Solus 2017.01.01

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Not sure why I didn’t start looking into Budgie with this distro, but I know I like Budgie so I feel I need to look into the distro which created it. Besides the location detector not finding me the install was painless.  Being new to Solus I had to look into the package management commands. Luckily they have a nice wiki with everything laid out nice and simple. Also a big plus with this distro: there is very few packages installed by default making it nice and clean. In the end I was completely impressed. This is an independant distro that gave me no hassles and was incredibly simple to get up and running.

Manjaro LXQt 16.11

Manjaro LXQt 16.11.png

What the hell? The terrible login screen is back. At least it is easy to change. Every release of LXQt is a little bit better and closer to being a proper LXDE replacement. After getting past the login screen this distro is pretty good looking. One problem I found though is some text in the settings windows is not visible due to the theme. There is also not an abundance of programs installed which I rather like. A slim install gives me the ability to install what I want and not waste time cleaning up the junk that was preinstalled. While I like where things are going, I still think LXQt isn’t ready for daily use. There are things that are part of LXDE that are missing and some things are there but don’t seem fully baked yet. While I was almost ready to take this to some hardware I hit a roadblock, the lxqt-common package won’t update due to an invalid signature. I got all the other packages updated but this is another quirk keeping me from finding actual use for this distro. After the new arch-keyring package arrived today I was finally able to update lxqt-common but this isn’t the first time Manjaro has had issues with updating packages.

Fedora LXDE 25

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It’s not much different than Fedora LXDE 24. It remains a pretty bare LXDE setup that works great. It seems like it would be a great distro for a machine with low specs. In fact, I plan on trying the out in just that scenario. The only gripe I have is the lack of a gui package manager. I have no issue with popping up a terminal and running updates but without a notifications it could be easy to forget to run them. Hopefully my I’ll get to put it through a real world run through pretty soon.

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

Over the last year I’ve tried a number of distros/OSs and felt I need to wrap things up with what I liked, didn’t like and what I am looking forward to. So without further ado, here goes.

Best Distro 2016: Linux Mint MATE 18.1
My main machine runs Manjaro XFCE 16.10 but I have had some issues with certain updates. For anything I use that needs to be reliable, I go with Linux Mint MATE. It works and I don’t need to worry about an update leaving me dead in the water.

 

Biggest Letdown 2016: Manjaro LXQt
I really want a good LXQt distro but this not it. It has so much promise but keeps letting me down. Whether it is updates that just won’t install or weird design choices, I want to like this but I just can’t.

 

Best DE/WM 2016: XFCE
I really like Fluxbox but can’t find a good distro for it. It looks like KDE5 and Budgie are coming around but they are not there yet. I also like MATE, but run into the occasional quirk. XFCE is so solid though. It is customizable (is that a word?) and relatively low on resources (I’d call it mid range for resources). XFCE is my daily driver and I prefer it over everything else right now. Whether it is LinuxMint, Majaro, Xubuntu, or Debian; XFCE is great.

 

Best OS 2016: Linux
This is pretty obvious. I’m not a complete Windows hater like some but Windows 10, while nice at times, really irritates me (quit reinstalling “Modern” apps I removed!). But that is nothing compared to OSX. OSX is good for basic things, but I need more out of my PC. If I didn’t, I’d just use my tablet. OSX blows Windows out of the water for running Photoshop and Premier but mapping a network drive, have fun with that. Chrome OS is getting better as well (I can finally run Team Viewer!) but it is still a bit too limiting.

 

Now that I have closed out 2016, here is what I am looking forward to in 2017

 

DE: Budgie
I wish I could say LXQt but it seems only ROSA has figured out how to make a decent LXQt distro (seriously, give ROSA a shot). I started playing with Budgie using Manjaro’s spin and while it had rough edges, I could see a lot of promise. As Budgie has matured it keeps getting better. I have a machine I use just to store VMs I’ve tested and it runs Ubuntu Budgie Remix. While it hasn’t been pain free, I really like what I see. With Budgie getting an official Ubuntu spin I think it can only get better.

 

Distro: Lubuntu
I quite like Lubuntu and I am really hoping that when they switch to LXQt I finally get an LXQt distro I like. I know they keep delaying the move but I hope to see it this year. Both Lubuntu 16.04 and Lubuntu 16.10 have been working great for me so I can only hope for a great LXQt based Lubuntu this year.

 

Some other thoughts going forward

Fluxbox
Bring back Manjaro Fluxbox or create an Ubuntu spin. Fluxbox is great but is really in need of some love. I’ve kept my Manjaro Fluxbox install running on an Acer C720, it is absolutely great but requires careful updating to keep in one piece. I’ve also built a Fluxbox setup from the Manjaro Net install just to learn more about how it works. I have tried the same with Ubuntu but have not go it dialed in yet. Besides Manjaro (whose Fluxbox spin hasn’t been updated since December 2015) the only other distro I have tried with Fluxbox is VSIDO (I’m open to suggestions) which was rough.

KDE
It is so close to being great again. Maybe 2017 will be the year it gets back to being my favorite DE but it needs to cut down on resources and run a bit smoother.

Gnome
I’ve never been a fan, I don’t expect Gnome or Unity to win me over any time soon.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon is good and always getting better but the resource usage gets me. It also has a bit of a dated look which I don’t mind if the resources match.

Chrome OS
I really want to see Androids apps come to Chrome OS and run stably. Chrome OS is great but it is lacks the apps to be a full fledged PC replacement. Android apps can fill this gap but stability is a must. My Chromebook is rock solid and I want it to stay that way.

OSX
I’ve given up on this OS, it will never work the way I need it to.

Windows
Don’t become OSX, let the user decide what they want to do. I still uses Windows (almost daily), and don’t like the direction Microsoft went when Windows 8 came out. Windows 10 has started to rectify the problems and they need to stay the course of listening to users.

 

To wrap this overly long post up, here are a few things I have in the works

Fedora 25 LXDE- hint it is just as good, if not better than Fedora 24 LXDE.
Pixel Desktop – I’ve only started playing with it but I always love a new (ish?) DE.
Manjaro LXQt 16.10 – I’ve been having issues but hope to wrap this up soon.
Something with Lumina – I’ve used this with PC-BSD and Manjaro, not satisfied yet.
RetroPie – It is awesome, I’ve actually spent too much time with it lately.

2 Birds 1 Stone

macbook-lm-18-kde

I was looking for some hardware to install LinuxMint KDE 18 on and I found it. I’ve had a Macbook Air that I don’t use because I find OSX to be incredibly irritating. So I decided to dual boot it. After getting rEFIt setup I proceeded through the install like normal. Everything works great. I just had to get the wifi drivers installed as the MBA uses Broadcom. It’s been a while since I liked used KDE or my MBA but now I can say I enjoy both. The MBA is a great piece of hardware (but not as good as my Dell XPS 13) with a terrible OS. I only wish this had a bigger hard drive so I could dual boot a couple of distros at once.

Windows 8

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Windows ME crashed constantly, Windows Vista ran terribly on almost all PCs available when it was released, but I believe Windows 8 beats both for the title of worst Windows release ever. When Windows ME wasn’t crashing things were usable. Similarly with Windows Vista, if you had enough power it was usable. Windows 8 on the other hand, doesn’t crash constantly and runs fine on most hardware. Where is falls apart is, it is completely unusable. The UI is a complete wreck. Drop someone in front of it and ask them to open a program without a shortcut on the desktop. See how long it takes for them to pull up even the Start screen. Then on top of that, wait for them to figure out how to get to the All Apps screen. There is also the garbage Charms bar which loves to popup when you don’t want it. Windows 8 is also the starting point for Windows jamming their terrible “Modern Apps” onto your PC. Windows 8 and 8.1 come with things like News, Sports, Stocks, etc. installed out-of-the-box. At least you can uninstall these apps. Windows 10 takes that idea and goes full on spam, installing the apps (and sponsored apps) out-of-the-box. Then even if you unistall them, it will reinstall after certain updates. This OS was a complete miss after probably the best Windows version ever, Windows 7. Windows 8.1 is not great either but when compared to Windows 8, it feels great.

Manjaro MATE 16.10.2

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It’s been awhile since I’ve taken Manjaro’s MATE version for a spin and the first thing I noticed is it looks a ton better. The last version I used did not look good. Nothing seemed to match and I had to do a lot of tweaking to make it look decent. Right out of the box this one looked good. It also didn’t have an abundance of software installed like some versions of Manjaro. While I do like this distro it still doesn’t feel as good as LinuxMint’s MATE spin or Ubuntu MATE. If you want MATE with a pacman base it is good though.