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Thursday, 29 August 2013

If you search for the term "Everyday Linux" in Google you will see that the site at the top of the rankings is "Everyday Linux - Element Opie Productions".

Now I would like to think that some of the people typing "Everyday Linux" into Google may be looking for this site but that may be just pure narcissistic fantasy on my own behalf.

The "Everyday Linux - Element Opie Productions" link takes you to the website of the "Everyday Linux Podcast" which up until now hasn't shared a link with this blog except for the fact that we share the words "Everyday Linux" in our titles.

At some point though the guys at the Everyday Linux Podcast must have stumbled across my site and thought "hey, what is this guy doing. Why is he stealing our name?". Hopefully though they realise that it was just a coincidence and not an attempt to piggyback on their good name.

A few weeks ago I was asked by Seth Anderson (one of the hosts on the podcast) whether I would like to appear as a guest on the Everyday Linux Podcast to talk about the site and Linux in general. I accepted the invitation and last Sunday night I stayed up until midnight in order to appear on their show. 

The Everyday Linux podcast is hosted by Seth Anderson, Chris Neves and Mark Cockrell in the USA and Canada. A live show is recorded on a Sunday evening (depending on where you are located, which is why I had to stay up so late as I am in Scotland) and is released as a recorded show on a Wednesday evening (again depending where you are).

The show generally lasts 2 hours and the guys discuss various Linux related topics and some non-Linux related topics.

During the interview we discussed various subjects including some of my latest articles such as how I found my cat with the help of the Raspberry PI, my latest review of Mageia and the recent poll at FossForce.com to find the best blog.

The show went off topic on occasion which allowed me to get a small rant in about Hollister and I also managed to sneak in a bit about the Corey Feldman video "Ascension Millenium" which I featured in my review of Elementary OS.

Other items that were discussed were the Unity desktop and Puppy Linux, where I mentioned that my favourite version of Puppy Linux at the moment is MacPup.

I was also asked which other podcasts I listen to and which other blogs I read.

I would like to thank Seth, Chris and Mark for allowing me to appear on their show and I'll apologise now for the creaking door noise caused by my wife walking in the room at one point. Bizarrely despite realising she had made the noise on the way in she then proceeded to close the same creaking door on the way out.

If you want to listen to the Everyday Linux Podcast then you can do so by visiting http://elementopie.com/ and then press play on episode 109. 
 
Thankyou for reading.

Everyday Linux User and the Everyday Linux Podcast

If you search for the term "Everyday Linux" in Google you will see that the site at the top of the rankings is "Everyday Linux - Element Opie Productions".

Now I would like to think that some of the people typing "Everyday Linux" into Google may be looking for this site but that may be just pure narcissistic fantasy on my own behalf.

The "Everyday Linux - Element Opie Productions" link takes you to the website of the "Everyday Linux Podcast" which up until now hasn't shared a link with this blog except for the fact that we share the words "Everyday Linux" in our titles.

At some point though the guys at the Everyday Linux Podcast must have stumbled across my site and thought "hey, what is this guy doing. Why is he stealing our name?". Hopefully though they realise that it was just a coincidence and not an attempt to piggyback on their good name.

A few weeks ago I was asked by Seth Anderson (one of the hosts on the podcast) whether I would like to appear as a guest on the Everyday Linux Podcast to talk about the site and Linux in general. I accepted the invitation and last Sunday night I stayed up until midnight in order to appear on their show. 

The Everyday Linux podcast is hosted by Seth Anderson, Chris Neves and Mark Cockrell in the USA and Canada. A live show is recorded on a Sunday evening (depending on where you are located, which is why I had to stay up so late as I am in Scotland) and is released as a recorded show on a Wednesday evening (again depending where you are).

The show generally lasts 2 hours and the guys discuss various Linux related topics and some non-Linux related topics.

During the interview we discussed various subjects including some of my latest articles such as how I found my cat with the help of the Raspberry PI, my latest review of Mageia and the recent poll at FossForce.com to find the best blog.

The show went off topic on occasion which allowed me to get a small rant in about Hollister and I also managed to sneak in a bit about the Corey Feldman video "Ascension Millenium" which I featured in my review of Elementary OS.

Other items that were discussed were the Unity desktop and Puppy Linux, where I mentioned that my favourite version of Puppy Linux at the moment is MacPup.

I was also asked which other podcasts I listen to and which other blogs I read.

I would like to thank Seth, Chris and Mark for allowing me to appear on their show and I'll apologise now for the creaking door noise caused by my wife walking in the room at one point. Bizarrely despite realising she had made the noise on the way in she then proceeded to close the same creaking door on the way out.

If you want to listen to the Everyday Linux Podcast then you can do so by visiting http://elementopie.com/ and then press play on episode 109. 
 
Thankyou for reading.

Posted at 21:37 |  by Gary Newell

2 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Monday, 26 August 2013

Introduction

One of the most talked about Linux distributions over the past couple of months is Elementary OS. Elementary has been reviewed everywhere from linuxuser.co.uk to the Linux Action Show.

Now it is my turn to review Elementary OS to see what all the fuss is about and I promise you one thing from the outset. There will be no references to Sherlock Holmes whatsoever.

If you are wondering about the title of this article then all will be revealed later on.

What is Elementary OS






















From the moment you visit the Elementary OS website you understand the approach that has been taken by the developers.

The website is minimalistic but elegant and that shines right through from the website to the operating system.

The next generation of elementary OS is here. Lightweight and beautiful. All-new apps. A refined look.
The goal of the project is style and simplicity.
elementary OS is a free replacement for Windows on the PC and OS X on the Mac. It comes with what you'd expect, like a fast web browser and an app store with thousands of apps. Plus some things you may not expect, like free updates and no known viruses. 
Elementary is clearly targeted at Windows users and Mac users who want to try something different.

The word "Linux" is not mentioned until right at the bottom of the front page of the website. What this says to me is that "Yes, this is a Linux distribution but first and foremost it is an operating system".

This review will be based on the goals of the project and I will try to determine how stylish, how lightweight and how usable Elementary OS is.

Installation

Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and therefore the installer will be familiar to anyone who has installed a Ubuntu based operating system before.

To download Elementary OS visit http://elementaryos.org/. The download link is on the front page. The developers ask for a donation for their project and by default it is set to $10. You can choose to pay as little or as much as you like and that includes the ability to use Elementary for free. 

Once you have downloaded Elementary OS you can burn it to DVD using your favourite disc burning software or you can install it to a USB drive using your favourite tool. I used Unetbootin.

I always try to use the live version of a distribution before installing it for real so that I can see what sort of issues may lie ahead. I had a few issues but I will come to those when discussing the fully installed version.

The installer is fairly self explanatory from beginning to end, choose your language, keyboard layout, time zone, add a new user and set the password and finally partition your drive.

The partitioning in Ubuntu based distributions is fairly easy including the option to install alongside current operating systems, use the whole disk or perform a custom install. I always choose the custom install as I have multiple distributions installed on my hard drive at the same time.

First Impressions





















Elementary OS lives up to its hype in terms of style. The desktop environment is based on Gnome but is actually called Pantheon.

The main screen has a bright and colourful desktop image of a rocky beach, there is a panel at the top and a docking bar at the bottom.


The top panel has the "Applications" link in the top left corner which brings up the menu, there is a calendar in the centre of the panel and on the right there is the customary system tray.

The icons from left to right are:
  • Audio settings
  • Networking
  • Bluetooth
  • Power management
  • Online status
  • User Accounts
  • Shutdown

When you boot Elementary for the first time the dock at the bottom of the screen has 9 icons.

  • Midori - Web Browser
  • Geary Mail - Email
  • Empathy - Messenger
  • Calendar - Calendar
  • Noise - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
  • Shotwell - Photo Management
  • System Settings
  • Software Centre





















The menu is one of the most attractive looking menus I have seen in any operating system and it is highly functional.

There aren't many applications installed by default but searching for the application you need works well by typing the application name or the type of application you need in the search box.



If you just want to browse the menu you can use the default icon view or you can choose a category view which shows a list of categories down the left side and the applications on the right side.

The way windows interact on the screen just ooze class. Some people might complain at the lack of a minimize button but the window management is excellent.

Hot spots can be set up to control workspaces and there are great rolling effects when adding and switching workspaces.

The way the windows tile make them snap nicely next to each other or they can be maximised by dragging up to the top panel.

All I can say is 10 out of 10 for style.

Performance

Elementary feels very quick but with nothing else running it uses 550 mb. I am using a fairly decent laptop with an i5 processor and 8gb ram which doesn't really test Elementary at all because it runs like a dream.

Customising the desktop

I haven't experimented much with customising the desktop and I'm not sure how far you can go with it but everyone likes to choose their own wallpaper so to do that click the "Systems Settings" icon.


The "Systems Settings" screen is fairly typical with icons for personal settings, hardware and network and wireless.

Personal
  • brightness and lock - set when to dim the screen and lock the computer
  • defaults - choose your default applications for things such as mail, web browsing etc
  • desktop - change the desktop wallpaper, manage the dock and hotspots
  • privacy - you might want to check this one because it is the Ubuntu information collecting bit
  • startup applications - set programs to run at startup
Hardware
  • Additional drivers
  • Colour
  • Displays
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse and touchpad
  • Power
  • Printers
  • Sound
  • Wacom Graphics Tablet
Network and Wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • Network

To change the desktop background click the desktop icon. Elementary comes with a nice set of default wallpapers but of course you can add your own.

The dock tab lets you choose the size of the icons for the dock, whether the icons hide when applications are maximised and the theme of the dock. (Choosing transparent blends the icons in with the background wallpaper).

The hot corners tab lets you define each corner as a hot spot and you can choose different functionality for each corner. For instance I have defined the bottom right corner so that the workspace manager appears when I place the mouse point there.

Connecting to the internet





Connecting to the internet is a breeze. Clicking the network icon brings up all my wireless networks and at certain times of the day next door's wireless network.

The default browser in Elementary is Midori and to be honest I've never really found it to be that great. It is fine for viewing basic web pages but when trying to view sites containing Flash it just feels like one big hack.

All this brings me onto the next section. 

Flash


Trying to get Flash working within Elementary is the only real let down I experienced whilst using Elementary and I think it is solely the attempt to integrate Flash into Midori which causes this problem.

I understand why Midori was chosen (because it is lightweight) but I think the developers could do themselves a favour and go for something like Iceweasel instead.

I am running on a 64-bit machine and I would guess that as we are coming towards the middle of the decade a lot of other people are also running 64-bit machines.

I read various guides on how to get Flash working with Midori but they all failed for me and I'm not the only person to report this. (http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/elementary-beta.html).



I followed a guide at elementaryupdate.com and I also tried various forum links and the solution seems to be to go back to 32 bit libraries.

In the end I found the best solution was to install the chromium browser and then Flash worked perfectly. Incidentally I also installed FireFox and Flash worked fine on that as well.




And... to prove that Flash is working correctly the above image is from Youtube and shows an ageing Corey Feldman singing.

Seriously if you want to see something really horrific visit http://youtu.be/uZgzSwTW0Qs. This video looks like it was made by Corey himself and the best way I can think to describe the singing is to get you to imagine Captain Caveman falling down two flights of stairs. To get a real feel about how bad Corey's singing is visit http://youtu.be/cylUp7cRU7s.

I think Corey is trying to sound like the band Killing Joke but he only really manages to sound like he is killing Charlie. (This joke will be lost on a lot of people so I will provide a link to Charlie as well. "Charlie says" was a public information film which told us as children that we should always tell our mum where we are going and who we are going with. Especially if he looks like Corey Feldman).


MP3

The default audio application in Elementary OS is a simple application called "Noise". Whilst it isn't Rhythmbox or Banshee it does the job very well and like all the applications in Elementary looks very elegant.






















When you first start "Noise" you have to go and find your music collection and as long as the music is local it is simply a case of searching for the top level music folder. Dedoimedo mentioned in his review he had some issues using Samba.

Playing MP3 files isn't available automatically but when you first click to play an MP3 file a message appears asking whether you want to install the relevant plugins.

This is a simple point and click exercise and in less than a minute your system is set and the music starts playing.

Applications

Elementary OS is fairly small in size and therefore there aren't many applications installed by default. I think the idea is that you have a basic set to get you started and then it is a case of using the software centre for everything else.

The applications are as follows:

  • Archive manager
  • Calculator
  • Scratch - Text editor
  • Screenshot
  • Shotwell - Photo management
  • Simplescan - Scanning 
  • Midori - Web Browser
  • Empathy - Messenging
  • Geary - Mail Client
  • Calendar
  • Document Viewer
  • Totem - Movie Player
  • Noise - Audio Player

Installing Applications
























To install applications click the "Software Centre" icon on the dock and you will be reminded that Elementary OS is a very elegant looking Ubuntu derivative.

The "Software Centre" is the same application that comes with Ubuntu. To be honest I think in this case it would be better to go with the one that comes with Linux Mint.

Summary

Elementary provides a really nice user experience in terms of style, simplicity and performance.

For a user coming across from Microsoft or Apple the Elementary operating system has a lot to offer. 

The experience was let down for me a little bit by the Midori and Flash debacle and I think for the next release one of three things has to happen:
  1. Get rid of Midori.
  2. Make Midori work with Flash (not a hack, actually get it working for 64-bit computers).
  3. Wait 5 years for the next release when Flash might have finally disappeared.
I like the applications that have been included and I could really see me using Elementary OS on a Netbook. 

For people who simply use their computer for Facebook, web browsing, watching the odd video and listening to music, Elementary is the perfect operating system.

Before I sign off remember to check out the Corey Feldman videos. I was a big fan of "The Lost Boys" in the 80s and I still think it is a great film. "The Lost Boys 2".... not so much. The videos will hurt your eyes and ears but they certainly made me chuckle.
Thankyou for reading.

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander has been released. Read this article which highlights the reviews and articles that have been published for Ubuntu 13.10.




To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".

The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Click here to buy the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu"

Elementary OS - Ascension Millenium

Introduction

One of the most talked about Linux distributions over the past couple of months is Elementary OS. Elementary has been reviewed everywhere from linuxuser.co.uk to the Linux Action Show.

Now it is my turn to review Elementary OS to see what all the fuss is about and I promise you one thing from the outset. There will be no references to Sherlock Holmes whatsoever.

If you are wondering about the title of this article then all will be revealed later on.

What is Elementary OS






















From the moment you visit the Elementary OS website you understand the approach that has been taken by the developers.

The website is minimalistic but elegant and that shines right through from the website to the operating system.

The next generation of elementary OS is here. Lightweight and beautiful. All-new apps. A refined look.
The goal of the project is style and simplicity.
elementary OS is a free replacement for Windows on the PC and OS X on the Mac. It comes with what you'd expect, like a fast web browser and an app store with thousands of apps. Plus some things you may not expect, like free updates and no known viruses. 
Elementary is clearly targeted at Windows users and Mac users who want to try something different.

The word "Linux" is not mentioned until right at the bottom of the front page of the website. What this says to me is that "Yes, this is a Linux distribution but first and foremost it is an operating system".

This review will be based on the goals of the project and I will try to determine how stylish, how lightweight and how usable Elementary OS is.

Installation

Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and therefore the installer will be familiar to anyone who has installed a Ubuntu based operating system before.

To download Elementary OS visit http://elementaryos.org/. The download link is on the front page. The developers ask for a donation for their project and by default it is set to $10. You can choose to pay as little or as much as you like and that includes the ability to use Elementary for free. 

Once you have downloaded Elementary OS you can burn it to DVD using your favourite disc burning software or you can install it to a USB drive using your favourite tool. I used Unetbootin.

I always try to use the live version of a distribution before installing it for real so that I can see what sort of issues may lie ahead. I had a few issues but I will come to those when discussing the fully installed version.

The installer is fairly self explanatory from beginning to end, choose your language, keyboard layout, time zone, add a new user and set the password and finally partition your drive.

The partitioning in Ubuntu based distributions is fairly easy including the option to install alongside current operating systems, use the whole disk or perform a custom install. I always choose the custom install as I have multiple distributions installed on my hard drive at the same time.

First Impressions





















Elementary OS lives up to its hype in terms of style. The desktop environment is based on Gnome but is actually called Pantheon.

The main screen has a bright and colourful desktop image of a rocky beach, there is a panel at the top and a docking bar at the bottom.


The top panel has the "Applications" link in the top left corner which brings up the menu, there is a calendar in the centre of the panel and on the right there is the customary system tray.

The icons from left to right are:
  • Audio settings
  • Networking
  • Bluetooth
  • Power management
  • Online status
  • User Accounts
  • Shutdown

When you boot Elementary for the first time the dock at the bottom of the screen has 9 icons.

  • Midori - Web Browser
  • Geary Mail - Email
  • Empathy - Messenger
  • Calendar - Calendar
  • Noise - Audio Player
  • Totem - Video Player
  • Shotwell - Photo Management
  • System Settings
  • Software Centre





















The menu is one of the most attractive looking menus I have seen in any operating system and it is highly functional.

There aren't many applications installed by default but searching for the application you need works well by typing the application name or the type of application you need in the search box.



If you just want to browse the menu you can use the default icon view or you can choose a category view which shows a list of categories down the left side and the applications on the right side.

The way windows interact on the screen just ooze class. Some people might complain at the lack of a minimize button but the window management is excellent.

Hot spots can be set up to control workspaces and there are great rolling effects when adding and switching workspaces.

The way the windows tile make them snap nicely next to each other or they can be maximised by dragging up to the top panel.

All I can say is 10 out of 10 for style.

Performance

Elementary feels very quick but with nothing else running it uses 550 mb. I am using a fairly decent laptop with an i5 processor and 8gb ram which doesn't really test Elementary at all because it runs like a dream.

Customising the desktop

I haven't experimented much with customising the desktop and I'm not sure how far you can go with it but everyone likes to choose their own wallpaper so to do that click the "Systems Settings" icon.


The "Systems Settings" screen is fairly typical with icons for personal settings, hardware and network and wireless.

Personal
  • brightness and lock - set when to dim the screen and lock the computer
  • defaults - choose your default applications for things such as mail, web browsing etc
  • desktop - change the desktop wallpaper, manage the dock and hotspots
  • privacy - you might want to check this one because it is the Ubuntu information collecting bit
  • startup applications - set programs to run at startup
Hardware
  • Additional drivers
  • Colour
  • Displays
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse and touchpad
  • Power
  • Printers
  • Sound
  • Wacom Graphics Tablet
Network and Wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • Network

To change the desktop background click the desktop icon. Elementary comes with a nice set of default wallpapers but of course you can add your own.

The dock tab lets you choose the size of the icons for the dock, whether the icons hide when applications are maximised and the theme of the dock. (Choosing transparent blends the icons in with the background wallpaper).

The hot corners tab lets you define each corner as a hot spot and you can choose different functionality for each corner. For instance I have defined the bottom right corner so that the workspace manager appears when I place the mouse point there.

Connecting to the internet





Connecting to the internet is a breeze. Clicking the network icon brings up all my wireless networks and at certain times of the day next door's wireless network.

The default browser in Elementary is Midori and to be honest I've never really found it to be that great. It is fine for viewing basic web pages but when trying to view sites containing Flash it just feels like one big hack.

All this brings me onto the next section. 

Flash


Trying to get Flash working within Elementary is the only real let down I experienced whilst using Elementary and I think it is solely the attempt to integrate Flash into Midori which causes this problem.

I understand why Midori was chosen (because it is lightweight) but I think the developers could do themselves a favour and go for something like Iceweasel instead.

I am running on a 64-bit machine and I would guess that as we are coming towards the middle of the decade a lot of other people are also running 64-bit machines.

I read various guides on how to get Flash working with Midori but they all failed for me and I'm not the only person to report this. (http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/elementary-beta.html).



I followed a guide at elementaryupdate.com and I also tried various forum links and the solution seems to be to go back to 32 bit libraries.

In the end I found the best solution was to install the chromium browser and then Flash worked perfectly. Incidentally I also installed FireFox and Flash worked fine on that as well.




And... to prove that Flash is working correctly the above image is from Youtube and shows an ageing Corey Feldman singing.

Seriously if you want to see something really horrific visit http://youtu.be/uZgzSwTW0Qs. This video looks like it was made by Corey himself and the best way I can think to describe the singing is to get you to imagine Captain Caveman falling down two flights of stairs. To get a real feel about how bad Corey's singing is visit http://youtu.be/cylUp7cRU7s.

I think Corey is trying to sound like the band Killing Joke but he only really manages to sound like he is killing Charlie. (This joke will be lost on a lot of people so I will provide a link to Charlie as well. "Charlie says" was a public information film which told us as children that we should always tell our mum where we are going and who we are going with. Especially if he looks like Corey Feldman).


MP3

The default audio application in Elementary OS is a simple application called "Noise". Whilst it isn't Rhythmbox or Banshee it does the job very well and like all the applications in Elementary looks very elegant.






















When you first start "Noise" you have to go and find your music collection and as long as the music is local it is simply a case of searching for the top level music folder. Dedoimedo mentioned in his review he had some issues using Samba.

Playing MP3 files isn't available automatically but when you first click to play an MP3 file a message appears asking whether you want to install the relevant plugins.

This is a simple point and click exercise and in less than a minute your system is set and the music starts playing.

Applications

Elementary OS is fairly small in size and therefore there aren't many applications installed by default. I think the idea is that you have a basic set to get you started and then it is a case of using the software centre for everything else.

The applications are as follows:

  • Archive manager
  • Calculator
  • Scratch - Text editor
  • Screenshot
  • Shotwell - Photo management
  • Simplescan - Scanning 
  • Midori - Web Browser
  • Empathy - Messenging
  • Geary - Mail Client
  • Calendar
  • Document Viewer
  • Totem - Movie Player
  • Noise - Audio Player

Installing Applications
























To install applications click the "Software Centre" icon on the dock and you will be reminded that Elementary OS is a very elegant looking Ubuntu derivative.

The "Software Centre" is the same application that comes with Ubuntu. To be honest I think in this case it would be better to go with the one that comes with Linux Mint.

Summary

Elementary provides a really nice user experience in terms of style, simplicity and performance.

For a user coming across from Microsoft or Apple the Elementary operating system has a lot to offer. 

The experience was let down for me a little bit by the Midori and Flash debacle and I think for the next release one of three things has to happen:
  1. Get rid of Midori.
  2. Make Midori work with Flash (not a hack, actually get it working for 64-bit computers).
  3. Wait 5 years for the next release when Flash might have finally disappeared.
I like the applications that have been included and I could really see me using Elementary OS on a Netbook. 

For people who simply use their computer for Facebook, web browsing, watching the odd video and listening to music, Elementary is the perfect operating system.

Before I sign off remember to check out the Corey Feldman videos. I was a big fan of "The Lost Boys" in the 80s and I still think it is a great film. "The Lost Boys 2".... not so much. The videos will hurt your eyes and ears but they certainly made me chuckle.
Thankyou for reading.

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander has been released. Read this article which highlights the reviews and articles that have been published for Ubuntu 13.10.




To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".

The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Click here to buy the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu"

Posted at 23:03 |  by Gary Newell

23 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The people over at Foss Force are running a poll to find out who the top FOSS blogger is.

The poll has been based over three rounds. The first round was an open poll with 9 named blogs and a field to enter a.n.other blog of your choice.

The results of the first poll were used to list the top 20 blogs which were then entered into round 2. It was at this stage that Everyday Linux User entered the competition.

We are now at the third and final stage and this is the first time I have actually mentioned the poll on this site.

There are 10 blogs left and just 4 days in which to vote for your favourite blog.

If you like this blog please consider giving it a vote by visiting http://fossforce.com/2013/08/whos-the-top-foss-blogger-were-almost-there/.

Thankyou for reading.


Is Everyday Linux User top blog?

The people over at Foss Force are running a poll to find out who the top FOSS blogger is.

The poll has been based over three rounds. The first round was an open poll with 9 named blogs and a field to enter a.n.other blog of your choice.

The results of the first poll were used to list the top 20 blogs which were then entered into round 2. It was at this stage that Everyday Linux User entered the competition.

We are now at the third and final stage and this is the first time I have actually mentioned the poll on this site.

There are 10 blogs left and just 4 days in which to vote for your favourite blog.

If you like this blog please consider giving it a vote by visiting http://fossforce.com/2013/08/whos-the-top-foss-blogger-were-almost-there/.

Thankyou for reading.


Posted at 23:20 |  by Gary Newell

4 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Introduction

Last week my family went on a summer holiday to Menorca leaving me at home with just the cats for company.

Half way through the week I realised that 5 cats had become 4 and that I hadn't seen one for a good couple of days.

Realising that my wife would kill me if one of the cats went missing on my watch, I set about searching for the cat around the local village.

The cat in question is a young female cat called "Pippin" and her defining feature is that she is known as a Calico cat. What all this means is that she is white, with patches of black and orange and she is a little bit unhinged.

Pippin has gone missing before and commonly shows up at the house at the end of the farmers field near our house and has been known to live on a diet of potatoes?!? 

Needless to say on this occasion I searched the village and Pippin was not to be seen.

It occurred to me however that Pippin may well be coming into the house at night when I am asleep in my bed. To see if this was the case I set up "CatCam".

CatCam Version 1 

My first idea was to connect a webcam to the Raspberry PI and use image capturing software to take photos of the cat flap at various intervals to see if the camera would spot Pippin coming into or out of the house during the night.

To do this I loaded a piece of software onto the Raspberry PI called "Camorama". 


The first thing I would like to say is that the webcam used cost just £2 from Tesco and the quality of the webcam looks like something that would pop out of those "good" Christmas crackers. 

You know the Christmas crackers that I am on about don't you? They are the sort of cracker that my mum would say "Ooh aren't these are good crackers" after finding a small metal salt pot that holds just enough salt to pour onto one person's dinner for one night.

So what else might you find in the crackers? Well there would be a yo-yo that doesn't yo-yo, a retractable USB mouse, a tie pin, cuff links and a small set of screwdrivers (which is the only really useful item in the whole box). These are "good" crackers because the "not so good" crackers only have plastic spinning tops, black moustaches that as a kid I thought were bats, plastic rings and a magic trick.

The idea though wasn't to take high quality images. The idea was to find Pippin, so as long as the camera could take photos of cat shaped items I should have been able to make out whether one of those images contained Pippin.

If you select "Edit -> preferences" within Camorama the following screen appears:


The preferences screen lets you change a number of settings but what I wanted to do was set up the camera to point at a cat flap and take an image every so many minutes.

Now rather stupidly I set the capture interval to 5 minutes but I will come back to this later. 



On the "Local Capture" tab you can define where the images are stored and set up the file format and the file name structure to be used.

I set up the Raspberry PI in the utility room where the cat flap is and I then used VNC to connect to the Raspberry PI (using a similar technique as shown in my article "Connecting via VNC to Raspberry PI from Google Nexus 7"). 

I then ran the Camorama software and let it run all night taking pictures every 5 minutes and I stored them on the SD card. I could have stored the images remotely and there is an FTP option under the "Remote Capture" tab but it didn't seem necessary.

So why is taking a photo every 5 minutes incredibly stupid? Well cats are quite quick. They can get through a cat flap in a second and I would have to be incredibly lucky to actually manage to capture a shot of the missing Pippin.


Meet Pippin everyone. Yes although my plan was very dumb I also happen to be a fairly lucky individual and as luck would have it just after midnight my feline friend appeared on the mat just inside the cat flap.

How lucky is that? I can tell you that the cat slept there until 5.45 am when she left the house and wasn't seen again until the weekend.

Pippin isn't a particularly friendly cat. She is a little bit bitey, very scratchy and much prefers my wife to me. 

This is really where this article should end because having found the cat there really was no need for me to come up with CatCam 2 but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't leave this project in such a sorry state.

CatCam Version 2 

I realised that what I really should have done was find some software that can handle motion detection.

A quick search online and I found an application called "Motion".

"Motion" acts like CCTV software and you can access the live view of the camera via an internal webpage.

To install "Motion" all I had to do was type "sudo apt-get install motion". The software was installed and the service was started.

Motion is controlled using the motion.conf settings file and I had to edit this file to get Motion to do what I wanted.


The main problem I had however was that my camera is rubbish. Therefore I had to add these two lines at the beginning of /etc/init.d/motion file:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libv4l/v4l1compat.so
export LD_PRELOAD

Now when I log on to my browser from any computer within my house I can type in the path to the Raspberry PI with the port 8081 at the end and see the cam.





















On the Raspberry PI itself the folder containing images /tmp/motion is filling up quite quickly but because the file size is relatively small it will last a while on a decent sized SD Card.

To resolve this I could set up motion to send the images remotely. In this solution you can transfer images caught from Motion to Dropbox

I have found the cat now though so I no longer need to monitor the cat flap so it is time to switch it off.

Summary

Generally I use my Raspberry PI for retrogaming. I have written a number of articles about the Raspberry PI on the imaginatively title "Raspberry PI" page.

I had never intended to write an article about finding a cat using the Raspberry PI but having used the Raspberry PI for just that purpose I thought I may as well write about it.

Thankyou for reading.

Hey Raspberry PI, where is my cat?

Introduction

Last week my family went on a summer holiday to Menorca leaving me at home with just the cats for company.

Half way through the week I realised that 5 cats had become 4 and that I hadn't seen one for a good couple of days.

Realising that my wife would kill me if one of the cats went missing on my watch, I set about searching for the cat around the local village.

The cat in question is a young female cat called "Pippin" and her defining feature is that she is known as a Calico cat. What all this means is that she is white, with patches of black and orange and she is a little bit unhinged.

Pippin has gone missing before and commonly shows up at the house at the end of the farmers field near our house and has been known to live on a diet of potatoes?!? 

Needless to say on this occasion I searched the village and Pippin was not to be seen.

It occurred to me however that Pippin may well be coming into the house at night when I am asleep in my bed. To see if this was the case I set up "CatCam".

CatCam Version 1 

My first idea was to connect a webcam to the Raspberry PI and use image capturing software to take photos of the cat flap at various intervals to see if the camera would spot Pippin coming into or out of the house during the night.

To do this I loaded a piece of software onto the Raspberry PI called "Camorama". 


The first thing I would like to say is that the webcam used cost just £2 from Tesco and the quality of the webcam looks like something that would pop out of those "good" Christmas crackers. 

You know the Christmas crackers that I am on about don't you? They are the sort of cracker that my mum would say "Ooh aren't these are good crackers" after finding a small metal salt pot that holds just enough salt to pour onto one person's dinner for one night.

So what else might you find in the crackers? Well there would be a yo-yo that doesn't yo-yo, a retractable USB mouse, a tie pin, cuff links and a small set of screwdrivers (which is the only really useful item in the whole box). These are "good" crackers because the "not so good" crackers only have plastic spinning tops, black moustaches that as a kid I thought were bats, plastic rings and a magic trick.

The idea though wasn't to take high quality images. The idea was to find Pippin, so as long as the camera could take photos of cat shaped items I should have been able to make out whether one of those images contained Pippin.

If you select "Edit -> preferences" within Camorama the following screen appears:


The preferences screen lets you change a number of settings but what I wanted to do was set up the camera to point at a cat flap and take an image every so many minutes.

Now rather stupidly I set the capture interval to 5 minutes but I will come back to this later. 



On the "Local Capture" tab you can define where the images are stored and set up the file format and the file name structure to be used.

I set up the Raspberry PI in the utility room where the cat flap is and I then used VNC to connect to the Raspberry PI (using a similar technique as shown in my article "Connecting via VNC to Raspberry PI from Google Nexus 7"). 

I then ran the Camorama software and let it run all night taking pictures every 5 minutes and I stored them on the SD card. I could have stored the images remotely and there is an FTP option under the "Remote Capture" tab but it didn't seem necessary.

So why is taking a photo every 5 minutes incredibly stupid? Well cats are quite quick. They can get through a cat flap in a second and I would have to be incredibly lucky to actually manage to capture a shot of the missing Pippin.


Meet Pippin everyone. Yes although my plan was very dumb I also happen to be a fairly lucky individual and as luck would have it just after midnight my feline friend appeared on the mat just inside the cat flap.

How lucky is that? I can tell you that the cat slept there until 5.45 am when she left the house and wasn't seen again until the weekend.

Pippin isn't a particularly friendly cat. She is a little bit bitey, very scratchy and much prefers my wife to me. 

This is really where this article should end because having found the cat there really was no need for me to come up with CatCam 2 but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't leave this project in such a sorry state.

CatCam Version 2 

I realised that what I really should have done was find some software that can handle motion detection.

A quick search online and I found an application called "Motion".

"Motion" acts like CCTV software and you can access the live view of the camera via an internal webpage.

To install "Motion" all I had to do was type "sudo apt-get install motion". The software was installed and the service was started.

Motion is controlled using the motion.conf settings file and I had to edit this file to get Motion to do what I wanted.


The main problem I had however was that my camera is rubbish. Therefore I had to add these two lines at the beginning of /etc/init.d/motion file:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libv4l/v4l1compat.so
export LD_PRELOAD

Now when I log on to my browser from any computer within my house I can type in the path to the Raspberry PI with the port 8081 at the end and see the cam.





















On the Raspberry PI itself the folder containing images /tmp/motion is filling up quite quickly but because the file size is relatively small it will last a while on a decent sized SD Card.

To resolve this I could set up motion to send the images remotely. In this solution you can transfer images caught from Motion to Dropbox

I have found the cat now though so I no longer need to monitor the cat flap so it is time to switch it off.

Summary

Generally I use my Raspberry PI for retrogaming. I have written a number of articles about the Raspberry PI on the imaginatively title "Raspberry PI" page.

I had never intended to write an article about finding a cat using the Raspberry PI but having used the Raspberry PI for just that purpose I thought I may as well write about it.

Thankyou for reading.

Posted at 22:20 |  by Gary Newell

4 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Introduction

I spend quite a lot of time reading the pages at Reddit and one of the most common questions in the /r/linux4noobs subreddit is "Which distro should I use?".

Today I am going to answer the following request by referring back to my experience with each of the distributions I have tried in the past 2 years.

So the request in full is as follows:
I am just breaking into Linux and I have dual booted Ubuntu a couple of times to test it out, but always crawl back to windows for games and such. I really want to use linux as my main OS and Windows as my backup. I am currently loading it onto a Sony Vaio S VPCSB190X which has some trouble with Hybrid Graphics (AMD 6470m and Intel 3000) when I have run it on Ubuntu. Anyways, I want to test out a distro which has more customization and will test me a bit more than ubuntu, but doesn't require me to spend 8 hours of work just so I can goof around on reddit or play something in Wine. Thank you so very much

Specifications

The user in question states that Ubuntu causes problems with the machine in question so the first thing I would do is work out the exact specifications for the computer in question.

The computer has been listed as a Sony Vaio S VPCSB190X.


Processor - Intel Core I3
Speed - 2.1 ghz
Video - AMD Radeon HD 6470M
Memory - 4 gb
Hard Drive - 320 gb
Display size - 13 inches






The text in the request says that Ubuntu is out of the question because of the hybrid AMD 6470m and Intel 3000 graphics. 


Alas the request also says that the user is looking for something a little bit more challenging than Ubuntu so lets discount Ubuntu as an option because this is clearly not what the user wants.

There are for me 3 main requirements:
  1. It has to be customisable.
  2. It has to be more challenging than Ubuntu.
  3. The user should be able to do basic tasks such as browsing the web.

Customisation

When people talk about customisation they are usually talking about user experience and therefore this usually boils down to the choice of desktop.

Which desktops have the most customisable features:
  1. XFCE
  2. KDE
  3. Mate
  4. Consort
Using Distrowatch I can use the search feature to list only the distributions that use these desktops.

I am only going to list distributions that I have actually used as I can only really make a judgement based on my own experience.

  • SolusOS - Consort
  • Linux Mint - Mate/KDE/XFCE
  • Snowlinux - Mate/KDE/XFCE
  • Debian - KDE/XFCE
  • Mageia - KDE/XFCE
  • openSUSE - KDE/XFCE
  • PCLinuxOS - KDE/XFCE
  • Arch - KDE/XFCE
  • Slax - KDE
  • SolydXK - KDE/XFCE
  • Linux Lite - XFCE
  • Xubuntu - XFCE
  • Emmabuntus - XFCE

Narrowing it down

The above distributions can all be easily customised but the other requirements are that the distribution has to be more challenging than Ubuntu but must still be capable of doing the basic tasks.

I don't think any of the above distributions fail when it comes to being able to do the basic tasks. It is easy enough to install any of those distributions and get to the point of getting online, using the obvious tools such as audio players, watching videos etc.

The first distribution I am going to rule out is PCLinuxOS. I wrote a review of PCLinuxOS in April 2013. The title of the review was "Is there an easier transition to Linux from Windows than PCLinuxOS?". If the user is looking for something more challenging than Ubuntu then PCLinuxOS isn't it. 

I would happily recommend PCLinuxOS to a whole host of computer users. It uses the KDE desktop which definitely makes it customisable and it really is a good operating system. PCLinuxOS has all the applications you could possibly need from the outset including LibreOffice, Clementine, GIMP, Dropbox, Thunderbird etc. 

If PCLinuxOS is too easy to use then I am going to knock Arch off the list because it may be too challenging. I had my first look at Arch in March 2013 and I was impressed with the documentation that accompanies Arch. It does however take a wee while to get it installed and therefore if the user wants to have the home comforts straight away then this is the main reason to rule out Arch.

SLAX is really a portable version of Linux and the user did not request a portable version of Linux. The SLAX review was also written in March 2013.  Slax uses the KDE desktop and I have to say that the plug and play modules that are used within Slax makes it very versatile whilst keeping the size down to the minimum required for running from a USB drive. 

Linux Mint Mate and Linux Mint XFCE probably aren't going to be much more challenging than Ubuntu however they are both heavily customisable.

I was really impressed when I reviewed SolusOS in February 2013. Again SolusOS will not be particularly challenging as it is one of those distributions that pretty much works straight out of the box. It comes with a great set of applications installed by default including LibreOffice, Dropbox, Thunderbird and PlayonLinux. Really it makes a good alternative to Linux Mint.

In addition to SolusOS I also tried SnowLinux out in February 2013. SnowLinux gave me significant issues when I used it including permissions issues, Synaptic not working from the XFCE menu and issues connecting to the internet. If the user wants a challenge then this would certainly fit the bill. The question is do you want a challenge for the sake of it?

Linux Lite is another very good distribution which uses the XFCE desktop. I have omitted it from the final list because it won't really provide much of a challenge. It works out of the box and because it uses XFCE it is instantly customisable. Emmabuntus is omitted from the final list as well for the same reasons as Linux Lite. The main challenge with Emmabuntus is the fact that some of the windows have French titles. (Not really all that challenging).

The final countdown

  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • Mageia
  • openSUSE
  • SolydX
  • Xubuntu
Fedora, Debian, Mageia and openSUSE are all very good options for this user. They all give a good user experience out of the box but provide a different challenge to the one proposed by Ubuntu. 

I reviewed Mageia last week and I hit significant challenges with regards to the partitioning, the network centre and setting up the repositories. As a standalone distribution Mageia would provide a good learning curve with most applications being instantly available.

Fedora is a completely free distribution providing only free software. Whilst this means the distribution works out of the box to get things like Flash working you have to put in a bit of effort and if you really want to experiment then you can try to stay completely free.

Debian is also a completely free distribution and therefore provides similar challenges to Fedora. Debian would be a good fit as it gives a certain amount of familiarity to the user who has tried Ubuntu.

openSUSE is probably actually just as easy to use as Ubuntu but because it uses different tools I have put it in the final countdown.

I reviewed SolydX last month and it impressed me. It has a good selection of applications. SolydX fits into the category of being a lightweight distribution and as such includes Gnumeric and Abiword instead of LibreOffice. It uses XFCE which makes it customisable and is based on Debian. SolydK is the KDE version which includes more mainstream applications. Definitely a contender. 

And my choice would be....

I would recommend any of the final list for this user but the one that I would probably recommend overall is Xubuntu.

Xubuntu provides an endless opportunity of options for customisation and because it has the Ubuntu roots it will be familiar enough to the user in question.

There is enough about Xubuntu which will provide a challenge without putting pointless obstacles in the way.

Thankyou for reading

I need a Linux distro that is more customisable than Ubuntu

Introduction

I spend quite a lot of time reading the pages at Reddit and one of the most common questions in the /r/linux4noobs subreddit is "Which distro should I use?".

Today I am going to answer the following request by referring back to my experience with each of the distributions I have tried in the past 2 years.

So the request in full is as follows:
I am just breaking into Linux and I have dual booted Ubuntu a couple of times to test it out, but always crawl back to windows for games and such. I really want to use linux as my main OS and Windows as my backup. I am currently loading it onto a Sony Vaio S VPCSB190X which has some trouble with Hybrid Graphics (AMD 6470m and Intel 3000) when I have run it on Ubuntu. Anyways, I want to test out a distro which has more customization and will test me a bit more than ubuntu, but doesn't require me to spend 8 hours of work just so I can goof around on reddit or play something in Wine. Thank you so very much

Specifications

The user in question states that Ubuntu causes problems with the machine in question so the first thing I would do is work out the exact specifications for the computer in question.

The computer has been listed as a Sony Vaio S VPCSB190X.


Processor - Intel Core I3
Speed - 2.1 ghz
Video - AMD Radeon HD 6470M
Memory - 4 gb
Hard Drive - 320 gb
Display size - 13 inches






The text in the request says that Ubuntu is out of the question because of the hybrid AMD 6470m and Intel 3000 graphics. 


Alas the request also says that the user is looking for something a little bit more challenging than Ubuntu so lets discount Ubuntu as an option because this is clearly not what the user wants.

There are for me 3 main requirements:
  1. It has to be customisable.
  2. It has to be more challenging than Ubuntu.
  3. The user should be able to do basic tasks such as browsing the web.

Customisation

When people talk about customisation they are usually talking about user experience and therefore this usually boils down to the choice of desktop.

Which desktops have the most customisable features:
  1. XFCE
  2. KDE
  3. Mate
  4. Consort
Using Distrowatch I can use the search feature to list only the distributions that use these desktops.

I am only going to list distributions that I have actually used as I can only really make a judgement based on my own experience.

  • SolusOS - Consort
  • Linux Mint - Mate/KDE/XFCE
  • Snowlinux - Mate/KDE/XFCE
  • Debian - KDE/XFCE
  • Mageia - KDE/XFCE
  • openSUSE - KDE/XFCE
  • PCLinuxOS - KDE/XFCE
  • Arch - KDE/XFCE
  • Slax - KDE
  • SolydXK - KDE/XFCE
  • Linux Lite - XFCE
  • Xubuntu - XFCE
  • Emmabuntus - XFCE

Narrowing it down

The above distributions can all be easily customised but the other requirements are that the distribution has to be more challenging than Ubuntu but must still be capable of doing the basic tasks.

I don't think any of the above distributions fail when it comes to being able to do the basic tasks. It is easy enough to install any of those distributions and get to the point of getting online, using the obvious tools such as audio players, watching videos etc.

The first distribution I am going to rule out is PCLinuxOS. I wrote a review of PCLinuxOS in April 2013. The title of the review was "Is there an easier transition to Linux from Windows than PCLinuxOS?". If the user is looking for something more challenging than Ubuntu then PCLinuxOS isn't it. 

I would happily recommend PCLinuxOS to a whole host of computer users. It uses the KDE desktop which definitely makes it customisable and it really is a good operating system. PCLinuxOS has all the applications you could possibly need from the outset including LibreOffice, Clementine, GIMP, Dropbox, Thunderbird etc. 

If PCLinuxOS is too easy to use then I am going to knock Arch off the list because it may be too challenging. I had my first look at Arch in March 2013 and I was impressed with the documentation that accompanies Arch. It does however take a wee while to get it installed and therefore if the user wants to have the home comforts straight away then this is the main reason to rule out Arch.

SLAX is really a portable version of Linux and the user did not request a portable version of Linux. The SLAX review was also written in March 2013.  Slax uses the KDE desktop and I have to say that the plug and play modules that are used within Slax makes it very versatile whilst keeping the size down to the minimum required for running from a USB drive. 

Linux Mint Mate and Linux Mint XFCE probably aren't going to be much more challenging than Ubuntu however they are both heavily customisable.

I was really impressed when I reviewed SolusOS in February 2013. Again SolusOS will not be particularly challenging as it is one of those distributions that pretty much works straight out of the box. It comes with a great set of applications installed by default including LibreOffice, Dropbox, Thunderbird and PlayonLinux. Really it makes a good alternative to Linux Mint.

In addition to SolusOS I also tried SnowLinux out in February 2013. SnowLinux gave me significant issues when I used it including permissions issues, Synaptic not working from the XFCE menu and issues connecting to the internet. If the user wants a challenge then this would certainly fit the bill. The question is do you want a challenge for the sake of it?

Linux Lite is another very good distribution which uses the XFCE desktop. I have omitted it from the final list because it won't really provide much of a challenge. It works out of the box and because it uses XFCE it is instantly customisable. Emmabuntus is omitted from the final list as well for the same reasons as Linux Lite. The main challenge with Emmabuntus is the fact that some of the windows have French titles. (Not really all that challenging).

The final countdown

  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • Mageia
  • openSUSE
  • SolydX
  • Xubuntu
Fedora, Debian, Mageia and openSUSE are all very good options for this user. They all give a good user experience out of the box but provide a different challenge to the one proposed by Ubuntu. 

I reviewed Mageia last week and I hit significant challenges with regards to the partitioning, the network centre and setting up the repositories. As a standalone distribution Mageia would provide a good learning curve with most applications being instantly available.

Fedora is a completely free distribution providing only free software. Whilst this means the distribution works out of the box to get things like Flash working you have to put in a bit of effort and if you really want to experiment then you can try to stay completely free.

Debian is also a completely free distribution and therefore provides similar challenges to Fedora. Debian would be a good fit as it gives a certain amount of familiarity to the user who has tried Ubuntu.

openSUSE is probably actually just as easy to use as Ubuntu but because it uses different tools I have put it in the final countdown.

I reviewed SolydX last month and it impressed me. It has a good selection of applications. SolydX fits into the category of being a lightweight distribution and as such includes Gnumeric and Abiword instead of LibreOffice. It uses XFCE which makes it customisable and is based on Debian. SolydK is the KDE version which includes more mainstream applications. Definitely a contender. 

And my choice would be....

I would recommend any of the final list for this user but the one that I would probably recommend overall is Xubuntu.

Xubuntu provides an endless opportunity of options for customisation and because it has the Ubuntu roots it will be familiar enough to the user in question.

There is enough about Xubuntu which will provide a challenge without putting pointless obstacles in the way.

Thankyou for reading

Posted at 16:00 |  by Gary Newell

26 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Introduction

This article isn't particularly related to Linux.

I received an email from Xavier Gray who is a researcher for OEDB.org. OEDB.org is a careers database which enables you to look at a long list of professions in order to work out the skills and qualifications you will need.

The area of the site I checked out was the computer sciences section.

Computer Science Careers

You can view the computer sciences section by visiting http://oedb.org/careers/computer-science/.

The top half of the page gives an introduction about computer science, telling you what you can expect to be paid when working in IT and the job prospects for finding working in the computer sciences sectors.

The interesting part however is at the bottom of the page. There is a list of 10 different job titles which links to a sub page telling you what the job entails and the qualifications you might need.

  • Computer and Informations Systems Manager
  • Computer support specialist
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Software Developer
  • Web Developer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Database Administrator
  • Software Engineer
The site is US based and so the qualifications required are really only relevant to working in the USA.

The bit that will interest most people is the financial aspect.

The chart above comes from the "Software Developer" page and shows that job growth is good and the average salary is better than the national average.

The site may well be useful to those of you looking to get into the computer sciences arena, or indeed any other job sector as computer sciences is just one area of the site. If you want to become a chef then there is a section on that too.

Thankyou for reading.

What qualifications do you need to get on in the world of IT?

Introduction

This article isn't particularly related to Linux.

I received an email from Xavier Gray who is a researcher for OEDB.org. OEDB.org is a careers database which enables you to look at a long list of professions in order to work out the skills and qualifications you will need.

The area of the site I checked out was the computer sciences section.

Computer Science Careers

You can view the computer sciences section by visiting http://oedb.org/careers/computer-science/.

The top half of the page gives an introduction about computer science, telling you what you can expect to be paid when working in IT and the job prospects for finding working in the computer sciences sectors.

The interesting part however is at the bottom of the page. There is a list of 10 different job titles which links to a sub page telling you what the job entails and the qualifications you might need.

  • Computer and Informations Systems Manager
  • Computer support specialist
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Software Developer
  • Web Developer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Database Administrator
  • Software Engineer
The site is US based and so the qualifications required are really only relevant to working in the USA.

The bit that will interest most people is the financial aspect.

The chart above comes from the "Software Developer" page and shows that job growth is good and the average salary is better than the national average.

The site may well be useful to those of you looking to get into the computer sciences arena, or indeed any other job sector as computer sciences is just one area of the site. If you want to become a chef then there is a section on that too.

Thankyou for reading.

Posted at 14:23 |  by Gary Newell

8 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

Offensive messages will be removed as will blatant adverts for misleading products and sites.

Thanks for visiting my blog

Introduction

I have never reviewed Mageia before and there is a reason for that. Mageia has always been my "Eleanor".

The "Eleanor" reference comes from the film "Gone in 60 seconds" and refers to the one car that Nicolas Cage cannot steal because something happens when he tries to do so.

Mageia has always given me that sort of a problem. I tried Mageia 1 and 2 without success and rather than write a bad review I decided to write nothing at all.

Mageia though appears to be one of the more popular distributions and I can't just go on in this fashion. Therefore I have installed it, tried it and now I am going to tell you about my experience.

Other people may well have a different experience to me but as I say, Mageia is my Eleanor.

This is a review of the Gnome version of Mageia 3.

Installation

The first thing that you need to note about Mageia is that you can't just use unetbootin to produce the USB drive.

However I tried all the ways listed on the Mageia site to produce a bootable USB drive and none of them worked. I even tried multiple USB drives in case one was faulty.

There was nothing doing. I kept getting to the Mageia loading screen and it just hung there.

I ended up therefore writing the Mageia image to a DVD, and this booted successfully.

I always do a few checks before installing such as checking the internet connectivity to make sure that I won't have issues after the full install.

The network icon on the Gnome panel showed no networks available. I fixed this but I will go into more detail about that in the "Connecting to the internet" section.

The general installation is fairly easy to follow. The usual options appear such as choosing language, timezone etc but the difficult bit (as usual) was the partitioning.

I have a fairly complicated partition setup whereby I have 5 partitions that I use for operating systems, a large data partition and a swap partition. Now I obviously did something wrong because after the install I lost the GRUB menu options for all my other operating systems.

Actually choosing which partition to use and how to format it was also fairly complicated.


I would recommend to anyone else installing Mageia to use gParted to do your partitioning first and then just choose the partitions you require when installing Mageia.

I am not confident that if I performed the same install again that I wouldn't mess it up again. Now some people might suggest that I am inept or incompetent but if you want average users to be able to do this then they will probably fall at the same hurdle.

I think if you wanted just to use the whole disk then it would be fine.

First impressions









Mageia comes with a pretty standard desktop. Panel at the top and a very open space underneath. I like this minimalistic view.


The first thing I noticed though was that when I pressed the super key to bring up the dash the background was completely black.

I have tried a number of things to change this background but I can't work out where to change it.



Changing the desktop background, however was quite easy.

Simply right click on the desktop and choose "change desktop background".

There are 3 views available "Wallpapers", "Pictures" and "Colours".

There is only 1 wallpaper installed by default. (I installed via the live DVD, maybe there are more if you use the full Mageia download).

Everyone always ends up choosing their own image for their background anyway, don't they?


The Gnome desktop comes with a single panel at the top of the screen. On the left hand side of the panel is the "Activities" option which when clicked brings up a launch bar, search box and the open applications.

In the middle of the panel is the clock which can be synchronised with the Evolution email client to store scheduled tasks and meetings.


On the right hand side is a list of icons. From left to right the icons are for accessibility, language settings, audio, bluetooth, networking, power settings and user settings.

Connecting to the internet

Normally when connecting to the internet within Gnome I would select the network icon on the panel and a list of wireless networks will appear. With Mageia this doesn't happen.

What you have to do is open the network center application and then configure you networks within this application.

Setting up the networks in here is quite easy.

Simply choose whether you want to configure the ethernet connection or wireless connections.

If you are configuring wireless connections, choose the one you wish to configure and click "Configure".





From the configuration screen you can do 2 things.

Firstly you can enter the security settings for the network.

The other thing you can do is "Allow interface to be controlled by the Network Manager".

As soon as you do this the network icon starts working on the Gnome panel and not only that but all the other networks start appearing on the Gnome panel.

Flash and MP3

I read the documentation regarding Mageia and by all accounts Flash and MP3s were supposed to work straight away.

I can confirm that MP3s were perfectly fine but when I loaded Firefox and went to Youtube I received the missing plugin message.

To install the plugin I had to go to the package manager (rpmDrake) and install the flash-player-plugin.

Now this wasn't as easy as you might think and I will get to that in the "Installing applications" settings later on.

The flash-player-plugin causes a download of the Adobe Flash plugin and this has the desired effect.






















Applications

I used the Mageia 3 Live DVD Gnome edition so there may not be as many applications as the full version but there is a decent selection on offer.

To see a list of the applications installed within Mageia press the super key and choose the bottom icon on the Gnome launch bar.





















The following applications are installed:

Internet

  • Ekiga Softphone - VOIP
  • Empathy - Messaging
  • Evolution - Email Client
  • FireFox - Browser
  • Remote Desktop

Office

  • Digidoc - Electronically sign documents
  • LibreOffice

Graphics

  • The GIMP - Image editing
  • Shotwell - Photo management

Sound and Video

  • Cheese - Webcam viewer
  • Rhythmbox - Audio
  • Sound Juicer - Audio Extractor
  • Totem - Video Player
  • TVTime - Video Recording

Summary

On top of the above mentioned applications there are a number of standard tools such as partitioning tools, calculators, notepads and screenshot tools.

Installing Applications










To install other applications you have to use the "Software Management" tool (rpmDrake).

I first used this to try and install Flash but the Flash installer wasn't available in the repositories.

I also noticed that I couldn't install Chrome, Chromium and a number of other applications.

Under the options menu there is a media manager section.

As I mentioned previously I used the live DVD to install Mageia and because I did that there were only 2 repositories available which were the live DVD and live DVD updates.

To get a full list of repositories I had to remove the 2 DVD options from the list and then click the "Add" button. This had the effect of pulling in a large number of repositories.

Gnome

As this is the Gnome version I just wanted to cover a short section about Gnome.

Gnome 3 and Unity share common ground. The main difference is that in Unity the launcher is always shown whereas in Gnome the launcher only displays when you select the activities menu or press the super key.

Navigating Gnome is fairly simple, especially when you get used to the various key combinations.

The Gnome dash view has a launcher and either a list of open applications or if you select the applications icon, a list of installed applications.

From the open applications you can choose to use a different workspace by clicking on the panel on the right hand side.

What you will notice by default is that applications may open but they might not be maximised and you will notice the absence of a maximise button. Double clicking on the bar at the top of the application toggles the maximised state.

If you prefer a more traditional view you can use the Gnome Tweak tool.
































You can adjust a lot of gnome settings using the tweak tool.

For example on the "desktop" view you can choose which icons appear on the desktop.

You can adjust icons, mouse settings, clock settings, themes and how windows react to mouse clicks.

To add maximise and minimise buttons to your applications select the "Shell" view and then change the value of "Arrangement of buttons on the titlebar" to "All".

Summary

Mageia and I don't get on very well.

Whilst Mageia certainly has it's good points, there are a number of things that just don't sit well with me.

The installer needs to be improved, especially with regards to partitioning and the Grub installer.

It would be handy to have the networks available from the network icon straight away as I had to go searching for it and somebody new to Linux might not know where to look.

The installer should include the list of repositories from the start. I shouldn't have to remove the live DVD repositories to trigger a download of the online repositories.

I also have no idea what is going on with the Gnome theme to make the dash background black. (Maybe somebody can point me in the right direction in the comments).

There are some good points. The choice of applications means that I can do most things as soon as I install the operating system. I have also received no crashes whilst using Mageia 3 and the notifications work well without being in your face.

The thing that bothers me is that Mageia is clearly so acceptable to so many which means there is something that I am missing. I would like to know why nobody else experienced the same issues as me.

Alas, once again, I don't think I will be sticking with Mageia 3... in fact I think it will be gone within 60 seconds.

Thankyou for reading.

How to get Mageia 3

Mageia 3 - Gone in 60 seconds

Introduction

I have never reviewed Mageia before and there is a reason for that. Mageia has always been my "Eleanor".

The "Eleanor" reference comes from the film "Gone in 60 seconds" and refers to the one car that Nicolas Cage cannot steal because something happens when he tries to do so.

Mageia has always given me that sort of a problem. I tried Mageia 1 and 2 without success and rather than write a bad review I decided to write nothing at all.

Mageia though appears to be one of the more popular distributions and I can't just go on in this fashion. Therefore I have installed it, tried it and now I am going to tell you about my experience.

Other people may well have a different experience to me but as I say, Mageia is my Eleanor.

This is a review of the Gnome version of Mageia 3.

Installation

The first thing that you need to note about Mageia is that you can't just use unetbootin to produce the USB drive.

However I tried all the ways listed on the Mageia site to produce a bootable USB drive and none of them worked. I even tried multiple USB drives in case one was faulty.

There was nothing doing. I kept getting to the Mageia loading screen and it just hung there.

I ended up therefore writing the Mageia image to a DVD, and this booted successfully.

I always do a few checks before installing such as checking the internet connectivity to make sure that I won't have issues after the full install.

The network icon on the Gnome panel showed no networks available. I fixed this but I will go into more detail about that in the "Connecting to the internet" section.

The general installation is fairly easy to follow. The usual options appear such as choosing language, timezone etc but the difficult bit (as usual) was the partitioning.

I have a fairly complicated partition setup whereby I have 5 partitions that I use for operating systems, a large data partition and a swap partition. Now I obviously did something wrong because after the install I lost the GRUB menu options for all my other operating systems.

Actually choosing which partition to use and how to format it was also fairly complicated.


I would recommend to anyone else installing Mageia to use gParted to do your partitioning first and then just choose the partitions you require when installing Mageia.

I am not confident that if I performed the same install again that I wouldn't mess it up again. Now some people might suggest that I am inept or incompetent but if you want average users to be able to do this then they will probably fall at the same hurdle.

I think if you wanted just to use the whole disk then it would be fine.

First impressions









Mageia comes with a pretty standard desktop. Panel at the top and a very open space underneath. I like this minimalistic view.


The first thing I noticed though was that when I pressed the super key to bring up the dash the background was completely black.

I have tried a number of things to change this background but I can't work out where to change it.



Changing the desktop background, however was quite easy.

Simply right click on the desktop and choose "change desktop background".

There are 3 views available "Wallpapers", "Pictures" and "Colours".

There is only 1 wallpaper installed by default. (I installed via the live DVD, maybe there are more if you use the full Mageia download).

Everyone always ends up choosing their own image for their background anyway, don't they?


The Gnome desktop comes with a single panel at the top of the screen. On the left hand side of the panel is the "Activities" option which when clicked brings up a launch bar, search box and the open applications.

In the middle of the panel is the clock which can be synchronised with the Evolution email client to store scheduled tasks and meetings.


On the right hand side is a list of icons. From left to right the icons are for accessibility, language settings, audio, bluetooth, networking, power settings and user settings.

Connecting to the internet

Normally when connecting to the internet within Gnome I would select the network icon on the panel and a list of wireless networks will appear. With Mageia this doesn't happen.

What you have to do is open the network center application and then configure you networks within this application.

Setting up the networks in here is quite easy.

Simply choose whether you want to configure the ethernet connection or wireless connections.

If you are configuring wireless connections, choose the one you wish to configure and click "Configure".





From the configuration screen you can do 2 things.

Firstly you can enter the security settings for the network.

The other thing you can do is "Allow interface to be controlled by the Network Manager".

As soon as you do this the network icon starts working on the Gnome panel and not only that but all the other networks start appearing on the Gnome panel.

Flash and MP3

I read the documentation regarding Mageia and by all accounts Flash and MP3s were supposed to work straight away.

I can confirm that MP3s were perfectly fine but when I loaded Firefox and went to Youtube I received the missing plugin message.

To install the plugin I had to go to the package manager (rpmDrake) and install the flash-player-plugin.

Now this wasn't as easy as you might think and I will get to that in the "Installing applications" settings later on.

The flash-player-plugin causes a download of the Adobe Flash plugin and this has the desired effect.






















Applications

I used the Mageia 3 Live DVD Gnome edition so there may not be as many applications as the full version but there is a decent selection on offer.

To see a list of the applications installed within Mageia press the super key and choose the bottom icon on the Gnome launch bar.





















The following applications are installed:

Internet

  • Ekiga Softphone - VOIP
  • Empathy - Messaging
  • Evolution - Email Client
  • FireFox - Browser
  • Remote Desktop

Office

  • Digidoc - Electronically sign documents
  • LibreOffice

Graphics

  • The GIMP - Image editing
  • Shotwell - Photo management

Sound and Video

  • Cheese - Webcam viewer
  • Rhythmbox - Audio
  • Sound Juicer - Audio Extractor
  • Totem - Video Player
  • TVTime - Video Recording

Summary

On top of the above mentioned applications there are a number of standard tools such as partitioning tools, calculators, notepads and screenshot tools.

Installing Applications










To install other applications you have to use the "Software Management" tool (rpmDrake).

I first used this to try and install Flash but the Flash installer wasn't available in the repositories.

I also noticed that I couldn't install Chrome, Chromium and a number of other applications.

Under the options menu there is a media manager section.

As I mentioned previously I used the live DVD to install Mageia and because I did that there were only 2 repositories available which were the live DVD and live DVD updates.

To get a full list of repositories I had to remove the 2 DVD options from the list and then click the "Add" button. This had the effect of pulling in a large number of repositories.

Gnome

As this is the Gnome version I just wanted to cover a short section about Gnome.

Gnome 3 and Unity share common ground. The main difference is that in Unity the launcher is always shown whereas in Gnome the launcher only displays when you select the activities menu or press the super key.

Navigating Gnome is fairly simple, especially when you get used to the various key combinations.

The Gnome dash view has a launcher and either a list of open applications or if you select the applications icon, a list of installed applications.

From the open applications you can choose to use a different workspace by clicking on the panel on the right hand side.

What you will notice by default is that applications may open but they might not be maximised and you will notice the absence of a maximise button. Double clicking on the bar at the top of the application toggles the maximised state.

If you prefer a more traditional view you can use the Gnome Tweak tool.
































You can adjust a lot of gnome settings using the tweak tool.

For example on the "desktop" view you can choose which icons appear on the desktop.

You can adjust icons, mouse settings, clock settings, themes and how windows react to mouse clicks.

To add maximise and minimise buttons to your applications select the "Shell" view and then change the value of "Arrangement of buttons on the titlebar" to "All".

Summary

Mageia and I don't get on very well.

Whilst Mageia certainly has it's good points, there are a number of things that just don't sit well with me.

The installer needs to be improved, especially with regards to partitioning and the Grub installer.

It would be handy to have the networks available from the network icon straight away as I had to go searching for it and somebody new to Linux might not know where to look.

The installer should include the list of repositories from the start. I shouldn't have to remove the live DVD repositories to trigger a download of the online repositories.

I also have no idea what is going on with the Gnome theme to make the dash background black. (Maybe somebody can point me in the right direction in the comments).

There are some good points. The choice of applications means that I can do most things as soon as I install the operating system. I have also received no crashes whilst using Mageia 3 and the notifications work well without being in your face.

The thing that bothers me is that Mageia is clearly so acceptable to so many which means there is something that I am missing. I would like to know why nobody else experienced the same issues as me.

Alas, once again, I don't think I will be sticking with Mageia 3... in fact I think it will be gone within 60 seconds.

Thankyou for reading.

How to get Mageia 3

Posted at 14:00 |  by Gary Newell

55 comments:

Feel free to comment on any of the blog posts. Please try to be constructive.

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Thanks for visiting my blog

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Introduction

This article has been written for two reasons:
  1. I was asked to review SolydX or SolydK
  2. I was reading a question on the /r/linux4noobs subreddit and the question was "which distro should I use?".
When it comes to the choice of reviewing a distro running XFCE or one running KDE there is no contest. I much prefer to use XFCE over KDE. I have never been a KDE fan.

With regards to the question "Which distro should I use?" the person asking the question had fairly specific criteria.
  1. It cannot be a Ubuntu based distro
  2. Preferably it will be a Debian based distro
  3. Preferably it will run XFCE
There were other requirements but these were the three main ones.

For point 1 I have to say that if you are omitting Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distros then you are missing a trick in this case.

Xubuntu is one of the finest distributions running the XFCE desktop. Even if you forget about Xubuntu there is the XFCE version of Mint that I reviewed last week.

For points 2 and 3 I instantly thought "A Debian based distro running XFCE, hmm, what about Debian itself running XFCE". So what about Debian running XFCE? Well that review is coming up next week.

I have been using SolydX on my laptop for a week now and so lets get started with the review.

Installation

The installation procedure for SolydX is actually fairly straight forward. It doesn't use the Ubuntu installer so for this review I will run through the installation instructions. (you will be able to see how complicated my partitioning is beginning to get).


1. Choose your language.


2. Choose where you are (I have to say that the map contains a nice level of detail).


3. Choose your keyboard layout


4. Enter a username, password and hostname. You can also choose your icon or take a photo of yourself.


5. Choose the disk you want to install SolydX on to.

  

6. Now comes the dreaded partitioning bit. Actually I find this quite easy now because I have done it so many times. Don't be put off by my set up. As I regularly review distros I have five 50gb partitions specifically put aside so that I can switch distros in and out as required.

In general for a single distro setup I recommend setting up a 30 gigabyte partition for the main distro, an 8 gb partition for swap space and the rest for home. The optimum partitioning of a disk causes many debates.


7. Finally click "Install".

First Impressions

The SolydX layout is fairly clean looking with a crisp looking background image and a single panel at the bottom.

If you read my review of Mint XFCE edition last week then the main difference between SolydX and Mint XFCE from a look and feel point of view is the choice of menu system. SolydX uses the standard XFCE application menu whereas Mint uses Whisker.

I think that to get the best use of the XFCE desktop you need to have two panels but both SolydX and Mint have gone with a single panel.


By default you are greeted with a welcome screen which you can prevent from appearing on subsequent boots by unchecking the "show at startup" box.

The welcome screen has 4 menu options down the left:
  • Welcome
  • Drivers
  • Community
  • Contribute
The welcome option shows a standard welcome message and tells you that SoldyX is based on the Debian testing branch.

The drivers option shows a list of drivers that have been loaded.

The community option shows links to the project's homepage, forums, tutorials and chatrooms.

The contribute option shows how you can get involved or donate to the project.

As mentioned before there is just one panel. The panel consists of a menu, quick launch bar and a system tray. Windows users will find this fairly familiar. Any applications that are opened appear within the panel as well.


The system tray has icons for notifications, networks, power settings, a clock and a volume control.

The quick launch has an icon to minimise all windows and show the desktop.

Connecting to the internet


To connect to the internet click on the network icon on the system tray. A list of connections will appear.



Click the "properties" button on one of the connections to be able to enter the security details.

This screen isn't the most user friendly wireless configuration screen that I have seen but all I had to do was enter the key into the "Key" field and press "OK".

You can set the internet connection to automatically start when you boot.

Flash and MP3

One of the selling points of SolydX is that you should be able to perform most tasks straight away without having to install extra software and with that in mind Flash works straight away.


As you can see Youtube videos work straight out of the box and also my favourite Flash game "Stick Cricket" also works without issue.


The music application that comes with SolydX is Exaile. It is one of the more lightweight music applications but it has all the basic features you need to listen to your tunes. More importantly the MP3s played without error.

Applications

SolydX is designed to be a lightweight distribution and as such all the applications fit into this category. (Well kind of).

Firstly under the graphics section there is the GIMP. This can hardly be considered a lightweight application.

Other than that one application the rest of the software that is included can be considered lightweight.

The default browser is FireFox. The email application is Thunderbird and messenging software is Pidgin. XChat is also included by default.

As well as Exaile for playing audio there is the VLC player for watching videos.

The office category has the stock XFCE applications Abiword and Gnumeric. These programs are fine if your sole use of office software is writing letters and doing the odd budgeting spreadsheet.

SolydX doesn't give you too much software. There are some distros that bombard you with games (which most of us would never play) and some include obscure software products. SolydX gives you just about what you need without going too far.

Installing Applications

To install applications in SolydX you have to use the "Software Manager". The "Software Manager" is the same application as the one used in Mint XFCE edition.

In the top right corner is a search box and the rest of the screen is a series of categories.

Clicking on a category shows various sub categories and a list of potential applications.

By drilling down you can find applications that meet your needs.

If you know the application you wish to install then you can enter the name or a description in the search box and a list of applications will appear with ratings next to them.

Double clicking on the application in the list shows a description of the software and you are now able to install it.

Customising the desktop


To change the desktop background right click on the desktop and choose "Desktop Settings".

SolydX comes with just the one wallpaper. To add your own click the plus symbol and find the picture you want to use as wallpaper.






















I have already written a guide showing how to customise the XFCE desktop so if you want to add new panels etc then you can follow this guide.






















There is an option on the menu called "Window Manager Tweaks" which enables you to enable compositing.

By enabling compositing you can then make your XFCE panels transparent.

"Windows Manager Tweaks" includes the ability to specify where windows load for the first time, how workspaces are handled, the cycling of windows, accessibility options etc.

About SolydX

SolydX is the lightweight version of the SolydXK distribution. It is based on the Debian testing branch which means the applications stay more relevant than base Debian which runs off the "Stable" branch.

SolydX is a rolling release distro which means that when you have installed it you should not have to completely upgrade in the future.

Every month updates are released and if you install the updates you will always have the latest version of SolydX.

Summary

SolydX has a nice clean interface and everything works out of the box so for people who just want to use their computer they can do so without having to run fiddly scripts in the terminal.

I do prefer Xubuntu's use of the XFCE panels. If SolydX is going to stick with a single panel then it would be a good idea to have the application finder as part of the quick launch bar as the menu is fairly convoluted when there are lots of applications installed. Mint gets around this problem by using a different menu system.

I like the fact that SolydX isn't bombarded with applications and that it is up to you to install what you want to install. There is just enough there by default to perform most tasks.

It is also good that Flash and MP3 files play by default.

I had no glaring crashes or errors appear during my time using SolydX..

Thankyou for reading.

To get SolydX



Other XFCE based distros

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Solydx - I want a non-Ubuntu, Debian based distro with the XFCE desktop

Introduction

This article has been written for two reasons:
  1. I was asked to review SolydX or SolydK
  2. I was reading a question on the /r/linux4noobs subreddit and the question was "which distro should I use?".
When it comes to the choice of reviewing a distro running XFCE or one running KDE there is no contest. I much prefer to use XFCE over KDE. I have never been a KDE fan.

With regards to the question "Which distro should I use?" the person asking the question had fairly specific criteria.
  1. It cannot be a Ubuntu based distro
  2. Preferably it will be a Debian based distro
  3. Preferably it will run XFCE
There were other requirements but these were the three main ones.

For point 1 I have to say that if you are omitting Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distros then you are missing a trick in this case.

Xubuntu is one of the finest distributions running the XFCE desktop. Even if you forget about Xubuntu there is the XFCE version of Mint that I reviewed last week.

For points 2 and 3 I instantly thought "A Debian based distro running XFCE, hmm, what about Debian itself running XFCE". So what about Debian running XFCE? Well that review is coming up next week.

I have been using SolydX on my laptop for a week now and so lets get started with the review.

Installation

The installation procedure for SolydX is actually fairly straight forward. It doesn't use the Ubuntu installer so for this review I will run through the installation instructions. (you will be able to see how complicated my partitioning is beginning to get).


1. Choose your language.


2. Choose where you are (I have to say that the map contains a nice level of detail).


3. Choose your keyboard layout


4. Enter a username, password and hostname. You can also choose your icon or take a photo of yourself.


5. Choose the disk you want to install SolydX on to.

  

6. Now comes the dreaded partitioning bit. Actually I find this quite easy now because I have done it so many times. Don't be put off by my set up. As I regularly review distros I have five 50gb partitions specifically put aside so that I can switch distros in and out as required.

In general for a single distro setup I recommend setting up a 30 gigabyte partition for the main distro, an 8 gb partition for swap space and the rest for home. The optimum partitioning of a disk causes many debates.


7. Finally click "Install".

First Impressions

The SolydX layout is fairly clean looking with a crisp looking background image and a single panel at the bottom.

If you read my review of Mint XFCE edition last week then the main difference between SolydX and Mint XFCE from a look and feel point of view is the choice of menu system. SolydX uses the standard XFCE application menu whereas Mint uses Whisker.

I think that to get the best use of the XFCE desktop you need to have two panels but both SolydX and Mint have gone with a single panel.


By default you are greeted with a welcome screen which you can prevent from appearing on subsequent boots by unchecking the "show at startup" box.

The welcome screen has 4 menu options down the left:
  • Welcome
  • Drivers
  • Community
  • Contribute
The welcome option shows a standard welcome message and tells you that SoldyX is based on the Debian testing branch.

The drivers option shows a list of drivers that have been loaded.

The community option shows links to the project's homepage, forums, tutorials and chatrooms.

The contribute option shows how you can get involved or donate to the project.

As mentioned before there is just one panel. The panel consists of a menu, quick launch bar and a system tray. Windows users will find this fairly familiar. Any applications that are opened appear within the panel as well.


The system tray has icons for notifications, networks, power settings, a clock and a volume control.

The quick launch has an icon to minimise all windows and show the desktop.

Connecting to the internet


To connect to the internet click on the network icon on the system tray. A list of connections will appear.



Click the "properties" button on one of the connections to be able to enter the security details.

This screen isn't the most user friendly wireless configuration screen that I have seen but all I had to do was enter the key into the "Key" field and press "OK".

You can set the internet connection to automatically start when you boot.

Flash and MP3

One of the selling points of SolydX is that you should be able to perform most tasks straight away without having to install extra software and with that in mind Flash works straight away.


As you can see Youtube videos work straight out of the box and also my favourite Flash game "Stick Cricket" also works without issue.


The music application that comes with SolydX is Exaile. It is one of the more lightweight music applications but it has all the basic features you need to listen to your tunes. More importantly the MP3s played without error.

Applications

SolydX is designed to be a lightweight distribution and as such all the applications fit into this category. (Well kind of).

Firstly under the graphics section there is the GIMP. This can hardly be considered a lightweight application.

Other than that one application the rest of the software that is included can be considered lightweight.

The default browser is FireFox. The email application is Thunderbird and messenging software is Pidgin. XChat is also included by default.

As well as Exaile for playing audio there is the VLC player for watching videos.

The office category has the stock XFCE applications Abiword and Gnumeric. These programs are fine if your sole use of office software is writing letters and doing the odd budgeting spreadsheet.

SolydX doesn't give you too much software. There are some distros that bombard you with games (which most of us would never play) and some include obscure software products. SolydX gives you just about what you need without going too far.

Installing Applications

To install applications in SolydX you have to use the "Software Manager". The "Software Manager" is the same application as the one used in Mint XFCE edition.

In the top right corner is a search box and the rest of the screen is a series of categories.

Clicking on a category shows various sub categories and a list of potential applications.

By drilling down you can find applications that meet your needs.

If you know the application you wish to install then you can enter the name or a description in the search box and a list of applications will appear with ratings next to them.

Double clicking on the application in the list shows a description of the software and you are now able to install it.

Customising the desktop


To change the desktop background right click on the desktop and choose "Desktop Settings".

SolydX comes with just the one wallpaper. To add your own click the plus symbol and find the picture you want to use as wallpaper.






















I have already written a guide showing how to customise the XFCE desktop so if you want to add new panels etc then you can follow this guide.






















There is an option on the menu called "Window Manager Tweaks" which enables you to enable compositing.

By enabling compositing you can then make your XFCE panels transparent.

"Windows Manager Tweaks" includes the ability to specify where windows load for the first time, how workspaces are handled, the cycling of windows, accessibility options etc.

About SolydX

SolydX is the lightweight version of the SolydXK distribution. It is based on the Debian testing branch which means the applications stay more relevant than base Debian which runs off the "Stable" branch.

SolydX is a rolling release distro which means that when you have installed it you should not have to completely upgrade in the future.

Every month updates are released and if you install the updates you will always have the latest version of SolydX.

Summary

SolydX has a nice clean interface and everything works out of the box so for people who just want to use their computer they can do so without having to run fiddly scripts in the terminal.

I do prefer Xubuntu's use of the XFCE panels. If SolydX is going to stick with a single panel then it would be a good idea to have the application finder as part of the quick launch bar as the menu is fairly convoluted when there are lots of applications installed. Mint gets around this problem by using a different menu system.

I like the fact that SolydX isn't bombarded with applications and that it is up to you to install what you want to install. There is just enough there by default to perform most tasks.

It is also good that Flash and MP3 files play by default.

I had no glaring crashes or errors appear during my time using SolydX..

Thankyou for reading.

To get SolydX



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Posted at 00:44 |  by Gary Newell

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