The Ubuntu-based gNewSense is sponsored by the Free Software Foundation and is released without any proprietary or non-free components. This means no restrictions are placed on usage or sharing of gNewSense. The same can’t be said for Linux distros like Ubuntu and Debian. gNewSense is an exact snapshot of what free software has to offer. To achieve this gNewSense comes stripped of Ubuntu logos, proprietary firmware, and restricted modules.
Although I’ve reviewed several Ubuntu-based linux distributions recently(moonOS, Mint7 XFCE, & others) I feel like gNewSense is on a whole different level due to its free software status. Many users will pass over it because it consistently favors compliance over ease-of-use and usability. More and more newbies are coming to Linux for a solution, not because of their morals and beliefs about software. While I’m all for finding solutions, remember that the freedom to share is what got us this far.
I installed gNewSense and have taken these screenshots to share in hopes a few users will give it a shot.
Linux Mint 7 Gloria XFCE was just released featuring the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, Xorg 7.4 and XFCE 4.6 desktop. Linux Mint 7 has introduced us to some exciting improvements to mintInstall, mintUpdate, mintWelcome, and mintUpload along with several artwork enhancements. With XFCE 4.6 looking better than ever, the combination of the two together prompted me to do a quick installation of Linux Mint 7 XFCE to see what all the commotion was about.
I had no problems installing Linux Mint 7 XFCE. The installer was unchanged from Ubuntu, quick and the easiest I’ve found for newbies to use. Screenshots of the install are included in the gallery below this article.
Purchase Linux Mint 7 on CD or DVD
Linux Mint 7 XFCE looks similar to the original version Linux Mint and is based off the same Shiki-Mint theme. The green tinged dew drop look flows nicely from boot to desktop. Although many distros are popping up with some great looks, Linux Mint was the first distro that really surprised me and had the stability to keep surprising me. The continual improvement of the Linux Mint appearance is one mechanism that is propelling it to such popularity. I feel like the appearance got me in the door, the Ubuntu base kept me around, and the Mint specific tools like mintInstall, mintupdate, etc hooked me into using it long term on one of my machines.
I was counting on Linux Mint 7 XFCE to pick up my network connection automatically, which it did. My wireless card worked almost immediately as well. I knew this was a possibility because i was using a Cisco 350 series wireless card that I’ve found works with most Ubuntu based distros. Some take more coaxing than others. Here’s a list of Linux Mint compatible wireless cards. Wireless failure is a common problem for newbies and can be avoided by buying Linux compatible hardware. If you’re using a wireless card successfully with Linux mint please leave your specs in the comment box so we can pass this information on.
Learn Linux Mint With Videos
Linux Mint 7 XFCE worked well on my laptop. I was able to navigate quickly, access my favorite applications, and impressive Mint specific tools like mintInstall, mintUpdate, and others. This desktop could easily be one I work from daily as it includes many of the advantages of Ubuntu and some functionality of its own.
Lets take a look at some of the Linux Mint 7 changes that really make Linux mint 7 XFCE shine.
mintWelcome serves as a resource panel for users that have just installed Linux Mint. You’ll notice big time changes to mintWelcome in the Linux Mint 7 release as it includes these new welcome options. Take a look at the new mintWelcome screen.
mintInstall now has a new button you can press up at the top of the window that allows users to access the Featured Applications. These are the most popular applications made available for easy access. I found this to be a time saver and worked just fine. The mintInstall font-end also started “pre-filled” which means they fixed the annoyance where you open mintInstall, then had to refresh to do anything. Refresh can still be used for its intended purpose though. A few other smaller improvements are noticeable in mintInstall including new More Info button and shorter descriptions. Over-all mintInstall is looking and behaving fantastically.
Something I didn’t like in previous releases was the changelog tab would only support Ubuntu packages, now it support Linux Mint packages. Also mintUpdate includes download size associated with each package upgrade which makes it nice to know what you’re getting into.
Now mintUpload has no advertisements which is good news for Linux Mint users. The mintUpload GUI has been cleaned up to display relevant information and now services can be created, edited, or deleted from the GUI on the new service manager. SCP and SFTP protocols are now supported by mintUpload.
Linux Mint 7 XFCE really does mix together the stability of the Ubuntu 9.04 base, Linux Mint 7 features and beauty, along with quickness of XFCE to create a powerful, full featured, desktop that’s fast and light enough to run on older hardware.
Linux Commands Manual PDF only $9.95
Here’s a few shots taken during this Linux Mint review.
moonOS is another fantastic looking distro that has always put a lot of stock in appearance. Based on Ubuntu 9.04 Januty Jackalope and codenamed “Makara”, the moonOS 3.0 release is no exception with plenty of improvements to moonControl, the moonOS system control center, moonGrub, moonSoftware, and more. Along with many interface improvements moonOS 3.0 uses the Linux 2.6.28-15 kernel, Firefox 3.5, Pidgin 2.6 and Xorg 7.4.
I decided to give moonOS a try and see how it would stand up to some basic daily tasks.
Because moonOS runs as a live CD I was able to test out the distro before installing it. Right away I think almost anyone will notice the speed of the moonOS live CD. It takes no time to get into the desktop and once you’re there the navigation is not sluggish at all. I was especially impressed with the snappiness of the large icon animation. The quick speed of this distro says a lot if you consider the amount of eye candy included with moonOS.
The moonOS installation differed from the Ubuntu installer very little other than having the green color scheme applied, which looked great. In reviews of moonOS 2.0 I had read that it was painfully slow to install taking over an hour on average. I think this has been improved as installation took 30 minutes on my machine. An estimated time of completion shows underneath the installation progress bar. This was helpful at first but wasn’t as accurate as I had hoped. My installation seemed to hang at 95% when the installer said “installing language packs”. I clicked on the skip button underneath the progress bar and the install finished almost immediately. Other than that one potential hiccup the install went flawlessly.
A lot of Linux distro desktops look good in screenshots, but it usually doesn’t take long to notice something that isn’t working smoothly or doesn’t quit fit right. This is really what I expected with the appearance of moonOS however what I found was quite the opposite.
By default the splash screen, login window, and desktop all are themed with a leafy blend of green and yellow. The menu is a dark green color with lighter green rollover and shadowed white text that pops out nicely. The menu rollover is animated nicely as well and only looks as good as it does because there’s no lag what-so-ever. This is the same for the large icon strip the shoots down the right side. Default icons include (top to bottom) GIMP, Thunderbird, Writer(called “OpenOffice Word” here), Pidgin, Exaile, Synaptic, Terminal, Thunar, and a Calendar icon.
In the top are a few more icons that allow the user to access the home and root folder and “see file on desktop” option along with some system stats. These icons were equally useful and it made sense they’d be separated from the icon bar on the right.
After noticing how quick and elegant this distro was ending up I was hoping it could perform some of my daily tasks so that I could possibly make this install permanent and use moonOS to actually get something done. I noted a few things I must have on a day to day basis and tried to find a solution on moonOS right out of its box..
Network Connection – Almost all my activities require being connected to the internet. I was relieved when moonOS picked up my wired connection automatically.
Browsing The Web - I love using Firefox mostly because of the extensions and add-ons I use. moonOS offers Firefox so i’m happy.
Graphic Editing – This was obvious for me. GIMP is included by default on moonOS and has served as my Photoshop replacement now that I run Linux.
Listening To Music – I had not used Exhaile before testing it but after a 30 minute overview I found no problems using it. The tabbed interface in the top left corner of Exhaile along with features like Album Art Collector and plugin options have made me consider using it on my primary machine with or without moonOS.
Text Editing – The OpenOffice suite has you covered for larger projects while you can open gedit under Applications — Accessories — Text Editor for a lightweight option. These are more than enough for stuff I do.
Adding Software – After looking into adding packages to moonOS i discovered it uses a tool unique to the distro called moonSoftware. After selecting it in the menu I saw a message stating that I needed to download the data package before I could use moonSoftware. I agreed and watched moonOS download and install the single package. After it was finished I saw another message confirming its’ success. Then up came the moonSoftware window. This useful interface features the same functionality as other graphical package managers and also displays a screenshot of the application selected which I found to be a nice touch.
moonControl – I also checked out moonControl which serves as the moonOS main control panel. This interface includes a box in the top right that holds groups Look and Feel, Internet and Network, Hardware, System, and Other. When a group is selected, options for the group show up on the left side of the window. moonControl worked just fine for me and helped me find a lot of things without hunting around the desktop and menu for them.
These are just a few things moonOS can help you do. Much more is available right out of the box. Download it here.
TIP: Get help using moonOS in the XChat IRC chat room. Left Click — Applications — Internet — XChat IRC
moonOS may not take over as my primary operating system but it does have many features out of the box that I wish my Ubuntu setup had. What do you think of moonOS?
See official moonOS release notes.
GoblinX is a Slackware based Linux distribution that consists of a Live CD and provides a simple functional desktop. Since version 3.0 the GoblinX distro comes in several editions. This release, GoblinX 3.0 “G:Noblin” is for GNOME desktop users and features latest packages of GNOME 2.24. While other editions of GoblinX include “G:Standard” features KDE while “G:Mini” features XFCE and “G:Micro” features Fluxbox. While GNOME is the default desktop on this most recent GoblinX 3.0 G:Noblin release it also comes with a specially prepared Netbook interface based on the Ubuntu Netbook Remix model with some ideas provided by the Foresight distribution.
The major changes in GoblinX 3.0 “G:Noblin” include:
- New bootsplash theme
- Upgraded Netbook interface
- Wireless devices updated
- xorg upgrade
- Java JRE and Vuze added
- Added Slackware xz package format extension support
- Added Flash Player plugin script for easier install
- Packages and libraries upgraded
- Bugs and errors corrected
Buy GoblinX on CD in our cart or you can download GoblinX.iso and burn it to a CD and boot from it as a Live CD. This way you can see if its for you or not before installing. Users wanting to install on a USB download the .zip file and unzip it to your USB device. Then run bootinst.sh if you’re on Linux or bootinst.bat if you’re on Windows to make it bootable.
I have a Dell Latitude c600 laptop that I like to use for light work or when I’m on the go. Between overall awkwardness and to age of the laptop I have found it hard to find a Linux distribution that runs well without too much configuration. This isn’t my main computer so I’ve been putting it off until today.
After trying Vector, Xubuntu, Puppy, and SimplyMEPIS I heard a friend recommending Zenwalk after he had great success on his older Dell laptop. Then I saw the most recent release of Zenwalk version 6.2 was just released yesterday, so I decided to give Zenwalk a shot. I burned the Zenwalk 6.2 Standard edition .ISO file onto a CD. The installation went smoothly although it wasn’t as easy as when I installed Ubuntu. The part that trips most users up is the partitioning. I used automatic partitioning option in Zenwalk and had no problems.
After restarting the system and waiting for it to boot I was brought to the Zenwalk login window.
I logged in and was brought to the XFCE desktop.
Right away the desktop icon dock/panel at the bottom of the desktop caught my eye. It contained the Iceweasel web browser, Totem movies player, Icedove email client, a link to the command line, file browser, desktop settings, network manager, and the sound mixer. Recently I’ve gotten in to using docks because they save me a few seconds on each click. The downside is some are heavy on the resources however the Zenwalk dock was quick to load and my dock experience was very pleasant. Right click on the dock and select from the menu to customize it.
Icons and Wallpaper
The icons, wallpaper and overall desktop feel is great with the default setting of Zenwalk 6.2 enabled. The wallpaper features a medium blue background with a lighter, semi-transparent swirl. I found the appearance of Zenwalk to be of a higher quality than many other distros. The orange Zenwalk logo in the bottom right matches the smaller one on the left and the tiny logo in the top left that serves as the menu. Although this looks nice I’m not sure that such a small icon is the best way to announce where your menu is located. Desktop switcher and power options appear on the right side of the top panel.
Two things I liked about the XFCE menu of Zenwalk are how simple and quick it is. The icons are small and clean positioned to the left of each menu item. The menu includes applications for multimedia like Brasero bruner, Exhaile music player, ISO master and more. The entire OpenOffice suite is available in the Office area of the menu while GIMP is available for image editing in Graphics. A few Network applications include Pidgin, gFTP, Transmission and more. Down a little further on the menu you’ll see Accessories, Settings, System and Logout options. Settings and System are where you’ll make most of the changes to Zenwalk. Unless of course you’re using the command line.
Although it’s hard to pass judgment on any Linux distro without using it for a few days, Zenwalk looks good. We’ll see how long it holds up.