viernes, 29 de noviembre de 2013

One Week with OpenMandriva Lx 2013

Exactly a week ago, I read the announcement of the release of OpenMandriva Lx 2013 and, since I had been experimenting with the Beta and the RCs, I installed the final version on my HP laptop.

Curiously, I did not experience the live session that installs itself, reported here. I could navigate the live session before deciding to install without any problem.

The installation of this Linux distro, which I had been waiting, posited some risks. First, my laptop has a rather complicated partition layout: it runs Mageia 3, PCLinuxOS, Pisi GNU/Linux RC1, and PicarOS, a spin of GalpON MiniNo made exclusively for children (you can learn more about PicarOS here). Second, although most distros in my laptop are 64 bits, I keep one 32 bit-distro (PCLinuxOS). Third, I combine GRUB legacy and GRUB 2 to boot the different Linux distributions.

However, the installation of OpenMandriva Lx went without any problem and, when finished, its beautiful GRUB2 detected all my other distros.  It even identified some with their corresponding logos and placed a Tux icon next to the others. I liked that detail.  The installation from a USB drive was significantly faster than the one with a DVD, by the way.
Then, I decided not to say a word of this distro after having used it for a week. This is what I have found as an OpenMandriva Lx user:

1. SimpleWelcome Launcher
Let me clarify something: when I first saw SimpleWelcome in Mandriva 2011 RC, I hated the new launcher. Later on, I warmed up to it and now I must admit that the darn thing is beautiful and responsive. Yes, it might look like a gigantic cellphone, but it certainly looks better than certain ridiculous tiles with childish colors that distract you with their constant movement...
The tab Welcome displays the programs that you have used recently and you can pin them on that position by toggling a little star ont their upper corner. You can delete the recently used documents from that tab by clicking on a small broom (and you will see a cute brooming animation as they are removed).
SimpleWelcome launcher: the Welcome tab
The next tab (“applications”) shows you the programs on the computer. You can navigate them using the search field on top, clicking on the little dots at the bottom, or sweeping to the right or left with the mouse. The applications can also be grouped together.

The timeframe is my favorite part of SimpleWelcome and what made me like the new launcher. It stores your documents chronologically, provides several views of them, and lets you get glimpses of what's happening in Facebook (also with a nice picture-scalating animation).
Timeframe displaying Facebook activity
2. Stability
The OS has been working perfectly all this time. No crashes, no freezes, no weird delays. Of course, OpenMandriva Lx is a somewhat resource-hungry system, but its performance has been notoriously improved since Mandriva 2011, which I jokingly nicknamed the Vista of Linux-Land.  OpenMandriva Lx works fine on my desktop (2GB RAM) and my laptop (3GB RAM)

3. User Account
They included new icons for the user accounts (/usr/share/mdk/faces). However, the one I liked was removed: the cat. 

Fortunately, I had saved the icon. It took me a whiIe to figure out how to change it, though. Even when you change it from MCC (System/Manage users/Edit), the icon you selected during the installation stubbornly stays. What you have to do is go to /home and, with Dolphin, display the hidden files. You are going to see a file called .face.icon, which is the picture selected during the installation. Substitute it by the one you want, but make sure the image is 225 x 225 pixels.  

The problem with the fixed image does not occur when you set up additional user accounts.  For example, I set up a Guest  account and gave it this icon:

To do so, simply open Konsole and type su, your password, and then cp image.png /usr/share/mdk/faces before you set up the account to have your image available.

OpenMandriva Lx controls my scanner, printer, wireless and wired Internet connections, etc without any problem.  LibreOffice and Firefox come with it, so you can work and browse the web.  It plays video files and music files, and you can watch YouTube videos, too.  It integrates KDE nicely: KOrganizer can work with my Yahoo! calendar, Kmail retrieves and sends my Yahoo! mail, and the contacts can be managed with Kontact.  In other words, it can do what most computer users need it to do.

However, due to the fact that OpenMandriva Lx is taking its first steps, users who require more specific functions might get disappointed.  For example, concerning accessibility technologies, some more polishing is required.  Although I could make Kmouth read text in English, Jovie does not seem to work and, therefore, you cannot change readers and languages.  Asian language input is another area of problem.  iBus does not work and, hence, I have not figured out how to type in Japanese.

Those two, nevertheless, are not great blunders for most users.  Gaming might be a more serious consideration.  To activate Steam, you need to add the i586 repositories even if you are working with a x86_64 system.  To do so, as a superuser, type this in Konsole:

urpmi.addmedia --distrib --mirrorlist ''

Some of the games I have do not work, though.
Desura is giving me a major headache; after trying to start a game, the client crashes...

Even so, I like the OS and it shows great potential.  I am sure that OpenMandriva Lx will get better with time.  It was worth waiting for this release.

lunes, 18 de noviembre de 2013

Pentaboot Laptop Changes

My HP Pavilion g4 laptop has undergone some changes.

Let's see...

1.  GRUB2 is now provided by OpenMandriva Lx RC1.  Formerly, I used Mageia's, but it was difficult to get it to see PCLinuxOS, which uses legacy GRUB.

2.  PCLinuxOS has been updated and it now fixed the SCIM IME.  That is simply great!  PCLinuxOS 32 bits is my gaming OS as it gets to play my DESURA and STEAM games perfectly.

3.  Mageia 3 remains the same with some updates.  This is my academic distro and my family OS (it was user accounts for my family)

4.  Pisi Linux 1.0 RC1 replaces Pardus 2011.

5. Mandriva 2011 was replaced by OpenMandriva Lx 2013 RC1 and now this distro was upgraded to RC2. I also tested the Live/installer DVD and the keyboard problem was finally fixed. This seems to be a promising release.

6.  PicarOS, the OS for children based on GalpON MiniNO, was updated to Diego.  At first, the installation lacked sound but I fixed the problem after a while.  All I had to do was disable a sound card that is useless.  To do so, I used the sound tools.

I am now waiting for the new Elive release...

lunes, 11 de noviembre de 2013

Updates knocking on the door!

Ah, updates!

I remember that, back in my days as a Windows ME user, I learned to be truly afraid of them.  Updates were supposed to help your computer but, almost inevitably, something would go very wrong after applying them.

I would have thought that, by now, Microsoft mastered the process of providing updates that do not break your computer.  However, that is not the case.  A colleague told me that her husband applied updates to her Windows 7 desktop and the old MS magic was performed just the same: the sound card went crazy and refused to work with the microphone and the webcam also stopped working.

And then, there's the celebrated Microsoft update to convert your Windows 8 RT computer into a Windows 8.1 RT... brick!  It went so bad that Microsoft had to prevent people from installing it.

I don't know if they fixed it but, according to this post, the update to Win 8.1 now seems to convert your computer into a cat (because it does not play nicely with mice).

To be fair, I have also heard complaints on updates coming from Linux users.  I myself have messed up with some Linux installs because of carelessness during the updating process.  My last experience was when I tried to install PCLinuxOS 2013.10.  Of course, it was all my fault: I had been sluggish with my bi-weekly updating process and, being PCLOS a semi-rolling distro, that is a rather serious mistake.

I learned my lesson and today's PCLOS update went smoothly.  It was a major one, too: it converted my KDE 4.10.5 laptop into a KDE 4.11 machine.

By the way, I am also getting a Mageia update with Firefox 25... At last!  This thing of not being able to read PDF files directly from the browser was getting me frustrated...

It's great that updates come around!

domingo, 10 de noviembre de 2013

Some changes around here

With my recent installation of OpenMandriva Lx RC1, Mandriva is no longer present in any of my computers. I had to wipe Mandriva 2011 on both my desktop and laptop to make room for the new comer.

It's kind of sad... Mandriva, the distro that made me migrate from Windows, does not exist now.  I made some changes on the blog to reflect that fact.  For example, as I regularly use seven Linux distros, my badge now includes their logos.

This feels kind of exciting, too.  In a way, those changes also show me how much I have learned about Linux since 2009.

This has been a rewarding journey.  Let us see: 

  • 2009, I start dual-booting Mandriva and Windows XP.
  • 2010, Mandriva, Mepis, Pardus share my HDs; I no longer use Windows.
  • 2011 (jan), LibreOffice is released.
  • 2011 (jul), PCLinuxOS becomes part of my Linux family.  
  • 2011 (sept), Mageia makes its debut and earns a place with the other distros.
  • 2012  OpenMandriva Association is born.
  • 2013 (feb), PicarOS (GalpON MiniNO) becomes my daughter's favorite distro.
  • 2013 (mar), AntiX is added to the distros powering my netbook.
  • 2013 (sept), I install Pisi 1.0 RC1 to my laptop.
  • 2013 (nov), OpenMandriva Lx RC1 shares a place on my desktop and laptop.

Wow!  Lots of changes...

sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2013

OpenMandriva Lx 2013 RC1: A Quick Test Drive

As promised, I took my OpenMandriva Lx 2013 RC1 home to install it to my desktop computer. A while ago, I installed the beta --after a tenacious fight, I must admit--, so it was time to upgrade it.

At first, the task seemed as difficult as trying to make a submarine fly: to begin with, the keyboard was dead (more on that in a moment) and the painfully slow installation process got stuck five times.  However, I discovered that the extremely slow installation and repetitive halts were due to a corrupted DVD.  So, I burned a new one and started again.  

These are the two most serious issues that I found along the process:  

1. Lack of an operational keyboard
At boot, regardless of which of the two installation methods provided you chose (regular or basic graphics), the keyboard will refuse to work.  Of course, since you can navigate the screens with the mouse during the first steps of the process, you might not notice that your keyboards is useless.

This one is not a new problem; it bugged me also during the install of the beta. What beats me is that the dead keyboard has still made it to the RC1.  I mean, it is a serious issue that should have been taken care of earlier.

Anyway, I could activate the keyboard by rebooting the distro, selecting the basic graphics install, and then hitting TAB to get some options.  Once the installer got to the keyboard selection screen, I waited a couple of seconds and the keyboard was operational.

The rest of the process was a bit slow, but simple if you have installed Mandriva or Mageia before.  

2. Grub installation on partition
This is simply impossible because, although there is a drop down menu, the only option that you get is the MBR, so OpenMandriva's GRUB2 will wipe out your existing GRUB.

However, OpenMandriva was finally installed and ready to run.  These are the good points:

1.  Faster boot and shut down times.  As compared to those of Mandriva 2011, the boot and shut down are much faster.

2.  Improved login screen.  The login screen, which got a bit stuck on Mandriva 2011, works now perfectly and is more visually-appealing.

3.  Everything worked.  Sound, printer, scanner, card readers, USB drives, wired and wireless Internet connections, desktop effects, mounted partitions of other distros, YouTube video playback...  I even customized the Window decorations and added the Cairo dock.

4. Fully functional GRUB2 menu.  Although my previous GRUB was gone, it was replaced by one that picked up every other distro and identified it flawlessly, regardless of the fact that some of those distros used legacy GRUB.

5. Improved timeline (with SimpleWelcome launcher).  For Facebook lovers, the timeline now displays updates of your friends, which you can comment and like quickly without  firing up the browser.  The updates become larger with a neat animation effect when you clic on them.   

After balancing positive/negative points, I would say that OpenMandriva Association is sticking to its plan to deliver an original, fresh, and innovative Linux distro.  Even though it might take some time until all isues are ironed out and the vision becomes a reality, it is good to know that the association is not falling for the fallacy of "let's dumb our Linux down so that Windows users adopt it."  The quality of their product is pretty high.

Right now, the RC is powering my desktop and my laptop.  Using the distro is a delight, too.   I even wrote this entry with OpenMandriva RC1.

So, trying to make the submarine fly was difficult at first...but it was good that the submarine happened to be the Mighty Jack.

Some submarines can fly.  Tatakae, OpenMandriva!

viernes, 8 de noviembre de 2013

Right on Schedule! OpenMandriva LX RC1 has arrived!

Just as promised, OpenMandriva Association has made the first Release Candidate of OpenMandriva LX available for download today.

Right on schedule! OpenMandriva Association is sticking to the plan

Apparently, this release fixes more than 70 bugs and still offers the assortment of launchers that the beta called for the Battle Royal.  The winner will be defined in the soon-coming RC2.

Yes, soon, seriously... If they keep it on schedule, the new RC2 will be here, let's see... Next Friday!

I finished downloading the RC1 .iso and will test it later to see what gives.

No, on a second  thought, I think that I will install it to my desktop PC.

Yeah, let's live dangerously ;-)

I hope the plane can take off!

jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013

"Good things happen during the weekend" OpenMandriva LX is Coming!

UPDATE:  The Release Candidate 1 was launched last fridayHere's my reaction after I installed it to both my desktop and laptop computers.

According to this post, OpenMandriva Lx will be seeing the light of day pretty soon: on November 22!

The final product will be preceded by  two release candidates:
  • Friday 8 November: Release Candidate 1
  • Friday 15 November: Release Candidate 2
I must admit that I really like the way the beta is working on my desktop computer.

I wonder, what launcher finally won the OpenMandriva Lx launcher battle royal? Funny but, although I first detested it, I now wish that SimpleWelcome made it...