Fedora Xfce spin

February 13, 2008 at 6:19 pm | Posted in reviews, xubuntu | 6 Comments
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Rahul Sundaram has announced the release of a new Fedora spin with – you guessed it – Xfce!

Hello Friends,

I am pleased to announce the immediate release of a brand new and sparkling, Fedora 8 Xfce Spin. Fedora Xfce Spin is a bootable Fedora Live CD image available for x86 and x86_64 architecture. It can be optionally installed to hard disk or converted into boot USB images and is ideal for Xfce fans and for users running Fedora on relatively low resource systems. As a additional bonus, this release rolls in updates for Fedora 8 released till yesterday (2008/02/12).

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment available in Fedora. Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources. More information at http://xfce.org

Nicu has posted some screenshots, and it looks as if this spin-off is really focusing on being light-weight and minimalistic. Some Xubuntu users might want to give this a try – being based on Fedora might prevent the speed decrease Xubuntu has by being based on Ubuntu.

In any case, seeing another big distribution providing an Xfce version is always good news, so it will be interesting to read some reviews. Have you tried it? If so, how did you like it?

Another Xubuntu convert!

September 17, 2007 at 8:36 am | Posted in reviews, xubuntu | 13 Comments

Over the past week I helped my sister switch over from Ubuntu to Xubuntu. (Maybe I was a little biased about Xubuntu as she was making the switch, but c’mon…I write a blog about it, I might as well be! :P)

She had reasons for doing so: she wanted something faster, preferred Thunar over Nautilus, and just wanted it looking nicer.

Point by point, here’s what impressed her the most:

1) It’s simple.

Q: How do I run Thunar to open my home folder?
A: Thunar.
Q: What’s the command for the terminal?
A: Terminal.

Now that’s semantic! Things in Xfce are logical, simple, and obvious (Or, as she put it, “I type in what I want and I get it”).

2) Thunar.

I’ve already covered some of this, but she prefers Thunar over Nautilus for two main reasons:

a) You can easily switch the address bar from pathbar to toolbar style. I like to type. For me (and my sister) it’s quicker to type than to click through each and every folder. And it also has a similar feel to the terminal: it even has auto-complete.
b) Restore from trash. I find it hard to believe that Nautilus still doesn’t have this. As my sister put it, “now I don’t have to constantly remember where to reput my files.”

So really, it doesn’t matter if one file manager has network support or support for backgrounds. In the end, people just want the basics.

3) It just looks nice.
She REALLY likes the compositor in xfwm4. (I previously had her set up with Compiz-Fusion, but all the wobbling windows bothered her.) So now her computer has nice, stable shadow and transparency effects. She especially likes being able to see through the windows.

It’s also surprising to see how good the desktop can look using just the default icons and themes. As my blog partner Vincent put it:

Yesterday I returned back home from holiday. In my holiday, I have not touched a decent bike for quite a few weeks. True, I’ve used a mountain bike, but the saddle was very hard and the big tires cause you to cycle slowly while still using a lot of force. The result was that when I used my own, decent bicycle this morning, it was a very pleasant feeling.

Now what does this have to do with Xubuntu? Well, my holiday also meant: two weeks without touching a computer, two weeks without seeing the slightest bit of Xubuntu. So when I then turned on my computer, I realized, once again, how pretty Xubuntu is. And it was a pleasant ride 😀

4) Docks.

She likes docks. Not necessarily a Mac-like dock, but just a row of icons to click on. Because see, she doesn’t like digging through menus. She likes icons. (See folks, when I had mentioned that in my joke topic at Ubuntu Forums, I was only half-kidding!)

I tried setting her up with cairo-dock, but that just confused her. You see, in the newest version you have to add launchers from /usr/share/app-install, and neither me or my sister’s system have anything in /usr/share/app-install. Then something screwed up her workspaces (which she doesn’t even use) and turned her entire background grey.

Needless to say, I got her off of that and set her up with a size-48 panel with her icons, the trash applet, and a weather report. She has it on the left side of her screen, which I don’t understand but, it’s her system.

So, now she has a system that does exactly what she wants and how she wants it…with Xfce.

If you’re an Ubuntu user who’s interested in Xubuntu…why not give it a whirl? If you’d like, just open up a terminal and run sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop (or, if you’re a point-and-click kind of person like my sister, you can do it from Synaptic or Adept, depending on your system.)

If it still doesn’t satisfy, just use sudo aptitude remove xubuntu-desktop to take it off. If it does, however, you can take it one step further and follow aysiu’s guide on having a system with only Xfce (this is what my sister did, albeit without removing OpenOffice).

Nothing’s stopping you…it’s free. 🙂

Why Automatix may not be the most viable solution

August 10, 2007 at 8:47 pm | Posted in programs, reviews, xubuntu | 4 Comments

For a while now I’ve been recommending people not to use Automatix nor EasyUbuntu. This was mostly because I knew they could break a few things (especially when upgrading from one version of your Ubuntu derivative to another), but I never had any solid proof that they would break anything.

Well, Matthew Garrett solved that by checking the source of Automatix and wrote up a list of things wrong with Automatix. And, even though I already knew there were some things wrong with Automatix, I still found the list to be huge! In fact, it contains 26 points that need attention. I read through them all, and at least three quarters of those should, even on its own, be enough incentive not to use Automatix at all. Matthew summed it up nicely in his conclusion:

In its current form Automatix is unsupportable, and a mechanism for
flagging bugs from machines with Automatix installed may provide a
valuable aid for determining whether issues are due to supported
distribution packages or third party software installers.

So not only can Automatix break your system, it can do so without you noticing it was Automatix that did it, and when you file a bug report or ask a question without explicitly noting you used Automatix, being helped can be really troublesome.

Rather, you can either wait for Ubuntu to fix the problems Automatix works around, or find a solution yourself (they mostly turn out to be really easy) by searching the Ubuntu Wiki or the Ubuntu forums. If you still can’t find the solution, you can also use the latter to ask for help.

By the way, one excellent place to get support for such things as DVD playback is Medibuntu, which comes with easy instructions on how to use them in a safe way.

Xubuntu Edgy – Upgrade Success

September 6, 2006 at 8:23 pm | Posted in reviews, xubuntu | 40 Comments

Maybe “success” isn’t the right word. I had so much Xorg breakage I had to sudo dpkg -P --force-depends half my installation. But nevertheless, I got it up and running.

Here’s what to expect in Xubuntu Edgy:

1) Desktop icons. Icons for Home, File System and Trash are enabled by default. Right clicking on them gives you an icon properties setting, and a Gnome-like desktop setting submenu. Your custom actions in Thunar are also in the right-click menu.

2) New and Improved Xarchiver with a File Roller-like extract dialog, and better add file to archive dialogs.

3) Firefox. The search engine selector on the right-hand side is more noticable (and nicer looking), there’s a better looking default theme, a built-in spell checker, a history submenu, and more. You may lose your extensions.

4) Smooth fonts!

5) Nicer, glossier icons all around , especially the Ok button.

6) Tons of beta software bound to break. Fun!

7) A usplash specially made to look terrible. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

And finally, last but definiately not least:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Typable file selector dialogs!! You still have to click Open afterwards, but man, is it worth it.

Enjoy, everybody!

Xubuntu 6.06 LTS Review

July 21, 2006 at 9:24 am | Posted in reviews, xubuntu | 2 Comments

Here’s a nice review of Xubuntu 6.06 from a new user’s perspective.

I’ve been interested in Zenwalk, but I know it doesn’t use dpkg/apt-get. Vector Linux is very nice, and it has one of the nicest IceWM setups I’ve seen (besides mine, of course Smiley). However, it has a terrible installer (the installer itself works okay, but there’s so many rude and sarcastic comments everywhere I was ready to throw it out the window).

Arch Linux might be fast, but it sounds like a bit too much work to set it up.

This review will hopefully help new users make up their mind as to whether to switch to Xubuntu.

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