Review: Rebellin Linux v3 GNOME

Last week, I finished and passed my generals! This not only means that I can continue doing research here with a roof over my head and with money to feed myself; it also means that I now have the time to get back to doing reviews and posting about other things here. I'm starting this week by reviewing Rebellin Linux.

Main screen + GnoMenu
Rebellin Linux is a rolling-release distribution based on the unstable "Sid" branch of Debian. It features the GNOME or MATE DEs, and its focus is on being easy to use, with special attention paid to user support; in particular, it offers personalized lifetime support after a onetime payment of a modest ($14 as of this writing) fee, and offers free support in the form of the user manual (though that requires provision of an email address, which is a bit odd) and a Q&A section of the site in lieu of traditional forums. Looking at the website, it seems like this is largely a one-person operation, and the website design and some of the words used make it seem a little more amateurish (which is marginally off-putting for a distribution that bills itself as meaning "business"), but it seems like a decent effort from a single person, and I'd like to see what it has to offer in any case. I tried this as a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu came a scrolling wall of text, which after a reasonable amount of time gave way to the desktop; two notifications popped up as the desktop loaded, and neither notification was particularly clear (to a new user, though it was clear enough to me what they were about), though I could easily close each without issue. The desktop is a customized version of GNOME 3 with lots of extensions present too. In particular, it has been customized to be reminiscent of GNOME 2, with a panel on the top and bottom, the top panel containing a lot of applets, and the bottom panel exclusively containing window and workspace switchers. The top panel has an applet named "View" which goes to the window view section of the GNOME 3 Activities screen, as well as an applet named "Apps" which goes to the application list section of the Activities screen; of course, once the Activities screen is loaded in either case, the two sections can be accessed within the Activities screen as is standard for GNOME 3/Shell. Next to that is an applet called "Menu" which launches the GnoMenu applet; this is similar to the Linux Mint Menu and works fairly similarly as well, though my only issue with it is that it has a bunch of bookmarked folder locations that are not clearly labeled/represented unless I hover the cursor over it to see which folder it is. The remaining applets on the top panel form the standard notification area. The window and GTK+ themes are the standard Adwaita theme used in GNOME 3, while the icon theme is Faenza. As far as I can tell, there is nothing else particularly customized about those themes, so my complaint regarding the themes (which has nothing to do with Rebellin Linux itself) is that the fonts and toolbar thicknesses are too large; that said, Rebellin Linux seems to have made a conscious choice to make all of the icons on the desktop and in GNOME 3 Files (but nowhere else) extremely large, and while this may be good from a usability perspective for older people or others who have trouble seeing small icons, I feel like it may be a bit of overkill.

Mozilla Firefox
Before proceeding further as I usually do, I noticed an icon on the desktop labeled "VideoMessage.mp4". This is in fact a 2.5 minute-long video message from the author of this distribution himself, which confirms my thought that this is a one-person operation. He basically thanks the user for choosing to try Rebellin Linux and goes through some of the special features that Rebellin Linux brings to the table. Again, I think it may be slightly amateurish, but I do think it brings a nice personal touch to the distribution, and I really do appreciate the effort. Anyway, overall I think the desktop works reasonably well.

Mozilla Firefox is the default browser (though oddly it is not among the favorite applications in any of the application menus), and it seems to have most proprietary codecs included, as YouTube and Hulu worked fine, as did my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts; the main issue that I had was that the fancy GNOME 3 scrollbars' incompatibility with Mozilla Firefox meant that I only say thick gray bars where the scrollbars would otherwise be, and I couldn't ever tell where in a page I was. LibreOffice is also included as the default productivity suite. The other applications present are fairly standard, though GIMP and Inkscape are both included as well.

I was able to use the Synaptic Package Manager to successfully install Mupen64Plus and Redshift; those ran fine too. I had to download the packages for Skype and Google Talk from their respective sites. Skype worked perfectly fine. On the other hand, although sound (capture and playback) worked fine in Google Talk, I was unable to verify whether my video worked, due to a plugin issue.

LibreOffice Writer + GNOME 3 Activities
Rebellin Linux used about 625 MB of RAM at idle, which is a bit heavy, but I guess that's standard for GNOME 3 nowadays. It ran generally smoothly for the most part, though there were a few things that were a little slow (though not dealbreakingly so).

That is where my time with Rebellin Linux v3 GNOME ended. Unfortunately, my inability to verify the recognition of my webcam in Googe Talk means that I would not be able to commit to this distribution myself. However, it seems like most other things work fine, so if you're a new user to Linux and don't particularly care about Google Talk, I could reasonably recommend this to you; although this distribution could use a bit more polish, I think it's a honest attempt at being easy to use, and I think it does that job decently well. In any case, I'm going to keep an eye on this distribution in the future too.
You can get it here.

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