2015-05-25

Review: Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet"

This month has been quite busy for me with classes. Now that the semester is finally over, I have a little more time, and that means I have enough time to do a review. It has been a few years since I've reviewed Kubuntu, the officially-supported variant of Ubuntu that uses KDE. Moreover, Kubuntu now features KDE 5 (I know the KDE naming and numbering system has become a lot more complicated, so this is, as a physicist might say, an intentional abuse of notation) as stable for the first time, so I figured I should try this version. I tried it as a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. (It should become progressively clearer through this review why there are no pictures.)

2015-04-21

Review: Linux Mint Debian 2 "Betsy" MATE

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
It has been over a year since I've reviewed Debian-based Linux Mint. Since then, some major changes have occurred. The most notable is that Debian-based Linux Mint is no longer a rolling-release distribution but is largely based on the upcoming stable release of Debian (version 8 "Jessie"), though it should continue to get updates for major applications like Mozilla Firefox. Given its shift to a new stable base, I figured it would be time for another review. I checked out the MATE 64-bit edition (due to certain issues with the 32-bit version not being able to detect multiple processor cores) on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. As with the previous review, I am linking to it and only highlighting changes.

2015-04-13

Review: Sabayon 15.02 KDE

This weekend has been a little slower than usual for work, so I have a little more time to do a review. Several weeks ago, I downloaded the latest version of Sabayon and kept it for a time (as now) when I'd be free to do a review. Moreover, looking through the archives of this blog, I realized that it's been almost 3 years since I've looked at Sabayon, so a fresh review is long overdue.

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
For those who don't remember, Sabayon is a rolling-release distribution based on Gentoo, though unlike its parent, it does not require users to compile packages by hand. It used to have a strong multimedia focus and a bit of a heavy metal-type image, but since then, it has broadened its focus to be a good general-use distribution where things work out-of-the-box. Moreover, its main focus used to be KDE, but now it offers a variety of DEs too.

I don't know exactly when this change happened, but now Sabayon is only usable on 64-bit systems, so take note. I tested the live version of the KDE edition on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. This review is a bit short for two reasons: one is that I am mainly pointing out differences compared to my previous review, and the other is something that will become clear by the end of the review.

2015-03-23

Review: Korora 21 "Darla" Cinnamon

Main Screen + Cinnamon Menu
I wanted to do this review a few weeks ago but didn't get the chance until now. Anyway, although I have reviewed Korora a few times before on this blog, I have not reviewed its Cinnamon edition until now. I particularly wanted to try the Cinnamon edition mainly because I seem to have bad luck whenever I try other distributions with Cinnamon, so I wanted to see if that would change here. As usual, I tried it as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2015-02-09

Review: Manjaro Linux 0.8.12 "Ascella" Xfce

It has been a while since I reviewed Manjaro Linux. In fact, my last review of it was almost 2 years ago. Since then, I have seen a lot of news about how much it has grown and how good it has gotten. I figured I should give it another review.

Manjaro Welcome + Whisker Menu
For those who don't remember, Manjaro is a distribution that based on Arch Linux. It maintains a rolling-release base, and it is compatible with most Arch repositories, though some of its repositories are its own. It officially supports KDE and Xfce, though community editions exist for other DEs as well.

Several weeks ago, I tried to test it using MultiSystem, but the live USB didn't boot. This time, though, it worked using UnetBootin after following this set of instructions. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2015-01-15

Review: Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Xfce

Main Screen + Whisker Menu
Recently, the Xfce edition of Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" was released. It and the MATE edition are notable in featuring...Compiz! This really caught my eye, so I wanted to review it. There are several other changes too, so I figured that it would be worthwhile to review the Xfce edition rather than the MATE edition, given that I already tried the MATE edition of Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" not too long ago. Note that Ubuntu-based Linux Mint is sticking only to LTS releases, so a major release will roughly coincide (lagging by a month or so) with the Ubuntu LTS release, and then decimal point releases will be put out every 6 months or so and be given a new code name while still sticking with the last LTS release as its base. As far as this review goes, I tried this as usual as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2015-01-04

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 December 28

Happy new year 2015! This past week, there were two comments on one post. I will repost both of those.

Review: CentOS 7.0 GNOME

An anonymous reader said, "Both CentOS and Scientific are straighforward recompilations of RHEL, with trademarks, logos, etc., removed. It's no surprise you found them much alike, because they are essentially identical. Flash and any other closed source non-FOSS products violate Red Hat's policy on FOSS, and leave it -- and the customers it indemnifies -- vulnerable to law suits. Ditto CentOS and Fedora. While RHEL/CentOS can be tweaked to make it an acceptable desktop (at least for my purposes) both are quite obviously enterprise products, and marketed as such."
Commenter Kamlesh Sheth had a suggestion (which I had already tried): "you can easily tweak centos to delight by following www.dedoimedo.com".

Thanks to both of those folks for commenting on that post. I am back at Princeton now to take my final exams this month and start research for real. Again, this means that my post frequency will be at least once per month, but I can't guarantee a higher frequency than that, and I can't guarantee specifically what I will post. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!

2014-12-29

Review: CentOS 7.0 GNOME

A little over two months ago, I reviewed Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME. The results weren't too pretty. A commenter on that post suggested that I try CentOS 7 to see if the problems are related to the whole Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)/CentOS 7 family or to Scientific Linux 7 specifically. This review aims to do exactly that.

For those who don't remember, CentOS is essentially the free (as in beer) community branch of RHEL. It used to be a separate distribution whose developers took great pains to expunge any mention of RHEL from every part of the distribution, as they did not want to officially license the RHEL trademark. Now, though, CentOS is officially part of RHEL, which should hopefully make life a bit easier for the CentOS developers.

I tried CentOS 7.0 GNOME on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. (As will become clear soon enough, there are no pictures in this review, and for the same reason, this review will be relatively shorter. Suffice it to say for now that the distribution basically looks identical to Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME from screenshots.)

2014-11-13

Stuff in Between Monopoly and Competition

It has been a while since I've ranted about an economics article, but there was one by Peter Thiel (cofounder of PayPal and Palantir) in the Wall Street Journal that caught my eye, so it is the subject of this post. In it, he argues that monopolies are not always the bad entities that people make them out to be. In particular, he argues that Google's dominance in the search market has allowed it to expand to other markets such as advertising, robotics, and phones, and in all of those it is far from a dominant market player. He also argues that firms in perfectly competitive markets are too caught up with staying afloat to be able to innovate in any meaningful way, so real innovation can only come from firms with dominant market positions (such that they have money to gamble on such an innovation). Follow the jump to see my reaction to this.

2014-10-28

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 October 19

This post is delayed (I would usually put it up on Sunday) because I was out of town for the last few days. There was one post that got a handful of comments, so I'll repost most of those.

Review: Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME

Reader Admiral Vinogradov said, "It is no longer a CERN project; it is now a Fermilab thing. Unpleasant news and that's where my interest in the distro ended."
An anonymous commenter responded with the following clarification: "From Cern's pages (link at end): What is Scientific Linux (SL) ? SL is a Linux release put together by Fermilab, CERN, and various other labs and universities around the world. And Scientific Linux CERN (SLC) ? SLC is an SL variant that is built on top of the genuine SL and it is tailored to integrate within the CERN computing environment. - http://linux.web.cern.ch/linux/scientific.shtml"
Another anonymous reader said, "[...] My experience with SL7 is entirely positive. I agree however that many packages are not availabe. But I compiled octave , pari-gp, maxima, ecl without any problem. Packages like smplayer and audacity I also had to compile from source. [...]"
Yet another anonymous commenter had this suggestion: "Given that SL is largely (minor tweaks and branding changes aside) a recompile of RHEL, the problems you encountered may very well stem from upstream and not SL per se. (It would be interesting for you to test CentOS 7 - if you haven't done so already - and see if you have the same problems.) Also, while historically SL used to be a scientific-customised version of RHEL (e.g. including scientific packages), the trend in recent releases (SL6, SL7) has been to keep closer to RHEL and have any additional packages be installed from optional repos. CentOS, meanwhile, now that they are under the umbrella of RH, will actually be deviating MORE from RHEL - including updated packages, etc. And, since SL follows RH's new extended lifecycle, if SL7 isn't for you then you can keep using SL6 until 2020-11-30 (a full six years from now)."

Thanks to all those who commented on that post. Again, now that I am halfway through my first semester in graduate school, things are busy enough that my posts will be rather infrequent (though I will try not to let a month go by without posting something or the other). In any case, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!