Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Linux Mint Redesigns GNOME 3

I may get my partly-fried desktop back in a while, so I may be aggressively trying out lightweight distributions again in the near future.

Meanwhile, on an off-topic note, I really admire what the Linux Mint team plans to do with GNOME 3 in Linux Mint 12. Here's a screenshot of their GNOME 3 design, posted on The Linux Mint Blog:

GNOME 3 with MGSE in Linux Mint 12

The major innovation is the introduction of Mint GNOME Shell Extensions (MGSE), a series of desktop add-ons that can be enabled or disabled to suit the user's comfort level with standard GNOME 3. With all MGSE features enabled, Mint 12 looks like the kind of GNOME 3 desktop I can live with. My single biggest complaint about GNOME 3 when I recently tried it in Sabayon 7 was the lack of a window list. It was really annoying to have to click the Activities button in the top left corner to switch between open windows. If you can create desktop or panel shortcuts in the MGSE-modified desktop, I may really enjoy Linux Mint 12.

My only real problem with GNOME 3/MGSE is the two-panel configuration that I used to always eliminate in GNOME 2 whenever a distro used it. Vertical space is at a premium on my laptop.

Though I've been using Linux Mint Debian Edition on the laptop for a while, I may have to check out the Linux Mint 12 main edition when it comes out.

The Linux Mint Blog » Blog Archive » Linux Mint 12 Preview:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taking User-Friendliness Lessons From Microsoft

When I first heard about the new graphic interface for Windows 8, I thought Microsoft was making the same mistake  the Ubuntu and GNOME developers have recently made: putting a touchscreen interface on an OS that will also run on non-touchscreen devices. However, according to Jeff Hoogland, it looks like Microsoft is at least making it easy to go back to a standard desktop interface.

Thoughts on Technology: Something Gnome3 and Unity Could Stand to Learn From Windows 8

I never thought I'd see the day when Linux desktops are being schooled on usability by Microsoft.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lubuntu 11.10 Software Center

According to Softpedia, the next version of Lubuntu, the LXDE-based variant of Ubuntu, will feature the Lubuntu Software Center, a user-friendly package management tool modeled after the one in the main edition of Ubuntu. The link below includes instructions for how to install the Lubuntu Software Center from the Lubuntu Desktop PPA, if you are inclined to test beta software.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Distro Release: Linux Mint 11 LXDE

According to DistroWatch, the Linux Mint team has released the LXDE edition of Linux Mint 11. It looks like the major changes are to the appearance of a lot of applications, particularly the Software Manager. According to Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre:
The Software Manager - many improvements were made to its graphical interface, and the Software Manager now looks much more polished. Application screens were visually improved, not only in the way they look but also in their layout and the information they show.
I'm surprised we're actually seeing this particular edition of Mint. I thought they were converting all their non-GNOME editions to rolling releases with a Debian code base.

Distribution Release: Linux Mint 11 "LXDE" (DistroWatch.com News)

DistroWatch Weekly No. 418 Highligts

It's that time of week again (though I've missed the last couple of issues). The highligts of this weeks DistroWatch Weekly for for fans of lightweight distributions include:

  • Toorox "Xfce" and "Lite" versions. Apparently, Toorox is a Gentoo-based distro. Despite the naming, both of these versions have Xfce as the default desktop. However, the Lite version swaps out several resource-hungry applications for lighter alternatives.
  • ConnochaetOS. This is a superlight distro intended to run on old computers (as little as 64 MB of RAM on a Pentium I processor).
  • Puppy Linux 5.1.3 "Wary." The Wary version of Puppy Linux is also supposed to be optimized for very old computers.
  • WattOS R4. I had already spotted this one and written a brief post about it. However, DistroWatch Weekly thoughtfully included a screenshot of the default desktop. Insectophobes beware. 

DistroWatch Weekly No. 418.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Distro Release: WattOS R4

WattOS is one of my favorite lightweight distributions, despite a few minor quibbles about configuration options. Yesterday, the newest version, wattOS R4, was released. Among the changes are a "control panel user interface for simple configuration of your system in a familiar format" and a couple of changes to lighter software defaults, most notably switching from Firefox to Chromium as the default browser. 

I also like the new logo wattOS has adopted. It goes better with the default color scheme (assuming the default theme is still green-based) and may not look quite as awkward as part of the menu button.

PlanetWatt - wattOS R4

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Distro Release: Tiny Core Linux 3.8

A new version of Tiny Core Linux has been released. It looks like most of the changes in version 3.8 are stability fixes and alterations to make the graphic interface more efficient.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Shot Heard Round the World

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, has switched from GNOME to Xfce following the release of GNOME 3. At first glance, this looks like a major endorsement for Xfce. However, I'm not sure how much effect this will have on everyday Linux users, since Torvalds's reasons for leaving GNOME are pretty geeky:

Here's an example of "the crazy": you want a new terminal window. So you go to "activities" and press the "terminal" thing that you've made part of your normal desktop thing (but why can't I just have it on the desktop, instead of in that insane "activities" mode?). What happens? Nothing. It brings your existing terminal to the forefront.
That's just crazy crap. Now I need to use Shift-Control-N in an old terminal to bring up a new one. Yeah, that's a real user experience improvement. Sure.

Linus Torvalds Ditches GNOME For Xfce

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Distro Release: Zorin OS 5 Lite

Ubuntu Look has announced the release of Zorin OS 5 Lite. From what I could gather from a brief look around the Zorin OS site, it looks like Zorin OS is a derivative of Ubuntu that uses a more Windows-like desktop configuration and some unique features like a "Look Changer," and also includes proprietary media codecs.

It looks like the most significant difference between Zorin OS and Linux Mint is that Zorin OS comes in multiple free and paid versions. The free versions are Core, Lite, and Educational. The paid versions are optimized for purposes like business and gaming.

The Lite version uses Lubuntu as its base and features the LXDE desktop. On the one hand, I'm tempted to try this distribution. On the other hand, there are things about their marketing approach that annoy me. For example, their download page urges users to download the live disc using Firefox because "other browsers may corrupt the file and may cause errors." Since I've downloaded multiple distros in Chromium and Iron, I'm skeptical of that claim. This one's going to the bottom of my review queue, meaning I may get around to it after I've finished my current project and have reviewed every other distro I find remotely interesting.

Ubuntu Look » Zorin OS 5 Lite is now available

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DistroWatch Weekly No. 414

The biggest news about lightweight distributions in this week's DistroWatch Weekly is the release of several versions of Sabayon Linux 6 featuring lightweight desktops:
Fabio Erculiani has announced the availability of three new Sabayon Linux 6 spins, featuring the Enlightenment 17, LXDE and Xfce desktops....
Apparently, the LXDE version is supposed to be for older computers, the Xfce version for users seeking an alternative to GNOME 3 and Unity, and the Enlightenment version for adventurous users.

Aptosid is another lightweight distro released last week. It's based on Debian unstable and features the KDE and Xfce desktops.

Finally, PagugLinux 11.1, a "minimalist, Gentoo-based live CD featuring the Fluxbox window manager," was released.

DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 414, 18 July 2011