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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Introduction

The last time I reviewed Fedora was in March, 2015 and I was in the main happy with it. Fast forward 2 years and I felt it was high time I had a look at the latest version.

Strap yourselves in guys because we are in for a bumpy ride.


How To Get Fedora 25


You can download the latest desktop version of Fedora (version 25) from https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/.

How To Create A Fedora USB Drive

There are a number of tools you can use to create a Fedora USB drive. I wrote about one method for a previous version of Fedora here.

I prefer nowadays to use a tool called Etcher which you can download from https://etcher.io/. This guide shows how to use it to create a Fedora USB drive. The good news is that Etcher works on Windows and Linux.

Installation

The Fedora installer hasn't changed since the last time I used it and this guide shows how to install Fedora. If you are interested in dual booting Fedora and Windows follow this guide.

Ok, so I am now going to do something I have never done before. I am going to rank the order of the installation experience of the top distributions.
  1. Ubuntu/Mint/Zorin - Easy peasy. A simple 6 step process and the partitioning works by itself whether you are dual booting or not
  2. Mageia - Another straight forward installation and the partitioning is self explanatory
  3. Fedora/CentOS - If you go for the default options then the installation process is a 2 step process. The partitioning isn't quite so straight forward however and I recommend creating a blank partition before starting the installation. Even if you want to use the entire drive you have to go through a process of reclaiming all the space. Compare this to Ubuntu where the options are use entire system, install alongside another operating system or something else then you can hopefully see this is a little less intuitive.
  4. Debian - Long winded but ultimately decent. There are more steps than your average person needs and the web site is a bit of a nightmare as there are so many versions
  5. openSUSE - Ouch. Great if you want to install as a standalone operating system but you are in big danger of losing a partition or two if you try and dual boot
I am going to expand this as an article in its own right and explain with images the issues. For now though lets just say that whilst I find Fedora easy enough to install others might find that it isn't quite as logical as it might be.

It is worth pointing out that whilst running the installer for Fedora 25 I experienced a severe lag on the first screen. The time between clicking "Continue" and the second screen showing was very long.

First Impressions


When you boot Fedora for the first time you are greeted with a welcome screen and from here you can make some initial settings.

The first screen lets you choose your language.


On the next screen you are asked to choose your keyboard layout.


The third screen lets you connect to the internet by choosing the appropriate wireless network. Simply choose the network and enter the security key.


The next again screen asks you whether you want location services turned on or off and whether you want error reports sent straight back to the developers.


Finally you can connect to online accounts. This integrates your online services with applications within the GNOME desktop. For instance your GMail or Windows mail will appear in the Evolution mail client.


Before you finally start using Fedora you are shown a page with links to documentation to help you get started with Fedora.

First Impressions


As pointed out in my review of openSUSE 42, when the chosen desktop is GNOME it is difficult to tell one distribution apart from another using the same desktop.

The real power lies in the added extras, how intuitive the distribution is, the applications that are included and how much pain you have to go through to get up and running.

GNOME is straight forward to use. There is a panel at the top. The "Activities" link opens up a screen with favourite icons and workspaces. Pressing the icon at the bottom of the launch bar shows a list of applications as shown above and you can easily search for what you are looking for using the search bar.

GNOME also includes system icons in the top right corner which make it possible to adjust audio settings, power settings and user settings.

This isn't a review of GNOME however. This is a review of Fedora 25.

Installing Software


The GNOME software manager is the graphical tool used to install software and as with Ubuntu and openSUSE it doesn't show everything you require.

The reason I am starting with installing software is that Fedora ships with only free software which means you can't play MP3 audio or watch DVDs using your computer. In order to do so you need to install extra codecs.


There are a set of repositories you can add to Fedora which make it possible to install the necessary non-free codecs and these are called RPM Fusion. (click here for the website)

On the linked page there is an option called "Enable repositories" which takes you to this page.



You need to click on 2 links. The first installs the RPM Fusion Free for Fedora 25 and the second installs the RPM Fusion Non-Free repository for Fedora 25.


From within GNOME software you can now search for CODECs and install all of the GStreamer libraries.

In theory this should make it possible to play music, except for me it doesn't.

Whilst we are on the subject of installing software searching for the cool stuff such as Chrome, Steam and other gems results in no results at all.

I found a link to a repository and tool called Fedy which makes it easy to install all of this software although you can install Chrome from Google's own website.


Click here for the Fedy website.

To install the software you just need to open a terminal and paste in the lines of code highlighted in the image above.


Fedy has links to a large number of applications including Chrome, the Hangouts plugin, a PDF editor, Skype, Dropbox, Handbrake, Popcorn Time, Spotify and Steam.

Chrome Issue

I tried installing Chrome from the website and from Fedy but the icon never appears under the applications within GNOME.

I can run Chrome from the command line easily enough and there is clearly a desktop file in the correct folder and it appears to have all the correct values in it but it doesn't show up.

Software

Rhythmbox hung every time I used it, so I uninstalled it and re-installed it. Now it doesn't crash but I can't play any music because despite installing the codecs using the RPM fusion repositories, using Fedy and following this guide on Dedoimedo's site, as well as using Yum Extender to install the GStreamer bad and ugly libraries the system complains there aren't any libraries installed. The application offers to find the correct codecs and then promptly crashes.



Video playback is the same. It complains there are no codecs, offers to find them and then falls on its proverbial backside.


With these minor things (?!?) out of the way lets look at the rest of the software. Default applications include Firefox for web browsing, Evolution for email, Rhythmbox for audio, Totem for video playback, GNOME Boxes for virtualisation, a calendar, clock, webcam viewer, document viewer, LibreOffice office suite, GNOME Maps, GNOME weather and Shotwell for photo management.

Hardware


On a positive note my printer was easy enough to set up. Simply click on settings, printers and then add printer.


On an even more positive note my WDMyCloud also worked without error.

Summary

So where does that leave us?

I have always loved Fedora but I love music more and the amount of hassle and the amount of hoops I have had to jump through to try and get it working this time is just not worth the effort. The Google Chrome thing is also an issue for me. It works fine in openSUSE so why is it not working in Fedora?

Wayland seems to be performing well enough and I haven't experienced any problems that seem to be related to the graphical side of things.

Unfortunately I have witnessed far too many errors, notifications, application crashes and general pointless pain to be able to recommend Fedora 25. Fedora 23 worked great, 25 doesn't. 

I recommend either CentOS or openSUSE for now.

An Everyday Linux User Review Of Fedora 25 - Oh No, So Many Problems

Introduction

The last time I reviewed Fedora was in March, 2015 and I was in the main happy with it. Fast forward 2 years and I felt it was high time I had a look at the latest version.

Strap yourselves in guys because we are in for a bumpy ride.


How To Get Fedora 25


You can download the latest desktop version of Fedora (version 25) from https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/.

How To Create A Fedora USB Drive

There are a number of tools you can use to create a Fedora USB drive. I wrote about one method for a previous version of Fedora here.

I prefer nowadays to use a tool called Etcher which you can download from https://etcher.io/. This guide shows how to use it to create a Fedora USB drive. The good news is that Etcher works on Windows and Linux.

Installation

The Fedora installer hasn't changed since the last time I used it and this guide shows how to install Fedora. If you are interested in dual booting Fedora and Windows follow this guide.

Ok, so I am now going to do something I have never done before. I am going to rank the order of the installation experience of the top distributions.
  1. Ubuntu/Mint/Zorin - Easy peasy. A simple 6 step process and the partitioning works by itself whether you are dual booting or not
  2. Mageia - Another straight forward installation and the partitioning is self explanatory
  3. Fedora/CentOS - If you go for the default options then the installation process is a 2 step process. The partitioning isn't quite so straight forward however and I recommend creating a blank partition before starting the installation. Even if you want to use the entire drive you have to go through a process of reclaiming all the space. Compare this to Ubuntu where the options are use entire system, install alongside another operating system or something else then you can hopefully see this is a little less intuitive.
  4. Debian - Long winded but ultimately decent. There are more steps than your average person needs and the web site is a bit of a nightmare as there are so many versions
  5. openSUSE - Ouch. Great if you want to install as a standalone operating system but you are in big danger of losing a partition or two if you try and dual boot
I am going to expand this as an article in its own right and explain with images the issues. For now though lets just say that whilst I find Fedora easy enough to install others might find that it isn't quite as logical as it might be.

It is worth pointing out that whilst running the installer for Fedora 25 I experienced a severe lag on the first screen. The time between clicking "Continue" and the second screen showing was very long.

First Impressions


When you boot Fedora for the first time you are greeted with a welcome screen and from here you can make some initial settings.

The first screen lets you choose your language.


On the next screen you are asked to choose your keyboard layout.


The third screen lets you connect to the internet by choosing the appropriate wireless network. Simply choose the network and enter the security key.


The next again screen asks you whether you want location services turned on or off and whether you want error reports sent straight back to the developers.


Finally you can connect to online accounts. This integrates your online services with applications within the GNOME desktop. For instance your GMail or Windows mail will appear in the Evolution mail client.


Before you finally start using Fedora you are shown a page with links to documentation to help you get started with Fedora.

First Impressions


As pointed out in my review of openSUSE 42, when the chosen desktop is GNOME it is difficult to tell one distribution apart from another using the same desktop.

The real power lies in the added extras, how intuitive the distribution is, the applications that are included and how much pain you have to go through to get up and running.

GNOME is straight forward to use. There is a panel at the top. The "Activities" link opens up a screen with favourite icons and workspaces. Pressing the icon at the bottom of the launch bar shows a list of applications as shown above and you can easily search for what you are looking for using the search bar.

GNOME also includes system icons in the top right corner which make it possible to adjust audio settings, power settings and user settings.

This isn't a review of GNOME however. This is a review of Fedora 25.

Installing Software


The GNOME software manager is the graphical tool used to install software and as with Ubuntu and openSUSE it doesn't show everything you require.

The reason I am starting with installing software is that Fedora ships with only free software which means you can't play MP3 audio or watch DVDs using your computer. In order to do so you need to install extra codecs.


There are a set of repositories you can add to Fedora which make it possible to install the necessary non-free codecs and these are called RPM Fusion. (click here for the website)

On the linked page there is an option called "Enable repositories" which takes you to this page.



You need to click on 2 links. The first installs the RPM Fusion Free for Fedora 25 and the second installs the RPM Fusion Non-Free repository for Fedora 25.


From within GNOME software you can now search for CODECs and install all of the GStreamer libraries.

In theory this should make it possible to play music, except for me it doesn't.

Whilst we are on the subject of installing software searching for the cool stuff such as Chrome, Steam and other gems results in no results at all.

I found a link to a repository and tool called Fedy which makes it easy to install all of this software although you can install Chrome from Google's own website.


Click here for the Fedy website.

To install the software you just need to open a terminal and paste in the lines of code highlighted in the image above.


Fedy has links to a large number of applications including Chrome, the Hangouts plugin, a PDF editor, Skype, Dropbox, Handbrake, Popcorn Time, Spotify and Steam.

Chrome Issue

I tried installing Chrome from the website and from Fedy but the icon never appears under the applications within GNOME.

I can run Chrome from the command line easily enough and there is clearly a desktop file in the correct folder and it appears to have all the correct values in it but it doesn't show up.

Software

Rhythmbox hung every time I used it, so I uninstalled it and re-installed it. Now it doesn't crash but I can't play any music because despite installing the codecs using the RPM fusion repositories, using Fedy and following this guide on Dedoimedo's site, as well as using Yum Extender to install the GStreamer bad and ugly libraries the system complains there aren't any libraries installed. The application offers to find the correct codecs and then promptly crashes.



Video playback is the same. It complains there are no codecs, offers to find them and then falls on its proverbial backside.


With these minor things (?!?) out of the way lets look at the rest of the software. Default applications include Firefox for web browsing, Evolution for email, Rhythmbox for audio, Totem for video playback, GNOME Boxes for virtualisation, a calendar, clock, webcam viewer, document viewer, LibreOffice office suite, GNOME Maps, GNOME weather and Shotwell for photo management.

Hardware


On a positive note my printer was easy enough to set up. Simply click on settings, printers and then add printer.


On an even more positive note my WDMyCloud also worked without error.

Summary

So where does that leave us?

I have always loved Fedora but I love music more and the amount of hassle and the amount of hoops I have had to jump through to try and get it working this time is just not worth the effort. The Google Chrome thing is also an issue for me. It works fine in openSUSE so why is it not working in Fedora?

Wayland seems to be performing well enough and I haven't experienced any problems that seem to be related to the graphical side of things.

Unfortunately I have witnessed far too many errors, notifications, application crashes and general pointless pain to be able to recommend Fedora 25. Fedora 23 worked great, 25 doesn't. 

I recommend either CentOS or openSUSE for now.

Posted at 21:30 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Introduction

It has been a long time since I last reviewed openSUSE. I don't think it is quite as long as the numbering system suggests but it has been about 3 years.

There are 2 versions of openSUSE available via their website:
  • Leap
  • Tumbleweed
The Tumbleweed version is a rolling release distribution whereas the Leap version follows a frequent 6 monthly release schedule.

Today I will be reviewing openSUSE Leap 42.2.

How To Get openSUSE

The openSUSE website can be found at https://www.opensuse.org/


To get the Leap version click on the "install" button below the word "Leap".


There are two options available. You can download the entire 4.7 gigabytes or you can download the network installer ISO.

There are no official live DVDs or USBs easily available from the openSUSE website but they do link to community ISOs which provide live versions.

If you want to try a live DVD visit https://en.opensuse.org/Derivatives

I went for the full 4.7 gigabytes download. (I made the most of the superfast broadband in the hotel I am staying in).


The openSUSE Installer

It has to be said that this is my least favourite part of openSUSE. 

I think the best I can say about this installer is that if you are installing openSUSE as the sole operating system then it is adequate however if you want to dual boot with another distribution or Windows it isn't very intuitive and it is very easy to accidentally overwrite the other system.

As a guide I find this one quite useful: http://opensuse-guide.org/installation.php or indeed there is this guide that I wrote for Lifewire.com last year.


First Impressions


During the installation you get the choice of the GNOME or KDE desktop environments. I chose to install the GNOME desktop as that is my personal favourite.

GNOME is GNOME is GNOME. It doesn't matter whether you install Fedora, Debian or openSUSE, the look and feel of GNOME is the same in each of them. The real value is added by each distribution in turn and later on I will show you the value that openSUSE offers.

For beginners to Linux the GNOME desktop has a single panel at the top with an "Activities" link in the top left corner and system icons in the top right.

Clicking on the system icons in the top allows you to do things like adjust the audio, change the language, set up bluetooth and connect to the internet.

The "Activiies" link when clicked brings up the screen below:


GNOME is very keyboard centric and so as well as clicking on icons you can find your way around much more easily by using one of the special keyboard shortcuts.

The above screen provides a list of applications you are likely to use quite often such as the Firefox web browser, Evolution mail client, Empathy chat client, GNOME music player, Shotwell photo manager, LibreOffice, the file manager and the documents folder.

On the right side of the screen is a list of workspaces. You can open a new workspace by clicking on it. The keyboard shortcuts are invaluable in this regard.

At the bottom of the list of icons is a grid of dots and when this is clicked you will see the screen below:


This screen shows a list of applications and you can see subsequent pages by clicking on the dots to the right of the screen. You can also switch between frequently used applications and all applications.

The search bar is useful for finding the application by name or description.

Connecting To The Internet


To connect to the internet click in the top right corner and choose "Select network". A list of available networks will appear.

Click on the network you wish to connect to and enter the required security key.

Setting Up Audio

By default openSUSE doesn't have all the multimedia codecs installed. 

It is a good idea when using openSUSE to bookmark http://opensuse-guide.org/

This site tells you all you need to know. For instance you can mess around getting the multimedia codecs to work by adding the relevant repositories and installing the correct software or you can visit http://opensuse-guide.org/codecs.php and click the one-click install link.

Software

I installed from the full DVD so I appear to have a great deal of software installed by default. By default because I have installed the GNOME desktop I have all the regulars which are as follows:

  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Evolution - Email Client
  • Empathy - Chat
  • GNOME Music - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • Nautilus - File Manager
Other software that is included is the LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Brasero disk creator, Cheese webcam viewer, Liferea RSS reader, GNOME Maps and GNOME Weather.

There are loads of other applications and tools included such as a remote desktop client, disk management tools and other clever little utilities.

GNOME Music


The GNOME Music player is very basic. Import the songs and then play them. Sure you can filter by albums, artists and songs and there are some simple playlists which let you play your favourite songs, most played tunes, never played songs, recently added and recently played. You can add your own playlists as well by clicking on a song and selecting add to new playlist.

It is straight forward and it works, although I would say it has bombed out on me a couple of times with no error messages.

Shotwell




























GNOME provides a fairly generic set of tools and the Shotwell photo manager is an example of this. As with GNOME music it is very basic. You basically import your photos and then you can view them and do fairly basic other stuff with them such as tag them, open them in external editor or set a rating. For more involved editing features you would use GIMP.

GNOME Video Player






















The GNOME video player allows you to watch videos which are stored on your computer or from the web. 

There are two headings at the top of the screen:

  • Videos
  • Channels
Under the Channels there is one option which is Raj.tv. I don't know how many people watch this and why it is particularly included. It seems fairly random.

GNOME Maps

GNOME now comes with a nice desktop mapping tool. Simply enter your location and you can view directions and view a satellite image. 




GNOME Weather

GNOME weather shows you the weather forecast in your current location or indeed any destination of your choosing.

You can view the weather by specific time slots during the day and you get a nice 5 day forecast.








GNOME Software

GNOME software is the tool you are supposed to use to install software when using the GNOME desktop environment.

However it is about as useful as trying to eat soup with a fork.

Everything appears to be there. You have nice categories, you can click into the categories and software appears and you can install software.

It all seems to look good, except that it never shows anything good and the search tool never seems to find anything.

There is a much better application for finding and installing software within openSUSE and I am coming to that shortly.

YAST Control Center

So earlier on in the review I said I would let you know what else openSUSE provides above and beyond the standard GNOME desktop environment and pre-installed software.

The YAST Control Center is the best thing about openSUSE and it is superb.

From here you can do literally anything.




The YAST control center is broken down into the following categories:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • System
  • Network services
  • Security and users
  • Virtualisation
  • Support
  • Miscellaneous
From this tool you can see why openSUSE is a professional choice and a key reason for using it as your desktop operating system.

Let us start with the software section. From here you can choose "Add-on products" or indeed "Software repositories" and they both lead you to the same place.






















By default openSUSE is deployed with software repositories offering only free software. However using the Add-on Products tool you can add further repositories such as the non-oss software repo. You can also add the NVidia repository for installing NVidia drivers or the Libdvdcss repository so that you can play DVDs.

Where the Add-on products lets you add repositories the Software Repositories option lets you manage the repositories you have installed.

To install software you can use the "Software Management" tool which comes as part of the control center. 


























This tool isn't as pretty as the GNOME Software tool but it packs more punch. You can find all the good stuff such as Steam, Dropbox and other such gems.

Chrome isn't available via the repositories but you can install it via the Chrome website. Here is a good guide for installing Chrome.

Other items within the YAST Control Center under software include the media checking tool for checking the validity of ISO images and discs. You can also perform an online update to keep your system up to date.

Under the hardware setting you can setup printers and it works really well. You can also set up scanners, audio devices and set keyboard layouts.

The system settings has the options to manage the boot loader, manage disks, kernel settings, network settings, fonts, date and time and services.

The network settings lets you change the hostname and set up a mail server. 

The security and roles section is for managing users and groups, setting up a firewall and managing the sudo settings.

Basically this part of openSUSE is really useful. 

Issues

I haven't really experienced any issues in the past couple of weeks. There is a bit of extra searching around for stuff as I am not overly familiar with openSUSE however I have most things set up now and it feels very stable.

The only blips I have had are with GNOME Music which for some reason has crashed without notice on the odd occasion.

Summary

So here is the deal. If as the Everyday Linux User you are going to use openSUSE then you have to stick with it and in reality it should be the only operating system on your machine. Trying to dual boot will probably tie you up in knots.

After you have installed it and you have the most important non-free packages installed (Google Chrome being the main one) then you are likely to find openSUSE and GNOME a joy.

GNOME is really easy to use. It really is point and click and if you can get a handle on those keyboard shortcuts then life will be very easy indeed.

openSUSE is stable and it won't let you down with odd quirks that some other distributions have. It really is a case of taking that bit more time to get used to than you may have to with a Linux Mint for instance.

The good news is that there is a lot of documentation available and most things you will try have been tried before and there is usually a straight forward guide to follow to get to where you want to be.

All in all a positive experience.


An Everyday Linux User Review Of OpenSUSE Leap 42

Introduction

It has been a long time since I last reviewed openSUSE. I don't think it is quite as long as the numbering system suggests but it has been about 3 years.

There are 2 versions of openSUSE available via their website:
  • Leap
  • Tumbleweed
The Tumbleweed version is a rolling release distribution whereas the Leap version follows a frequent 6 monthly release schedule.

Today I will be reviewing openSUSE Leap 42.2.

How To Get openSUSE

The openSUSE website can be found at https://www.opensuse.org/


To get the Leap version click on the "install" button below the word "Leap".


There are two options available. You can download the entire 4.7 gigabytes or you can download the network installer ISO.

There are no official live DVDs or USBs easily available from the openSUSE website but they do link to community ISOs which provide live versions.

If you want to try a live DVD visit https://en.opensuse.org/Derivatives

I went for the full 4.7 gigabytes download. (I made the most of the superfast broadband in the hotel I am staying in).


The openSUSE Installer

It has to be said that this is my least favourite part of openSUSE. 

I think the best I can say about this installer is that if you are installing openSUSE as the sole operating system then it is adequate however if you want to dual boot with another distribution or Windows it isn't very intuitive and it is very easy to accidentally overwrite the other system.

As a guide I find this one quite useful: http://opensuse-guide.org/installation.php or indeed there is this guide that I wrote for Lifewire.com last year.


First Impressions


During the installation you get the choice of the GNOME or KDE desktop environments. I chose to install the GNOME desktop as that is my personal favourite.

GNOME is GNOME is GNOME. It doesn't matter whether you install Fedora, Debian or openSUSE, the look and feel of GNOME is the same in each of them. The real value is added by each distribution in turn and later on I will show you the value that openSUSE offers.

For beginners to Linux the GNOME desktop has a single panel at the top with an "Activities" link in the top left corner and system icons in the top right.

Clicking on the system icons in the top allows you to do things like adjust the audio, change the language, set up bluetooth and connect to the internet.

The "Activiies" link when clicked brings up the screen below:


GNOME is very keyboard centric and so as well as clicking on icons you can find your way around much more easily by using one of the special keyboard shortcuts.

The above screen provides a list of applications you are likely to use quite often such as the Firefox web browser, Evolution mail client, Empathy chat client, GNOME music player, Shotwell photo manager, LibreOffice, the file manager and the documents folder.

On the right side of the screen is a list of workspaces. You can open a new workspace by clicking on it. The keyboard shortcuts are invaluable in this regard.

At the bottom of the list of icons is a grid of dots and when this is clicked you will see the screen below:


This screen shows a list of applications and you can see subsequent pages by clicking on the dots to the right of the screen. You can also switch between frequently used applications and all applications.

The search bar is useful for finding the application by name or description.

Connecting To The Internet


To connect to the internet click in the top right corner and choose "Select network". A list of available networks will appear.

Click on the network you wish to connect to and enter the required security key.

Setting Up Audio

By default openSUSE doesn't have all the multimedia codecs installed. 

It is a good idea when using openSUSE to bookmark http://opensuse-guide.org/

This site tells you all you need to know. For instance you can mess around getting the multimedia codecs to work by adding the relevant repositories and installing the correct software or you can visit http://opensuse-guide.org/codecs.php and click the one-click install link.

Software

I installed from the full DVD so I appear to have a great deal of software installed by default. By default because I have installed the GNOME desktop I have all the regulars which are as follows:

  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Evolution - Email Client
  • Empathy - Chat
  • GNOME Music - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • Nautilus - File Manager
Other software that is included is the LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Brasero disk creator, Cheese webcam viewer, Liferea RSS reader, GNOME Maps and GNOME Weather.

There are loads of other applications and tools included such as a remote desktop client, disk management tools and other clever little utilities.

GNOME Music


The GNOME Music player is very basic. Import the songs and then play them. Sure you can filter by albums, artists and songs and there are some simple playlists which let you play your favourite songs, most played tunes, never played songs, recently added and recently played. You can add your own playlists as well by clicking on a song and selecting add to new playlist.

It is straight forward and it works, although I would say it has bombed out on me a couple of times with no error messages.

Shotwell




























GNOME provides a fairly generic set of tools and the Shotwell photo manager is an example of this. As with GNOME music it is very basic. You basically import your photos and then you can view them and do fairly basic other stuff with them such as tag them, open them in external editor or set a rating. For more involved editing features you would use GIMP.

GNOME Video Player






















The GNOME video player allows you to watch videos which are stored on your computer or from the web. 

There are two headings at the top of the screen:

  • Videos
  • Channels
Under the Channels there is one option which is Raj.tv. I don't know how many people watch this and why it is particularly included. It seems fairly random.

GNOME Maps

GNOME now comes with a nice desktop mapping tool. Simply enter your location and you can view directions and view a satellite image. 




GNOME Weather

GNOME weather shows you the weather forecast in your current location or indeed any destination of your choosing.

You can view the weather by specific time slots during the day and you get a nice 5 day forecast.








GNOME Software

GNOME software is the tool you are supposed to use to install software when using the GNOME desktop environment.

However it is about as useful as trying to eat soup with a fork.

Everything appears to be there. You have nice categories, you can click into the categories and software appears and you can install software.

It all seems to look good, except that it never shows anything good and the search tool never seems to find anything.

There is a much better application for finding and installing software within openSUSE and I am coming to that shortly.

YAST Control Center

So earlier on in the review I said I would let you know what else openSUSE provides above and beyond the standard GNOME desktop environment and pre-installed software.

The YAST Control Center is the best thing about openSUSE and it is superb.

From here you can do literally anything.




The YAST control center is broken down into the following categories:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • System
  • Network services
  • Security and users
  • Virtualisation
  • Support
  • Miscellaneous
From this tool you can see why openSUSE is a professional choice and a key reason for using it as your desktop operating system.

Let us start with the software section. From here you can choose "Add-on products" or indeed "Software repositories" and they both lead you to the same place.






















By default openSUSE is deployed with software repositories offering only free software. However using the Add-on Products tool you can add further repositories such as the non-oss software repo. You can also add the NVidia repository for installing NVidia drivers or the Libdvdcss repository so that you can play DVDs.

Where the Add-on products lets you add repositories the Software Repositories option lets you manage the repositories you have installed.

To install software you can use the "Software Management" tool which comes as part of the control center. 


























This tool isn't as pretty as the GNOME Software tool but it packs more punch. You can find all the good stuff such as Steam, Dropbox and other such gems.

Chrome isn't available via the repositories but you can install it via the Chrome website. Here is a good guide for installing Chrome.

Other items within the YAST Control Center under software include the media checking tool for checking the validity of ISO images and discs. You can also perform an online update to keep your system up to date.

Under the hardware setting you can setup printers and it works really well. You can also set up scanners, audio devices and set keyboard layouts.

The system settings has the options to manage the boot loader, manage disks, kernel settings, network settings, fonts, date and time and services.

The network settings lets you change the hostname and set up a mail server. 

The security and roles section is for managing users and groups, setting up a firewall and managing the sudo settings.

Basically this part of openSUSE is really useful. 

Issues

I haven't really experienced any issues in the past couple of weeks. There is a bit of extra searching around for stuff as I am not overly familiar with openSUSE however I have most things set up now and it feels very stable.

The only blips I have had are with GNOME Music which for some reason has crashed without notice on the odd occasion.

Summary

So here is the deal. If as the Everyday Linux User you are going to use openSUSE then you have to stick with it and in reality it should be the only operating system on your machine. Trying to dual boot will probably tie you up in knots.

After you have installed it and you have the most important non-free packages installed (Google Chrome being the main one) then you are likely to find openSUSE and GNOME a joy.

GNOME is really easy to use. It really is point and click and if you can get a handle on those keyboard shortcuts then life will be very easy indeed.

openSUSE is stable and it won't let you down with odd quirks that some other distributions have. It really is a case of taking that bit more time to get used to than you may have to with a Linux Mint for instance.

The good news is that there is a lot of documentation available and most things you will try have been tried before and there is usually a straight forward guide to follow to get to where you want to be.

All in all a positive experience.


Posted at 20:18 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Introduction

Elementary OS is an interesting Linux distribution. Everything about it screams look at me, look how good I look. The user interface is so very welcoming and enticing but when I tried Elementary Freya (version 0.3) I felt that when you scratched at the surface what was underneath wasn't particularly endearing for the Everyday Linux User.

I have spent the first couple of weeks of 2017 looking at Elementary OS to judge its suitability for the average home computer user.

Elementary OS Website

The Elementary OS website has the following tag line underneath the logo:

"A fast and open replacement for Windows and macOS"

When I read that I think "great, I should therefore be able to do all of the things with Elementary OS that I can do with Windows". What does that mean? Well I like to play games so Steam should be available, there needs to be an office suite, I need to be able to watch Amazon Prime and/or Netflix. I should be able to set up all my hardware with the minimum of effort and it should be fairly easy to use.

At the bottom of the Elementary OS homepage the following text is displayed which basically tells you what it is about:

"elementary OS ships with a carefully curated selection of apps that cater to every day needs so you can spend more time using your computer and less time cleaning up bloatware."
What this tells me is that I should expect to get a set of applications to get started. If this is the case then any extra software I need should be easily found and I shouldn't have an issue installing it.

Is this the case? Read on to find out.

How To Get Elementary OS

Visit https://elementary.io/ to open the Elementary OS webpage.


The developers of Elementary OS make a point of asking for a payment for their operating system. The amount you pay is up to you although the $10 option is the default.

If you plan to try Elementary OS out before making a purchase you can click on "Custom" and enter the amount you desire such as 0.

If you enter 0 into the custom box then the "Purchase elementary OS" button changes to become "Download elementary OS".

When you click on the "Download elementary OS" button a window appears with options to "cancel or download". Click on the "Download" button to download an ISO image of Elementary OS.

How To Create An Elementary OS USB Drive


I highly recommend using Etcher for creating Linux USB drives. It is available for Windows and Linux.

Simply visit https://etcher.io/ and click on the download link at the top of the page. It automatically works out whether you are using Windows or Linux.

The installation differs slightly depending whether you are using Windows or Linux to create the drive. For Linux you just need to double click on the downloaded file and follow the instructions.


For Windows double click on the file and click on the "Install" link. After the installation has finished click on the "Finish" icon and Etcher will start.


The user interface for Etcher is about as simple as it can get.


  1. Insert a blank USB drive
  2. Click "Select Image" and find the Elementary OS ISO downloaded previously
  3. Click "Select Drive" and choose your USB drive
  4. Click "Flash"
For some drives the "select drive" button does not appear and it shows as "connect a drive". Click on the settings icon in the top right corner.



Under the "Advanced" option it says "Unsafe Mode". Checking this box makes all of your drives available including your hard drive. This is of course why it is the unsafe option. You should however now be able to select the drive letter of your USB drive.

How To Boot To Elementary Live

Depending on whether you are using UEFI or BIOS you should be able to boot straight to the Elementary OS by rebooting your computer.

If you are using Linux you will probably see a grub menu with a system option at the bottom. Choose this option and then choose to boot from the USB drive.

If you are using Windows and the computer boots straight back to Windows without giving an option for booting to Elementary then try this:
  1. Right click on the start button 
  2. Choose power options
  3. Click on "Choose what the power button does"
  4. Click the link that reads "Change settings that are currently unavailable"
  5. Scroll to the bottom and remove the tick from the "Turn on fast startup" option
  6. Click "Save changes".
  7. Reboot the computer whilst holding the shift key down.
  8. When the blue screen appears choose to boot from USB device
  9. You should now see a menu with an option to try Elementary
If the above 9 steps do not work for you try this guide for booting from a USB drive.

How To Install Elementary

When Elementary OS first boots you get the option to try Elementary or install it.

I recommend the try option initially so that you can test things like connecting to the internet and get a basic idea of what Elementary is about.

This will give you some comfort as to whether you like what you see.

To install Elementary either click the "Install Elementary" button when the system first boots or click on the install icon from the menu.

Installing Elementary is fairly straight forward and it is easy to dual boot with another operating system simply by creating an empty partition.

If you haven't connected to the internet prior to running the installer then a screen will appear asking you to connect.

A screen then asks you whether you want to download updates during the installation and whether you want multimedia codecs to be installed.

I recommend ticking both of these boxes.

The next screen is the installation type screen and from here you can choose to erase the disk and install Elementary.

If you have created an empty partition and you have another operating system installed then an option will appear which will let you install alongside that other operating system.

When you click "Install Now" a screen will appear telling you which partitions are being used and which partitions will be created. If you are ready click "Continue".


In my experience the option for "Installing alongside another operating system" generally works and you are indeed safe to continue.

You will now be asked where you are in the world. This sets the timezone on your computer correctly and your clock will therefore be set properly when you boot into the real system for the first time.


The penultimate step is to choose the keyboard layout for your computer.

It is highly likely the correct one has been chosen already.

If not click on the language on the left and the layout on the right. 

You can test the layout by entering text into the box provided.

The final step is to set up a user. 

Enter your name and a name for the computer. 

Choose a username and a password.

Click "Continue".

The system will now be installed.


To start using your new system reboot the computer and remove the USB drive. When you boot you should now see a menu with an option for booting into Elementary.

As installers go this is probably as easy as it gets. 

First Impressions


There is no doubt that Elementary OS looks good. The wallpaper is vibrant, the icons are crisp and clean and everything looks pixel perfect.

The interface is very simplistic so for the Everyday Linux User this is a nice straight forward and easy to use system.


Clicking on "Applications" in the top left corner brings up the menu.

The default view is a list of icons for all of the applications installed on the system and there are a series of little dots at the bottom which help you navigate to the next and previous set of icons.


There is another menu view which shows a list of categories and items within the category.

You can also use the search bar to narrow down the items that are returned.

In the top right corner of the screen there are a series of icons for adjusting audio, power, network, power and bluetooth settings.

There is a clock in the top center of the screen.

At the bottom of the screen is a series of quick launch icons for commonly used applications.



The first icon on the launch bar shows a multitasking screen which is how you interact with virtual desktops.

Connecting To The Internet


Connecting to the internet is very easy. Simply click on the network icon and choose the wireless network you wish to connect to.

I have installed Elementary on my Lenovo Ideapad Y700 and I am pleased to say that any network problems I used to get with this laptop are now well in the past.

Email

Elementary delivers a simple set of applications which are enough to be useful but not full of bloat as suggested from the very outset on their homepage.

The mail program is called Geary and it works with all modern mail providers including GMail.

There is however a caveat. When you first try and login to GMail you may get an email (which you will need to check in another client such as the web interface or via your phone) which says that a login was attempted and you need to lower your security settings to allow Geary access to the email.

Whilst this may seem insecure (and I guess it is) there is an element of comfort that Microsoft Outlook causes the same issue when you try and connect to GMail.

The email client is very basic. You basically get a list of the folders down the left side with the emails for the selected folder in the centre panel.

The right pane shows a preview of the email.

That is pretty much all there is to it.




As you can see, composing emails is very basic but it works.

It is worth noting the appearance of the Windows within Elementary. They are all very clean and very crisp.

For people used to using Macs this will be very pleasing.

Calendar

The quick launch bar at the bottom includes a calendar icon.

The calendar provides a nice simple monthly view.

Adding events is as easy as clicking on an icon at the top of the screen or by double clicking on a date.

You can choose the location of the event, set reminders, invite other people and create recurring events.


Music

The audio player within Elementary OS is called Noise.

It is very basic and nothing like Rhythmbox or Banshee.

For playing your own music however it is just what you need.

The first thing to do is import music which is easy because there is a big link asking you to import music.

After the music is installed you can view the content in various ways such as a full list view, an image view and a more technical view.

You can do the basics such as create new playlists and add tracks to that playlist.

You can also create smart playlists which lets you choose songs by various categories and limit the playlist to a certain number of songs or a certain duration.

As you would expect the audio plays perfectly fine and MP3s are playable as long as you chose the option to install the multimedia codecs during installation.







Video

The video player is called Audience.

There is a single option when you open Audience for the first time and that is to choose a video to play.

On subsequent uses you can choose to load a previously viewed video as well.

It is basic but it works. All you want really.



Photos

The photo viewer is called Pantheon-Photos and as with the other tools basic but functional.

You can import photos and view them.

There are categories that you can choose such as the date or whether you want to view photos or videos. 

That is about it though.



When you view a photo however there are lots of options. You can share it via email or bluetooth and you can set the photo as your desktop background.

Web Browser


The default web browser with Elementary OS is called Epiphany and it is at this point where cracks start to form.

Everything thus far has been a bit too plain sailing hasn't it. All the applications are simple but functional and the desktop is really easy to use. Even installation was a breeze.

One of my requirements and probably many other people's requirements is to be able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix will not work with Epiphany and neither will Amazon Prime.


Installing Applications

Clearly you would think the Netflix and Amazon Prime issue could be solved by installing a browser such as Chrome.

Unfortunately this isn't as simple as it should be.


The AppCenter is the tool that you use within Elementary OS to install applications and it looks just as good as the other applications within Elementary.

At first it seems quite useful as well. For instance the default Elementary installation lacks office software.

Clicking on the Office category brings up this screen with the option to install LibreOffice.


The AppCenter isn't as useful for installing applications that I and probably many other people like to use.

For instance Google Chrome:


As Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu you can go to the Chrome website and download it but installing Chrome requires you to use the command line because there isn't anything installed for installing DEB packages graphically.

You can install the GNOME Software Manager which seems to help but seems counterproductive or you can install GDEBI which gave me mixed results.

This isn't the only issue. Installing Steam also caused a problem.


Steam does appear in the search results but clicking on the "Install" button does absolutely nothing. Actually that is a lie. It starts to show a progress bar which almost instantly disappears and then nothing happens.

The solution I went for was to install Synaptic and then I visited this site and downloaded the Debian package at the bottom of the page and installed it.

This installs Ubuntu After Install. When you run it you can choose between a whole host of applications to install including Chrome, Steam, Skype and many others.



You can of course use the command line to install the applications and you will find that for Chrome it doesn't work straight away if you do this. After using dpkg to install the package you will then have to run a fix using sudo apt-get install -f.




Hardware

The latest Linux kernel is great for most hardware. Elementary compliments this well with a nice easy interface for installing the hardware.


The settings panel is used to set up hardware and configure your system.

If you want to add a printer simply click on the printer settings icon.

An option will appear for adding a printer.

You can connect to network or local printers and I can confirm that I set up an Epson WF-2630 printer without issues.

I was also able to connect to the WD MyCloud network storage drive without issues and my Sony Walkman and my Android Phone were both perfectly picked up without issue.

Issues

I have had a couple of occasions whereby the whole system has frozen shortly after login and the only way to get it going again is to reboot.

It is worth pointing out that I have used Elementary as my sole operating system for the past 2 weeks and this has literally happened twice.

Summary

Elementary looks great. It is easy to install, easy to use and the applications are perfectly adequate for basic tasks.

The big issue is the package manager. The biggest issue with Ubuntu is the package manager. 

The fact that somebody has had to go to the effort to create the Ubuntu After Install application shows there is a problem.

Why can't Ubuntu or one of these derivatives grasp the bull by the horns and come up with a solution.

People like to use Chrome yet all we get is Firefox or some basic equivalent. Chrome works with everything. It is by far the best browser and I don't want to settle for second best. 

If you don't want to include it as part of the main package manager add a simple tool for installing this and many other applications including Steam.

On the whole though the distribution looks good and is simple to use and I do recommend it for the Everyday Linux User. 

Thanks for reading.



An Everyday Linux User Review Of Elementary OS Loki 0.4

Introduction

Elementary OS is an interesting Linux distribution. Everything about it screams look at me, look how good I look. The user interface is so very welcoming and enticing but when I tried Elementary Freya (version 0.3) I felt that when you scratched at the surface what was underneath wasn't particularly endearing for the Everyday Linux User.

I have spent the first couple of weeks of 2017 looking at Elementary OS to judge its suitability for the average home computer user.

Elementary OS Website

The Elementary OS website has the following tag line underneath the logo:

"A fast and open replacement for Windows and macOS"

When I read that I think "great, I should therefore be able to do all of the things with Elementary OS that I can do with Windows". What does that mean? Well I like to play games so Steam should be available, there needs to be an office suite, I need to be able to watch Amazon Prime and/or Netflix. I should be able to set up all my hardware with the minimum of effort and it should be fairly easy to use.

At the bottom of the Elementary OS homepage the following text is displayed which basically tells you what it is about:

"elementary OS ships with a carefully curated selection of apps that cater to every day needs so you can spend more time using your computer and less time cleaning up bloatware."
What this tells me is that I should expect to get a set of applications to get started. If this is the case then any extra software I need should be easily found and I shouldn't have an issue installing it.

Is this the case? Read on to find out.

How To Get Elementary OS

Visit https://elementary.io/ to open the Elementary OS webpage.


The developers of Elementary OS make a point of asking for a payment for their operating system. The amount you pay is up to you although the $10 option is the default.

If you plan to try Elementary OS out before making a purchase you can click on "Custom" and enter the amount you desire such as 0.

If you enter 0 into the custom box then the "Purchase elementary OS" button changes to become "Download elementary OS".

When you click on the "Download elementary OS" button a window appears with options to "cancel or download". Click on the "Download" button to download an ISO image of Elementary OS.

How To Create An Elementary OS USB Drive


I highly recommend using Etcher for creating Linux USB drives. It is available for Windows and Linux.

Simply visit https://etcher.io/ and click on the download link at the top of the page. It automatically works out whether you are using Windows or Linux.

The installation differs slightly depending whether you are using Windows or Linux to create the drive. For Linux you just need to double click on the downloaded file and follow the instructions.


For Windows double click on the file and click on the "Install" link. After the installation has finished click on the "Finish" icon and Etcher will start.


The user interface for Etcher is about as simple as it can get.


  1. Insert a blank USB drive
  2. Click "Select Image" and find the Elementary OS ISO downloaded previously
  3. Click "Select Drive" and choose your USB drive
  4. Click "Flash"
For some drives the "select drive" button does not appear and it shows as "connect a drive". Click on the settings icon in the top right corner.



Under the "Advanced" option it says "Unsafe Mode". Checking this box makes all of your drives available including your hard drive. This is of course why it is the unsafe option. You should however now be able to select the drive letter of your USB drive.

How To Boot To Elementary Live

Depending on whether you are using UEFI or BIOS you should be able to boot straight to the Elementary OS by rebooting your computer.

If you are using Linux you will probably see a grub menu with a system option at the bottom. Choose this option and then choose to boot from the USB drive.

If you are using Windows and the computer boots straight back to Windows without giving an option for booting to Elementary then try this:
  1. Right click on the start button 
  2. Choose power options
  3. Click on "Choose what the power button does"
  4. Click the link that reads "Change settings that are currently unavailable"
  5. Scroll to the bottom and remove the tick from the "Turn on fast startup" option
  6. Click "Save changes".
  7. Reboot the computer whilst holding the shift key down.
  8. When the blue screen appears choose to boot from USB device
  9. You should now see a menu with an option to try Elementary
If the above 9 steps do not work for you try this guide for booting from a USB drive.

How To Install Elementary

When Elementary OS first boots you get the option to try Elementary or install it.

I recommend the try option initially so that you can test things like connecting to the internet and get a basic idea of what Elementary is about.

This will give you some comfort as to whether you like what you see.

To install Elementary either click the "Install Elementary" button when the system first boots or click on the install icon from the menu.

Installing Elementary is fairly straight forward and it is easy to dual boot with another operating system simply by creating an empty partition.

If you haven't connected to the internet prior to running the installer then a screen will appear asking you to connect.

A screen then asks you whether you want to download updates during the installation and whether you want multimedia codecs to be installed.

I recommend ticking both of these boxes.

The next screen is the installation type screen and from here you can choose to erase the disk and install Elementary.

If you have created an empty partition and you have another operating system installed then an option will appear which will let you install alongside that other operating system.

When you click "Install Now" a screen will appear telling you which partitions are being used and which partitions will be created. If you are ready click "Continue".


In my experience the option for "Installing alongside another operating system" generally works and you are indeed safe to continue.

You will now be asked where you are in the world. This sets the timezone on your computer correctly and your clock will therefore be set properly when you boot into the real system for the first time.


The penultimate step is to choose the keyboard layout for your computer.

It is highly likely the correct one has been chosen already.

If not click on the language on the left and the layout on the right. 

You can test the layout by entering text into the box provided.

The final step is to set up a user. 

Enter your name and a name for the computer. 

Choose a username and a password.

Click "Continue".

The system will now be installed.


To start using your new system reboot the computer and remove the USB drive. When you boot you should now see a menu with an option for booting into Elementary.

As installers go this is probably as easy as it gets. 

First Impressions


There is no doubt that Elementary OS looks good. The wallpaper is vibrant, the icons are crisp and clean and everything looks pixel perfect.

The interface is very simplistic so for the Everyday Linux User this is a nice straight forward and easy to use system.


Clicking on "Applications" in the top left corner brings up the menu.

The default view is a list of icons for all of the applications installed on the system and there are a series of little dots at the bottom which help you navigate to the next and previous set of icons.


There is another menu view which shows a list of categories and items within the category.

You can also use the search bar to narrow down the items that are returned.

In the top right corner of the screen there are a series of icons for adjusting audio, power, network, power and bluetooth settings.

There is a clock in the top center of the screen.

At the bottom of the screen is a series of quick launch icons for commonly used applications.



The first icon on the launch bar shows a multitasking screen which is how you interact with virtual desktops.

Connecting To The Internet


Connecting to the internet is very easy. Simply click on the network icon and choose the wireless network you wish to connect to.

I have installed Elementary on my Lenovo Ideapad Y700 and I am pleased to say that any network problems I used to get with this laptop are now well in the past.

Email

Elementary delivers a simple set of applications which are enough to be useful but not full of bloat as suggested from the very outset on their homepage.

The mail program is called Geary and it works with all modern mail providers including GMail.

There is however a caveat. When you first try and login to GMail you may get an email (which you will need to check in another client such as the web interface or via your phone) which says that a login was attempted and you need to lower your security settings to allow Geary access to the email.

Whilst this may seem insecure (and I guess it is) there is an element of comfort that Microsoft Outlook causes the same issue when you try and connect to GMail.

The email client is very basic. You basically get a list of the folders down the left side with the emails for the selected folder in the centre panel.

The right pane shows a preview of the email.

That is pretty much all there is to it.




As you can see, composing emails is very basic but it works.

It is worth noting the appearance of the Windows within Elementary. They are all very clean and very crisp.

For people used to using Macs this will be very pleasing.

Calendar

The quick launch bar at the bottom includes a calendar icon.

The calendar provides a nice simple monthly view.

Adding events is as easy as clicking on an icon at the top of the screen or by double clicking on a date.

You can choose the location of the event, set reminders, invite other people and create recurring events.


Music

The audio player within Elementary OS is called Noise.

It is very basic and nothing like Rhythmbox or Banshee.

For playing your own music however it is just what you need.

The first thing to do is import music which is easy because there is a big link asking you to import music.

After the music is installed you can view the content in various ways such as a full list view, an image view and a more technical view.

You can do the basics such as create new playlists and add tracks to that playlist.

You can also create smart playlists which lets you choose songs by various categories and limit the playlist to a certain number of songs or a certain duration.

As you would expect the audio plays perfectly fine and MP3s are playable as long as you chose the option to install the multimedia codecs during installation.







Video

The video player is called Audience.

There is a single option when you open Audience for the first time and that is to choose a video to play.

On subsequent uses you can choose to load a previously viewed video as well.

It is basic but it works. All you want really.



Photos

The photo viewer is called Pantheon-Photos and as with the other tools basic but functional.

You can import photos and view them.

There are categories that you can choose such as the date or whether you want to view photos or videos. 

That is about it though.



When you view a photo however there are lots of options. You can share it via email or bluetooth and you can set the photo as your desktop background.

Web Browser


The default web browser with Elementary OS is called Epiphany and it is at this point where cracks start to form.

Everything thus far has been a bit too plain sailing hasn't it. All the applications are simple but functional and the desktop is really easy to use. Even installation was a breeze.

One of my requirements and probably many other people's requirements is to be able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix will not work with Epiphany and neither will Amazon Prime.


Installing Applications

Clearly you would think the Netflix and Amazon Prime issue could be solved by installing a browser such as Chrome.

Unfortunately this isn't as simple as it should be.


The AppCenter is the tool that you use within Elementary OS to install applications and it looks just as good as the other applications within Elementary.

At first it seems quite useful as well. For instance the default Elementary installation lacks office software.

Clicking on the Office category brings up this screen with the option to install LibreOffice.


The AppCenter isn't as useful for installing applications that I and probably many other people like to use.

For instance Google Chrome:


As Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu you can go to the Chrome website and download it but installing Chrome requires you to use the command line because there isn't anything installed for installing DEB packages graphically.

You can install the GNOME Software Manager which seems to help but seems counterproductive or you can install GDEBI which gave me mixed results.

This isn't the only issue. Installing Steam also caused a problem.


Steam does appear in the search results but clicking on the "Install" button does absolutely nothing. Actually that is a lie. It starts to show a progress bar which almost instantly disappears and then nothing happens.

The solution I went for was to install Synaptic and then I visited this site and downloaded the Debian package at the bottom of the page and installed it.

This installs Ubuntu After Install. When you run it you can choose between a whole host of applications to install including Chrome, Steam, Skype and many others.



You can of course use the command line to install the applications and you will find that for Chrome it doesn't work straight away if you do this. After using dpkg to install the package you will then have to run a fix using sudo apt-get install -f.




Hardware

The latest Linux kernel is great for most hardware. Elementary compliments this well with a nice easy interface for installing the hardware.


The settings panel is used to set up hardware and configure your system.

If you want to add a printer simply click on the printer settings icon.

An option will appear for adding a printer.

You can connect to network or local printers and I can confirm that I set up an Epson WF-2630 printer without issues.

I was also able to connect to the WD MyCloud network storage drive without issues and my Sony Walkman and my Android Phone were both perfectly picked up without issue.

Issues

I have had a couple of occasions whereby the whole system has frozen shortly after login and the only way to get it going again is to reboot.

It is worth pointing out that I have used Elementary as my sole operating system for the past 2 weeks and this has literally happened twice.

Summary

Elementary looks great. It is easy to install, easy to use and the applications are perfectly adequate for basic tasks.

The big issue is the package manager. The biggest issue with Ubuntu is the package manager. 

The fact that somebody has had to go to the effort to create the Ubuntu After Install application shows there is a problem.

Why can't Ubuntu or one of these derivatives grasp the bull by the horns and come up with a solution.

People like to use Chrome yet all we get is Firefox or some basic equivalent. Chrome works with everything. It is by far the best browser and I don't want to settle for second best. 

If you don't want to include it as part of the main package manager add a simple tool for installing this and many other applications including Steam.

On the whole though the distribution looks good and is simple to use and I do recommend it for the Everyday Linux User. 

Thanks for reading.



Posted at 21:51 |  by Gary Newell

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