23 Jun 2016

Installing Arch Linux. Part 1

Arch Linux is often rather challenging or scary when it comes to a newbie's first Linux experience. Some reasons you may want to go with Arch would be the Pacman package handler, or the fact that it comes with no bloat software that will allow you to truly make it your own. In the installation process, there is no GUI or "Press Next to Continue" to hold your hand. This usually drives people away. I also found the forums to have lots of impatient people who expect you to magically know what you're doing. Here I will try to provide an in depth guide on how to install and setup your own Arch Linux computer.

14 Jun 2016

Ubuntu MATE 16.04: there is always room for improvement

Linux bloggers have plenty of topics to write about every 6 months. These are release cycles for Ubuntu and Fedora families. Canonical and RedHat give us an opportunity to write reviews of their operating systems often enough to keep the blogs going. Many derivatives of these distributions add to the pot.

I have written three articles about Xubuntu 16.04 recently, and I am sure that there are plenty reviews of Ubuntu 16.04. But there are some other parts of that family that should be covered, should they not? Which one would I write about? That was not a question for me for one simple reason.

You know that the commercial arm of this blog sells disks with Linux distributions via BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site, helped by eBay sales. Users could purchase their own disks with different flavours of Ubuntu as I announced. Would you guess which Ubuntu flavour got most of the orders? Of course, the majority of the orders were for Ubuntu 16.04 itself. The second place was not taken by Kubuntu or Xubuntu as many would guess. It was taken by Ubuntu MATE.

What is Ubuntu MATE? Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu GNOME are the latest additions to the Ubuntu family, added when Canonical decided to release official flavours of their operating system with "new generation" desktop environments. This is not a very precise definition since MATE is a fork of "good ol'" GNOME 2 desktop environment, while GNOME 3 is used in Ubuntu GNOME. But let's put the definitions aside.

The ISO image of Ubuntu MATE 16.04 32-bit is about 1.6 Gb in size. I downloaded it using the torrent, though you can get it from one of many official mirrors too. The image is written to the DVD-R prepared for one of my customers. The disk is in the DVD-ROM of my Toshiba laptop.

Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Fasten your seatbelts. Let's go!

7 Jun 2016

ROSA Desktop Fresh R7 KDE: nothing to complain... almost

Mandriva was one of the most famous names in the Linux world just a few years ago. Unfortunately, the company behind that Linux distribution had some difficulties that inevitably created issues for the project.

Mandriva Linux also became a base for several offsprings, derivatives, and forks.

Even though the Mandriva project is no longer in its famous state, derivatives still continue their existence. The most famous of them is, of course, Mageia. I used to use Mageia versions 1 through to 5 for some time until I migrated to Ubuntu-based distributions because of some 3rd-party dependencies.

ROSA is a Linux distribution that was also forked from Mandriva some time ago. I reviewed it back in 2012, when ROSA Marathon 2012 was released.

Since then, ROSA released few more versions and the most recent of them is ROSA Desktop Fresh R7. It has been available since January 2016. Unfortunately, only the KDE version is listed on the official Download page, although a GNOME version is also available. You can download this distribution either from the Download section of the ROSA web site or via torrent. I would recommend to use this link to see all the download options you have. If you don't want to bother with downloading and making the disk, you can order one from the BuyLinuxCDs site.

The ISO image of the KDE versions of ROSA Desktop Fresh R7 is 1.9 Gb in size. I burnt it to my USB stick.

The USB stick is in the port of my Toshiba laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

31 May 2016

gNewSense: past 5 years, same nuisance

Once upon a time... Oh no... 5 years ago!
...in the kingdom far far away... Oh no... in my blog!

Yes! That happened exactly 5 years ago, believe it or not. 5 years ago, 31st of May 2011, I wrote my first, and so far the last, review of the distribution supported by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) – gNewSense. That was the version 2.3 released in September 2009.

A new version was released on the 1st of May 2016. It has index 4.0 and name Ucclia. I cannot tell you much about the version name other than it is a name of an asteroid – randomly selected one from a billion?

The documentation says the distribution name gNewSense came from Gnuisance, the RMS's GPG key. Is it true? Or the whole system is just a g-nuisance? Let's check.

When I tried to open the web site of the distribution a couple of weeks ago, the speed of their pages was awful. You could easily wait for 5 minutes before each page opens. Things are better now, though some lags are still there from time to time.

Version 4.0 of this Linux distribution is only available in NetInstall and GNOME options. The ISO image of gNewSense 4.0 GNOME is about 1.1 Gb in size, and you can get it either from several mirrors or via torrent.

If you read the article I wrote five years ago, you learn that I had a long-winded way to get gNewSense Live system running that time. I was a bit luckier this time, although the dd command failed to create a bootable USB stick for me.

The documentation says that Linux users can create a USB stick with the $cat command. However, it does not mention that it should actually be #cat. At least, for my Xubuntu system, neither $cat nor $sudo cat gave me the desired result. They simply stopped with "bash: /dev/sdb: Permission denied" error. But everything worked after switching to sudo su.

So, USB stick with the gNewSense 4.0 GNOME is in the port of my Toshiba laptop. Reboot. Choose too boot from USB. Let’s go!

24 May 2016

CentOS 7 KDE: not for home users

CentOS is one of those operating systems in the Linux world that are often recommended for students who want to continue their career as Linux system administrators. There is no wonder here, because CentOS is a re-branded compilation of the corporate operating systems leader RedHat.

I wrote my last review of CentOS almost 5 (five!) years ago, and that was CentOS 6 GNOME. That time I complained that the only version of CentOS available for the users was GNOME.

Since then I approached CentOS only once when I wanted to use it for my home file server. Unfortunately, I was out of luck as CentOS dropped support of processors without pae. That was the case for my laptop that time.

Has anything changed there? If you visit the download section of CentOS, you notice that first of all, there is version 7 of CentOS now; second, Live media is available in GNOME and KDE editions. That's a bit of progress. However, you need to dig further if you need a 32-bit version of CentOS 7. So, if you wanted to use a rock-solid, stable, and powerful operating system to rejuvenate your old computer and use it as a small family server, you need to be patient in your searches.

Apart from the Live version, there are Minimal, DVD and Everything ISOs. They can be used for direct installation of the operating system. I did not check any of these, because my choice was CentOS 7 Live KDE. You can download it directly from any of the mirrors or using torrent. The latest image is dated December 2015.

The ISO image of CentOS 7 Live KDE is just under 1.8 Gb. I downloaded it and "burnt" onto a USB stick using the dd command.

The USB stick is in the port of my laptop Toshiba Satellite L500-19X. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

17 May 2016

Xubuntu 16.04 - install and enjoy?

This is the third and hopefully the last post in the series about Xubuntu 16.04. First we had a quick screenshot tour and then a more in-depth review of the Live Xubuntu 16.04.

After all of that, I installed this operating system on my laptop. Now I want to share with you some findings of the installed version of Xubuntu 16.04 LTS.

12 May 2016

Will Ubuntu keep the title of the best Desktop OS?

While working at Dell Inc. in the 2011 I met some Linux enthusiasts that introduced me to Ubuntu. I have heard about SUSE, Debian and Red Hat before but they were never promoted as real alternatives to Windows and OS X. But Ubuntu changed my mindset toward Linux so I decided to give it a try. At the beginning I felt it was too hard to understand so I went back and forth between Ubuntu and Windows until I got used to Ubuntu. My first barrier was the fact that on Windows everything was fixed by installing a software that will do everything for you  and on Linux it was all about the Terminal. But once you realize that you don't need to deal with malware and slow performance anymore you simply don't look back at Windows.