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!

2014-10-22

Review: Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME

It has been a while since I have done a review (almost 3 months, in fact). It has been significantly longer since I have looked at Scientific Linux (over 3 years, in fact). Given that, I figured it might be worthwhile to make this review about Scientific Linux 7.0. I'm just glad that I did it before the time elapsed for something else to come up (around 3 minutes, in fact — OK, I just made that one up to match the other statements).

Main Screen
For those who aren't familiar or don't remember, Scientific Linux is a derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux which is meant to make installation of scientific computing software easier (though such software may not necessarily be included right away). That said, a lot has changed in the last 3 years. Most notably, CentOS, the "community version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux" (I realize there may be some technical distinctions but I won't go into them), has now come under the purview of Red Hat. This means Scientific Linux's role could have the potential to shift a bit in the near future (or it might not, who knows). Even with that aside, there are 3 years of software changes to look at in Scientific Linux, so I'm doing that now. I tried it by writing the live DVD ISO file to my USB drive using UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2014-09-29

A Month into Graduate School

I realized I haven't posted anything here for this month, so the least I could do would be to provide a quick update. I've settled into my apartment nicely. Classes are going decently: I'm taking ELE 511 — Quantum Mechanics with Applications, PHY 504/514 — Electromagnetism/Statistical Physics, respectively, and ELE 568 — Implementations of Quantum Information. More exciting though has been attending seminars that professors have given about their research, and being able to talk to those professors one-on-one as well. I even have a small side-project that could lead into full-time research with one of the professors with whom I'm interested in working! All in all, this is shaping up to be an exciting semester, and I can't wait to find out more about the research opportunities in the department and ultimately pick an advisor.

2014-08-28

Reflection: 2014 Summer

This summer, by design, I was able to relax basically the whole time. I was able to attend graduation parties, visit relatives in India, attend a wedding in New York, spend time with family & friends, and not worry about work a whole lot. Of course I was able to get a bit of work for my old UROP done too, especially as I'd like to turn it into a paper, but I didn't really feel pressure to be working on it all the time. In fact, working on that and a few other projects was mainly how I filled my downtime, but I never let those things get in the way of relaxing and having fun. Anyway, this summer is about to end, and that would make it my last formal summer break ever. In two days, I will be moving to Princeton to start a PhD program in the Electrical Engineering department; it'll likely be about photonics, quantum optics, or Casimir physics, but I have a semester to figure out the details. I'm really excited to be starting that, and I hope the journey will be a good one overall (though I have no doubt that there will be both ups and downs). If you're starting school, college, graduate school, a new job, or any other sort of new venture, good luck!