| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 551, 24 March 2014
Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Linux distributions are becoming more sophisticated, adopting more powerful tools and growing in market share. This expansion in capability and userbase results in more software companies moving to support Linux and more hardware companies providing device drivers. This week we focus on the expansion of Linux distributions, new markets, opportunities opening to Linux users and powerful technologies available to Linux administrators. In the News section this week we follow Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth's call for an end to proprietary firmware. We also discuss game retailer GOG's decision to support Linux, openSUSE's plans for their next major release and Debian's tentative plan to extend support for Debian Squeeze. In our Tips and Tricks column, Jesse Smith talks about the advantages of advanced file systems and gives a tutorial on using Logical Volume Management. In our feature this week we cover Linux Mint Debian Edition, a rolling release platform which mixes the power of Debian with the convenience of Linux Mint. Read on to find out how the Debian Edition of Mint compares to the Ubuntu-based flavours Mint offers. Plus we cover last week's distribution releases and look ahead to new developers to come. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403
The Linux Mint distribution has become one of the most popular desktop distributions available. The project has a few official editions and a handful of community editions, most of which are based on the Ubuntu operating system or a member of the Ubuntu family. Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is a branch of the Mint project which combines Mint's popular and convenient utilities with Debian packages. LMDE uses Debian Testing as a base and adds a nice, graphical installer and a number of useful administrative tools. According to the Mint website, LMDE offers two benefits over Mint's Ubuntu-based editions. The first is that Debian's base requires fewer resources, making for a lighter, faster desktop system. The second benefit is LMDE is a rolling release distribution which means packages are constantly upgraded, removing the need to re-install or upgrade the operating system -- the operating system does not hit an end-of-life, it is continuously supported. LMDE does have some drawbacks though. The project's website mentions that LMDE is not as user friendly as the Ubuntu-based editions of Mint and LMDE users will not be able to make use of Ubuntu's PPA repositories or other Ubuntu-specific technologies.
The latest version of LMDE is available in two editions, MATE and Cinnamon. Both editions are available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. I opted to try the MATE edition and found the provided ISO file was 1.3GB in size. Booting from the installation media brings us to the MATE desktop. The user interface is arranged in the traditional style with an application menu, task switcher and system tray placed at the bottom of the screen. Icons sit on the desktop, providing access to the file system and system installer. The application menu uses a custom layout that matches other Mint editions. The Mint menu is arranged in a way which combines file locations and popular applications (by default) while allowing us to click a button in order to browse all available desktop applications in a classic manner.
Jumping into the LMDE graphical installer we are asked to provide our preferred language and then select our time zone from a map of the world. We then confirm our keyboard's layout. Next we are asked to create a user account for ourselves and assign our computer a hostname. The following screen features disk partitioning. By default the Mint installer will suggest a partition layout for us and this layout should work for most people. Should we wish to customize our partitions clicking a button will launch the friendly GParted partition editor. Once GParted has been closed we can assign mount points to our partitions by either double-clicking on them or right-clicking a partition. The final page of the system installer asks if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where. The system installer then quickly copied its files to my local drive and prompted me to reboot the computer.
Booting into LMDE the first time brings us to a graphical login screen. The background is green and, on my systems, looked to be slowly falling, like an emerald waterfall. Logging in brings up a welcome screen which offers us links to the project's forums, documentation, known issues page, hardware database, tutorials and the donation page. Dismissing this welcome screen returns us to the MATE desktop. On the day I installed LMDE the project's main package repository went off-line. Following the steps provided on Mint's blog I switched to a fast package repository in my region before attempting to install or upgrade any software.
Linux Mint Debian 201403 -- Adjusting repositories and desktop settings
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Shortly after I switched software repositories a notification appeared in my system tray letting me know software updates were available. Clicking the notification icon brought up a graphical update manager which listed the possible updates. There were just six small packages waiting and these all appeared to download and install without any problems. Once they finished downloading I clicked on the update manager's Update Pack button to see if I was using the latest available group of packages. This caused the update manager to freeze and I had to force it to close. I tried a couple more times over the next few days to check for update packs and each time the update manager froze.
Soon into my experiment with LMDE I noticed my "?" key was not working properly. Instead of a forward slash or a question mark the key was producing an accented "e" on my screen. I had seen this before and went to change the keyboard layout in the MATE desktop settings. Attempting to open the keyboard layout app caused the configuration app's window to freeze as it was opening. I found the Appearance app, also a MATE configuration tool, would lock-up upon opening. Rebooting the operating system and approaching these configuration apps from Mint's Control Centre fixed the problem. I was then able to change my keyboard's layout from French to US. During the installation I'm quite sure I opted for the standard US keyboard to begin with, but I have run into similar layout issues with other distributions and I believe the problem stems from the installer using my location (time zone) in Canada to (incorrectly) guess my keyboard's layout.
Another problem I ran into while using LMDE was that a variety of actions would cause an endless stream of file manager windows to open, quickly filling the display. Sometimes this endless flow of file manager windows would appear while I was saving a file in an application, other times the windows would start appearing if I tried to open the Caja file manager. A few times the endless stream of windows began spawning when I tried to play a music file. Anything and, seemingly, nothing would cause the screen to fill up with file manager windows. Trying to close them didn't work and killing all the Caja processes did not work either, more windows would continue to appear. I also found logging out of my account and logging in again would just resume the spawning of new windows. The only (temporary) fix I found was to reboot the computer. Even wiping all of my user's configuration files did not fix the glitch. Eventually this regular stream of infinite windows appearing on my display caused me to put aside LMDE, but not before exploring the distribution a bit more.
Linux Mint Debian 201403 -- Various desktop applications
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LMDE comes with a useful collection of desktop software. Poking through the application menu I found the Firefox web browser, the VLC multimedia player, the Thunderbird e-mail client and the Pidgin messaging software. The distribution also ships with the Transmission bittorrent client, the XChat IRC client, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and LibreOffice. LMDE ships with a document viewer, the Totem video player, the Banshee audio player and the Brasero disc burning software. Further exploring the application menu we find a system monitor, a whole collection of desktop configuration applications for MATE, an archive manager, virtual calculator and text editor. The Network Manager software assists us in getting on-line. There are several administrative tools too, such as a services manager, a network configuration utility, a printer manager, a website blocker and a backup app. LMDE ships with the GNU Compiler Collection, Flash support, Java and popular multimedia codecs. Under the hood I found the Linux kernel, version 3.11.
Should we wish to download additional software LMDE provides two graphical package managers. The first is Synaptic, a classic package manager that allows us to browse lists of software and create batches of actions to perform. Synaptic generally works quickly, but has a technical style which may be intimidating to new users. The second package manager, mintInstall, provides a nice, friendly interface where we browse through categories of software. Clicking an application's icon brings up detailed information on the package along with a screen shot, a single-click Install button and reviews from other users. The mintInstall application allows us to queue software for installation or removal and then continue to browse for further software packages while our software downloads in the background. And there are many software packages from which to choose with over 40,000 items in the combined Debian and Mint repositories. Early on I experienced some trouble with LMDE's package managers. The first time I tried to install software I was informed there was a problem with the underlying dpkg package manager. Resolving this issue eventually required a trip to the command line where I found dpkg needed to be run with the "--configure -a" parameters before I could install, add or upgrade any software. Once dpkg had been sorted out, further package installations and removals went smoothly.
Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 -- Managing software packages with mintInstall
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I tried running LMDE in two environments, a VirtualBox virtual machine and a physical desktop machine. In both environments LMDE detected all of my hardware, automatically set up a network connection and set my display to its maximum resolution. Audio worked out of the box and the MATE desktop was very responsive. LMDE used more memory than most other distributions shipping with the MATE interface; I found LMDE required 290MB of RAM to login to the default desktop environment.
After a few days with LMDE I came to the conclusion that the distribution does live up to its description. The Mint website says LMDE may have some rough edges and be less convenient for users when compared against the Ubuntu-based editions of Mint. I agree. The LMDE experience is quite similar to Linux Mint's main edition on the surface, but there were various problems present which I do not recall experiencing when running Mint's other editions. Some of these problems were minor, like my keyboard mapping defaulting to French or the MATE desktop configuration apps locking up. Others were a bit more serious such as when I had to drop to a command line interface to fix an issue with the package manager. The file manager window spawning an endless supply of new windows was also most unwelcome. All in all, LMDE may provide the convenience of a rolling release distribution and the power of Mint's many utilities, but I also found it came with some nasty surprises which, eventually, made me abandon it as a desktop solution. Individually the bugs I encountered were not show stoppers, most of them were minor, but they added up. In short, I suspect most users will be better served using Mint's Ubuntu-based, long term support edition.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Shuttleworth calls for an end to proprietary firmware, GOG to offer Linux support, openSUSE plans 13.2 release, Debian considers extended support for Squeeze and the election for Debian's new Project Leader begins
In a blog post last week Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu distribution, called for an end to proprietary firmware. Proprietary firmware, he argues, is likely to be buggy, insecure and may even be maliciously used against the computer's owner. "In ye olden days, a manufacturer would ship Windows, which could not be changed, and they wanted to innovate on the motherboard, so they used firmware to present a standard interface for things like power management to a platform that could not modified to accommodate their innovation. Today, that same manufacturer can innovate on the hardware and publish a patch for Linux to express that innovation -- and Linux is almost certainly the platform that matters." Shuttleworth goes on to say that the Linux kernel is the place to deliver software innovation and solutions and urges developers to avoid proprietary firmware, especially firmware containing executable code.
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GOG is a popular website for purchasing DRM-free games, particularly older games. To date the GOG website has offered games for the Windows and OS X platforms only and has avoided calls asking them to offer products for Linux users. That is about to change. In an announcement GOG made it known they will soon be selling DRM-free games for Linux Mint and Ubuntu users. "We're initially going to be launching our Linux support on GOG.com with the full GOG.com treatment for Ubuntu and Mint. That means that right now we're hammering away at testing games on a variety of configurations, training up our teams on Linux-speak, and generally getting geared up for a big kick-off in the fall with at least 100 Linux games ready for you to play. This is, of course, going to include games that we sell which already have Linux clients, but we'll also be bringing Linux gamers a variety of classics that are, for the first time, officially supported and maintained by a storefront like ours."
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In an announcement which may bring on feelings of déjà vu, the openSUSE project has reported, for the second time in two months, that their rsync server is off-line. The openSUSE website reports, "As the hardware is located in the data center of our sponsor IP Exchange, we apologize for the delay it will take to fix the problem: we just need a field worker at the location who has the appropriate permissions and skills. During the downtime (and maybe also a good tip afterward), please check ... for the closest mirror nearby your location that also offers rsync for you."
In happier news, the openSUSE project is planning their next release, version 13.2, which will probably arrive in November 2014. "Our normal 8-month release cycle would warrant a release in July, but the openSUSE team has proposed to change the schedule due to the work they are doing on our tooling and infrastructure. In the discussions on our mailing list it became clear a November release has much support." One of the primary features planned for openSUSE's 13.2 release is the inclusion of the advanced file system, Btrfs, as the distribution's default. The next version of openSUSE will likely also feature early KDE 5 support and Wayland display server packages.
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Good news for fans of Debian Squeeze may follow a recent meeting of the Debian Security Team. One of the items the Debian Security Team discussed was the possibility of making Debian Squeeze a long term support release, extending the supported life span of Debian's 6.0 branch. "It needs to be pointed out that for this effort to be sustainable actual contributions by interested parties are required. Squeeze-LTS is not something that will magically fall from the sky. If you're dependent/interested in extended security support you should make an effort to contribute, either by contributing on your own or by paying a Debian developer/consultant to contribute for you. The security team itself is driving the effort, not doing it." The Debian Security Team is not yet certain if there are enough people interested in long term support for Squeeze and interested parties should contact the group.
In other Debian news, the venerable open source project kicked off the election race for Debian's next Project Leader. There are just two candidates in this year's election, current Project Leader Lucas Nussbaum and challenger Neil McGovern. The two candidates will be putting forward their positions and answering questions on the Debian-Vote mailing list from now until March 30th. Voting will commence on March 31st and run for two weeks. Both candidates have put forward ideas on ways to improve Debian. Some ideas that have been suggested include improving the project's security, porting Debian to more mobile devices and introducing support for personal package archives (PPA).
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Advanced File Systems and Logical Volume Management
On occasion I have written about advanced file systems and some of the benefits technologies such as Btrfs and ZFS provide. One form of advanced and flexible storage technology I tend to skip over is Logical Volume Management (LVM), which is commonly used in Linux distributions. What is LVM, why do people use it and how does it work? These are questions I have received recently and I would like to tackle all of those questions here, together.
First, before we talk about the advantages of a technology like LVM, it is important to understand the limitations of standard file systems so we can appreciate what LVM improves. With traditional file systems we divide a hard disk into partitions. Each of these partitions is then assigned a mount point. This means we may have one partition for our root file system, another for our home directory and maybe a third for the /var directory. The one-to-one arrangement of one partition to one file system branch makes it fairly easy to visualize how standard file systems work. Where traditional file systems are limited is in their flexibility. Imagine we have a 100GB hard drive and we divide it into three parts, assigning 10GB for our root partition, 10GB for /var and the remaining 80GB is used for our /home file system. That seems fine for now, but what if we find out later that 10GB is not big enough for our /var file system? We could shrink our /home partition (if it is not full) and expand /var, but that requires taking our machine off-line. We could buy a new hard disk and make a /var partition there and then erase the existing /var, but again that requires taking the system off-line and resizing operations are awkward and time consuming. Basically, the big problems with traditional file systems are they are not fluid, resizing them is awkward and they have a strict one-to-one relationship with the underlying partitions. To get around these limitations we can use LVM.
The hardest part about learning to use LVM is the jargon involved. With LVM there are three terms which get thrown around a lot and it is important to understand them. The first term is physical volume. A physical volume is another way of saying a hard drive or a partition. The second term is volume group. A volume group is simply a collection of physical volumes. Let's say we have three hard drives (A, B and C), if we link drives A and B together we can consider them a volume group. Another hard drive, such a C, could be made into a separate volume group consisting of a single physical volume. The third term is logical volume. A logical volume is basically a file system which exists inside a volume group. If this is difficult to visualize I find it helps to think about cookies.
Traditional file systems are like baking cookies. We scoop out some raw dough onto a pan. Each cookie is physically separate from all other cookies. Once we put the pan in the oven the cookies harden and come out of the oven as fixed-sized individual snacks. A cookie and a traditional file system are both of a fixed size, separate from all other cookies or partitions. They cannot be merged once made and resizing them is difficult. If you make eight cookies and ten friends come to visit you cannot simply make each cookie smaller, freeing up dough for the extra two guests. Likewise, if six people arrive you cannot dynamically erase two cookies and make the remaining six cookies bigger to satisfy your guests. Now, let's re-imagine cookie baking with LVM. With LVM what we do is take all of the cookie dough and spread it onto the pan as one big block. We put the block of dough in the oven and, when it comes out, we have a solid sheet, a giant cookie that we can then carve into as many pieces of any size we wish. It doesn't matter how many people show up now, because we can dynamically carve the block of cookie so each person gets a fair share. LVM lets us group all of our storage devices (cookie dough) into one big block so that we can carve up the block into separate, dynamic file systems.
By now you are probably enlightened (or hungry) and ready for an example. For the purposes of this tutorial I am going to say I have two hard drives (sda and sdb). I will also assume we have our distribution's LVM packages installed. First I am going to create a LVM-compatible partition on sda. This partition will be called sda1. To do this I launch cfdisk or another partition manager and create a partition which takes up the entire drive. I set the partition type to be Linux-LVM, which is numerically identified by the code 8E.
Our next step is to mark our device, sda1, as being a physical volume which can be used by LVM.
Now we have a physical volume and we want to use it to create a volume group. We can create a volume group called datapool using the following command:
vgcreate datapool /dev/sda1
Now that we have a volume group consisting of one partition, sda1, we can divide the group into separate file systems or logical volumes. Here we create a logical volume called myhome and make it 50GB in size.
lvcreate -n myhome -L 50g datapool
Now we have a virtual partition, or logical volume, called myhome. The next thing we need to do is format it with a file system. In this example we use the ext3 file system to format myhome. Remember, the logical volume myhome exists within the volume group datapool.
Finally, we get to mount the logical volume and start making use of it. Here we create a new mount point, called Data, and attach our new logical volume to the Data directory.
Were we to run the df command right now we should see a 50GB file system mounted under the Data directory. This is great, but earlier we talked about resizing and how dynamic LVM can be. What if we want to make the logical volume myhome larger? We can do that by extending the logical volume and then resizing its file system. Here we grow the myhome volume by 100GB.
mount /dev/datapool/myhome Data
lvextend -L +100g datapool/myhome
We do not even need to take the file system off-line or reboot or anything of that nature. Simply running these commands expands the logical volume and the file system on it. We now have a 150GB storage pool under the Data directory.
At the moment we just have one device, sda1, in our volume group. What if we run out of space and want to add a new hard drive to our storage pool? In that case the steps are similar to creating the volume group in the first place. We create a partition on our second disk, sdb, and make it of type Linux-LVM. We then mark the new device as a physical volume.
Next we add the new device to our volume group.
vgextend datapool /dev/sdb1
This gives us a whole new device in our volume group which we can then assign to a logical volume. We can either create a new logical volume and assign it its own mount point or we could add the new storage to our existing myhome logical volume using the lvextend command. If at any point we would like to see a list of physical volumes, volume groups or our logical volumes we can run special list commands to display the existing groups and their sizes. The commands pvs, vgs, and lvs list the existing physical volumes, volume groups and logical volumes, respectively.
A word of warning about using LVM: It is a powerful and flexible technology which can be very useful in situations where data storage requires change. This makes LVM especially useful on servers where data can grow quickly and, sometimes, in unpredictable ways. However, there is a potential problem with using LVM and that is if one physical storage device fails we can lose all of the data stored in the volume group. For instance, if I have drives A, B and C in a volume group and drive C fails, I may have just lost all of my data stored in the entire volume group. For this reason it is very important to make regular backups of data stored on a volume group as files may be stretched across any or all devices inside the group.
|Released Last Week
SparkyLinux 3.3 "MATE", "Xfce", "Base"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.3 "MATE", "Xfce", and the newly introduced "Base" (Openbox) editions, a set of Debian-based distributions featuring various lightweight desktop user interfaces: "SparkyLinux 3.3 'Annagerman' MATE, Xfce, and Base is out. New ISO images of SparkyLinux provide updates and some improvements. All packages upgraded from Debian testing repositories as of 2014/03/16. This is the end of Sparky Ultra and CLI Editions. Instead of them, there is a new 'Base' Edition which is a combination of Ultra and CLI. Sparky Base Edition is targeted to people who want to build their own desktop on the top of Debian testing base. Compared to the CLI Edition, Sparky 'Base' works in graphical mode so it will be much easier to install and configure additional applications than before. Sparky Base is very light and its size is about 600 MB. The 'new' installer is recommended for a hard drive installation." Check the release announcement for further details.
José Antonio Calvo has announced the release of Zentyal 3.4, an updated version of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution for small and medium businesses: "Zentyal development team is proud to announce the release of Zentyal 3.4, a new Zentyal Server Community Edition. Zentyal Server is the open source alternative to Windows Small Business Server, including native replacements to Microsoft Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange Server. Among all the changes Zentyal 3.4 introduces, we would like to put the focus on: High Availability for Unified Threat Management (UTM) and Gateway; Outlook Anywhere support; New restyled Zentyal webmail UI; Out of Office support for OpenChange. Core Changes: New base distribution: Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy; Removal of Apache instance for Zentyal; Administration Improved system of bug reports; Improved management of exceptions...." Read the official announcement for more details such as upgrading instructions and the lengthy changelog.
Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) 0.23, a security upgrade of the Debian-based distribution and live CD pre-configured for anonymous web browsing, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.23, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible: this release fixes numerous security issues. Security fixes: Upgrade the web browser to 24.4.0esr-0+tails1~bpo60+1 (Firefox 24.4.0esr + Iceweasel patches + Torbrowser patches). Major new features: Spoof the network interfaces' MAC address by default - It can be disabled in Tails Greeter; Rework the way to configure how Tor connects to the network by using bridges, proxies and restrictive firewalls - This option can be set from Tails Greeter, and replaces the old experimental 'bridge mode' feature...." Read the full release announcement with links to changelog, known issues, and calendar/roadmap.
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 24.0, a new stable version of the Debian-based distribution designed primarily for web kiosks with Firefox as the only user application: "It has been 3 months since the Webconverger 23 release which has been a fine stable release. Now it's time to upgrade for Live users for security reasons and a couple of new features mainly driven by Firefox. Detailed changes between 23.0 and 24.0: Firefox 28; MP4 video playing support, so you can use an MP4 video now to attract patrons to your service when idle; Flash security updates, though do try HTML video instead, so we can deprecate Flash; Linux kernel 3.12, a longterm stable kernel; New filter= API which complements our new (yet to be launched) filter.webconverger.com service for fine grained blacklisting (think OpenDNS, but cheaper). For install users of 23.0, the upgrade delta is about 178M, when automatically upgrading...." Read the full release announcement.
Euan Thoms has announced the release of Kwheezy 1.5, which is a Debian-based distribution with a pre-configured KDE desktop, designed for general-purpose desktop computing: "Version 1.5 is now available from the download page. This release improves the installer, ships Debian updates, changes and adds some new software. Changes in version 1.5: Improved installer - add boot flag to root partition, try to fix progress bar not updating; New App 'Kwheezy Connector' will easily setup mounted WebDAV and SFTP connections; Updated to Debian 7.4; Default font changed to Deja Vu Sans; Google Earth updated to version 7...." Here is the brief release announcement with upgrade notes.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- LaciOS. The LaciOS project is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian's Testing repositories. The distribution strives to be an easy to use desktop operating system.
- CruxEX. CruxEX is a CRUX-based distribution which ships with the LXDE graphical user interface.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 31 March 2014. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
1 • LMDE review (by zykoda on 2014-03-24 09:13:48 GMT from United Kingdom) |
I have been running 64 bit LMDE (cinnamon) for a few weeks now. I have not experienced any of the "effects" that you describe in the review (lucky for me!). You do not say whether you used the 32 or 64 bit version of MATE! One effect I do not like, (it may be my hardware since other distros are likewise affected) is the erratic USB mouse behaviour whereby the cursor steering halts after a while but the mouse buttons are still effective. This problem still remains for me after many attempts at resolution.
2 • Debial LTS et Mint LMDE (by musty on 2014-03-24 09:17:18 GMT from France)
Hi, this is a great news for debian squeeze fans... i hope Wheezy will be a Lts too.
For Mint LMDE, i have some of the problrms you found and think they are going to be corrected soon.. I mess Mint Lmde Xfce and Lxde.
great work as always...keep going on
3 • Debial LTS et Mint LMDE (by musty on 2014-03-24 09:19:50 GMT from France)
I mean : I miss Mint Lmde Xfce and Lxde.
4 • Debian Testing with MATE works flawlessly (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-24 09:30:04 GMT from Belgium)
I am running Debian Jessie (testing) with Mate in 3 computers (one 32-bit laptop, one 64-bit notebook, and one 64-bit workstation) and I have not experienced any of the bugs described in the review.
This most likely means that they are LMDE-specific. One way to confirm this would be giving the Mate version of Sparky a try,
The only bug that I have observed this far is really irrelevant and it appears to show up only with the combination of the Mate DE and the Shiki themes: The desktop fonts should be white but they turn black after rebooting. However, if you just open the desktop settings they turn white again.
5 • Missed opportunities (by LorenzoC on 2014-03-24 10:41:52 GMT from Italy)
Windows Vista being half baked -> Linux failed to become an alternative.
Windows 8 with useless "modern" interface -> Linux failed again.
Windows XP end of support -> Linux is failing again.
But hey, who cares of giving people something that just works and that can effectively replace Windows. It is much better to play with toys for nerds again and again. The millionaire is all focused on achieving "convergence" between PCs and mobile gadgets and to worry about NSA then he doens't have time to think there are millions PCs that need to replace XP the coming weeks.
6 • RE: 5 • Missed opportunities (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-24 10:49:31 GMT from Belgium)
Most computer users have never installed an operating system (any operating system) and never will.
If you want to sell it or even distribute it for free to the masses it needs to come pre-installed.
7 • LMDE (by Bruce Peary Solomon on 2014-03-24 11:57:16 GMT from )
Having used LMDE for something like 5 years, I note that the update packs, which come at about a 6-month to 1-year interval, always cause me some headache. Typically, lost configs, deprecated programs, and system changes require about two weeks of work, and some questions to the forum, to resolve. That's still better than reinstalling a new version, however.
8 • RE:5, People don't do that. (by Garon on 2014-03-24 12:06:29 GMT from United States)
People don't replace their operating system. At least most of them don't. They just buy a new computer and they don't know that Windows 8 is a "useless modern interface," they just go ahead and use it. Most people don't know about the end of XP support. Why should they? They don't care. Linux hasn't failed but it's been people like you who have. Have you tried to show people there is an alternative to Windows XP and Windows 8? When someone tries to do smart marketing with LInux, for what the future will hold, you down talk the effort. The reality of it all is that millions of PCs "will not" be replacing XP in the next few weeks and also you may find that a lot of desktops PCs in the near future will be replaced with tablets, and, Chromebooks and even smartphones. That is what the future hold and that is the reality of it all. Convergence must be achieved before success can be achieved. To not do that would be the great fail. Not for the server market but for the general public's uses.
9 • @5, 6 Missed opportunities (by DavidEF on 2014-03-24 12:20:07 GMT from United States)
Linux isn't failing. It's just that nobody is doing the work to make it a commercial desktop success. Maybe you'd like to give it a try? Anyway, there are school systems, entire governments, commercial giants like Google and Dell, and millions of other people using Linux on a daily basis exclusively. I'd hardly call that a failure. And, if you add in most of the world's top supercomputers, and a majority of servers, set-top boxes, render-farms, etc. Linux is the most successful operating system ever. Did you know that Hollywood's favorite OS for rendering animation sequences is Linux? Yep, it is. And recently we've seen some attention from the gaming industry, with Steam coming to Linux, and now GOG officially supporting it as well. Then, of course, there's Android, top of the game in the mobile industry, and it's Linux, too. The only thing we don't see is a huge showing in the desktop/laptop category on the shelves of major retailers. And it isn't because Linux is failing or has failed, because it obviously isn't and hasn't. There are more and better reasons than that.
I don't think the issue all comes down to only the lack of pre-installs. There have been Linux pre-installs available in the US market in the past, and they never made it big. The biggest problem I see is not a lack of Linux pre-installed hardware, but a lack of consumer education in the form of effective advertising. Someone needs to not only do the work of offering a Linux computer, but spend the money to advertise it properly.
10 • LVM & LMDE (by chemicalfan on 2014-03-24 13:08:39 GMT from United Kingdom)
Thanks for the detailed tutorial on LVM ;)
I'd also like to echo the problems you had with Caja spawning endlessly, I too suffer this on LMDE MATE 32 bit....hoping that it is patched soon
11 • LMDE bugs (by Mike Fossbrooke on 2014-03-24 13:14:47 GMT from United Kingdom)
I have had similar experiences with the LMDE offerings. Lots of annoying bugs not found in the ubuntu-based versions. For me LMDE is a 'testing' OS, not a work one.
The MATE desktop is coming along nicely, so much better than Gnome 3.x, at least for those of us who work with our OS, not just "network". The main problem seems to be mating MATE with compiz - always problems with Linux Mint but works like a charm with Point Linux. Strange.
12 • LMDE is luvly for me, I really like the cinnamon they provide + updates from sid (by Eric on 2014-03-24 13:35:21 GMT from Canada)
"deb http://ftp.ca.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free" or "deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free" or whichever debian mirror you prefer to your sources.list
and dist-upgrading to sid unstable from LMDE goes well, it has a modern kernel, the latest Cinnamon desktop from the authors of the DE which isn't available yet in debian itself.
Trick is you just need to know how to keep a sid system working for longer than ~6-8 months :P
13 • Re: 3: Miss XFCE LMDE (by Cork on 2014-03-24 14:10:03 GMT from United States)
Try SolydX. "LMDE without the problems, and with XFCE."
14 • Re: 3: Miss XFCE LMD (by anticapitalista on 2014-03-24 14:32:57 GMT from Greece)
You could also try the just released MX-14. Xfce on a Wheezy base enhanced with newer applications from debian-backports and MEPIS Community.
and it fits on a cd!
15 • re: Missed opportunities (by Just Sayin on 2014-03-24 14:51:47 GMT from Austria)
"One of" the issues affecting GNU*Linux gaining independent user desktop share at the expense of Windows, is the matter of "some" people with the skill set required to effect such change coloring Windows, OS X, and GNU*Linux as differing divisions of the same army when drawing up their "battle plans."
16 • SolydX Instead of LMDE (by VT on 2014-03-24 15:06:43 GMT from United States)
Just wanted to second 13's comment. Have been using this distro on all my systems for several weeks now. So far, so good, Have had none of the problems of LMDE. Can't use PPA's as conveniently, but it's relatively easy to compile needed software from the same PPAs. Lighter. Rolling Release. My understanding is that Solyd's developers were originally LMDE users who thought they could do better -- and so far they have.
17 • LVM tutorial (by Erno on 2014-03-24 15:15:33 GMT from United States)
What a timely tutorial on LVM. It helped me resize my 5.4G home directory, which was long overdue.
I know it's not Debian based (I used to live by Debian based only) but Sabayon Linux KDE edition has been kicking butt on my system for more than 6 months now. Rolling release, awesome app presence in the repositories, no problems with updates, and my 70 year old father wants nothing else on his system than Sabayon KDE.
For those who are complaining of Linux not taking advantage of the Windows XP end of life support, it took Apple many years to become part of the mainstream landscape of computers (note not OS) and they did it via the "back door" created by the iPods. If Ubuntu can create a culture of well liked mobile devices around the world, they may just be able to get people interested in buying ready-made Ubuntu computers too.
18 • GOG officially supporting Linux.. (by Bill on 2014-03-24 15:19:37 GMT from United States)
Well this was great news for me. I have been using Linux now for 3 years and loving it, but I had to set up a dual boot for my wife as she loves to play games like, King's Quest and Torin's passage. Soon I can free her from MS and the last windows machine here will pass into oblivion.
I disagree with "Missed Opportunities," I have a multi boot system where I test many OS's and I was able to show my wife how to use Linux Mint in about an hour and she now does all her office work and spreadsheets and facebooking with ease.
I plan on buying my next computer with Linux pre-installed.
Windows XP, what's that? Only a memory.
19 • MX-14 (by Dave Postles on 2014-03-24 15:23:35 GMT from United Kingdom)
It looks excellent - the beauty of Mepis and the functionality of AntiX, but I will have to await a 64-bit version.
20 • LVM... (by Vukota on 2014-03-24 16:05:09 GMT from United States)
Few more "tricks" like listing current volumes (to assess what is currently on the system) and creating/rolling back to snapshots before/after upgrade (switch to a different OS) would make the tutorial more useful/complete. This way you just covered one limited use case. Maybe we'll see "part 2" next week?
I don't rely these days too much on a backups before upgrade/distro change, but on LVM snapshots (though you have to watch out what boot managers will use for partition identification during a boot following the installation).
21 • LMDE glitches & Linux market share (by M.Z. on 2014-03-24 17:19:44 GMT from United States)
I've actually had a problem similar to the continuously opening windows that Jesse did; however, my problem was with Firefox on the main edition of Mint x64 with Cinnamon. It's odd that both the Ubuntu & Debian version had a similar window issue; however, for me the work around seemed to be just giving the desktop a few extra seconds to load before opening Firefox. The error only seemed to occur when I started Firefox immediately after logging in, and it seems to have gone away now that I've trained myself not to do that, but I haven't checked in a while.
As for what's been said by #5 and others about Linux market share, well I think #6 makes a good point, but the fact of the matter is that not all that many people are aware of Linux. I've mentioned it as an alternative to people on more than a few occasions; however, I think most people don't know or care to know about alternatives to Windows & Mac, and that is in addition to not wanting to ever install an OS. I think if you could talk to someone about the features like thousands of free programs from a safe centralized software management system & an excellent security record then you might get more converts. It's a hard sell to get people to switch though, and I think that there are more than a few who use old stuff even if it's a security risk while many others just buy the cheapest thing that seems suitable at the nearest store. Unfortunately there is isn't that much in the way of marketing for the easy to use desktop versions of Linux, except perhaps for Ubuntu which I'd prefer not to have as the poster child for Linux given the odd UI and the spyware like behaviour.
22 • XP Museum (by Ron on 2014-03-24 17:50:00 GMT from United States)
Yes, I have created an XP museum! With the knowledge that XP is being removed from intensive care by Mr. Windy, I decided to use the excellent Clonezilla live disk to create an XP museum with a Windows re-installation disk supplied by my computer manufacturer.
After I did the clean re-installation of XP with service pack3, I was horrified to notice how much faster it became on start up and use. Realizing that I was a victim of the dreaded 'registry', my appreciation of Linux became evermore intense. I have known for a long time that XP (and other software from Mr. Windy had a reputation of gradually becoming worse and worse with use, but this was a real eye opener. Of course Windy's pals are happy to SELL you registry cleaners, but I figure I could do better - translated - 'Linux"!
The only reason I even consider having the museum is because certain (many) hardware and software vendors only support Windows. This is constipated thinking on their part, but it is what it is. So, if in the future I must use XP for some rare reason, at least I will have a way to resurrect it without throwing money away for a new version of the same junk (what's that about insanity doing the same thing over and over that does not work).
No, the money I would waste on Windy and his pals is donated to GnuLinux et al.
23 • LVM (by Don Manyette on 2014-03-24 17:59:39 GMT from United States)
Many thanks for the article. Clears up a lot for me!
24 • RE: 9, Missed opportunities (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-24 18:03:57 GMT from Belgium)
No, no major vendor has ever promoted desktop computers with Linux pre-installed. Dell, due to the pressure of free software activists used to offer the possibility of purchasing PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed:
1.- It was not promoted at all.
2.- They could only be purchased online.
3.- The Linux models were well hidden in their web site.
4.- The offer was really scarce in terms of number of models and configurability.
5.- Linux was pre-installed but not preconfigured. They received constant complains about certain components not working properly and they did not even ship a CD with an easy way of installing drivers.
Taking into consideration those caveats, my conclusions is that, no, it has never been tried seriously.
The only serious attempt up to now to bring Linux to the masses is Android, and it seems to be working pretty well.
25 • LMDE & Debian Derivatives (by dhinds on 2014-03-24 18:10:34 GMT from Mexico)
LMDE marked my transition to Debian but isn't a priority for Mint, and some of the LMDE developers went on and developed Solus (defunct) and SolydXK.
For Mate on Debian try Point (based on Debian Stable) or Sparky (based on Debian Testing).
More GNU/Linux distros are based on Debian than on any other. In addition to the above, Neptune, Crunchbang, Snow, KWheezy (and many more) are out there and pretty much bug-free (with active forums to resolve any glitches that do arise with the versions based on testing or unstable).
This post is being made using Sparky Ultra Openbox.
26 • Re:19 MX-14 (by Chris Whelan on 2014-03-24 18:24:55 GMT from United Kingdom)
Can I ask why you need a 64-bit version of MX-14?
FWIW, I don't think there are any plans to produce one at the moment.
27 • @5 & 6 (by GNUday on 2014-03-24 19:36:18 GMT from Canada)
@5...there is a 'Windows replacement', it's called SolydX or SolydK. There are others but that's what I prefer, Korora is a pretty nice Fedora derivative.
@6...agreed, that is why I started to build my own PCs YEARS ago, I really despised the proprietary PC/laptop 'Microsoft tax' and demographics data mining (XP was my last 'tax', an OEM copy actually, still have it, now it keeps drink glass rings off my furniture, lol), I've been completely Windows free for 4 years and I manage just fine. Compared to Windows maintenance and trouble shooting, Linux gets boring, simply because it's faster to get set up properly, and when it is set up, nothing happens, no breaking, no viruses, no defragging, lol, no re-installing every six months for one reason or another.
As for LMDE being buggy, yep, I download, I burn, I live spin, I lock up, I throw DVD in garbage. If a distro behaves well during my live test torture, it's worthy of an install, after all, the 'live' test is the first impression, and like most things in life, you only get one chance to make a good impression.
28 • Deja vu (by RJA on 2014-03-24 20:16:39 GMT from United States)
"each time the update manager froze."
Another Muon-like fail, I see...
29 • "Bring out your dead" (by :wq on 2014-03-24 20:24:07 GMT from United States)
While they can currently meet all of some users' needs, smartphones and tablets won't completely replace the desktop and notebook experience any time soon, for a variety of reasons, and melding those similar but still distinct experiences together has yet to be done wholly satisfactorily. Sales of traditional PCs have also slowed because the growth potential is no longer really there, the same with a lot of other commonplace appliances. The 'the desktop has gone the way of the mainframe' mantra is a little premature. One day it will get there, but it's not there yet, and won't be for some time for a number of consumer segments. The transition will occur organically, and I think this evolution is likely to take hold more ardently via a research/innovation/education/feedback/improvement loop than a speculation/innovation/imposition/more imposition/more speculation loop, even for the Microsofts of the world which are used to setting their own terms.
30 • LMDE and security updates (by ROP75 on 2014-03-24 21:12:11 GMT from Spain)
I used LMDE for a few months 2 years ago, it was pretty stable and I did not have any problems using it; but I found it insecure. LMDE users only got updates for their packages when the update packages are realeased: Every 3-4 months (there are a few exceptions: mint apps -cinnamon & mate- , virtualbox and mozilla software that are updated more frecuently).
BTW: When I read some comments from experts saying that LMDE is a rolling distro, I can't help wondering whether this person really knows what a rolling distro is.
31 • About Windows being slow... (by RJA on 2014-03-24 21:16:20 GMT from United States)
That's SO typical of a messy Windows installation.
It probably wasn't just the registry, either. Probably bloatware and a majorly fragged HDD.
32 • I still remember the old school Windows times... (by History of RAM requirements... on 2014-03-24 21:42:33 GMT from United States)
Back in the late 1990s, it was typical to have a measly 8 MB of RAM and 16 MB of RAM was often high-end! But, even with 16 MB, disabling the virtual memory resulted in a not-enough-memory error message and sometimes a crash when trying to run virtually anything other than Windows itself! Eek!
It didn't help that even 32 MB was hard to get!
Now, there's a RAM requirement deja-vu! Vista and later demands at least 512 MB for itself, no wonder it's slow with 1 GB and even 2 GB is lousy!
33 • @ 5 - missed opportunities (by forlin on 2014-03-24 22:08:21 GMT from Portugal)
There is nothing at all where Linux has failed. Indeed, its been very successful in most fields.
I'd suggest that you learn more about FLOSS, to help you on making correct assessments.
As a starting point, read the first news at this DWW.
One more important point about Linux in the Desktop: have a look at the DW PHR. As well as most distros, the top raking in popularity are cooperative projects where thousands of very talented and competent individuals committed themselves to the Linux project on their free time, without requiring a monetary compensation.
Because that's the spirit and the roots of the FLOSS.
Do you imagine how much is the total yearly Microsoft payroll?
34 • @13 @16 (by jaws222 on 2014-03-24 22:49:02 GMT from United States)
I've been using Solydxk too (X version) for a few months now. I have a version on my laptop and one on my desktop. No issues yet. The distro is very polished and lightweight. I just put the kde version in a vbox to check it out and like it as well.
35 • MX-14 (by Dave Postles on 2014-03-24 22:57:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
@26 because all my kit is 64-bit with 8Gb RAM and I really don't want to run 32-bit stuff on it, even if optimized.
36 • Q4OS - new kid on the block? (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2014-03-25 00:30:35 GMT from United States)
Now under development, at first this DebIan - Trinity install-only spin sports the looks of an old-style OS CD, from the ASCII-DOS-batch look (ncurses) to the vintage theme, though the look can be tweaked, or even traded for a more modern (Trinity-vintage KDE) theme if desired.
Long-term project vision may look to a Qt API as a viable standard market platform.
Virtual guest drivers are available, and the ISO can be "burned" onto a CD, or unpacked onto a FAT32 boot-flagged USB flash stick partition and tweaked for syslinux (4.07) boot-ability.
Of course, look-and-feel is no substitute for robust system functionality; any initial charm may fade in short order.
Many people never install an OS themselves, but there are millions loath to buy newer (not necessarily better) hardware and/or software to replace what works for them; loyalty to a robust and fairly open market platform and a trainable OS is not easily shaken, though (sponsored?) cracking may yet make a dent.
Android systems may sport a Linux base, but proprietary layers above (app-store) and below (hardware-drivers) demonstrate a decided lack of enthusiasm for an open market. I haven't seen any signs of better prospects coming from Canonical, though a miracle could still happen.
(LaciOS - Portugese-only, right?)
37 • @ 36 (LaciOS - Portugese-only, right?) (by forlin on 2014-03-25 01:01:21 GMT from Portugal)
So far, its only pt.br and pt.pt. Its a Brazilian project addressing to users from both countries.
I wonder if they're planning to extent the distro to English speaking users. I hope so.
38 • MX-14 (by Jeff on 2014-03-25 02:03:13 GMT from United States)
Why not an MX-14 64 bit ?
antiX has 64 bit, so it does not make sense to me that a "midweight"
distro would not when a light-weight does.
64 bit PC systems have been available for over ten years so even "older" computers may be 64 bit.
PAE is only a partial solution as no process can use more than 3 gb no matter how much is available.
39 • LMDE (by Will Brokenbourgh on 2014-03-25 02:30:56 GMT from United States)
I was a long-time user (and fan) of Debian, but switched to Slackware when I found Debian to have too much X latency.
I have tried almost all of the MATE and Cinnamon releases of Mint in recent years, and always come away disappointed. I really *want* to enjoy them and continue using them as my main desktop, but they have always had too many bugs for me.
I really appreciate how nice Mint looks, but I run my business on Linux and don't have room for frequent freezes, disappearing tray icons and the like. Clem and Co. will not like me for saying this, but I really can't see why Mint is number 1 on the DW list.
I will say that each Mint release does improve, and the bugs seen in previous versions usually are gone, but frequently there's a new one to take its place. I sincerely hope and wish for the day Mint (Ubuntu or Debian-based) is very solid and is the (positive) talk of the town. It's not impossible to have a pretty face and a smart brain too!
40 • @ 24 Dell + Linux (by anon on 2014-03-25 07:26:22 GMT from United States)
You've been able to purchase linux pre-installed and pre-configured from Dell since the late '90s. There is no conspiracy to prevent the success of desktop linux.
41 • @25 Missed opportunities (by greg on 2014-03-25 07:35:16 GMT from Slovenia)
You forgot about Chrome OS making way in US in schools and at home.
Also in depends on part fo the world. I was in asia and going into dell reseller shop they had laptops in 3 different colour prominently displayed. they were running ubuntu. however it is true that selection of hardware with Ubuntu preloaded was limited to a few models (mostly low end). it is very difficult to find high and mid end laptops with linux preinstalled.
they sell some business models here with linux preinstalled though are not marketed well. as well as support is really strange. for exmaple the Hps comes with Suse preinstalled. it is not trivial to register and to connect to their repositories. when you do connect you can see you actually have a demo version of the OS that will only last 30 days. lame. anyway easilly replaced by another distro but not somethign a normal user would do. nice OS, stable but IMO user should get at least 2 years free access to repos and repos should be enabled and connected to on first boot after seting up the passwords..
42 • @ 40 Dell + Linux (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-25 07:46:29 GMT from Belgium)
In addition to all the caveats mentioned in @24, there are others:
6.- Complete lack of support.
7.- No warranties that updates and upgrades would not break something.
8.- You are on your own when it comes to peripherals compatibility.
In summary, being able to buy a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed was useless.
I always purchase computers with no operating system. They are cheaper, you have plenty of configuration options (nowadays, you can have exactly what you want built for you), you can install you preferred distro (or even try a few) and, in the end, you are on your own anyway.
The Apple model with Linux might have worked one decade ago. The problem now is that the desktop is on the decline. It will of course never disappear, for gamers and professionals will always need plenty of power and large screens, but it seems to be shrinking market.
43 • Missed opportunities because of missing brains (by LorenzoC on 2014-03-25 09:12:49 GMT from Italy)
After reading the above comments I came to the conclusion that most people over here are completely detached from reality.
Canonical is a corporation that aims the consumer market, so the fact that Linux and BSD are much used on servers is irrelevant. We are speaking of desktops here.
Canonical, with pretty much the whole Linux ecosystem (see Gnome), has given up with desktop and laptops PCs, now they aim the "convergence" with mobile gadgets. That means two things, it means to leave behind million people who could switch to Linux simply because the other option is to trash expensive hardware and it means to fail again in an over saturate market that is dominated by very hard locking (manufacturers, software, service providers).
Last note: I could evangelize Linux to many people around me but I can't reccomend a thing that breaks at any upgrade. Last time a friend of mine moved to the latest Ubuntu and his wireless adapter stopped working without any reason given out of some wrong patch on Ubuntu kernel. If people don't change their OS, imagine if they could be told to replace the kernel to work around some unneeded bug.
44 • @42 Preinstalled Linux (by Oliver on 2014-03-25 10:20:18 GMT from Germany)
The reluctance of large vendors to offer preinstalled Linux machines can be an opportunity for smaller and nimbler competitors. For example https://www.linux-onlineshop.de/index.php (german) offers even high end hardware with a (mainstream) Linux distribution of your choice. The price is not cheap, but as far as I can tell comparable to that of large vendors.
I probably will buy my next notebook from there. Not because, I intend to use the preinstalled OS; I would install dual boot Linux / Windows with my preferences. But I hope I can be sure that the hardware is supported by most Linux distributions, which cannot be assumed for hardware from other vendors.
I am not sure that I would recommend Linux to somebody who is running Window and who is satisfied with it. In my experience Linux is mostly used by people who have special requirements which are not delivered by other OSs.
Best regards, Oliver
45 • LMDE (by SenseiWap on 2014-03-25 10:33:32 GMT from Belgium)
Want a true rolling release ? which runs smoothly, is reliable and multi-language ?
Try ArchLinux and forget lmde.
My desktop PC is running Arch Linux since 2011 and all of my installed packages are up to date.
46 • Linux on the desktop (by Dave Postles on 2014-03-25 10:35:33 GMT from United Kingdom)
Educational authorities around the developing world are using Linux; even in the USA, some are adopting it:
Gendarmerie; Munich; many regional authorities in Spain; UK government adopting OpenSource as a model in last month's Cabinet Office document (including .odf as opposed to ooxml).
There is a sense in which the world is slowly - ever so slowly - changing.
47 • @24 Koroshiya (by DavidEF on 2014-03-25 10:48:56 GMT from United States)
I agree with this post completely! You've expounded on the exact point I was trying to make in my post #9 above. There have been several attempts at Linux pre-installed hardware, but none of them, including Dell, have ever promoted Linux computers properly.
I guess they just thought they could put their hardware out there, and there might be enough Linux fanbois around to buy them. That is the wrong way to sell a Linux box if there ever was one. The people who already use Linux every day shouldn't be the target audience. They need a wider view of converting Windows and Apple users.
What these manufacturers need to do is to come up with some effective advertising, showing off the advantages of Linux. Instead of trying to make Linux look and act the same as Windows, they should be saying "Linux is different AND THAT'S A GOOD THING!"
As for the hardware itself, that is an unusual situation. People are so used to thinking in a certain way about hardware capabilities. Some of the consumer education effort needs to be focused on showing people how powerful Linux can be on lower end hardware. Even here, in this DWW, there are people crying about manufacturers not giving Linux their best hardware. Does nobody realize that greater than 90% of the computer desktop users in the world can do the same amount of work in Linux with half the hardware "capability" that is needed in Windows?
I'm not saying that Linux should be shut out of upper end hardware, but that people need to be shown how to compare systems based on more than mere hardware specs. There are two good examples of this that I've seen in the past. First is AMD. In the olden days of Pentium 3 and 4 class computers, AMD came up with what I thought was a clever way of advertising their clear superiority without coming right out and saying it. They named their CPU with a number that represented the approximate equivalent CPU speed of an Intel chip, which was a higher clock speed than their chip. For instance, and AMD Athlon 2000 had a clock speed of around 1600 MHz or something like that, but it performed approximately equally with an Intel Pentium 4 clocked at 2000 MHz. For anyone interested in really comparing the systems, the information was available. They weren't being deceptive, just clever. Anyone who just looked at the number on the box might think they were getting a 2000 MHz CPU, but they were probably never disappointed by the performance.
The other example is Apple. They successfully sold computers for years that were "underpowered" compared to the equivalent Windows PC, yet performed better, enough so that they commanded a premium price. People were made aware that Apple systems are different from PC systems, and were never encouraged to compare raw hardware specs, but rather compare true system performance. It seemed to work, until they switched to building Intel x86 systems. Then, some people started noticing the "lower" specs of the hardware, and started crying foul. Just like some people are doing now with Linux. Those people just don't understand that performance is not tied to raw hardware power alone. Optimized hardware can win over raw power sometimes. And the hardware can be optimized by using a better OS most of the time.
Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts on how Linux could be successfully advertised and sold on decent hardware, on the shelves of major retailers worldwide. There's nothing to it but to do it. But, it will take someone having the ability to advertise their own product effectively, including talking up the underlying OS a little.
48 • @DaveEF: (by dragonmouth on 2014-03-25 12:06:23 GMT from United States)
What Linux needs is a couple of Super Bowl ads along the lines of Apple's "1984" ad.
The problem with Linux is the community's attitude of "If we build a better O/S, they will come." But to achieve that, you have to let "them" know you exist. And that is the where the Linux community has failed miserably. When was the last time there was a Red Hat or Canonical ad in prime time or even in the middle of the night?
49 • LMDE - interesting but unnecessary (by Barnabyh on 2014-03-25 13:11:23 GMT from Germany)
Why not just install Debian proper or CrunchBang (if you want codecs and flash from the start) or any other distribution of your choice that sticks closely to upstream Debian and upgrade from there. Been rolling on unstable with experimental thrown in on one of my CB installs for six months now and it's still going strong.
50 • Mate bugs (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2014-03-25 13:26:35 GMT from Ecuador)
I would have to disagree that the LMDE edition doesn't have any showstopper bugs. The Caja file manager infinite re-spawning bug is most definitely a showstopper, as it completely hangs the desktop and can reach the maximum process limit defined for the system. This unfortunately ruins what is otherwise probably one of the best desktop environments available for Linux. And this bug is present on multiple distros, including Arch. Here is the related bug report, if anybody can help:
51 • @50 (by pogo on 2014-03-25 14:10:52 GMT from Italy)
+1 For Debian Sid 'unstable'
- Always use 'aptitude' to manage packages: to upgrade the system, the only command to execute must be 'aptitude safe-upgrade'!
- If possible, format the disk with Btrfs and configure APT for the automatic creation of a new snapshot every time 'aptitude' changes the state of packages.
in my experience, this adds 'total unbreakability' to all the goodness of 'Debian Sid'..
52 • LMDE and @49 (by Hoos on 2014-03-25 17:12:15 GMT from Singapore)
Solyd (in XFCE or KDE versions) is pretty flexible in that respect. Their normal version is Debian testing, with quarterly update packs. However, if you want "true" Debian Testing where you upgrade the system regularly yourself, or even Sid, install SolydXK as a starting point and upgrade from the appropriate repositories as you wish.
The SolydXK forum has separate sub-boards for users who go the true Testing or the Sid route, so there's ready help available if problems arise.
For a nice-looking and trouble-free Debian Sid openbox distro, try Semplice. It has more GUI configuration tools right off the bat than Crunchbang and you don't have to manually update your applications menu, so if you like openbox but prefer something a little less minimalistic than CB (ubercool as it is), it might suit you.
I have been rolling on both Solyd and Semplice for a year without problems.
53 • @44 - yes it's for everyone (by M.Z. on 2014-03-25 17:16:40 GMT from United States)
I have to say I disagree with # 44 strongly on the idea that Linux is mostly for special use cases. That may well be the strong suit of the OS give the relative ease of changing internal bits around; however, none of what I do with any of my desktops is particularly specialized or couldn't be done on Windows. I could install most of the open source software I use in Linux into Windows, but I would lose things that I consider important features that could benefit any user, like better security & software management. The average Linux user is almost certainly a power user by Windows standards even if only because they likely installed their own OS; however, there is plenty offered by easy to use versions of Linux that could benefit anyone.
Also, I can't replicate that Firefox bug I mentioned in #21 no matter how hard I try so I guess all is good there.
54 • Mate isn't the problem, unpolished distros are (by Mate user on 2014-03-25 17:23:17 GMT from United States)
I saw somebody here complaining about MATE. Linux Mint obviously is gaming Distrowatch. Such an unpolished distro makes no sense as #1. There's also something of a feedback effect given the "above-the-fold" treatment given to the top 10 distros in that chart, but I digress.
If you want a good MATE setup, I *highly* recommend the Fedora MATE+Compiz spin. I never enabled Compiz, the MATE desktop Fedora is shipping is vanilla and very nice. Finally productive again!
It's such a shame that GNOME2 has been left the way it was. I had noticed lots of small businesses using Ubuntu + GNOME2 and people seemed very comfortable with it. The Linux desktop world frankly moves too quickly for end-users. Developers get bored and change things just when the software becomes stable and usable.
55 • @50 - Caja respawning (by burdi01 on 2014-03-25 17:47:32 GMT from Netherlands)
I just updated https://github.com/mate-desktop/caja/issues/100 with an easy workaround
56 • @52 (by jaws222 on 2014-03-25 21:46:06 GMT from United States)
"For a nice-looking and trouble-free Debian Sid openbox distro, try Semplice. It has more GUI configuration tools right off the bat than Crunchbang and you don't have to manually update your applications menu, so if you like openbox but prefer something a little less minimalistic than CB (ubercool as it is), it might suit you."
Semplice is pretty sweet. I'm a big Crunchbang guy but have to admit Semplice gives them a run for their money.
Another good testing/unstable distro is Siduction. I've been running that in a virtualbox since December and it holds up nicely. It hasn't broke yet. As far as Solydxk, It's now on my main box (X version with kwin) in my office and I love it.
57 • Linux Mint Reliability (by Gwilson on 2014-03-25 22:54:11 GMT from United States)
I often find myself scratching my head when I read a review of a distro that I have found to be rock solid and hear about a plethora of problems the reviewer is having. My main distro is currently Mint LMDE with the Cinnamon desktop, and I am at a loss to understand how my system can be rock solid with no quirks at all on all of my systems, but and the Distrowatch "pro" evaluator can't get his to work. No, I don't mess with Mate - why in the world would I with Cinnamon, XFCE and Fluxbox all available? If you are going to completely pan a distribution like LMDE, you should at least install it with the Cinnamon desktop and see if you have the same problems. What would that take? Twenty minutes? You have too much influence among Linux users to do such a limited and irresponsible review. I have used Ubuntu/Mint and LMDE/Mint many times through many versions and on many completely different machines and I have never found it to be anything but reliable, thoroughly tested and well thought executed. I'm not a fanboy for Mint, but that has been my experience. You should have at least figured out if your problems were due to the Mate interface (a rather bizarre throwback) by trying Cinnamon. Since you did not do so, you did not conduct a complete test of LMDE which is what your review is purported to be in the headline (Review: Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403). You might also want to check for faulty hardware.
58 • @57 Re: Linux Mint Reliability (by Rev_Don on 2014-03-26 00:04:11 GMT from United States)
My thoughts exactly. I rarely have ANY of the problems Jesse runs into in his reviews and fought long and hard for him to start including his system specs in his reviews. Looking at his specs I can see why I have fewer problems than he does. I've known for years that there is a reason why the saying "you don't get fired for buying Intel" exists, and his reviews bear this out. Nobody makes motherboard chipsets as reliable as Intel does, no matter how loud the AMD Fanboys yell otherwise. I've pulled hard drives out of AMD systems that test out okay, but constantly freeze, lockup, crash, etc. and place them in a similarly specced Intel system and have them run perfectly with non of the problems. No updating, no installing new drivers, just plug it in and turn it on. That tells me that all to often the problems people report are HARDWARE based, and not a problem with the OS installed.
You want a stable and workable system? Spend a couple of extra bucks and get GOOD hardware.
59 • Mate distros (by fernbap on 2014-03-26 01:31:01 GMT from Portugal)
Let's get a few things straight first:
If you want a solid distro, you will want a solid base. Which means, in the case od Debian or Ubuntu, that you will want Debian stable or Ubuntu LTS. Debian testing is, as its name suggests...... testing, as much as any Ubuntu distro that is not LTS.
I have been trying a few MAte distros. What i use is Mint 13 Mate (LTS) backported to 16, but i have a few others that i recomend:
Point Linux is by far the Mate distro that is stable, fast and has a very small RAM footprint, which makes it ideal for old hardware.
Amongst a few others, Manjaro Mate was a pleasant surprise: fast, cutting edge (uses Mate 1.8) and, so far, absolutely uncomplicated. I loved its package manager, btw. It handles both binary packages and code tarballs.
Korora Mate looked promissing, but Fedora 20 doesn't boot on my computer after install, and so doesn' Korora.
Btw, i placed on youtube a small video demo of Point Linux running with Compiz and Emerald, just to let people judge wether it looks "old" or not. Just watch watch?v=n2t379SyZtQ
60 • @48 Linux publicity (by Thomas Mueller on 2014-03-26 01:47:41 GMT from United States)
> What Linux needs is a couple of Super Bowl ads along the lines of Apple's "1984" ad. <
Nice idea, but Super Bowl ads are prohibitively expensive, and that was even true some years ago. Even hospital treatment is a bargain by comparison!
Computers preloaded with Windows, and hardware and Internet service vendors saying they only support Windows, or Windows and Mac, make me feel like I'm being bullied into Windows, and that turns me strongly away from buying or running Windows. Linux distros don't have to pay for that kind of adverse publicity against Windows; hardware and Internet service vendors do an awful good job at that.
61 • LVM tutorial (by Martin on 2014-03-26 02:13:46 GMT from Argentina)
Hey Jesse, this is the best LVM introduction I've read so far, I'm passing it to everyone that continually asks me what the heck LVM is!
62 • #57 + #60 (by zykoda on 2014-03-26 07:39:18 GMT from United Kingdom)
#57 My experience re-#1 regarding cinnamon (on 64 bit 201403)
#60 You may have a point about AMD motherboards in my case I suspect that may be my problem re-#1.
63 • Re: MATE Caja bug (by chemicalfan on 2014-03-26 08:14:37 GMT from United Kingdom)
The Caja respawn bug is actually a bug in systemd, specifically in relation to front, and was introduced when MATE moved to gsettings. It's something to do with systemd invoking a call it shouldn't. Should be fixed upstream I think (surprised it's not fixed in Arch?!)
64 • @63 : Caja respawning (by burdi01 on 2014-03-26 09:40:11 GMT from Netherlands)
I have seen this symptom on Xubuntu 12.04, Slackware Current and PartedMagic development (worked around in 2014_02_26), all of which do *not* sport systemd ...
65 • 58 Reliability (by mandog on 2014-03-26 11:57:07 GMT from Peru)
I really don't know where you get your ideas from, Intel systems is no more reliable than any other, overheating boards that melt the soldering. intel based laptops that shutdown due to overheating come-on get real. and yes I run both intel and AMD never had any problems you describe. plus the fact a AMD mb processor combo is 1/3rd of the price of intel, that equates to 3 upgrades for the inflated price of one intel combination.
66 • @53 - yes it's for everyone (by M.Z.) (by Oliver on 2014-03-26 12:40:16 GMT from Germany)
I did not intend to say that Linux is for special use cases only.
Rather I think that a user will switch to Linux if he gets something he wants and which he cannot get with his current OS.
It seems you want security and easier software management.
Best regards, Oliver
67 • @57 Linux Mint stability (by DavidEF on 2014-03-26 15:46:21 GMT from United States)
I've tried Linux Mint a few times, with different versions, different desktops, etc. I wanted to believe that it was Ubuntu Improved, but it always had lots of high visibility bugs and quirks that I couldn't get used to. The one really huge thing was that it wouldn't play right with sharing the printer, whether it was Mint in charge, or Mint was connecting over the network, it never worked right in either direction. I didn't just test a live disc, or even install for just a day or two. No, I kept it on whatever machine I was using it on (I've got several, and I've tried it on them all) for months at a time. Cinnamon is glitchy, Mate is glitchy, everything is glitchy!
I'm glad it works for those that it works for. Apparently all of my machines are just 'incompatible' with Linux Mint, eh?
68 • Legacy OS (by GNUday on 2014-03-26 21:59:05 GMT from Canada)
Looks like a great concept but resource guzzlers K3b and Amarok, seriously? Then again, that could be an old picture on DW...went to the website, looks like they still include Amarok.
I'm all for breathing life in to old hardware but I refuse to run KDE bloat now with a good computer, lol.
69 • @67 Mint (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-27 06:15:43 GMT from Belgium)
The fact that Linux Mint is one the the most popular Linux distro, maybe the most popular, probably indicates that most people are not experiencing any of those issues...
Mint is really better than Ubuntu for beginners. More experience users probably do not need any of them for they both are far too much bloated.
As I said in my first comment. I am running Debian Testing with MATE in 3 systems without any "glitch" whatsoever.
70 • Linux publicity (by forlin on 2014-03-27 08:11:49 GMT from Netherlands)
Publicity for Linux in the desktop isn't possible. Who would fund it? Distros are distributed free of charge. Providing that Linux meet the user requirements its adoption is a smart, informed and cost consciencieuse decision. Consummers use to collect info to help them decide on the best buy and the net is very usefull for that purpose. Deciding what Pc or what O/s to use shoudn't be different.
71 • @70 Linux publicity (by Kazlu on 2014-03-27 08:51:51 GMT from France)
"Distros are distributed free of charge."
So is Android. Yet its commercial succes is undeniable. Sure, no GNU/Linux distribution has the support of a company as powerful as Google. It's usually the manufacturer that does direct advertising of the machine it has produced, stating in addition something like "designed for the new Windows 8". We come down to what a few already said here: no company has really done big promotion of computers delivered with GNU/Linux.
However: I read here and there that computers sold with a GNU/Linux distribution are not so hard to find in Asia and South America. I cannot confirm it personnally though. In Europe, you will find no computer sold with a GNU/Linux distro, except on some small area of a website or on a dedicated website, meaning you already must have decided to buy a computer with GNU/Linux to find them.
72 • @71 no linux? (by greg on 2014-03-27 15:12:31 GMT from Slovenia)
here biggest online shops feature laptops and PC with linux preloaded (SUSE and Ubuntu). perhaps it's just in france?!
dell in germany (at least some time ago) had Ubuntu mashcines quite prominently as a good buy for startup new companies. they (new companies) even got some special discount.Harvey Norman here mostly sells windows only but occasionally they will sell meego or linux mashcine. our biggest electronic retailer had all 3 windows, mac and linux mashcines. linux mashcines were running ubuntu and were displayed quite prominently. not in some hidden corner.
73 • Popularity, lost opportunities, firmware and trust (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2014-03-27 15:18:05 GMT from United States)
The distro most seekers hear about, and perhaps even try, isn't necessarily the one they settle on. The best marketing doesn't guarantee polished quality. Some ISOs are loaded with bling, or kitchen-sink-fuls of apps, but are maddeningly buggy. Some re-invent app-stores (imitating proprietary-on-Android wannabes?), often for yet another 'desktop environment' API.
I would applaud the vendor-agnostic ambition of Tanglu's AppStream.
Its value may be as great as the Keep-It-Short-&-Simple of GoboLinux, or the packaging virtuosity of PiSi, smart, or pkgcon.
Speaking of "lost opportunities", what of the failure to design a license that provides for a robust open market, preventing the emergence of proprietary OS's?
And I agree: firmware should be audited open-source, to earn trust.
74 • Linux publicity (by Kazlu on 2014-03-27 16:42:31 GMT from France)
To be a little more accurate: computers with GNU/Linux I have seen are down to things like this:
- on a general purpose on-line shop, a couple of low-end machines - compared to several hundreds of computers with Windows - found on a small category not really catching the eye. Android netbooks are even way more common;
- when you buy a computer on HP's website, once it is in your cart you may specify a couple oh things and have an OS choice, like Windows Pro or basic or, sometimes, SUSE Linux. No other mention elsewhere;
- actual good choice of computers with Windows or GNU/Linux or no OS on resellers' websites known only to computing enthusiasts;
- in an actual store last week-end, a vendor told me, before I even asked, that their PCs would be only sold with Windows 8, no exceptions (thay had Macs eventually).
That is indeed only in an french shop and in french websites. I had a look at amazon.de once just to take a look, but GNU/Linux didn't shine either. I admit my assumption generalising to "Europe" is based on that poor observation a couple of comments found here and there, but I'm glad to learn I was wrong. Would you post a link as an example? I'm curious :)
I agree. I was happy to buy online a computer with Ubuntu preloaded, but it was a low-end netbook. Although it was what I was looking for, a dual core Intel Atom @1.67GHz, 2GB of RAM and no dedicated graphic chip... As you can expect, I had no driver problem but Unity was really sluggish. I didn't intend to use Unity anyway, but I doubt an unexperienced user would be happy to boot its new computer and discover it is sluggish. I hope we will see more nice things like the DELL XPS 13 Developper Edition or the MintBox.
75 • AMD, KDE, & reasons to use Linux (by M.Z. on 2014-03-27 18:41:34 GMT from United States)
As others have stated you seem far too willing to blame everything on lack of your chosen hardware. Intel is good, but I've had two systems have unacceptable failures on me & one was Intel while the other was AMD. I suppose the failures were fairly different and the Intel system was older; however, I've been using my current main desktop for several years with no discernible hardware issues & it had a quad core AMD for a lot less than a quad core Intel would have cost. I suppose some PC makers may try too hard to low ball hardware & ship the cheapest AMD system possible, but I've had a fairly good experience with my current AMD powered desktop & I hardly think your statement is universal.
KDE 'bloat' depends a lot on how distros are shipped by default, & I've personally found Debian KDE to make good use of limited RAM. I think both Debian KDE & PCLinuxOS MiniMe would make for very snappy & responsive KDE systems on modern hardware. I've also found the KDE/Qt apps tend to be much more consistent across desktops & to be more feature rich and functional than their Gtk counterparts. That's why I switched most of the default apps in Cinnamon to KDE apps.
I'd argue that most Linux users are people who have installed their OS and took the time to acquire some knowledge about their computers. They are more likely to articulate reasons for using their chosen OS because they have actually give it some thought rather than just using what was easiest to get. It isn't that a few people are longing for features not found elsewhere, but is instead that people who were interested in making the switch to another OS paid attention and thought about what was going on with their PC and then found reasons to either switch to or stay with Linux. Not many people think very deeply on their computer or the OS it uses, but those who do are far more likely to use something like Linux.
77 • Legacy OS (by Neal on 2014-03-27 20:01:15 GMT from United States)
I always get excited when I see any release of Legacy OS but every time its a disappointment because of the base its built upon....puppy 2X series?? It just won't work right with hardly any of my hardware...even the old P3 machines it claims to serve. I think Legacy would be better off with the 4x series to build upon....the 2x series just has too many limitations IMO.
78 • @ 75 - "...far more likely to use something like Linux." (by forlin on 2014-03-27 21:27:06 GMT from Portugal)
I totally agree about @66 paragraph. I used XP from start. As stated, I was too busy to think about what PC or OS to use. Later I got time to learn and build boxes for me and family. Tweaking, clean registry, defrag and the like, on 4 machines was madness. Also, I was not up to pay 4 shelf Vista licensees price. Making a long story short, I become a happy Linux user.
I'm aware there's a strong bias against Linux and open source in many circles at various countries. I also believe there's no way to advertise Linux. OEM's cannot advertise on low sales products.
Conclusion: its up to us to actively spread the world and inform, using all today's available channels, and holding due care not to seem that we're imposing our ideas to others.
79 • LMDE 2014.03 (by Az4x4 on 2014-03-28 00:36:30 GMT from United States)
I've run LMDE since it was first released, finding it to be an excellent distro in every respect. I've experienced but one of the problems mentioned in this week's review. With LMDE 2014.03 installed on my ASUS i7 laptop, on a couple of occasions the spawning of endless instances of the Caja file manager took place. Of late that issue has not surfaced, so I imagine it has been fixed with an update to Caja that was recently applied.
Other than that LMDE has been a breath of fresh air. Between LMDE, Point Linux, Sparky and any number of others, the distro options we have that provide the goodness of Debian free of Ubuntu's spin on things is ever more attractive.
80 • Linux Mint (by Richard on 2014-03-28 14:40:45 GMT from Canada)
My experience with Linux Mint is usually good. Planning to try the Debian edition soon. Maybe i will have better luck with it than th reviewer.
81 • AMD, KDE (by corneliu on 2014-03-28 15:58:03 GMT from Canada)
I agree with you. I just want to add that in my opinion as far as CPUs go, AMD offers the best value for the money. In terms of GPUs, in general AMD is way better than Intel. The only issue I had with AMD before was the quality of the graphics drivers. But it seems that they have improved a lot lately.
KDE being bloated is a myth. How can 300-400MB RAM be a problem when most computers have at least 4GB? KDE comes with a lot of useful functionality. I think it is stupid to not take advantage of the hardware, if you already have it. If I ever had bad hardware I'd consider LXDE of XFCE. Maybe Gnome and Unity are good for tablets, I don't know, but for desktop I find both to be totally messed up.
82 • @78 Linux publicity (by Kazlu on 2014-03-28 16:47:30 GMT from France)
"I also believe there's no way to advertise Linux. OEM's cannot advertise on low sales products."
Huh? If that was true it would be impossible to advertise new products. Android for example has been advertised before it became a success. It appeared in the beginning to be similar to iOS but different in some aspects, including philosophy - just like many GNU/Linux distros are today compared to Windows. It worked. There is only one case where advertising is not really relevant: low-cost products. It's hard to finance advertising with low margins. But GNU/Linux should not be limited to low-cost products.
"Conclusion: its up to us to actively spread the world and inform, using all today's available channels, and holding due care not to seem that we're imposing our ideas to others."
I agree with that. It as particularly true with community driven distributions (not backed by a wealthy company). However, it would be a lot easier to introduce someone to Arch or even Debian it he/she has bought a computer with Ubuntu on it.
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