Linux Mint 9: A First Look

The folks over at Linux Mint have just released their newest, latest and greatest, Linux Mint 9 “Isadora”. This time, though, instead of having a single LiveCD to Rule Them All, they offer a LiveCD, LiveDVD and an OEM CD that does not create a default user account. Since I don’t have immediate access to a DVD burner here, I’ll be using the LiveCD. Let’s take a look, shall we?
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The opposite of Feature Creep

It’s time for a rant. Those sensitive to ranting should avert their eyes and go read something else today. But for those of you who enjoy such things, read on.

I have brought this up here and there over the past year on The Linux Critic, but I think it’s time I actually just dedicated a full discussion to it.

There’s a disturbing trend that I’ve been running into everywhere for a while now, and I feel that it’s worth a rant. I’m talking about the tendency of developers committing what I consider to be the cardinal sin of software:

Thou shalt not release a new version that has fewer features than the previous version.

This is the kind of thing that spins me up to no end, and I’m seeing it everywhere. It’s time more attention got brought to this problem, because it’s really running rampant.
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Peppermint: Ask and they deliver

Wow, got a lot of traffic on the review I posted Monday about the new Peppermint OS!

I wanted to post a quick update to that review, because things move fast in the new Linux distro world, and the Peppermint OS team is already moving on some of the relatively minor things I brought up.

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Peppermint OS: a review

What do you get when you combine the flexibility, versatility and ease of maintenance of Ubuntu, the blinding speed and simplicity of LXDE, and a focus on social media and the cloud?

You get Peppermint OS, that’s what! Brought to you by the same developer responsible for Linux Mint 8 LXDE Community Edition, and for resurrecting Linux Mint Fluxbox CE as well, Peppermint OS is a lightweight, fast, stable implementation of what Kendall Weaver’s vision of the perfect Linux distro might be for speed and the web.

And I think he’s onto something.

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An Eye-Opening Experience

Most of us who are familiar with Linux are familiar with the advantages of running Linux as a desktop OS. We frequently bemoan the fact that others don’t know what we do about the reality of Linux on the desktop, and we seem to be hampered by difficulties in spreading the word outside our own circles. Recently, I was able to get outside the circle of Linux users and perform a live demonstration of Linux (and LXDE) to a group of professionals in a conference setting. Here’s my story.
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Anatomy of a .desktop File

One of the beautiful things about Linux is that developers tend to be conscientious about the use of technical standards. Freedesktop.org maintains a wide series of standards for X Window System desktops, which apply to Gnome, KDE, LXDE and XFCE (I’m not sure whether Fluxbox implements these standards.) The standard for “desktop entries” is still technically a draft, but is generally accepted by the larger X community.

The .desktop file fills two primary functions: first, it informs the desktop environment how the file is to be handled by the desktop environment with regard to menu placement, display, environmental variables, and similar. In this function, it resides globally in /usr/share/applications/ and for specific users in $HOME/.local/applications. The second function is the direct shortcut on the desktop itself. In this function, it resides in $HOME/Desktop. The same file fills both functions, so if you want to have an application both in the menu and on your desktop, you’ll need to put the .desktop file in two places. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
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New laptop

In my post last week, Time For A Linux Laptop, I discussed how my options were rather slim when it came to combining Linux, good processing power, and machines on the smaller end of the laptop scale.

The bar by which I had been measuring everything was the now discontinued Darter Ultra, by System76, which was what I had planned to buy this month, at least, until it vanished from their website’s selection of laptop computers back in the end of February.

Well, despite my lack of options, I’ve made a purchase, and it’s arriving today.

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