2014-01-30

Review: Pinguy OS 13.10 Beta 3

Main Screen + GnoMenu
Several weeks ago, I reviewed a couple of distributions in the span of a week. I initially thought one of those reviews would be of Pinguy OS, but then I saw that I had last reviewed Pinguy OS when it was at version 12.04 LTS, so I figured I would only review LTS releases. Then the lead developer of this distribution asked me in a comment on another post to take a look at Pinguy OS soon, and I thought I would do that much earlier this month. Then of course this blog went down and didn't reappear until a little over a week ago. Now I can finally review Pinguy OS. I've reviewed it enough times (even in GNOME 3/Shell guise) that I can safely skip the introduction. I will say though that this is labeled as a review rather than a preview because there will never be non-beta releases of non-LTS versions. I tried Pinguy OS as a live USB made with MultiSystem (because for some reason using UnetBootin produced a non-bootable live USB system). Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After getting past the boot menu, I was greeted by the typical Pinguy OS boot splash. That took a reasonable amount of time to give way to the MDM login screen. I noticed ahead of time that for some reason automatically logging in doesn't work in the live system, so I would need to type "guest" for the username and nothing at all for the password. But when I got to the login screen, it looked weird; the text showing the date and time looked scrambled until the minute value changed, and there were some other weird graphical artifacts in the login screen. I had to move the mouse across the screen several times before I saw the cursor change to the pointed finger indicating that I should click somewhere, and that revealed the word "Login". Clicking on that finally gave the text box to enter the username, followed by the password. That finally gave way to the desktop.

The desktop is mostly the same as before, so I won't dwell on that for too much. The Axe Menu, which essentially brought the Linux Mint Menu to GNOME 3/Shell, is sadly gone, replaced by the slightly less nice GnoMenu. There is a Conky system monitor sitting on the top-right of the desktop background that also displays the date and time. Docky gives a dock on the bottom that has been expanded to full width, but for some reason it shows an opaque background until the desktop background changes (after which point the Docky background becomes fully transparent). On the whole, the desktop works decently well.

Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer
Mozilla Firefox looks and acts basically the same as before. However, when it first started, it gave some weird errors regarding extensions. Thankfully these errors didn't really affect much else, and I was able to do it just fine.
The other applications are by and large the same. In particular, LibreOffice is of course the default productivity suite.
Nemo, with Nemo-Preview, is now the default file browser, though oddly the GNOME Files application name seems to be a link to Nemo now. It worked OK, though it seemed a little unstable. In particular, when I tried to open the "About" window to ensure that it really was Nemo rather than a fork of Nautilus/GNOME Files, Nemo froze and crashed, though thankfully the rest of the system was unaffected. (I was able to verify the identity of this file manager through another status bar saying "Nemo" in the file manager window itself.)

Skype and Google Talk are both installed out-of-the-box. The latter worked fine, whereas the former gave some minor audio issues as is apparently typical of that version of Skype (which has been fixed with the latest update).
Both Mupen64Plus and Redshift worked to the best of their abilities after installing them from the Synaptic Package Manager. On that note, I found it interesting that although the Ubuntu Software Center is present (with the Ubuntu branding), Docky contains a shortcut to the Synaptic Package Manager rather than the Ubuntu Software Center, which is weird if Pinguy OS wants to cater to newbies (though it's always nice for me). Looking back at my earlier reviews, this has apparently been done in past versions of this distribution, so I guess this is just a quirk of this distribution.

Nemo + Nemo-Preview
Pinguy OS used about 440 MB of RAM at idle, which I guess is about par for GNOME 3/Shell now, especially with all the extra goodies running in the background. That said, it didn't feel quite as stable as before. Sure, that started with the MDM login screen, but it continued from there, with the Nemo freeze, the one-time Mozilla Firefox issue, and other issues too. These include the pointer and parts of the screen flickering on occasion, the system generally feeling a little slow and slightly unstable, the top-left hot corner for the GNOME Activities view working at some times but not others (and occasionally interfering with GnoMenu along with generally making the system feel more sluggish), and the screenshot application Shutter continually giving weird errors (that thankfully didn't affect its operation). It is entirely possible that these instability issues may be because of the fact that I'm using a live USB, but given the track record of MultiSystem in creating reliable live USB systems especially from distributions based on Ubuntu, I'm a little more likely to blame Pinguy OS for this.

That's where my time with Pinguy OS 13.10 Beta 3 ended. Just in terms of applications and how the desktop is set up, I would be fine with recommending this to newbies. The reason why I can't quite do that with this version boils down to the stability issues. With version 11.10 Beta, I felt the "beta" label was overly cautious; with this version, I think that label is quite a bit more justified, and more work will need to be done before releasing version 14.04 LTS (which I would be curious to try out after it comes out).
You can get it here.

3 comments:

  1. Elementary OS, with all the stability you need. :)

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    Replies
    1. @Anonymous: I've already reviewed Elementary OS 2 "Luna", so you can check out that article to find out my opinion about it. Thanks for the comment!

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    2. Thank you for pointing that out, I have entered my reply there as well.

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