2012-07-02

Review: Pinguy OS 12.04 LTS

Main Screen + Cardapio Menu
A couple weeks ago, the latest version of Pinguy OS came out, and I wanted to try it. I haven't had the time until today, though, so that's why the review is happening today.

I previously reviewed Pinguy OS 11.10 and found that while there are certain things to which I may not be able to become fully accustomed, the "beta" label on Pinguy OS 11.10 seemed overly cautious considering its stability and high quality overall. The latest version has not changed much from that beta version besides having newer packages in general, but because version 11.10 was never truly official, the changes in version 12.04 LTS are of course huge compared to version 11.04. Also, accompanying the new release is a revamped website, which looks a lot cleaner and less bloated than before.

I probably would not normally seriously consider a distribution with GNOME 3/Shell for installation on my hard drive, but one of the things that caught my eye about this release was the option of using the Axe menu instead of the default Cardapio menu in the top panel. I did some searching and found out that the Axe menu looks and could potentially act almost identically to the Linux Mint Menu, which is amazing. That is why I am trying the 64-bit edition (as a live USB made with MultiSystem); sure, GNOME 3/Shell doesn't have my nice desktop cube, but it could potentially have everything else I could want, and given that, I'm OK with giving up the desktop cube if I am left with no other good alternatives. Follow the jump to see what this is like.

Mozilla Firefox
After the boot menu, I was greeted by the usual Pinguy OS boot splash. After a fairly normal amount of time for booting came the desktop, which looks identical to what it did in Pinguy OS 11.10 Beta, so I won't go through that in too much detail. In fact, most of what is in this version of Pinguy OS is and acts similarly or identically to what was in version 11.10 Beta, so I will only point out differences and other things that I found. With the desktop, the only visible difference is the removal of the global menu. While that makes the desktop less like that of previous versions of Pinguy OS, frankly the drop-down global menu doesn't really work well, and it's unfortunate that it is the only way to get a global menu of any kind to work with GNOME 3/Shell easily. In addition, another minor difference is the change of the GTK+ theme from Zukitwo-Resonance (which is no longer being developed) to Zukitwo. Finally, the scrollbars on most applications are thin as in Ubuntu, though I don't remember if that was also true in Pinguy OS 11.10 Beta because I don't seem to have made any note of it in that review. Otherwise, the desktop still works quite well overall.

Mozilla Firefox still looks and acts much the same as it did before, and all the other things apply as well. However, it does not give an option like it did before to disable certain extensions before starting; while that isn't a huge deal, it was a nice touch, so I'm a little sad to see that go.
LibreOffice Writer + Axe Menu
The other installed applications remain the same, including Skype. That is at version 4.0, and thankfully that works perfectly well even though this is the 64-bit edition of the distribution. Also, even Google Talk is already installed, and that might be the first time I have seen that included in a distribution out-of-the-box; that worked well too.
Redshift was installable from the repositories. After logging out and logging back in, that worked fine too.
Because all the other dependencies are already present, Mupen64Plus 1.5 was installable just by extracting the TAR package and running the installation script. It took several minutes for it to be added to the application menus, but it ran fine, and it ran all of my games perfectly fine, which is a good sign.

Nautilus is mostly the same as before, and Gloobus-Preview is included as before. I'm now a little surprised as to why that might be, considering that GNOME now has a native file previewer in the form of Sushi, which works exactly like Gloobus-Preview does. In any case, Gloobus-Preview works as well as it always did, and it doesn't seem to have the stability problems present in the version from the PPA for daily builds, so I wonder which source is used for Gloobus-Preview. Also, Nautilus no longer hides the side pane even when the view mode is split, which is a nice progression from before.

Activities Overview
There were a few things I did to the desktop to make it even more palatable to me. I added desktop icons for the "Computer" and home folders and mounted volumes. I removed the side dock, expanded the bottom dock to full width, removed the applet for the trash folder, and added applets to show the desktop and switch workspaces. For the top panel, I removed the corresponding applet to switch workspaces, removed the Cardapio menu, added the Axe menu, moved the clock back to the center, added a weather applet, removed the GNOME 3/Shell Activities overview button, removed the applet showing mounted volumes, and removed the system monitor applets. The Axe menu does indeed work identically to my favorite Linux Mint Menu; my only small issues are that it is a little slower to start, and the menu takes up almost the full height of the screen while only the width can be changed.
One extension that is installed is the Auto-Move-Windows extension, which allows the user to force certain applications to start on specified virtual workspaces. Unfortunately, despite being enabled, GConf-Editor has no way to configure it, and anyway it seems like the dynamic workspaces in GNOME 3/Shell would preclude such an extension from working properly.

One of the advantages that I see in GNOME 3/Shell versus GNOME 3/Cinnamon (which is probably the closest production-ready GNOME 3 environment I have seen that aims to emulate the GNOME 2 interface) is added stability. Indeed, GNOME 3/Shell was quite stable on the whole. That said, there were a few small bugs. Switching workspaces seems a little jumpy. Starting some applets seemed a little jumpy, and configuring applets made some weird things happen like the active window title button in the panel enlarging itself (though those issues fixed themselves after a few seconds). The weather applet would not recognize the WOEID I typed in. One applet made a gray blocky artifact appear on the screen for a second, though that never happened again. Also, unrelated to GNOME 3/Shell, the screenshot applet Shutter would throw an error message after each screenshot taken (though without consequence to anything at all).
Synaptic Package Manager + Desktop Customizations
According to the GNOME System Monitor, Pinguy OS 12.04 LTS used 750 MB of RAM with Shutter being the only other application that I consciously started that was running in the background. That appears to be mostly because when I closed Skype, the process was not fully terminated and I was left with a zombie Skype process hogging a lot of memory. Still, that is inexcusably high.

That is where my time with Pinguy OS ended. The nonfunctional Auto-Move-Windows extension combined with the various other bugs and quirks means that I probably would not install it, although the Axe menu did make the deal seem quite a bit more enticing. But it seems great for an average user as always, and I can give it a rather high recommendation because of how well it manages to turn GNOME 3/Shell into a more traditional-looking desktop and because of all of the applications and other user-friendly tweaks and goodies present.
You can get it here.

19 comments:

  1. Very Good Review!!

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  2. thanks,,,,,,,,,,

    I am using it now and make me happy with gnome3

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  3. Nice review as usual. Good job, Prashanth!

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  4. @Anonymous, mansy net, برق: Thanks for the support!

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  5. I installed it on my wife's Dell laptop that previously had Win7 and she loves it. It's now her OS of choice :)

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    1. @Ant: It's great that it has worked out for her. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. I tried pinguy in my old compaq presario V3000 which has only 512 RAM and simply freezes in the splash screen stage.. but Zorin OS 6 which is based on same Ubuntu 12.04, its blued Desktop come within seconds and installation taken in few minutes. I have already installed Zorin OS some twenty of my friends on whose computers that 'windoze' infected except games and office for all other social activities they are doing fine in Zorin..If pinguy drop its many bloatware I may consider to try it in my old lappy..with zorin I am very happy!

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    1. @linxbot: If you're unhappy with the bloat in the standard edition of Pinguy OS, you may want to wait for the "Mini" edition. Thanks for the comment!

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    2. Pinguy isn't designed for old pc's, there's nothing wrong with that. To dis it because it won't run on a pc with 512mb of ram in 2012 is retarded. All distro's for different, just like users.

      The only part of Pinguy that's bloated is the desktop, it kinda busy. The base OS runs great on my i7 desktop and the app's installed are top of the line.

      Pinguy is IMO the best desktop/workstation distro of Linux.

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    3. @phillip martin: I do agree that in general, systems with GNOME 3/Shell aren't appropriate for computers that are old enough to have only 512 MB of RAM. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. I finished installing pinguy, but i am not able to view the other NTFS partitions. It was possible with my Ubuntu. Is there anything i can do?

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    1. @Prem Kris: That's really odd, because Pinguy OS was able to access the NTFS partitions on my hard drive just fine. Did you check to make sure that all the necessary NTFS-related packages were installed correctly? Otherwise, I'm not sure what else I can say, though I'm sure that someone else has a better answer. Thanks for the comment!

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  8. i couldnt get ubuntu to install properly, so am wanting to try pinguy to see if it will work better. I am an everyday user, and mainly use labtop for games and social things such as facebook and myspace. also use music like spotify. would u recomend pinguy to me? or is there a better OS that i dont know about

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    1. @Anonymous: If Ubuntu didn't install properly, there's a good chance that Pinguy OS won't either. That said, can you give some details on what went wrong? Also, do you have a friend experienced in Linux who may be able to walk you through the process if something goes wrong? Anyway, for your needs, Pinguy OS seems just right. Thanks for the comment!

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    2. basically i have a faulty version of windows, and everytime i logged in my labtop would freeze instantly. so now im operating in safe mode with networking, trying to replace my bad windows. i dont have a usb or blank dvd to download any OS that will let me get on World of warcraft/shaiya (games) and basic web browsing. But to do this i have to switch OS's internally.
      And my basic problem with ubuntu was i downloaded it great, but whe i reboot and go to choose it, an error msg pops up. "hd 0,0 no wubilder hd 0,1 2 FTSF5 1,2. then says cannot find grldr in all devices" ive been on many forum and blogs and they say usually the problem is that i dont have wubildr or wubildr.mbh copied in my C: drive.... I do. they also say to wait a minute its searching for the drive. that also did not work. idk what im doing wrong with it...

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  9. and no... none of my friends deal with anything besides windows... sad ik. any help would be awesome. at this point, ive uninstalled ubuntu, and am looking into other options. like i said before, any OS that would let me download games from the internet and basic browser stuff like watchin videos, myspace, or fb. guaranteed you know more about this than i do. also, i have a basic gateway computer with a counterfeit version of windows apperently.

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    1. @Anonymous: You can give Linux Mint or Pinguy OS a shot. I know for a fact that in some instances, Linux Mint has even better hardware compatibility than Ubuntu as long as you create the live CD/DVD properly. I'm not sure about Pinguy OS, but that may be true too; in any case, I don't think it can hurt to give it a try. You should also make sure that the live CD/DVD of Ubuntu is being created properly; use something like InfraRecorder to burn the file to the disk (such that the disk now has the contents of the ISO file unpacked instead of just the packaged ISO file written to the disk) at the slowest speed possible, check the MD5SUM file, and check the disk for other errors upon booting. Pinguy OS or Linux Mint are fully able to visit your favorite websites and use services like Spotify and Dropbox; as for playing games, World Of Warcraft should play well under WINE, but I've never heard of "Shaiya" so you might want to check issues about that out on your own time. If Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and/or Pinguy OS don't work at all, you may want to try something else like Fedora (or a newbie-friendly variant thereof), openSUSE (which is fairly newbie-friendly, professional, and powerful), or SolusOS (which is like a better Linux Mint based on Debian directly). Please let me know how it goes; I hope this all helps. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. i tried this distro its slow and has many bugs

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    1. @Anonymous: I think it would be more helpful for the maintainers of the distribution if you could be more specific, but in any case it's unfortunate that Pinguy OS has not worked out for you. Thanks for the comment!

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