Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LinuxMint (K)Ubuntu Made Better

Many people know I have used Kubuntu for some time. Though there are many things about it I am not thrilled about it does have the largest software repository collection available. So when a friend said try LinuxMint I looked at it but I didn't jump into it immediately.

LinuxMint, at first, was Gnome based. Now I have nothing against Gnome but I am a KDE man and so I didn't give LinuxMint a try. I did however pay attention to what was going on with it since I was hearing nothing but good things about it. LinuxMint released a KDE Beta version and I am now using it instead of Kubuntu.

First LinuxMint is an unofficial Ubuntu version. They use the very same repositories plus a couple of their own. However, its what you get when you initially install LinuxMint that makes a difference.

As far as I am concerned the KDE version of LinuxMint is what Kubuntu should have been to start with. The script and configuration files are much leaner and better written. With Gutsy my video driver would get buffer over run errors and lock up. With Daryna (LinuxMint's release based on Gutsy) I have zero issues with the video now. OpenGL applications do not lock up my system and I can even use Compiz-Fusion on my Intel 965GM based laptop, cube and all. Daryna is basically Gutsy
on some serious steroids.

Because Daryna uses the same hardware base as Gutsy I had no issues installing it onto my laptop. My 1280 X 800 widescreen was setup perfectly as was my sound and USB.

Multimedia setup is an absolute breeze and LinuxMint is much easier to get it going in as well. Not that it was all that hard to begin with in Gutsy. You can even use Automatix2, but I caution people to be careful using it as you are apt to find more up to date packages in the repositories since the Medibuntu trepositories are part of the apt sources used in LinuxMint.

I was able to update KDE to 3.5.9 by adding the following to my sources.list file:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-kde-3.5.9/ubuntu gutsy main

I updated without a hitch and I was also able to install Kickoff 1.

The KDE version of LinuxMint uses Tasty Menu as its default but you can use the standard Kmenu, KBFX, or Kickoff 1.

I also like the mintUpdate and Software Portal apps in LinuxMint which are really much better than the standard Kubuntu issues, even if they are GTK based. (Just so everyone knows, I am not opposed to GTK based software in KDE and I use a lot of it. It's more important to me that the software I use fulfill the needs it supposed to than how it appears or what file manager it uses.)

The final win me over feature is LinuxMint will ask you if you want to setup a root account. (This is not recommended but at least you have the option.) As I am a traditionalist I think that's great. The sudo only thing never thrilled me and even though I still use sudo I also like having access to my admin account separately in case something goes wrong in my main user account. Trust me with all the playing around I do I have blown up my user account a lot and having access to a root account is, for me, vital. This also fixes, what to me is, a glaring security issue in standard Ubuntu based distributions.

Last note: I am not sure why but the Synaptic Package Manager, though part of the initial install, does not have a listing in the menu. I had to go in and make one so I wouldn't have to launch Synaptic from the run command prompt. Since all of the LinuxMint update and software install tools
rely on Synaptic I found it a bit odd that they don't list in the menu. Adept is there but I am not a fan of adept. (See previous statement about GTK based software.) I like Synaptic a lot better.

I have got to say LinuxMint scores a 10. This is what I have been wanting in a Debian Based distro for a long time. The LinuxMint motto is "From Freedom Came Elegance" I say "With Intelligence Came
Reliability" at least with LinuxMint.

Notes of Interest: I removed the Generic Kernel and replaced it with Real Time kernel. I also changed the tray Icons used by the update notifier to get rid of the Tango look. I found some appropriate Icons easily enough and to be honest they actually make it easier to determine what's going on. I also changed the update check from 5 to 60 minutes. Mostly because I don't need to have my system eat bandwidth that often and every 60 minutes is appropriate enough.

Also in todays KDE news there was note of a major problem with a Gnome update that literally broke Gnome. Seems like many Gnome users will be going to KDE to fix it or replace Gnome altogether. Hmm support calls anyone?

Friday, February 22, 2008

News of note

First off, the Microsoft olive branch is a lie. Please all developers take note of the NON-COMMERCIAL CLAUSE and statement. Please for the love of technology do not fall into the spiders lair.

To the Fedora and Kubuntu camps. Who gives a damn who contributes more, has a better 3rd party developer upstream and does the most for KDE development. Neither camp is working off a primarily KDE based distro and that's fine. We can have KDE on either and that's good enough. Both make important contributions to open source and KDE and though there will always be arguments over this, that or whatever they should not be posted on a blog that talks primarily about a particular distro's contributions. Especially since said blog said nothing derogatory about the other's Distro in the first place.

Now on to my news. I de-blacklisted my Intel 965GM video card so I could use Compiz-Fusion. Since it really didn't matter whether I had it going or not the GPU is simply going to lock up from time to time until the bugs are worked out of the driver and backend controls. There's no telling when or what will cause it, so I enabled my card for Compiz.

The HeliOS theme package is looking nice as I play with different aspects and features. Its slowly becoming the toyal and complete package and I setup both KDE a\nd Compiz looks for the package. To show the effects here are the pics.

This is the standard desktop screen shot. Nothing spectacular or special. It simply shows what the desktop looks like in normal state. The purpose is to allow people to see if they like the look.

Now we come to the menu screenshot:

This is a screen shot of the menu and file manager using the KDE Decoration and Theme. Which BTW is Cylon for the Decoration and the Theme is HeliOS which I created by using all sorts of packages from kde-look.org. This theme isn't finished just yet but I an really pleased how its coming together as I find just the right material to use. However, the next screen shot shows the same thing only now its with Compiz activated:

The main, and most obvious difference is the decoration of course. Since I am using Compiz I have to use Emerald as the theme manager. since the Cylon look isn't available for Compiz (yet) I needed to use a theme that fit and so I went with the one you see. Yet none of this is as important as the effects screen shot. By that I mean how does it look on a 3D enhanced system like Compiz? well the cube looks like this:

The cube settings I have are topcaps off, 40% Translucency when moving the cube with the mouse and mirroring on for the skycap bottom. Overall a very cool ( and impressive) look. Though the overall theme is coming together nicely its far from complete. I have the Sounds, Icons, Cursors, KDM, KSplash, Splashy Theme, and GRUB Splash done, which is most everything, but I just feel there is something more it needs. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Hope you like the look.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cleaning out the garbage

Facebook: Disabled
WAYN: Closed

Yep both were becoming exxessive or never used. WAYN (Where Are You Now) was a joke of a social site really and then they wanted $$$ for services. Sorry if it didn't work well when services were free why would I throw good money into it now that they decided to charge me.

Facebook just became an out of control worthless social site with no end of issues and way to many emails coming in and most were to entice me to log on to services. Add to that I wasn't allowed access to messages because I wasn't inviting enough people to join. Point blank, who needs that rot? I invite people I think might be interested. I wasn't one of them anymore. Add to that the privacy and security issues in tow with Facebook usage I decided it was best to just stop. I deleted every single app and suspended the account. Will contact customer service to delete it later.

I still have other social web sites I use that don't pound me with emails I don't want or need.

Finally got the Real Time Kernel working and believe me on a DuoCore2 laptop in performance mode its freakin' awesome. even in Dynamic Mode its good but Performance Mode just makes it zing. If you have never used a Real Time Kernel then let me explain what that means. There is no lag time in processor hand off. In the normal kernel if a process is done with its time slice then the system will wait x amount of time before hand off where x is the amount of time left in the time slice assigned to the process. A Real Time Kernel however, hands off the process once the process is done whether there is time left or not. In other words the kernel doesn't go idle when processes are waiting in line for CPU time. Multitasking goes a lot smoother in a Real Time Environment compared to the standard kernel method. Though most people will have no need for a Real Time Kernel heavy resource users like myself can enjoy less lag and lock while the system cycles through processes.

KDE 3.5.9 is out now and its installed on my laptop. Putting it on my son's desktop now. That soon to be four year old can run Windows (Mom's computer) and Linux (his computer) and to him (bless his little heart) there is no difference. The only real thing unique on his, is that he is using the Windows version of Firefox, utilizing WINE so he can have Shockwave (needed for some of his kiddie websites.)

His mother prefers she uses hers (she is a die hard Windows user) and not his. Hey the kid has his own computer and not just some toy system either. Its a 2GHz P4 (granted a single core system but still great for a four year old boy) with a GB of RAM and a 250 GB Hard Drive. (His old Hard Drive crashed so I had to replace it.)

I am working with/for HeliOS Solutions now. Good guys and were working on a whole new business model and system.