http://usalug.org

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fedora 29 network-based release upgrade from Fedora 28

That's what I am attempting to do tonight, put Fedora 29 Xfce on my Dell Inspiron 5558 by doing a network-based release upgrade from Fedora 28.

I seldom do things "the easy way" when I am experimenting.

Fedora 28 actually worked out reasonably well, especially considering it's bleeding edge reputation, so it'll be interesting to see how this one ends up!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

PCLinuxOS in 2018

I am currently using PCLinuxOS on my Dell Inspiron 5558.

I have XFCE running here right now; I have often used this particular distribution with KDE frequently in the past, although it is a very good distribution for use with many diverse window managers and desktop environments - XFCE is very solid with PCLinuxOS.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

AntiX 17

AntiX (and it's "sister" distribution MX 17 Horizon - which you can find at MX-17 released December-15-2017 ) are both effective and easy to use distributions.  Of the two of them, antiX 17 is the smaller, more "nimble" distribution intended for "older" hardware, and MX-17 is an antiX replacement for what used to be the MEPIS distribution.  MX-17 now uses Xfce as it's desktop environment (instead of the KDE desktop environment previously used in MEPIS.  That makes MX a bit "lighter" than MEPIS, yet MX retains good usability.

Note that both distributions are based on software that comes from Debian.  The communities that discuss and support these two distributions have some overlaps, since anticapitalista is the lead developer of both of them and they both get their "heritage" from the Debian and MEPIS traditions.

I'm using antiX 17 to write this note from the FlashPeak Slimjet Web browser.  With 5 tabs open, the browser, at the moment, is chewing up the most memory, but it is still consuming less an an eighth of the total memory and not swapping at all. Moreover, it's quite responsive, so that's good.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

openSUSE "Tumbleweed"

Since I've given openSUSE "more of a chance" on my Dell Inspiron 5558 laptop than I have any other hardware, probably dating back to the days when I used to write distribution reviews for Extreme Tech (and that was about 15-16 years ago), I have, nevertheless found the recent SUSE releases to be more "stable" than one of my desktop favorites in those early days.

Mandrake (then renamed Mandriva), and there are a few derivatives today, Rosa, OpenMandriva, used to be a favorite of mine.  I used to be in the original forum, I was using their test and early update versions and I always found it easy to install and generally reasonable compared to other distributions of its time.  But when the founder, Gael Duval, left the company, things changed.  Less and less I was interested in what they did and how they did it.  The software became less stable, and the company became less stable as well.

Fortunately by then I found a "new Linux home" in Debian-based distributions.  Libranet was an early Debian favorite, as was Xandros and Corel Linux, but it didn't take long to get into the pure Debian approach either.  KNOPPIX was one of my "Swiss Army Knife" live implementations, but then Debian Live came along, and once again the main Debian distribution did the trick for me.

The MEPIS-based distributions from Warren Woodford, and later antiX the from Thessalonica and "anticapitalista" survived longer than many of those early Debian-based systems, but MEPIS was taken over by antiX and the project now produces one of my current generation favorites MX - currently MX-16.1.

openSUSE really got on my radar because the GPT (partition) and UEFI (boot loader) features, even several years after their initial introduction, are not handled very well by many systems, including many Linux distributions.  Now that I have it "set up" several distributions can "change it", but they usually do not recognize all of my installed systems.  openSUSE is one of the distributions that gets booting 100% correct, so even if I'm not always using it, I have "put in in charge" of handling my booting needs.

PCLinuxOS, Fedora, and Devuan, along with the latest Debian release have shown themselves capable of updating and managing the boot loader, but I still trust openSUSE most, because it got things right for me and did it better than anything else.  Fedora got it right first, but finding and updating it, and gaining quick access to the Fedora booting tools are more complicated than necessary, and since openSUSE does it easily and well, it "wins".  If I were tweaking my systems every day, things may be different, but life is different for me these days too.  I'm working quite hard every day on the job, and often work extra hours with little "down time" to simply rest - and when I do, most of the time I spend with my wife.  Why not tonight?  She was extremely tired, also having worked hard and seems to be suffering from recent "sleep deprivation" from a night earlier in the week where sleep was elusive after a particularly difficult day... so I have the rare moment to write.

As usual, the post ended up being a jumble of random thoughts, but I did cover some past background, the systems I have used most in the past, and those I use most often these days, outside of times with a Chromebook or a phone with Internet-based applications.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

MX-16 to the rescue!

MEPIS and antiX distributions have been among the easiest to install, configure, and use for many years, but it's also been a few years since a distribution named MEPIS has produced a release.  Instead the antiX development team, united with the MEPIS Lovers Community has been producing antiX derivatives labelled MX for the past few years.  So far we've had MX-14, MX-15 and MX-16 releases and the MX-16 is about as good as it gets.

I know that MX is nowhere near as well known as Linux Mint, but it's pretty comparable in many ways, in spite of the significantly smaller community.  Personally I prefer it; while it's relatively easy to install, it wins for me because it has - at least in my view - better tools to use in customizing the .appearance and features of the distribution

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

antiX-base M12.0 has been set up for Mother to use!

I installed the antiX-base M12.0 pre-final version on a 2004-vintage Dell Dimension 3000 desktop that I acquired from my sister, and I put it in my Mother's den, and configured it to automatically login to a JWM desktop with Rox icons, containing a Web browser and a terminal.

With the automatic login feature enabled, my Mother can press the power button, wait about half a minute, and have a ready to use system that runs quite a bit faster than the Windows XP that was previously installed on this system. All she has to do is single click on a rather large desktop icon that I've labeled "Web Browser", and I've set up her browser with two tabs; one for Live.com Email, (which my sister had set up for her three years ago), a tab for the Detroit Free Press News, and a search widget in the top of the browser to research anything else that she is interested in.

Who says that Linux is too difficult to use, even for an eighty four year old woman, who is not very familiar with technology? She can use it on her own! I did have to teach her how to do it, but I made it as simple as possible, showed her how to turn on this "new" (for her) system, what to click, how to use the different mouse, and which buttons to use to turn it on, off, and navigate. She's able to use it, and has used it twice now in the past week, including earlier on Tuesday evening.

I give my Mother a lot of credit for being willing to try things out, and I take a little bit of credit for thinking about what can be easy and fast for her to use, and setting up things in such a way, that with a few clicks, she can do all the things that she needs to do, mostly reading Email from her children and from her friends at church and in her social circles - a humanities study group, and some women's travel groups. She is able to do all the things she needs with it, and its set up so that other things stay out of her way and don't confuse her.

Three cheers to anticapitalista and his team for having the wisdom to make both IceWM and JWM, which are easier for novices to deal with than the fancier dwm, wmii, and Fluxbox that the advanced users seem to prefer, for the decision to include a feature to optionally enable automatic login, perfect for someone like my Mom, and the decision to include a tool to switch the default window manager. I used those features to set up JWM with Rox icons, and enable automatic login. These choices make even a distribution normally thought of as a "hobbyist-based", light, flexible system, into something I can set up for nearly anyone to use.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

antiX M12.0 Test 2 - Preparing for another winner!

The antiX distribution began in a fairly low key, unnoticed manner.  Back in 2006, an English speaking educator from Thessaloniki, which is a politically charged city, appeared on the MEPIS Lovers Community Forum as "anticapitalista", and announced that he had created a lightweight alternative to SimplyMEPIS entitled antiX.

A few years earlier in 2003 when MEPIS was formed, it was initially a fairly small, light Linux distribution, formed from Debian GNU/Linux software, capable of running directly from what is called a "Live CD".  That means that you can insert a CD (or DVD) into your system, and start the system, running not from the disk hard drive, but from removable media instead.

When MEPIS was small, it ran well from CD, at least in 2003.  Even today, you can run MEPIS from CD, but since 2004, MEPIS has been a simple, but full featured desktop system, and it is a very good one.

The small, light nature of that first effort also had merit.  The gentleman named Paul, who prefers to use the "handle" anticapitalista, wanted to recapture that light, flexible look and feel, so he respun the MEPIS effort, removing the full featured, somewhat heavier software in favor of light, flexible, configurable software.  Then he approached Warren Woodford and asked for permission to distribute antiX as a derivative of MEPIS.  Warren liked the idea and has allowed anti to distribute his work through the MEPIS community.

I like antiX because it is nearly as stable as SimplyMEPIS, yet in some ways it provides even more flexibility, at only a moderate cost in terms of complexity.  In fact, it's pretty simple, it's just not quite as much of a "drop in and use" system as SimplyMEPIS is; it tends to require just a little bit more experience, particularly in using system tools, and occasionally command-based utilities.  This can scare off some beginners and novices, so it's clear that MEPIS definitely has its place, but so does antiX.  There are times when you want to be able to easily tailor your system to your own specific needs, and that is an area in which antiX truly excels.  It's great for aging hardware, and it's also great for the hobbyist and enthusiast who simply wants to experiment with a variety of configurations.

I happen to have hardware that is over three years old.  At the time I started with antiX in 2006, all I had available to me was a 2000-2001 vintage Dell Dimension 4100 desktop system with a 996 MHz Pentium III processor, 256 MB of RAM (memory) and a single 40 GB Western Digital IDE hard drive disk.  Other systems would work with this configuration, but light systems, such as Puppy, Feather Linux, and antiX, worked much better.  I also tended to take full featured systems and add light window managers and browsers on them so that I could do certain things faster and more effectively.

When antiX was released, it was immediately apparent to me that a system like this could save me time and effort.  Not only that, it had the same proven installation system and configuration tools found in the reliable and familiar SimplyMEPIS, plus it had that feel that I had enjoyed in the earliest builds of the prototype versions of MEPIS.

Since 2006, antiX has grown and evolved in capabilities.  There is now a "full featured" release, still light, using resource conserving window managers in place of heavy, full featured desktop environments, but it has acquired quite a few powerful programs in it.  Not everyone wants the same thing, though, and that is why antiX has developed two additional alternatives, the "Base" version, which still provides a graphical installation and initial login, but strips out applications, and allows you, with the assistance of tools, to create your own customized configuration.  Another version, developed over the past two years or so, called "Core", takes that a step further: all that "Core" includes is a system kernel, essential system utilities, and a core set of tools that allows you to create the system you want.  It does not come with any graphical user environment; you choose the one you want, if you want one, or you can use "Core" to set up a command-based server environment.

I've created several custom distributions of my own using antiX, starting with the original edition, the Base edition, and the Core edition.  All three are nimble, flexible, solid, and very useful, and they have become part of my essential collection of Linux systems that I use on a regular basis.  I wrote this article using antiX M12.0 Base Test 2, which I built back in the third week of March, and have been testing it since that time with excellent results.

I encourage those who have read this article with interest to take a look at the antiX offerings.  The antiX site http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page#Downloads has download locations for those who are interested in trying it out.