Featured Comments: Week of 2011 October 23

There were no featured comments the previous week because the comments on the post that week came after the end of the week. That's because I published that post quite late that week. This past week, though, there was one post that got a handful of comments, so I'll repost most of those.

Review: Kubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot"

An anonymous reader said, "The installer now has a checkbox for installing codecs, as well as a box for installing updates, it's pretty handy. Previews for inactive windows in the taskbar has always been on by default for me in Kubuntu, either way you can turn it on from the desktop effects settings. I have used Kubuntu for many years as my main desktop and it really has improved a lot. I don't mind the vanilla KDE so much as I always customize KDE to my liking. I don't know why they keep trying to push rekonq though, it will never be as good as FF or Chrome."
Another anonymous commenter had this to say: "Took a look at Rekonq recently in another distro; crashed on me about 3 times, during something like a 5 minute session. I would have played around with it longer, but that was enough for me. If I installed Kubuntu, I'd add another web browser right away. Nice review as always, but I'm still hoping you'll start doing reviews with actual installations. Yeah, I've read all of your explanations about why you don't, so no need to repeat all of that. But it's the only area where your reviews fall short, at least for me. (Please don't take offense -- just calling 'em like I see 'em.)"
Reader Kelhim2 had this suggestion, of sorts: "One downside of Kubuntu 11.10 is the inclusion of KMail2 which uses Akonadi and therefore needs all of your mails migrated to the new database - and inevitably fails to do so. People who don't read the official release statement, which makes it quite clear that the KMail2 migration assistent is unreliable and explains how to migrate manually, will be put off entrusting their data to KMail2."
Commenter carretillo said, "Some lost features from kde 4.5, are comeback, like daysi task and fancy task. I recommend strongly change kickoff for lancelot. Another tweak is install xfwm4 for use instead kwin. Is a really good kde distro. I use like my principal distro. But I still waiting for LMDE KDE."

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. This coming week, I hope to have another review out, but that's not guaranteed. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Kubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot"

You can consider this to be the second part of a series of reviews of the relatives of Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot. Today I'm reviewing Kubuntu.

Main Screen
I've said some bad things about Kubuntu in the past. Mainly, it has to do with how a couple years ago on Ubuntu, KDE and GNOME would not mix very well, and Kubuntu's implementation of KDE, while vanilla-looking, wasn't very vanilla-working (and really didn't work well at all). Things have improved since then: Kubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" was generally lauded as the first good Kubuntu release since the transition from KDE 3 to KDE 4. Kubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" was even better, and this version has been reviewed by others as the best ever; not only that, but the aforementioned other reviewers have also said this is among the best KDE distributions out today, period. That's quite a lot of praise, so I'm seeing if (1) that praise is warranted and (2) I need to change my previously sour opinion of Kubuntu.

I tested Kubuntu on a live USB made with UnetBootin. I was going to test the installation...on a real computer! A $friend of mine in college heard me and another friend discussing computer-related things and how I thought it would be interesting and ironic if I could put Linux on an Apple iMac/MacBook and use it instead of Apple's Mac OS X. $friend had a slightly older Intel-based Apple iMac that $friend wasn't using, so $friend was willing to lend it to me for the year; $friend was cool with me using it to test and install Linux distributions on the hard drive, because $friend actually used a triple-boot Linux setup on the Apple iMac on a regular basis before it fell into disuse. I figured I should use this opportunity to try to install Kubuntu, so I followed the instructions on the Ubuntu website to create the appropriate live USB with another 2 GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB stick I got 4 years ago but haven't used at all since high school; unfortunately, while the Refit bootloader (that I installed beforehand) did apparently recognize the live USB, booting just hung at the white screen. While I am aware of a few potential solutions, I've also read on the Refit website that different Apple iMac generations tolerate live USB booting at different levels: some are fully cooperative, while others pretend live USBs don't exist. I believe this particular Apple iMac is closer to the latter end of that spectrum, so I didn't pursue it further. I do know another friend who has been collecting many desktop computers that are a few years old, so I might ask that friend to borrow a working one for such installations. That'll have to wait for a future review though. In any case, this time around, despite my best efforts, installation did not occur. Follow the jump to see what Kubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" is like.


Review: Edubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot"

Main Screen
Well, it's that time of year again: it's October, so another edition of Ubuntu has been released. This includes its official derivatives, like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and Edubuntu. Today I'll be testing Edubuntu because I feel like it doesn't get reviewed enough, yet it provides the same experience and support as standard Ubuntu, aside from having a whole bunch of educational applications included in the live session (hence the name).

So what's new with Edubuntu? Version 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" came with Unity for the first time, and I reviewed Edubuntu then; I found that while I didn't encounter any stability issues, I couldn't use the interface very easily and it didn't seem that polished. Since then, version 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" has seen a few new features and revisions to the interface, along with the replacement of GNOME 2 by GNOME 3, but most of the work has gone into fixing bugs and making the experience much more stable and polished. One other thing is that the GDM login screen has been replaced by the lighter yet more polished LightDM; as the live session has automatic login, I wasn't able to see that.

The live ISO file is 2.6 GB, which is a pretty hefty download, but that can be explained by the large number of extra educational programs included. I tested Edubuntu using a live USB made with UnetBootin. I did not test the installation, but fear not, because I will test the installation procedure with either Kubuntu or Xubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot", and I hope to review those soon. Follow the jump to see what the latest version of Edubuntu is like.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 October 9

There was one post that got one comment this week, so I'll repost that one.

Review: Sabayon 7 KDE + GNOME + Xfce

Reader MacLone said, "My problem with every Sabayon i test is the buggy installer. I have tried to install on several machines and the installer ends with some python bugs. This is not new, it has been the same with earlier versions of sabayon. The only way to install this problematic distro is by text. As a "whole" Sabayon is the most rushed and buggy of all the linuxes i test."

Thanks to that reader for commenting on that post. This coming week, I hope to have a few reviews out, but that depends on my work schedule. In any case, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Sabayon 7 KDE + GNOME + Xfce

I've reviewed Sabayon here enough that I don't need to introduce it here anymore. Let's just say that version 7 was released recently, so I'm reviewing it.

KDE: Main Screen
But usually, I only review the KDE edition, so why am I reviewing the GNOME and Xfce editions too this time? Well, GNOME is now at version 3.2, and the Xfce edition is now considered to be stable enough to not be "experimental" anymore, so I think both of those things warrant reviews. Of course, I'm going to be reviewing the KDE edition as well, and KDE is now at version 4.7, which I haven't had much experience with as most recent KDE distributions I've tried have included KDE only at version 4.6.

I tested all 3 editions using live USBs made with UnetBootin. I did not test the installation procedures, because I didn't see anything in the release notes about improvements to the installer, so I don't really anticipate any changes from last time. Follow the jump to see what each edition is like.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 October 2

There was one post this past week that got two comments, so I'll repost both of those.

Review: Kororaa 15 "Squirt"

Reader Jonquil had this clarification: "You can change the icons and themes using Gnome-Tweak-Tool, which should be available in the repositories. Also, Appearance hasn't been deprecated. Something is wrong with the distribution you're using. I've used the Appearance settings in Gnome 3.0 AND 3.2 in Fedora, and they work just fine."
An anonymous commenter said, "I totally agree with the above article. After getting my first build up and running (I was completely supervised by my friend and mentor who has several certifications and has been building computers for over 20 years now.) I installed Kororaa 15 KDE on it. What a load of crap! When using Jockey to download the NVIDIDA drivers as instructed and installing them and going into desktop settings to set slideshow my screen went black. I have tried several distributions and the only ones that work with NVIDIA are Ubuntu based. AT least Bodhi comes with them already in place. I am using Ultimate Edition 2.9 and it works like a charm. Kororaa has definitely taken a hug step backwards and has lost its credibility with me as have Fedora based distributions. Fuduntu 14.11 failed miserably as well. So Prashnath I totally agree with what you have written here. Kororaa has definitely gone bad and gone bad quickly."

Thanks to those two for commenting on that post. This coming week, I don't really anticipate writing about much, because while I do have the next two days off, I also have an exam at the end of this week, and I'll probably be preparing for that. In any case, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing, commenting, and sharing!


Review: Kororaa 15 "Squirt"

KDE: Main Screen
I've been swamped these past couple weeks. I mean, I've been absolutely, completely, and totally bogged down by work. I had 4 problem sets to do, on top of my recently-started UROP and other work-study stuff I'm doing, so I seriously had no room to breathe, until now. I briefly thought about starting work for next week tonight, but then I realized that whatever sanity I had left at this point would go out the window if I worked any more. I needed a break, so what did I do instead of working? I wrote this review! (This is my pre-emptive excuse if some people may feel that this is not thorough enough, or whatever. Yeah, yeah, sue me.)

GNOME: Main Screen
I've reviewed Kororaa before, and that was version 14 "Nemo" which featured KDE 4.6 and GNOME 2.32. This new version 15 "Squirt" has an unchanged semi-major version of KDE, but GNOME has been upgraded to version 3.0. Other applications have been updated too, so I figured it would be time to give it another go.

I tested both versions through live USB systems made with UnetBootin. I did not test the installation processes because there haven't been significant changes to the Anaconda installer since Fedora 14 "Laughlin". Follow the jump to see what each is like.


KevJumba and Google Search Results

I know I'm quite late on this one, but I just thought of a better way to explain this somewhat recent TechDirt post on why US Senators' assertions that Google remove all biases and put up "natural" search results is wrongheaded, because Google's search results are inherently influenced by people's searches, companies' advertising, and Google's own algorithms. The issue, if I remember correctly, revolves around the fact that Google is advertising for Canadian drugs when people search online to buy drugs, and it is in some instances illegal to buy Canadian drugs that are the same type and quality as comparable American drugs. Since then, it has basically become an antitrust lawsuit against Google (or the two cases may be separate, I'm not sure which), despite the fact that Google doesn't seem to have done anything like Microsoft did in its monopoly position to actually bar other competitors from entering or raise costs for consumers, and that's the key to actually making an antitrust suit successful. Plus, the Senators themselves have basically admitted that the issue is to stop Google from growing for the sole sake of stopping it from getting to a certain size (and not actually for protecting consumers), and they've even claimed that Google was destined to succeed and monopolize, which is totally false given that quite a few famous names in computer technology predicted in 1998 that Google would fail and that in 1998, there were about 10 different big competing search engines, and few people thought Google could muscle into the market.
But I'd like to share a thought or two specifically regarding the "biased search results", and show why they would be inherently biased anyway. As I've mentioned a few times before, I'm a fan of the videos of Kevin Wu, who goes by KevJumba on YouTube. In the first video posted here, KevJumba tells the viewers about how searching on Google the phrase "Is KevJumba" yields "Is KevJumba gay?" as the first suggestion. Leaving aside the issues of homophobia and all that, it's clear that happened because thousands upon thousands of users searched for that, and that became the search result most associated with his name. In response, he asked his users to make the result a bit more masculine: "Is KevJumba a heterosexual bear wrestler?" In the second video posted here, KevJumba thanks the viewers for making his dream come true, as "Is KevJumba a heterosexual bear wrestler?" is now the first suggestion not only for the phrase "Is KevJumba" but also just for the word "Is". That only happened because of his legions of fans rushing to Google and searching it repeatedly to make that the best suggestion for the phrase "Is". That already shows in two ways the fact that Google has no "natural/unbiased" search results; for now, I rest my case.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 September 25

There was one post this week that got a comment, so I'll repost that.

The Neutrino News and Science in the Public

Reader T_Beermonster had this excellent explanation/clarification: "It's probably just me misreading but it seems like you are saying the measurement was of neutrino speed in rock exceeding only photon speed in rock. The paper clearly states that the measurement was of muon neutrinos in rock (or at least assumed to be travelling through rock rather than taking a short-cut through a spare dimension) moving faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. The paper is still up on arxiv.org http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897 small quote from page 19 'We cannot explain the observed effect in terms of presently known systematic uncertainties. Therefore, the measurement indicates an early arrival time of CNGS muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum. The relative difference of the muon neutrino velocity with respect to the speed of light is: (v-c)/c = δt /(TOF’c - δt) = (2.48 ± 0.28 (stat.) ± 0.30 (sys.)) ×10-5, with 6.0 σ significance.' Obviously the high likelihood is of some as yet unnoticed systematic effects. If the phenomenon is real there are various ways in which it could be reconciled with the Lorentz requirement of c as a hard upper (or lower) limit or even some c preserving Lorentz violating schemes (several suggestions already cropping up on arxiv). Or we could get some brand spanking new theory. The general press did however bugger up their reporting quite badly BBC Breakfast seemed to be suggesting that relativity was going to be cancelled and your mobile phone stop working. I even felt compelled to actually put a message up on my facebook wall for the day: 'Relativity still works. I have a laser pen to prove it. Also when scientists ask other scientists to check their data and try to reproduce their experiment and results this is not some humbling act of contrite fools. That is what scientists are supposed to do, science.'"

Thanks to that commenter who commented on a post this past week. I meant to post a double review this past week, but I couldn't do it simply because I was so swamped with work this past week. I'll try to do it this week, but I can't promise anything because in all likelihood I'll probably be just as swamped this week if not more so. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing & commenting!