With LXQt taking over for LXDE I wasn’t sure we’d see another Manjaro LXDE release. After firing this one up, I’m glad I was wrong. Immediately after booting the LiveCD I saw that they had fixed the ugly icon setup they had last time I tried this. Then while going through the install I noticed something awesome, The Calamares netinstall functionality. Finally a way to cut out some of the unwanted programs before they ever get installed. I unchecked a chunk of programs and breezed through the rest of the install without an issue. Once into the installed system I switched the theme to dark, ran updates, installed a few programs and was in business. I then also found out that this spin supports SMB connections out of the box. No more needing to install gvfs-smb manually. While I haven’t put a ton of time into this spin yet, I am quite happy with the changes made since last using it and plan to put in some more time with it.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
I’ve never been a fan, I don’t expect Gnome or Unity to win me over any time soon.
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.
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.
I’ve given up on this OS, it will never work the way I need it to.
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.
First off a warning, give this distro at least 12GB. First try I gave it 8GB and it was so tight on space I couldn’t even run updates. If you’re looking for security tools, it got em… tons of them. As far as looks go it is a pretty basic LXDE setup, nothing special. It is a rolling release based on Debian testing so it should be pretty stable. Overall I wouldn’t use it as a daily driver but if you’re trying to do some security testing, Kali is the way to go.
I tend to keep installers for a number of distros I like on a USB drive so I can quickly boot them up on different hardware. To do this I use Multisystem. I have been using it for quite a while and have learned it is not always the most friendly thing but it is the only program I have found that can accomplish what I want the way I want it. After testing out Fedora LXDE 24 recently I decided I wanted to keep it ready to go on my drive. I loaded it in Multisystem like normal but I kept getting an error when I tried to boot it. The error said that it could not find /fedora1/isolinux/vmlinuz0. So I checked that folder and found out that file didn’t exist and it was actually named vmlinuz (no 0 at the end). I took a quick look at the grub code and made some adjustments.
linux /fedora1/isolinux/vmlinuz0 live_locale=en_US.utf8 live_keytable= rd.live.dir=/fedora1 root=UUID=337A-2EB5 rootfstype=auto ro rd.live.image quiet rhgb rd.luks=0 rd.md=0 rd.dm=0
linux /fedora1/isolinux/vmlinuz live_locale=en_US.utf8 live_keytable= rd.live.dir=/fedora1 root=UUID=337A-2EB5 rootfstype=auto ro rd.live.image quiet rhgb rd.luks=0 rd.md=0 rd.dm=0
Looking at the code I saw initrd also had a 0 at the end. I removed the zeros from both filenames and updated grub. It then boot like normal. I just wanted to put this trick out in case anyone else ran into it. I’m still having issues getting Peppermint 7 to work with Multisystem but if I find a fix I will post it as well.
It is all the greatness of Fedora without having to deal with Gnome. It is lightweight and runs like a champ. Unfortunately it does not come with a screenshot tool or a graphical package manager. It’s not hard to search for and install a screenshot utility through dnf commands but I can see some people being lost at this point. Since this is LXDE I kept it simple and went with scrot. I also had to install gvfs-smb to get to SMB locations. While this is a great distro I would definitely not recommend it to someone new to Linux.
I ran Raspbian on my old Raspberry Pi only to end up selling it because it was not worth the hassle. Then for some reason I bought a Raspberry Pi 2. My main use for it is an OpenELEC box (which is great) but I felt I should give Raspbian a revisit. It’s still not great but there is a big improvement. It runs much faster with the Raspberry Pi 2 and a class 10 micro SD but it still is not useful as a desktop machine unless you only work in terminal. Bouncing around the OS is nice and snappy but the moment you open a web browser prepare for pain. I tested Epiphany and IceWeasel. Both are slow and don’t display a number of site properly.