Because it’s awesome. The end.
No, but seriously, it’s actually a pretty solid operating system. It’s basically just Ubuntu 11.04 with a new theme, but since the big problem with 11.04 was the way Unity was set up anyway, it’s actually really sweet.
In case you missed it, 11.04 is the latest Ubuntu operating system that has actually worked for me without any sort of lag (like when opening a program or switching windows or opening the dash). So if you want a stable version of Ubuntu that works really well and looks really spiff, Macbuntu is a really easy option. And it’s just Ubuntu, so you already know how to use it.
Now, of course, you could just go through and just install the theme on your current version of Ubuntu, but I’ve tried it, and it’s a pain in the ass. And you’d have to downgrade to 11.04 anyway if you want the full Macbuntu awesomeness, so you might as well just install Macbuntu instead.
Visual Appeal: 25/25 (That’s kind of the whole point.)
Ease of Use: 23/25 (It’s Ubuntu 11.04, so it’s not exactly difficult to use.)
Out of the Box Readiness: 25/25 (Again, that’s kind of the point.)
Niftiness: 2/25 (Harsh, but there is very little nifty about it. Underneath the polished glam, it’s actually kind of bland.)
So there you have it. If you want an operating system that looks fantastic, is easy to use, and works with no setup, then Macbuntu is exactly the operating system for you. But if you want something fun, look elsewhere.
So, I’ve started using Crunchbang off of a USB stick, and let me just say, it’s fantastic. For starters, it’s ridiculously fast, it looks very nice, it worked just fine out of the box, and it’s a lot of fun to fiddle around with.
Now, I know that running it off of a USB stick is different than running it off of an actual hard drive, but I’ve got persistence set up, and so far it’s worked for everything I need it to.
What do I need it to? Well, I need something that quickly loads up, that works well without having to jump through ridiculous hoops every time, something that works well even on older computer, and something that I can spend a few hours messing around with if I have some time to kill. Does Crunchbang provide me with all that? Yes. Yes it does.
Now on to the actual review part of it. Remember, as always, I am not reviewing this from the perspective of a Linux expert. I am a dabbler, someone who uses Linux as an operating system, but who rarely actually opens up the hood and digs around. And when I do, I usually mess something up anyway.
Visual Appeal: 20/25 (It’s not ugly at all, but it’s not quite as pretty as Elementary OS or Linux Mint.)
Ease of Use: 22/25 (If you don’t want to mess around with it, you don’t have to. Everything you need is right there. And the things you do have to change, it makes a lot easier to find.)
Out of the Box Readiness: 25/25 (I didn’t need to do a single thing to get it in working order.)
Niftiness: 25/25 (It’s incredibly nifty.)
Well, there you have it. Crunchbang scored 1.5 points higher than Ubuntu 12.04. Although considering my deep seated bitterness at Ubuntu 12.04, it’s probably not that surprising.
Despite all the difficulties I’ve been having with Ubuntu 12.04, using Ubuntu kind of feels like coming home.
I’ve been using Ubuntu for ages, and I’ve gotten used to the programs, the style, the help forums (I use those a lot). Even though I’ve been using Linux Mint on my laptop, it was never quite the same.
As soon as I install Ubuntu, I know exactly what I have to do to fix it so I like it, I know exactly what programs I prefer for everything, and I know how everything’s laid out. Even throughout the years as Ubuntu has grown and evolved, there’s still been that little spark that makes this OS so comfortable.
Despite all the fangirling over Linux Mint (re: I don’t know, one of my previous posts or something) and gaining a soft spot for Fedora, I still can’t help but love Ubuntu. (And this despite all the hate my computer’s been getting from the last two versions.)
I might try Kubuntu, actually. I was looking to try out the KDE desktop, and it might bring my computer back up to speed.
DISCLAIMER: REVIEW IS NOT ACTUALLY THAT RADICAL
Also, side note: I am reviewing this not from the perspective of a Linux expert, but from the perspective of someone who wants an operating system that runs smoothly and looks pretty.
Right. Now on to the review.
Now, I’m going to start with the installer. I know it’s not actually that relevant to the operating system as a whole, but there were a couple of things I wanted to comment on. My first thought when I saw the “features” slideshow they show when it’s installing, was that I had accidentally put in the 11.10 disk. There were a couple of things that were different, but for the most part, all the programs and main selling points are pretty much the same. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I was expecting a larger jump from 11 to 12, probably since the jump from 10 to 11 was so big.
There was also a Twitter feed in the installer, showing recent Ubuntu related tweets, which I thought was pretty clever.
And now, for the actual operating system itself. The log in screen is new and shiny, and looks fantastic. Unity is also looking much, with a shiny new dash and a nice icon theme.
Which brings me to my main grievance.
Ubuntu 12.04 is exactly the same as Ubuntu 11.10 in that it is ridiculously slow and clunky on my computer. I had this exact same problem with the previous version, and I am extremely disappointed to find out that the problem persists. The dash is very slow to open, programs take time to respond, and when I switched into Chrome from the dash, my computer froze for a few seconds. A common occurrence, unfortunately.
Now, I know the problem isn’t in my hardware. My computer is very nice, and it ran 11.04 extremely well. It’s just these latest two versions that slow everything down. I have no idea what’s going on here, and I welcome anyone who wants to weigh in, but I’m still going to have to dock Ubuntu a few points for being a pain in my ass.
The biggest advantage of Ubuntu is supposed to be it’s speed, so this whole business of being painfully slow is certainly not making me like this operating system. I am honestly considering downgrading to 11.04 for all my Ubuntu needs.
Anyway, I’ve had my rant. There are plenty of nice things about 12.04, and if it weren’t so painful to use it would definitely be my favourite version. It’s nice, it’s clean, and it’s got plenty of nifty features, like the different lenses you can have for the dash.
So, now I’m going to give this a score. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided to go for a very complicated system, instead of a simpler one. [This is a Linux blog after all. (That was a joke, don’t start getting huffy.)]
So, I’ll give a brief overview of my system, then I’ll add up the points for Ubuntu 12.04. (I know, the suspense is killing you.)
For now, there’s four aspects I’m going to be scoring on. Visual Appeal, Ease of Use, Out of the Box Readiness, and Niftiness. I might need to add more categories in later reviews, but thanks to the beauty of my system, I don’t need to worry about that throwing ratings off too much. Each category gets twenty five points, then I add them up for a final score out of a hundred, then I divide that by ten so I get a score of something out of ten. (It’s not actually that complicated, now that I write it down.)
Visual Appeal: 21/25 (It’s no Linux Mint, but it’s really pretty.)
Ease of Use: 8/25 (It’s NOT easy to use, it’s annoying as hell to use.)
Out of the Box Readiness: 24/25 (I don’t think I really had to do anything, other than installing programs and stuff.)
Niftiness: 24/25 (It’s very nifty.)
Well, there you go. Not too bad. Not that great, either. Still, it’s a pretty solid operating system. It would be pretty fantastic if it didn’t hate my computer. What can I say, I’m biased.
So, I’ve started using Linux Mint (13, with the MATE interface). I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe just an Ubuntu clone with a different interface.
What I got… was pretty much that, I suppose, although much better than I thought it would be.
For started, I think this is the first flavour of Linux where I didn’t immediately go and install some new themes. And you know why? Because the default themes that come with it are really fantastic (all two of them, which would normally be a problem but they both look so nice!).
There’s some things that aren’t as polished as in Ubuntu, like the volume control or the menu that comes up when you’re switching windows or workspaces, but despite how plain they are, they still look perfectly fine.
Now on to some of the more meaningful stuff.
Chrome installed just fine, which is one of the things I always look for in Linux. I’ve installed a couple of other programs as well, and for the most part it’s working fine.
I’m not as impressed by the main menu it uses, it seems to me like just a different version of the Windows start menu, but it’s done very well, so I don’t mind. You’ve got the ability to install programs, search the web, and look up words in the dictionary, which is very convenient. You can also uninstall programs right from the menu, which I find I like very much.
However, it does feel a little, well, outdated I guess. The MATE interface feels a lot like an updated version of Ubuntu before Unity. I mean, no one really likes Unity, but I found the concept behind it refreshing. The same with Gnome 3, I’m not a huge fan, but I think it’s really interesting. Using the same old menus and status bar as always just feels a little… boring.
Still, overall it’s a very nice operating system. It feels very stable, and I certainly wouldn’t mind using it long term.
So, despite my (fairly long) post yesterday all about Fedora, I figured I would post a quick follow up.
Status: super awesome fantastic. It took me around an hour, but I finally got encrypted DVDs playing, MP3s, whatever. I tested out my USB stick on my friends’ computers, and it worked fabulously. All my Chromium history was even saved, something that doesn’t even happen on the Windows laptop I use. (Every time I turn it off I lose all of my recent history, and I’ve never liked Windows enough to be happy spending hours fiddling with it.)
I thought I might have some trouble going from wired internet to wireless and back again, on different computers, but everything worked absolutely fine. I had no problems detecting anything, and I was able to connect perfectly fine.
I’ve noticed it is a little slow to boot, but I imagine that’s mostly because it’s running of a USB stick, and not a particularly good one.
I think my favourite thing about it is how light it is. The operating system, with all my programs, only takes up about 500 megabytes, which leaves me with just enough room for my files and everything. It is a little strange, since I have so much less space than I’ve ever had before, but when you can mount the computer’s hard drive just like an external hard drive, it pretty much makes up for it.
One thing I really love is that when I did boot up on my friends’ computers, they had no protection on their files, so I could impress them by being able to see all their stuff. (They run Windows. Silly n00bs.)
Anyway, I’ve had some really good experiences using booting Fedora from a USB stick, and I firmly recommend anyone else with a little time on their hands gives it a serious try, because it’s absolutely brilliant.
I accidentally deleted my first draft of this post, so here is version 1.1 (since I think I remember most of it).
My adventure started with me still using Windows 7 because my new (new!) desktop still isn’t working, and I have yet to take it in and get it looked at. (Mostly because I keep hoping it’s just going to magically turn on. I’m not sure how, I’m not even keeping it plugged in.) Unfortunately, since I’m just borrowing this laptop for the time being, I’m not allowed to install Linux on it. (A scandal, I know. Who wouldn’t want to use Linux?)
So, my only option was to get an external USB storage device, and run Linux off of that using a live session and all that jazz. If you don’t yet know what that is, look it up, because it will make your life much better. (I used Fedora’s Live USB creator.)
I actually tried this a few weeks back, but I couldn’t get Linux Mint to actually save my session when I was using my external hard drive (since I didn’t have a USB stick lying around and I thought the extra space would be nice), and sadly Fedora’s fancy ready made program wouldn’t even recognize it. So when I realized I had wasted a full couple of hours, I put the project aside.
Well, the other day, I found one of the USB sticks I knew we had lying around somewhere, and I decided to finally start running Linux on this laptop without actually having Linux on the laptop. (Spoilers: it’s working quite well. I think it’s really nice that I can use the laptop’s hard drive as basically an extra storage device, and my sessions are being saved perfectly.)
So, now on to the good stuff: my thoughts on Fedora. (Disclaimer: they might not actually be that good.)
When it started loading, I was actually pretty excited. The loading icon is really cute, and it seemed like Fedora might be the pretty operating system I so desire. (As an amateur Linux user, I’m not too worried about the workings behind every operating system. I just like the ones that look cool and polished.)
Then I realized it was using Gnome 3. (My previous post on Gnome 3.) Obviously, I was devastated. Even looking at the set up made me sad. (It still makes me a little sad now, but it’s gotten better. I’ll explain why later.)
Of course, you may be asking, why not just use something else? Like KDE or that other one which I’d never even heard of until I saw it was used with Fedora. Well, frankly, I hate KDE too. My old school computers used to use it, and it always seemed to me like a bad knock-off of Windows. (Harsh, I know.)
Anyway, I figured that after slapping a few themes on it, Gnome 3 would start to look bearable. And that maybe with it running on Fedora instead of Ubuntu, it wouldn’t be as slow.
So, after changing a few personal settings around, I tried to install Chrome. Which, considering my luck, of course didn’t work. Having Chrome working, however, is kind of a deal breaker for me, since it has all my bookmarks and my passwords and everything. Thankfully, I realized I was being silly before I did anything drastic, and just installed Chromium. Which apparently is buggy in Fedora, and I didn’t actually download any of the patches, so we’ll have to see how that goes. So far it’s only crashed twice. (Give it time, it’s only been a couple hours.)
Once I had the programs set up to my liking, which included uninstalling a bunch of the silly programs that always come installed in Linux, I finally got working on making Gnome 3 cheery. I honestly have no idea why I find it so depressing, but every time I looked at the top of the screen and saw that status bar, I just felt sad. Maybe it was the font? Perhaps it was the fact that I couldn’t find any settings to make it transparent, like I always did with Unity. Or it may have been the fact that the dash is called “Activities,” which I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.
Anyway. I found a theme with a transparent status bar, and even though the font is barely better, it does make it a little cheerier. (In case you’re wondering, I’m using the Dark Shine theme. It’s actually quite nice.)
So, what are my thoughts on the operating system itself? Well, actually, at times I forgot I wasn’t using Ubuntu. The only thing that was really different was the syntax when installing programs in the terminal (one of the two command line tasks I did). The other task, opening nautilus as a root user, was exactly the same as in Ubuntu. (Although to be fair it’s a pretty basic command.)
Frankly, if you sat me down at this computer, and I had no knowledge about it, I would probably assume this is Ubuntu with Gnome 3 installed. Most of the folders are the same, most of the settings are the same, and most of the programs are the same, although the repository is different.
To be fair though, I was very glad for the similarity. Learning a new operating system is a daunting task, one I wasn’t looking forward to. Now it seems like as long as I don’t try to do anything hard core, I wont have to worry about that.
This next bit is going to sound absolutely crazy, but I find myself missing Unity. Perhaps with time I will come to love Gnome 3 (I already don’t hate it as much as I used to, and I hated Unity at first too). For now, I’m perfectly fine with using Fedora, and I find myself liking it. Only time will tell, however, whether I install Fedora on my desktop (once it’s fixed) or stick with Ubuntu. Actually, I’m probably going to install Ubuntu, since I’ve been itching to try out 12.04, but Fedora is definitely growing on me.
I will probably be keeping this USB stick with me for a while.
Well, everyone seems to love VLC, which works on every OS, so I’m not too surprised. Personally, while I think it’s a pretty good program, it’s not my favourite.
Totem is another obvious choice, since it’s the one that comes already installed. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty nice. I mean, it’s extremely usable, and once you install the extra packages it’s fine for playing DVDs as well.
Gnome MPlayer is actually my personal favourite, for the sole reason that there is a preferences option that let’s you pause playback by clicking on the playing video, as well as controlling the volume from the mouse wheel. I think the volume thing is fairly common, but I’ve never seen the fancy new pausing method anywhere else. (I haven’t bothered looking through external plugins. It’s a feature I never knew I wanted until I started using this program.)
Banshee can also play videos, but every time I’ve tried I’ve just had numerous problems, so I never bothered actually looking at it in depth.
There’s also Xine, although I prefer it much more as a plug-in than an actual program. I’ve just never liked the look of the controls, and the one time I used it it had some timing issues. (Things were being played too fast or not fast enough, etcetera.)
And of course, there’s always Kaffeine, Helix, Ogle, and Miro, none of which I’ve used extensively, but all of them supposedly pretty good.
What does everyone else use?
Gnome 3 is the go to alternative to Unity right now. Which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the interface Ubuntu 11.04 and onwards and is much reviled my Ubuntu users everywhere. For those who do know, you may or may not have heard of Gnome 3.
Gnome 3 doesn’t come with Ubuntu, at least, it didn’t in 11.10, and I don’t think they’ve changed that for 12.04, but I’m not sure. Anyway, it does come with Fedora, so if you’ve used that then you already know what it is. Although chances are if you use Fedora you don’t need an introduction to all of this anyway.
Anyway. I tried out Gnome 3 back when I was using 11.10, because I was extremely sick of hating Unity all the time and I just wanted to move on with my life. So I went through the tedious process of installing Gnome 3, and here’s what I discovered.
Gnome 3 sucks. Now, if you’ve used it, you may think differently, but I had some very bad experiences with it. It slowed my computer way down, settings kept changing back to the default for no good reason, and I really didn’t like the way it looked. It was more customizable than Unity, which is another one of the reasons why I switched in the first place, but no matter what theme I used the main dock thing was always very overwhelming. I had acquired a fair amount of programs over the years, and every single one of them showed up in the list. It was really very annoying.
Now, if you don’t have a lot of applications, or you like the convenience of having them all right there, then that’s great. By all means, use Gnome 3. But if you’re still a newbie and the idea of messing around with your computer for an hour scares you, then don’t be tempted by talk of how much better it is than Unity. It’s really not worth it.