Featured Comments: Week of 2013 June 16

There was one post that got a couple of comments this past week, so I'll repost all of those.

Review: Zorin OS 7 Core

Reader arindam sen said, "Thanks for the good review. I agree with you - it is sad the Ubuntu 13.04 derivatives are only supported till Oct'13. Like what Fuduntu did with Fedora, some Ubuntu derivative should target of creating a rolling release distro. Anyway, Ubuntu developers were also debating over a rolling release distro last year. I am not sure what is the present status now."
Commenter Eddie had this to say: "Zorin does look interesting and I also have a problem with the new release schedule that Ubuntu has now, even tho I know and understand why they are doing it. I don't think that a rolling release would work well and that is just because of some bad experiences I've had with several rolling release distros in the past. The distribution upgrade path for Ubuntu has worked well for me the last several releases but I'm not sure how well a derivative would do. The last time I checked the AWN project had mostly been abandoned. I feel that this could lead to problems with Zorin. Maybe they should take it over. Everything seems to be moving so much faster with distributions now than 10 years ago. It makes me miss the CP/M days. Anyway thanks for a nice review."

Thanks to both of those people for those comments. This week, I may have a review out (along with possibly other posts). Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Zorin OS 7 Core

It has been almost exactly a year since I reviewed Zorin OS 6 Core, which was based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS "Precise Pangolin". The new version is based on Ubuntu 13.04 "Raring Ringtail", so I'm reviewing that now.

Main Screen + Zorin OS Menu
What is Zorin OS? It is based on Ubuntu, uses a heavily customized GNOME 3 environment with Compiz as the WM and AWN as a panel. It also aims to look as close to Microsoft Windows as possible; at the moment, the target is specifically Microsoft Windows 8. There haven't been a huge number of changes from version 6 to version 7 of Zorin OS, aside from some theme and branding updates along with the usual package updates.

I tried this as a live USB made with UnetBootin; the Zorin OS website warns that the live system may be less stable than the installed system, so I'll see how that plays out. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 June 9

There was one post that got a handful of comments this past week, so I'll repost some of those.

Review: Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Cinnamon + MATE

Reader Mechatotoro said, "Thank you for the time to write about Mint; your review is very useful and enlightening. I really appreciate your objective observations! Again, thank you and good luck with your studies."
An anonymous commenter had a different experience: "I have been using Mint 15 since the RC release and it has been rock solid for me as well."
Reader Bernard Victor had a similar counter: "I am using Mint with Cinnamon desktop. I have found it very stable and responsive. Desktop effects work well. I think it is the best all round distro that I have tried. I also have PClinuxOS loaded which is not half as responsive though seems pretty stable. Could be that some of your problems result from only usinga live USB system."
Commenter on4aa supported, "I am happy to read a rather objective Linux Mint review, pinpointing the same desktop environment issues that made me leave Linux Mint Debian Edition. [...]"

Thanks to all those who commented on that post. This coming week I will have another review along with maybe one other post coming out. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Cinnamon + MATE

It's that time of the year again. Linux Mint has just released the latest version of its distribution, and I'm going to review it.

Cinnamon: Main Screen + Cinnamon Menu
What has changed since the previous version? Cinnamon has gotten more bug fixes as usual. More importantly, its settings have been consolidated into one program, and it has become less immediately dependent on GNOME than before. Meanwhile, MATE has also been moving away from old libraries toward newer ones used in GNOME 3 as well, allowing for things like Caja to look a little more like Nautilus. There are other changes in store for Linux Mint itself, like new separate tools to manage software repositories and drivers, respectively (in opposition to how Ubuntu is doing it now).

I tested both of these as live USB systems made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what they are like.


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 June 2

There was one post this past week that got a handful of comments, so I will repost most of those.

How-To: Make Xfce Like Unity

Reader Mike Frett shared, "That's why I use XFCE, very customizable. I don't particularly like Unity, but I enjoyed the article. Incidentally, you could have turned the Opacity down a bit on your Dock to match Unity's. I use Xubuntu, when I do I always delete the Dock on the bottom and drag the top bar down to the bottom. I add some spacers and launchers and such till it looks like *that* classic OS from around '98. It's just my preference because it's simple and stays out of my way. I use the Shiki-Brave and Classic Ambiance themes. Nothing in my System Tray on the right except the clock, weather update and Network Monitor (Bars only). And Dots style separators. I like it =p Point is, it's very customizable to anyone’s liking. But it annoys me they still call XFCE a 'light' WM when it's resource usage is the same as Gnome 3 and KDE; and they STILL don't have even basic effect's like fade-in and out or Min-Max animations."
Commenter Morten Juhl-Johansen Zőlde-Fejér had this bit of support: "This is an excellent documentation of the level of customization that is possible. I seem to recall another site where they did a Vista and MacOS X redesign - it was quite impressive."
An anonymous reader said, "Unity's screen layout is actually OK. But if Unity was just a reorganization of an on-screen dock and panel, then it wouldn't have generated so much controversy. Canonical eliminated the start menu, replacing it with a cumbersome search function; they also adopted the Mac's one-menubar-for-all-programs style, took away many customization options, and put all of that in a package that requires high-end graphics capability to even run. I don't know why anyone would want to emulate any of that. With Xfce, you can put a launcher in the dock that opens the "application finder", which is a nicely laid out menu of installed programs, organized by program type (graphics, internet, etc.). Alternatively, the launcher could run "thunar /usr/share/applications", which would produce a very Mac-like display of clickable icons of all installed applications. I imagine one could do this with Unity, in effect restoring the start menu (but I haven't tried - Xfce works just fine). And I still haven't found a simpler way to switch desktops than Xfce's trick of just moving the mouse off the right or left screen edge. No mouse clicks at all! Gnome 2.x had the same thing, I think; gone the way of the Dodo bird..."
Another anonymous commenter countered, "I'm with Innocent Bystander. I switched to Xfce 3 years mainly to get away from what I saw coming down the pike with GNOME 3 and Unity. While it's interesting to know that this can be done with Xfce, this article begs the question: WHY would anyone in his/her right mind WANT to do this? As someone who likes Xfce the way it is due to the Xfce team sticking to tried and true intuitive GUI design that has stood the test of time, I consider this article to be completely and utterly pointless."

Thanks to all those who commented on that post. I'm back on campus, but because my UROP (and graduate school preparations) are a bit less hectic than the normal semester, I'll probably be able to put out a review this week. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


How-To: Make Xfce Like Unity

This is more or less the sequel to this post. It came about because I wanted to see if it would be easy to make Xfce look like Apple's Mac OS X; I figured that Unity looks similar enough, so I might as well write about that. Follow the jump to see how to do it. I would have added more pictures if I had more time, but I'm heading back to campus tomorrow, so I can only make this a quick post in the meantime.


Review: Semplice 4 "Atom Heart Mother"

A couple of people have asked in comments (especially of my review of #! 11 "Waldorf") that I review Semplice. I took a look at its website and was pretty intrigued, so here is the review.

Main Screen + Openbox Menu
What is Semplice? Much like #! (which I may end up referencing frequently whether I want to or not), it is based on Debian and uses Openbox as its default WM. Unlike #!, which is based on Debian Stable (and issues preview releases based on the future Debian Stable release), Semplice is based on Debian Unstable "Sid", which allows it to be maintained as a rolling-release distribution.

I reviewed Semplice 4 "Atom Heart Mother" (I found out the code name from the release notes) using a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


FOLLOW-UP: Rebutting the New York Times Review of "A Universe From Nothing"

Somehow a few months ago, my family discovered the existence of this blog, and the first post they read was this one, for which this post is a follow-up. They then bought the aforementioned book for me so that I could read it and perhaps understand the criticisms laid out in the New York Times article that I rebutted.

Well, I read the book. It was a fairly interesting read. Having taken the class 8.033 — Relativity, I would say that everything up to around the middle of the book is stuff I've seen before in the context of general relativity. After that comes some stuff that is new to me, like the ideas behind inflation, virtual particles, and how multiverses can be explained within the framework of quantum field theory. They were all new and fairly strange ideas, but I accepted them fairly easily because it was clear how they fit into the framework of quantum field theory. After finishing the book, I went back to read the book review as well as my rebuttal of it, and I have to say that in many ways, the book review looks even slightly more ridiculous than before, and I'm actually quite happy with the assessment I laid out about a year ago.


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 May 26

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

Review: SolydXK 2013.04.06

Reader Mechatotoro said, "Thanks for the useful review. I had not heard about SolydXK, so I will give it a try. Have you tried Mint Olivia yet? I'd like to hear your opinion since you are a Mint user and can therefore assess the system's general performance as compared to other versions of Mint... I'm also curious about the new themable login screen."

Thanks to him for leaving that comment. This coming week, I will have at least one review out along with at least one other post, as this is my last week at home before I go back to campus for the summer. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!