Applications

If you obtain the full DVD then you will probably have more applications installed but I chose the KDE live DVD.

The KDE live DVD comes with the following applications:

Games

  • KMahjongg, KReversi, KSudoku, KMines and KPatience

Graphics

  • DNG image converter
  • Exposure Blending Tools
  • Panorama
  • Digikam Photo Management
  • ShowFoto Photo Viewer
  • Gwenview Image Viewer

Internet

  • Kopete instant messenger
  • Konversation IRC client
  • Choqok Microblogging Client
  • KMail Mail Client
  • Firefox Web Browser
  • Konqueror Web Browser
  • KTorrent Bittorrent
  • lftp shell (FTP)

Multimedia

  • AMZ Downloader (Amazon downloader)
  • Amarok Audio Player
  • K3B Disc Burning Tool

Office

  • LibreOffice Writer,  Impress and Drawing
  • KAddressBook - Address book
  • Kontact - Personal Information Manager
  • Korganizer - Personal Organiser
Now you may not have heard of all the tools listed or you haven't seen them in action. In the next week I will be getting to grips with them and give a run down of the applications to give more of an overview.

Installing Applications

To install applications you can either use Zypper which is a command line application along the lines of Apt or you can use Yast which is more along the lines of Synaptic.

Earlier on I linked to the opensuse-guide.org site to show how to install Flash.

You can easily install Flash by using Yast.

Yast is fairly simple to use. Enter a search term in the search box and check where to search for that term, such as the name of the application or the description.

The packages will then appear in the right pane.

As you can see searching for Flash will provide an option for Flash-player. To install the package check the box and click "Accept".

Now the first time you try and install something it may come as a bit of a shock when loads of other applications are listed.

If you haven't updated your system any file that needs to be updated will be listed , as well as dependencies for the program you have chosen. 

Now of course updating is a good idea but if you just want to install the one program you have chosen you can select "Options -> Ignore recommended packages for already installed packages".

What has changed?

The most helpful information I found about openSUSE 13.1 can be found at https://news.opensuse.org/2013/11/19/opensuse-13-1-ready-for-action/.


Summary

Many of the things that I mentioned in the openSUSE 12.3 review are the same in openSUSE 13.1.

Now that I have got used to the way openSUSE works though I find that things that bothered me last time don't bother me so much.

For instance the fact that YAST wants to update all my packages when I try to install one package could be seen as a good thing whereas before I found it to be an annoyance.

Apparently there is better support for Android devices with the file manager and Amarok. Amarok is a great audio player and I am aware I didn't really touch on it in this article but that is for another day.

Not many applications are included in the live DVD and I am surprised there is no LibreOffice Calc when all the other LibreOffice tools are installed. The Yast installer is only a menu option away so this isn't a major issue.

I think new users would definitely benefit from visiting the opensuse-guide.org website. It certainly helped me out.

In my opinion the installer could do with a little bit of tweaking with regards to partitioning but I am aware that it is hard to make this sort of thing easier to use without dumbing it down and losing crucial functionality.

KDE has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of years and I would now rather use KDE than Gnome.

I'm not sure that openSUSE is for everyone. I think that if you haven't tried Linux before then you might get frustrated by some of the hoops you have to jump through when you first get started. 

Once you get used to it though openSUSE is certainly stable and everything is there that you could possibly need. 

Overall it was a decent enough experience but I'm not sure I prefer it over Kubuntu.

During the course of the next week I will be looking more closely at the KDE applications installed within openSUSE.

Thankyou for reading.







openSUSE 13.1 KDE Review

Introduction

I last wrote about openSUSE in April 2013 and at the time I asked whether openSUSE was a real alternative to Ubuntu.

The article sparked a number of comments by openSUSE and Ubuntu users and some people said yes, some said no.

Today I will be reviewing the latest version of openSUSE to see what has changed.

About openSUSE

According to the openSUSE WIKI page the aim of openSUSE is as follows:
The openSUSE distribution is a stable, easy to use and complete multi-purpose distribution.
It is aimed towards users and developers working on the desktop or server. It is great for beginners, experienced users and ultra geeks alike, in short, it is perfect for everybody! The latest release, openSUSE 13.1, features new and massively improved versions of all useful server and desktop applications. It comes with more than 1,000 open source applications.
The website for openSUSE can be found at http://www.opensuse.org/en/.

How to get openSUSE


To download openSUSE visit http://www.opensuse.org/en/

Click here if you would prefer to buy a copy of openSUSE due to a slow internet connection or download limits.

System Requirements

  • Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
  • 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
  • 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

Installation

Click here for a guide showing how to install openSUSE.

Note that you can't use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB drive. You have to either use the command line or use the Image Writer tool. To be honest as I don't use Windows I find it easier to just install using a DVD.

The installation process itself is ok but the partitioning bit could be a bit more intuitive.

I had a fairly basic setup with a root partition, home partition and swap partition from my previous Linux install yet the openSUSE installer said that it couldn't find a suitable plan. I then had to create a partition plan and choose my hard drive and jump through a couple more hoops before I was able to continue.

That was the only real hardship in the installation. Everything else is fairly obvious.

First Impressions





















openSUSE has a fairly standard looking KDE interface with one shelf in the top left corner, a panel at the bottom with a menu in the left corner and system tray style icons in the bottom right.

The icons in the system tray change depending on what you have running but the standard set include an icon for the clipboard manager, audio settings, bluetooth, network management and a clock.






















The menu consists of 5 tabs, menu options and a search bar.

If you want to find an application quickly and if it doesn't appear as a favourite, enter a search term in the search bar.

The "Favourites" tab shows the software you use most often. To add an item to the "Favourites" tab, select it from the applications tab and right click. An option will appear with the text "add to favorites".

The "applications" tab shows a list of categories and when you click on the category a list of applications appear.

The "computer" tab has options such as the Yast control center and the Yast package manager as well as the KInfoCenter, which provides information about your installation including OS version, KDE version and disk information. You can also use the "computer" tab to navigate around your system.

The "Recently" used tab shows the items you have used most recently.

The "Leave" tab has options for switching users, logging out and shutting down.

Customising the desktop

The KDE desktop is heavily customisable and can't possibly be covered in full here.

The basic premise is as follows: Each virtual workspace is called an activity. You can switch activities by clicking on the icon with three dots next to the menu icon.





The available activities will be shown and you can switch to the activity you wish to use. You can also get to this screen by selecting the desktop option in the top right corner of the screen and choosing activities.

Now an activity can be a standard desktop like the first one you see with a shelf on it or it can be a more traditional desktop with icons on it.


Other activities include a photos activity, a newspaper layout and search.





















Each shelf can have panels and widgets added. For instance you can add desktop clocks, weather widgets etc.


You can change the desktop wallpaper of each activity individually by right clicking and clicking configure.



There are only a couple of desktop images available by default but by clicking "Get new wallpapers" you are able to install more.

 

 

 

 







Simply scroll down the list and choose the images you wish to install.









Connecting to the internet


To connect to the internet click on the network settings icon in the system tray. A screen similar to the one above will appear showing available networks.

When you select a network for the first time you will be able to configure it by entering details such as the security key and whether you want to connect automatically.
 
You will now be asked to setup KWallet which will store your passwords for you. Basically every time you connect to the network it will ask for your KWallet password.

Flash and MP3

openSUSE is a community distribution and as such you have to install Flash and multimedia codecs yourself.

A great resource for helping out with this sort of thing is opensuse-guide.org and specifically this page which shows how to install browser plugins for openSUSE.


The opensuse-guide site will show you how to install Flash, Java, multimedia plugins, Silverlight and Google Voice and Chat.

You will also want to check out this chapter which shows how to get MP3s working in openSUSE.


Applications

If you obtain the full DVD then you will probably have more applications installed but I chose the KDE live DVD.

The KDE live DVD comes with the following applications:

Games

  • KMahjongg, KReversi, KSudoku, KMines and KPatience

Graphics

  • DNG image converter
  • Exposure Blending Tools
  • Panorama
  • Digikam Photo Management
  • ShowFoto Photo Viewer
  • Gwenview Image Viewer

Internet

  • Kopete instant messenger
  • Konversation IRC client
  • Choqok Microblogging Client
  • KMail Mail Client
  • Firefox Web Browser
  • Konqueror Web Browser
  • KTorrent Bittorrent
  • lftp shell (FTP)

Multimedia

  • AMZ Downloader (Amazon downloader)
  • Amarok Audio Player
  • K3B Disc Burning Tool

Office

  • LibreOffice Writer,  Impress and Drawing
  • KAddressBook - Address book
  • Kontact - Personal Information Manager
  • Korganizer - Personal Organiser
Now you may not have heard of all the tools listed or you haven't seen them in action. In the next week I will be getting to grips with them and give a run down of the applications to give more of an overview.

Installing Applications

To install applications you can either use Zypper which is a command line application along the lines of Apt or you can use Yast which is more along the lines of Synaptic.

Earlier on I linked to the opensuse-guide.org site to show how to install Flash.

You can easily install Flash by using Yast.

Yast is fairly simple to use. Enter a search term in the search box and check where to search for that term, such as the name of the application or the description.

The packages will then appear in the right pane.

As you can see searching for Flash will provide an option for Flash-player. To install the package check the box and click "Accept".

Now the first time you try and install something it may come as a bit of a shock when loads of other applications are listed.

If you haven't updated your system any file that needs to be updated will be listed , as well as dependencies for the program you have chosen. 

Now of course updating is a good idea but if you just want to install the one program you have chosen you can select "Options -> Ignore recommended packages for already installed packages".

What has changed?

The most helpful information I found about openSUSE 13.1 can be found at https://news.opensuse.org/2013/11/19/opensuse-13-1-ready-for-action/.


Summary

Many of the things that I mentioned in the openSUSE 12.3 review are the same in openSUSE 13.1.

Now that I have got used to the way openSUSE works though I find that things that bothered me last time don't bother me so much.

For instance the fact that YAST wants to update all my packages when I try to install one package could be seen as a good thing whereas before I found it to be an annoyance.

Apparently there is better support for Android devices with the file manager and Amarok. Amarok is a great audio player and I am aware I didn't really touch on it in this article but that is for another day.

Not many applications are included in the live DVD and I am surprised there is no LibreOffice Calc when all the other LibreOffice tools are installed. The Yast installer is only a menu option away so this isn't a major issue.

I think new users would definitely benefit from visiting the opensuse-guide.org website. It certainly helped me out.

In my opinion the installer could do with a little bit of tweaking with regards to partitioning but I am aware that it is hard to make this sort of thing easier to use without dumbing it down and losing crucial functionality.

KDE has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of years and I would now rather use KDE than Gnome.

I'm not sure that openSUSE is for everyone. I think that if you haven't tried Linux before then you might get frustrated by some of the hoops you have to jump through when you first get started. 

Once you get used to it though openSUSE is certainly stable and everything is there that you could possibly need. 

Overall it was a decent enough experience but I'm not sure I prefer it over Kubuntu.

During the course of the next week I will be looking more closely at the KDE applications installed within openSUSE.

Thankyou for reading.







Posted at 21:57 |  by Gary Newell

Introduction

This guide shows how to install openSUSE using a DVD or USB drive.

System Requirements

  • Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
  • 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
  • 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

Getting openSUSE


To download openSUSE visit http://www.opensuse.org/en/ and click the "Get It" link.


There are a number of options available including a full 4.7GB DVD, various live versions, a rescue disk, network disk and derivatives.

When I wrote the review for openSUSE 12.3 I was criticised for using a live DVD for writing the review and I was told the full disk was the preferred route.

Personally though I prefer the option to download a live version with my chosen desktop and then install additional software later on.

When you choose one of the download options you will be given further choices to make including whether to download from a direct link or bittorrent and whether to download the 32-bit or 64-bit

If you have a download limit on your internet usage or you have a slow internet connection or if you want to skip the hassle of creating a DVD or USB drive click here to buy an openSUSE DVD or USB drive.

Create a bootable openSUSE DVD

The easiest way to install openSUSE is to create a DVD from the ISO that you downloaded.

Windows 8 users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows 7 users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows Vista users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows XP users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.

If you are using Linux use your favourite disc burning software to burn the ISO to DVD.

I recommend using either Brasero and XfBurn.

Create a bootable openSUSE USB

You cannot use UNetbootin to create a bootable openSUSE USB drive.

If you are using Windows download the SUSE Studio Imagewriter software.

From within Windows open the Imagewriter software





























Click the "Select" button and navigate to the folder where the openSUSE ISO is located. You will need to enter *.* into the filename to show the ISO files.

Click the openSUSE file you wish to use and then select "Open". The image will be written to the USB drive.

If you are using Linux then there is a bit more messing around. You can either create a Live DVD of openSUSE and then use a 1-click install to install the image writer software or you can use the command line.

This guide shows the steps required to create a bootable openSUSE USB drive.

Installing openSUSE

The steps below assume you are installing using a live Gnome or KDE image. If you are installing from the full version of the DVD then there are some extra options. 



Boot from your chosen media and choose the option to install openSUSE.





















The openSUSE installer is actually fairly intuitive and shouldn't cause you too many headaches.

The first screen shows the license agreement. Make sure you read it because there will be a test later.

Click "Next" to continue.






















Choose your location by selecting your region and time zone. Click "Next" to continue.

At this point if you are using the full openSUSE DVD you will be asked to choose your desktop environment (Gnome, KDE or other). If you are using the live Gnome or KDE DVD/USB then you will see the screen below.
 
The next bit is the dreaded partitioning.  If you are lucky there is a suggested partitioning scheme already shown and you can run with it but if like me you get a message stating that there is no automatic proposal or the proposal isn't what you want click on "Create Partition Setup".






















If you selected the "Create Partition Setup" screen you will see a screen like the one above.

If you have multiple disks they will all be shown here. In my case I had one disk and so selected the top option and clicked "Next".






















You will now be shown a potential disk layout plan. If you click "use entire hard disk" then both options 1 and 2 will be checked.






















Click "Next" to continue.






















Now hopefully you have a suggested plan. As you can see my plan above shows that it is going to wipe my previous Linux installation and replace it with 3 new partitions.

Note that there is a checkbox to create a separate home partition. Also note the "Enlarge Swap for Suspend" option. If you plan to shut your lid to suspend your computer you will want to check this option.

Click "Next" to continue.






















Choose a user name and password. There is a checkbox that is ticked automatically which makes the password you entered the administrator password. Personally I would recommend having a separate administrator password. Note also that you can choose whether to login automatically.

Click "Next" to continue.

You are now shown a summary of the options you have chosen. Click "Install" to continue.

A warning message will appear stating that this is the last chance to stop the install. If you are happy to continue click "Install".






















The installation will now begin. Go and get a drink, sit back and relax.






















When the process has finished reboot the computer.

You aren't quite done yet though. The system will enter a configuration section where it will start configuring your system. When this is complete you will have a new openSUSE system installed.

I hope this helps some of you. If not there is always the official openSUSE installation guide.

How to install openSUSE

Introduction

This guide shows how to install openSUSE using a DVD or USB drive.

System Requirements

  • Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
  • 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
  • 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

Getting openSUSE


To download openSUSE visit http://www.opensuse.org/en/ and click the "Get It" link.


There are a number of options available including a full 4.7GB DVD, various live versions, a rescue disk, network disk and derivatives.

When I wrote the review for openSUSE 12.3 I was criticised for using a live DVD for writing the review and I was told the full disk was the preferred route.

Personally though I prefer the option to download a live version with my chosen desktop and then install additional software later on.

When you choose one of the download options you will be given further choices to make including whether to download from a direct link or bittorrent and whether to download the 32-bit or 64-bit

If you have a download limit on your internet usage or you have a slow internet connection or if you want to skip the hassle of creating a DVD or USB drive click here to buy an openSUSE DVD or USB drive.

Create a bootable openSUSE DVD

The easiest way to install openSUSE is to create a DVD from the ISO that you downloaded.

Windows 8 users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows 7 users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows Vista users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.
Windows XP users can use this guide for creating a DVD from an ISO.

If you are using Linux use your favourite disc burning software to burn the ISO to DVD.

I recommend using either Brasero and XfBurn.

Create a bootable openSUSE USB

You cannot use UNetbootin to create a bootable openSUSE USB drive.

If you are using Windows download the SUSE Studio Imagewriter software.

From within Windows open the Imagewriter software





























Click the "Select" button and navigate to the folder where the openSUSE ISO is located. You will need to enter *.* into the filename to show the ISO files.

Click the openSUSE file you wish to use and then select "Open". The image will be written to the USB drive.

If you are using Linux then there is a bit more messing around. You can either create a Live DVD of openSUSE and then use a 1-click install to install the image writer software or you can use the command line.

This guide shows the steps required to create a bootable openSUSE USB drive.

Installing openSUSE

The steps below assume you are installing using a live Gnome or KDE image. If you are installing from the full version of the DVD then there are some extra options. 



Boot from your chosen media and choose the option to install openSUSE.





















The openSUSE installer is actually fairly intuitive and shouldn't cause you too many headaches.

The first screen shows the license agreement. Make sure you read it because there will be a test later.

Click "Next" to continue.






















Choose your location by selecting your region and time zone. Click "Next" to continue.

At this point if you are using the full openSUSE DVD you will be asked to choose your desktop environment (Gnome, KDE or other). If you are using the live Gnome or KDE DVD/USB then you will see the screen below.
 
The next bit is the dreaded partitioning.  If you are lucky there is a suggested partitioning scheme already shown and you can run with it but if like me you get a message stating that there is no automatic proposal or the proposal isn't what you want click on "Create Partition Setup".






















If you selected the "Create Partition Setup" screen you will see a screen like the one above.

If you have multiple disks they will all be shown here. In my case I had one disk and so selected the top option and clicked "Next".






















You will now be shown a potential disk layout plan. If you click "use entire hard disk" then both options 1 and 2 will be checked.






















Click "Next" to continue.






















Now hopefully you have a suggested plan. As you can see my plan above shows that it is going to wipe my previous Linux installation and replace it with 3 new partitions.

Note that there is a checkbox to create a separate home partition. Also note the "Enlarge Swap for Suspend" option. If you plan to shut your lid to suspend your computer you will want to check this option.

Click "Next" to continue.






















Choose a user name and password. There is a checkbox that is ticked automatically which makes the password you entered the administrator password. Personally I would recommend having a separate administrator password. Note also that you can choose whether to login automatically.

Click "Next" to continue.

You are now shown a summary of the options you have chosen. Click "Install" to continue.

A warning message will appear stating that this is the last chance to stop the install. If you are happy to continue click "Install".






















The installation will now begin. Go and get a drink, sit back and relax.






















When the process has finished reboot the computer.

You aren't quite done yet though. The system will enter a configuration section where it will start configuring your system. When this is complete you will have a new openSUSE system installed.

I hope this helps some of you. If not there is always the official openSUSE installation guide.

Posted at 07:30 |  by Gary Newell

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