Distrohoppers Digest Episode 46 show Notes

MONTHLY FOIBLES  ...wherein we discuss what we did this month…

Moss: My wife finally unburied her new Lenovo T590 ThinkPad, and I updated and upgraded it to Linux Mint 21.2. I even managed to get its power cord plugged in so she can start using it instead of the aging System76 Kudu3. Except that, so far, she continues to use the Kudu. We also spent a weekend at my friend Larry Kirby’s house in South Carolina singing my lungs out with 3 other performers and a room of listeners and lots of food. We also had some car trouble coming back from there, which cost a lot of money to fix. And I’m back to teaching.

Dale: I had an odd issue with my router and cable modem while away at work. Something damaged the WAN1 Ethernet port on my router and the Ethernet port on my cable modem. After calling Spectrum’s Technical Support, it was decided to replace my modem. I was able to directly connect a laptop to the modem, which was successful. Luckily my Ubiquiti Unifi Security Gateway AKA my router has a WAN2 port which is disabled by default. I disabled the WAN1 port and enabled the WAN2 port. I was able to get my network online again, though only at 100 Mbit. Which is why the cable modem was replaced. Once replaced I was getting about 368 Mbits down out of the 300 I pay for.

I’ve been noticing the top 1.5” or 3 centimeters of my monitor randomly blinking/flashing. I was thinking it could be the settings I was using in my Picom Compositor. None of the suggestions I found online were helping so I disabled Picom. I determined it wasn’t the cause. I tried a spare DisplayPort cable and it wasn’t the cause either.

After discussing this with a friend, we both agreed to try another card first since it was the less expensive option. Luckily while looking at the Microcenter website I found a great deal on an ASRock RX 6600 8 GB card. It was well below what I wanted to spend and was $60 less than other RX 6600 cards. I needed something to support my native monitor resolution of 5120 x 1440.

After installing the RX 6600, I used the computer for the remainder of the week and weekend with no flashing. I can test the Nvidia card's DVI port using my two other monitors. They only have VGA and DVI. My Nvidia GTX 1650 only had one DisplayPort and one DVI. So the card may be usable on DVI for one of my headless servers.

For some reason, Xorg’s autodetection of my RX 6600 wasn’t working correctly. I haven’t needed to edit the video section of xorg.conf for a couple of decades. The autodetection put entries for all four DisplayPort ports with device IDs and addresses that were not correct. My friend and I searched for this and I tried a couple of suggestions. I also used lspci to determine my card settings. I ended up removing what was saved in the xorg.conf for the driver and only put the name of the driver which is called Radeon and nothing else. To my surprise, Xorg launched and my desktop appeared. Oddly my wallpaper wasn’t shown, which required me to set it again. I don’t know if there are some settings I am missing but at least it worked the remainder of the week with no issues. I am curious what the configuration would show after a fresh install.

I thought about what I could use my Lenovo ThinkCentre M700 Tiny for. It is an i3-6100T with 2 cores, 4 threads, and 8 GB of DDR4-2400 memory. I upgraded it from 4 to 8 GB. I installed a Crucial MX500 250 GB SSD that I had never used. I actually found 2 of them.

I decided to use it for Pi-Hole and my Ubiquiti Unifi Controller. Now I can repurpose my ASRock J3455B-ITX for my future Pfsense router. I intended on using Debian 12, except I ran into problems installing the Unifi Controller. This almost became a beautiful failure nominee.

The controller required Java version 8 or newer and MongoDB 2.6 but version 3.6 is also supported. I was running the controller on Debian 11 with Java 8 and MongoDB 2.6. Apparently, Debian 12’s packages are too recent. My friend was trying to install it at his home too. The main issue was getting a version of MongoDB that was compatible with the other system dependencies. We both gave up. He went back to Debian 11. I thought I would try Ubuntu Server 22.04. I tried Ubuntu Server when it was first released in 2010, so it was time for another look. I am happy with it so far.

I almost gave up on it due to issues with MongoDB. It was an interesting conundrum. MongoDB wasn’t in the Ubuntu repos. You download it from the MongoDB website or enable their APT repository. The only version of MongoDB that is supported started at version 6 for Ubuntu Server 22.04. According to MongoDB’s website. Unifi wouldn’t install with anything newer than version 3.6. I tried using the repo for 3.6 but it complained that my libssl was too new. This was one of the errors I had on Debian 12. So my friend and I were searching for a solution. I happened to find an independent blog that was posted in March of 2023. Considering how recent it was, I had high hopes it would work. They instructed me to download the .deb file for libssl version 1.1 with Wget directly from Ubuntu. I added the repo from MongoDB for the 2.6 branch. I followed the remaining instructions thinking that reverting the libssl version was going to break something else.

To my surprise, everything was installed and worked. Now that I knew I had the correct combination of package versions. I reinstalled Ubuntu Server 22.04 and followed the blog's instructions. Everything is installed and works. I think this could work for Debian 12 but I can’t say for certain.

My friend and I agree that Ubiquiti either needs to update its Controller package. We are of the conspiracy opinion that they want you to buy one of their Cloud Keys (a POE-powered Arm computer in the shape of a USB stick) or their Dream Machines (A Unifi Controller and Security Gateway in one device).

I then installed Pi-Hole which was very easy. I chose to use the script option that performed the installation.

In non-computer-related news. I helped the same friend again with more plumbing issues. His downstairs bathroom sink was draining slowly. That meant it was the neck where the stopper was or further in the pipe bend that prevented sanitary gas from coming up the drain if or when it was ever dry. I first disconnected the drain stopper from the lifting mechanism and removed the stopper. It was a good guess because I found the blockage. Once removed and everything reassembled, twice I might add. As I installed the stopper backward. It was another fun repair laying on my back and side watching an instructional YouTube video.

The remainder of my time was spent watching TV, video calls with friends, and recovering from a nasty left ear infection.

Eric: I spent a good bit of my month recovering from surgery, quite successfully I must say. It's all gone according to plan, which is a huge relief. Not being in constant pain is wonderful. Beyond that, I took part in several podcasts. I was on episode 420 of the MintCast and episode 16 of Linux OTC. I have also been participating in the Linux LUG Cast as well as Linux Saloon streams. It's been all Linux and Open Source, all the time and I'm really enjoying it, especially getting the chance to interact with so many smart people. I always seem to learn something new.

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss: Before I get started, two or three listeners pointed out to me that blend OS does not use the Calamares installer, it uses the Jade Installer borrowed from Crystal Linux. This will come up again in the Feedback section.

Bodhi 7.0.0 was finally released in 64-bit regular, HWE, and S76 packages, with the AppPack and 32-bit versions to come shortly.

OpenMandriva ROME had a new version come out.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 6 has released a Beta version. I really look forward to this, as the progress of Debian as a user’s distro means I might be able to run LMDE as my primary distro.

Dale: Debian and Slackware are celebrating their 30th anniversary a couple of months apart.

Regolith has released version 3 of their i3 Window Manager-based distro. They added support for Ubuntu 23.10 and Debian 12 Bookworm. An Alpha release of a Wayland session based on the Sway compositor. The Picom compositor is installed by default on the Xorg session. A link to the announcement is in the show notes.

Regolith 3.0 release notes

Pardus has released version 23 of their Xfce and GNOME editions. It is code-named Ay Yıldız which means Crescent and Star, one of Turkey’s national symbols. I will mention some of the updates. Kernel 6.1, Firefox 102.14 ESR, and LibreOffice 7.4.

Listener Bhikhu emailed me a upgrade script supported by Pardus. The command will be in the show notes. I tried it and was successful. It took a couple hours or so to finish.

sudo sh -c "$(wget -O- http://indir.pardus.org.tr/PARDUS/pardus21to23.sh)"

Eric: I continue to run Linux Mint 21.2 as the main distro on my laptop. It is the stable workhorse that I can rely on to get out of my way and allow me to get things done. There are some things I wouldn't mind changing, like having a newer kernel and Pipewire, but those don't significantly detract from day to day use so it stays until I find something that is as reliable and comfortable.

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES - What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month

Moss: My failure this month was Rhino Linux. I tried to install it, and it went all the way through and then choked on installing GRUB. This does not happen much since I started using the T540p as a single-boot machine. Thankfully, it seems Eric may have gotten it to work. I also attempted to install OpenMandriva ROME on my desktop, but it did not complete installation.

Dale: My failure was updating PCLinuxOS. It had been a couple of months since I updated it. This is a rolling release though previous gaps in updates were successful. I have a habit of running the update a second time to make sure everything is updated. I noticed that Apt was showing a fatal exception. I tried reverting to the previous version and the fatal exception error went away. Then it complained about a dependency it was needing, so I installed it. That is when it went pear-shaped. Apt would run but had many errors and refused to complete the command. It reported that duplicate dependencies were installed and one needed to be removed. Well long story short, I could not get either one to uninstall.

Eric: Something isn't quite right with my desktop PC. I use it remotely most of the time which has been fine for literally years up until the past several weeks when it would stop responding. It had Mint on it for a while, which is probably why it was stable. I had decided to try Arch again after not having done so in a while so I went with RebornOS since I had been wanting to try it anyway. It didn't go well for a number of reasons that I'm not going to get into here. This is when I started having issues with remote access and the system even hard locking, which happened during the recording of MintCast. Thankfully, Audacity recovered and I didn't lose the hour of audio I had just recorded.

After that near fiasco, I thought it was a good idea to try something that has always been reliable for me, Ubuntu. I figured why not stay current and use the 23.04 release, but the new installer kept crashing. I downloaded the latest iso in case that had something to do with it, but had the same result. I even downloaded the legacy version of the iso with the Ubiquity installer and, while it did install, it had some odd issues. I have never had this many problems with a fresh install of Ubuntu so it left me a little dumbfounded. Since then, I have switched to Manjaro Cinnamon and it seems to be better. I mainly use this system for processing tasks since it has decent specs for a workstation and is a mid-tower ATX system with good thermal overhead. The Ryzen 5 5600 does a decent job of chewing through CPU intensive tasks, and the GeForce RTX 2060 is good for editing and encoding video. It's disappointing when a system feels unreliable and I think the way to fix it might be to install something more stable and be done with it. I’m going to wait and see how Manjaro does before trying anything else.


Moss: DISTRO NAME: Linux Lite 4.4/4.6

INTRO: This little gem has been sitting around unnoticed for some time now, although we have reviewed it in the past. Version 4.4 is the first version to use the Ubuntu 22.04 LTS code base. I’ve had some travails with this, largely having to do with my continuing hate-hate relationship with Xfce Desktop.

MY HARDWARE: I used my Lenovo ThinkPad T540p. This computer has a 4th-generation Intel Core i7-4710MQ, 16 Gb RAM, and a 512 Gb Silicon Power SSD, with both Intel HD Graphics 4600 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M graphics. I installed it using the entire disk.

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES: Linux Lite uses the old, familiar Ubuntu installer. Everything went as expected… until I noticed that some packages being installed were snaps. If you like snaps, fine, but if you don’t, you at least like to be given the option.

POST-INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES: I tried to get everything installed. Some things did not appear to have installed. Xfce put the icons where it willed, as usual, and while moving them around to their proper location on the taskbar, it is just too bleedin’ easy to wipe out the entire launcher. I did that a few times, even going to do a complete reinstallation once. I looked stuff up on how to fix it. Then I found a comment that rebooting fixes it, and found that was correct. It’s a lot harder to reboot without a launcher, but I accidentally found that right-clicking on the desktop gives me some options, including opening the Terminal, which then allows me to reboot. Most new users would have given up a long time before I did, and most don’t even know the “reboot” command runs fine in Terminal (I only learned it myself a couple years ago, and I’ve been using some Linux since 2002.)

I added some things via flatpak, including Telegram and Discord. But I couldn’t find Discord in the menus. Finally I noticed it was labeled “Internet Messenger”, and I wouldn’t have seen it were it not for them using the standard Discord icon. I’m not used to looking to match icons in a menu which is supposed to be text-based. They do that with browsers too – I installed 3 other browsers to the default Chrome (Official) and uninstalled Chrome, only to find that all browsers are listed in the menu as “Internet Browser” – not Firefox, not Vivaldi, not chromium. This type of thing makes a simple OS into a headache until you figure it out, and I’m not sure many would have stuck around this long.

Of course, if you know Xfce and love it, you won’t even notice the issue. But nothing works the same in Xfce as it does in other desktops. Plasma has its strangenesses, but nothing like this.

I have run updates a few times. The Update Manager is quite simple to use, however, the bar graphic which runs during the installation of software gives you no hint of how long it will take. Also, when your update is complete, you are prompted to decide whether you want to see the installation logs.

On September 6th, I looked to see if I had the latest version. You have no idea how hard it was to find any discussion on upgrading from one version to another (6.4 to 6.6 in this case). I searched for 15 minutes at least. Finally, I hit Menu and typed “upgrade”, to find that Linux Lite has a completely different app for upgrading as for updating. The upgrade went smoothly and I have rebooted. It looks and sounds the same, but I’m sure there was a reason for the new release. Maybe I should try reading something.

If you like system sounds, the boot sound and some completion sounds will either please you or irritate you. I think they’re cool, but I wonder what I would think after hearing them every day for a year.

EASE OF USE: There is nothing to using this that you can’t figure out even without help. It’s a simple version of Ubuntu with Xfce desktop.


When I open Terminal, I am welcomed by the following:

Welcome to Linux Lite 6.4 zaivala

Friday 25 August 2023, 21:46:07

Memory Usage: 733/15677MB (4.68%)

Disk Usage: 31/468GB (7%)

Support - https://www.linuxliteos.com/forums/ (Right click, Open Link)

…and wait until you see what happens when you type neofetch…

Speaking of which, after the upgrade to 6.6, the RAM in use upon reboot was 771, a slight uptick. About the same as Linux Mint MATE for me, which sort of kills the “lightweight” label, but it’s not nearly as heavy as Ubuntu with Gnome.

EASE OF FINDING HELP: First off, it’s Ubuntu base with Xfce. If you can’t find help for that, you’re not even trying. Second off, the forums are so available they are advertised every time you open the Terminal. This distro has been around for quite a while and, while it’s not exactly taking over the world, neither is it going away soon.

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS: Linux Lite should coexist peacefully with Windoze or nearly all other Ubuntu- or Debian-based distros.

STABILITY: It is every bit as stable as the Ubuntu 22.04 it is based on, and that’s pretty good.


MX Linux


Zorin OS Lite

many others


Ease of Installation             new user                    8/10

experienced user     10/10

Hardware Issues                                                 10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)              8/10

Ease of Use                                                          6/10

Plays Nice With Others                                        8/10

Stability                                                              10/10

Overall Rating                                                    9/10

FINAL COMMENTS: If you like Ubuntu core distros, and you like Xfce Desktop, and you don’t mind flat graphics, then you can’t go wrong trying Linux Lite. I don’t see anything terribly compelling about this distro, nor do I find any reason not to use it. It will run on most any equipment built in the last 12 years, and will stay out of your way.

Dale: DISTRO NAME: Lubuntu 22.04.3 LTS

INTRO: Lubuntu is one of Canonical's official spins. It uses the LXQt Desktop and the Openbox Window Manager. The name is a combination of LXQt and Ubuntu.

It has a 13-year history so I will be brief. Lubuntu started as an optional desktop package in Ubuntu 8.10 on the 30th of October 2008. The first stand-alone version was based on Ubuntu 10.04, released on the 2nd of May 2010. On the 13th of October 2011, the first official version was released, based on Ubuntu 11.10, also designated an official spin. Lubuntu had its first LTS release using 14.04 on the 17th of April 2014.

Since its inception, it has used the LXDE Desktop and the Openbox Window Manager. LXDE used the GTK 2 toolkit. Lubuntu replaced LXDE with LXQt in the Ubuntu 18.10 release on the 18th of October 2018. This was due to the original developer of LXDE not liking the changes in GTK3, and so ported LXDE to the Qt Framework. LXQt was released on the 3rd of July 2013.

Lubuntu 22.04.3 is using version 0.17.0 based on Qt 5.15.3.

MY HARDWARE: The laptop I used is my Lenovo ThinkPad T460. It has an Intel Dual Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz CPU, a 14" display using Intel HD Graphics 520, 16 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD.

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES: The ISO booted to a simple text GRUB boot screen. The icon to launch the installer was on the desktop. They are using Calamares which was the regular installation steps. I chose to replace a partition with Lubuntu. It was a fairly quick installation at around 5 minutes. I didn’t connect to my hotspot until after it was installed. So the installation could have been slightly longer if any updates were downloaded during the installation.


The boot splash screen had a hummingbird which is their chosen logo. The wallpaper was a blue jellyfish in the center of the screen. I elected to use another one with a suspension bridge in the background and some multi-level tourist boats in the foreground. It was a nice nighttime cityscape image. The blue in the Jellyfish was too bright for my liking.

Lubuntu uses the Openbox Window Manager with some LXQt applications. There were icons on the desktop for the Computer (opens PCManFM in the root folder), the user home folder, the Network, and the trash/rubbish bin. The bottom panel had an applications menu accessible via pressing the Super Key. There were numbers 1 through 4 for the virtual desktops. Following that was a pinned PCManFM and a Show desktop widget. The System Tray had a removable media widget, volume control, clipboard, battery, Network Manager widget, and the time/date.

Here are a few of the preinstalled applications. PCManFM (file manager), Feather Pad (GUI text editor), LX Image (image viewer), Skanlite (document scanning), LibreOffice Community, Transmission Qt (BitTorrent client), and VLC (video player). The terminal is Qterminal from the LXQt project. They use the KDE Partition Manager. For GUI package management, there is Discover and Muon both from the KDE project. Firefox is 116.03 via Snap. Compton and Picom are installed for compositing but not enabled by default. It can be enabled by clicking a checkbox in the Preferences > LXQt Settings > Session settings. Optionally you can copy the compton.desktop file from /etc/xdg/autostart to /etc/xdg/xdg-Lubuntu/autostart/.

One thing I needed to do after logging in the first time was to slow down the mouse. After that, I wanted to connect to my hotspot. I clicked on NM Tray, a Qt applet for Network Manager to find my hotspot. I clicked on it and it didn’t open the connection dialog. Instead, it moved it from available to recently used. I couldn’t right-click on it. I used the Advanced Network Configuration from the Preferences menu. Once configured, I could right-click the Network Manager applet to manage the settings.

Even though screen savers are not necessary these days. It was nice to see them on Lubuntu. I liked the Flurry, it was like ribbons of plasma gas twisting around.

I haven’t used Snaps in quite a while. Considering this is a Ubuntu base, it was the perfect time to try them again. Since Firefox was already installed as a Snap. I installed Telegram and Signal Messenger as a Snap. I have been happy with their performance. Signal and Telegram take about 1 to 2 seconds to open and Firefox takes about 2 seconds. I find this acceptable compared to the launch time in past years. One thing I did like was with the Signal Messenger Snap. It appeared in the System Tray without modifying the .desktop file. That is a common thing I need to do when using the Flatpak of Signal.

I checked for updates and 25 updates were available. I didn’t have an update notification for them. I used Discover to install the updates. I also searched for a couple of applications. This was a test to see if the infamous spinning ball reporting “I’m working on it” would continue long after showing the search results. I am happy to see that it would disappear once it was done searching. It was very quick to download the updates. It supported multiple downloads.

I opened Muon and it appears to look like a Qt version of Synaptic. I noticed it had some trouble finding packages that Discover was able to find.

When I opened Firefox to set it up for use. I signed into my Firefox account, once it synchronized my extensions and settings. I signed into Grammarly and Bitwarden. While typing in these show notes I noticed some screen tearing while scrolling. I disabled the smooth scrolling in the settings and the screen tearing went away. After consulting about the issue with Dan Simmons from the Lubuntu team. He suggested using Picom instead of Compton. I edited the compton.desktop file to execute Picom instead of Compton. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t load. I opened the terminal to type ps aux | grep -i picom and saw it was indeed not running. I manually tried to run it and saw it didn’t like some of the syntax from the config file.

One behavior I noticed is when you plug in a USB device, it will prompt you if you want to open the file manager. This is a feature people take for granted when using a full Desktop Environment. When using a Window Manager, some distros don’t install the packages that automate this feature. There is also a USB/Removable media manager in the System Tray to eject them. This is in addition to the ejection option in PCManFM.

I turned on the laptop after a couple of days and upon logging in I had an update notification. It read, There are upgrades available. Do you want to do a system upgrade? This will mean packages could be upgraded, installed, or removed. 10 are security upgrades. Below that was a clickable overflow list of packages. There were Cancel and Apply buttons at the bottom of the window. Once they were downloaded and installed. It reported that it was finished and a reboot is required. Clicking the Close button, closed the window as expected.

While I was using the laptop, a popup notification appeared. It was from the Snap update service. The message read “telegram-desktop. Pending update of “telegram-desktop” snap. Close the app to update now (13 days left). The next time I signed into Lubuntu, I had a notification stating that “telegram-desktop’ snap has been refreshed. Now available to launch”.
This is new to me as I haven’t used snaps in a few years.

Under Preferences -> LXQt Settings are all the system configurations. Anything you want to change is most likely available in these menu items. I particularly liked the Shortcut Keys, Window Effects (compositor settings), and Session Settings. Session Settings is very useful. You can start and stop the LXQt modules, add/remove applications from the Autostart menu, and change the locations to the folders in the Home folder.

I did experience an issue with the power management app. When using the “Enable Backlight Change” under the Idle settings. When on battery, after the idle time has expired, the screen would dim and then report that Power Manager has crashed too many times and will be disabled until you log in again. There is a check box ‘On battery discharging’ that I unchecked while still connected to AC power. It would crash like it did while on battery power. When the checkbox was checked, the screen never dimmed and the error never appeared. I reported this behavior to Dan Simmons.

I do want to mention that when I connected to my home WiFi the NM Applet for Network Manager worked like it should. I was able to select my AP’s name and enter the passphrase. So my previous issue must have been a glitch for whatever reason.

I did take a look at Lubuntu 23.04. The power management issue was resolved. They replaced Compton with Picom for screen compositing. The GUI configuration utility they used is absent in 23.04 probably due to compatibility issues with the new syntax Picom uses. I did find one on Github that uses Qt which would be a good fit. I will have a link in the review in case anyone wants to try it. I haven’t had a chance to since arriving home.

Qt-based Picom GUI configuration utility

I didn’t have an issue with the NM applet for Network Manager.

I dual-booted it with 22.04.3 LTS. The Grub menu listed it as Lubuntu 22.04.3 LTS and 23.04 as such. That is a nice touch that other distros should implement.

Overall in my brief look at 23.04, it is a nice upgrade over 22.04.3. Many more improvements, though this is not a 23.04 review.

EASE OF USE: Despite a few issues, I really enjoyed my experience using Lubuntu. It is a very usable desktop and good on memory. Even while using Firefox. As I write this with four tabs open and Telegram, it is using 2.2 GB. This is after opening and closing a couple of tabs. Along with some terminal windows over the past few hours. I would say this is close to the same experience you would have using Plasma without the complexity.


11 GB of space used on the SSD

436 MB to 455 MB of memory used was reported by free –hm. Using Eric’s looping script.

EASE OF FINDING HELP: Help is available from #lubuntu on Libera.chat IRC network, Matrix (bridged to their IRC channel), Telegram, Mailing Lists, and their forums using Discourse. Additionally, you can find support in the Canonical Official support site AskUbuntu. Lubuntu also has a manual available from their website. Lubuntu - The official Lubuntu home They have great information on how to change system settings and instructions on the installed applications.

I want to thank Dan Simmons of the Lubuntu team for all his assistance.


Lubuntu did identify the PCLinuxOS installation and added it to the grub menu. Lubuntu was able to take control of the grub. I was surprised that the drive and partition were mentioned next to the PCLinuxOS grub entry. You don’t see that displayed often with other distros.


I didn’t have any issues.


Fedora LXQt Spin

Gecko LXQt Rolling and Static based on openSUSE


Ease of Installation             new user                     8/10

experienced user      10/10

Hardware Issues                                                   9/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)            10/10

Ease of Use                                                          8/10

Plays Nice With Others                                      10/10

Stability                                                               10/10

Overall Rating                                                     9/10

FINAL COMMENTS: I really enjoyed my time using Lubuntu. I would have no issues suggesting this to a person needing a low-resource distro. I would even say that if they didn’t. The functionality is on par with Desktop Environments in my opinion. I was content with the use of the Snap packages overall. The fact that I didn’t install and configure Flatpak is evidence of that.

Eric: DISTRO NAME: Rhino Linux 2023.1

INTRO: According to their website, Rhino Linux re-invents the Ubuntu experience as a rolling-release distribution built on a stable desktop environment. Pacstall is at the very heart of the distribution, providing essential packages such as the Linux kernel, Firefox, and distinctive Rhino Linux applications and theming. We use sane defaults. The XFCE Desktop environment is used for its stable and rock-solid base. Pacstall, our package manager of choice, will always provide the latest software, even those unavailable in the Ubuntu repositories, and our custom XFCE configuration provides a unique and modern experience so that you can begin using your computer, immediately.

I’m going to read an excerpt from their first blog post published on October 16th, 2022. It’s a little long but it explains the origins of Rhino Linux and provides an excellent introduction for the rest of my review.

From “Moving forward with Rolling Rhino Remix” written by the founder of Rhino Linux, http.llamaz. For context, his personal version was named Rolling Rhino Remix, which has become Rhino Linux.

“Over time, Rolling Rhino Remix evolved and changed drastically, under the hood, however, I am not the same programmer I was then. Rolling Rhino Remix was honestly, made with little effort and is still held together by scripts that keep the Operating System running. It was a proof-of-concept, and the fact that people utilized it as a daily driver astounded me. It was more stable than I anticipated, thankfully. Rolling Rhino Remix kept adding more and more utilities until it simply was no longer just a rolling release flavour of Ubuntu. Over time, the current development model of Rolling Rhino Remix had become untenable. It really is a passion project with code that is not mature. I made it for fun, but it became too big, too quickly, and unfortunately, the immature code that made the distribution is still present today.

I have made teasers about what the team is working on next, and it is not a complete departure from our original aim, which was to provide a rolling release version of Ubuntu. I would like to introduce Rhino Linux, the official successor to Rolling Rhino Remix. This is a large undertaking that completely overhauls the fundamentals of Rolling Rhino Remix, and 2 new core developers have been added to the development team to help flesh this idea out.

Rhino Linux will be an Ubuntu-based, rolling release operating system with Ubuntu, Pacstall, and XFCE at the core of the distribution.

Our users may be familiar with Pacstall itself, and how useful it is as an AUR-like package manager for Ubuntu. It is extremely extensible. We have adopted our own Pacstall repository specifically for Rhino Linux, which is headed by our Deputy Project Lead and the founder of Pacstall, Plasma. Core packages for the distribution such as XFCE (and our dotfiles), the Linux kernel, our plymouth bootsplash, and the Firefox web-browser will be installed via Pacstall.

We have chosen a slightly-customized version of XFCE as our desktop environment of choice due to its renowned stability and speed.

Ubuntu as a rolling release is still at the very core of our concept. Rhino Linux is not a departure from Rolling Rhino Remix, but rather re-imagines it as the more stable, mature distribution it should have shipped as originally.”

There are a number of intriguing ideas and concepts contained in Rhino Linux. The fact that it is a rolling release based on Ubuntu seems like an oxymoron, considering that Ubuntu has always been a fixed release distribution. This is done by using the development repositories as a base, which are generally always being populated with the latest versions of any given software package. While it’s not entirely inaccurate to characterize Ubuntu's development repositories as rolling if the definition is strictly that they feature up-to-date packages, the key difference is that rolling releases are intentionally built to be rolling. Using pre-release repositories containing incomplete combinations of packages and dependencies isn’t the same thing.

To me, it feels like this setup is almost certainly going to break at some point, and I don't think there will be an easy way to fix it. Ubuntu isn’t going to support Rhino users because of using the development base and, unless the Rhino team is willing to maintain their own repositories and manage packages themselves, they will be stuck. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that they chose XFCE because I don’t think that they could use anything else since they are regularly releasing updates, ones that could possibly break things in the development repos. Maybe I'm missing something and these are situations that the team has accounted for but I wasn't able to find any specific info.

I have more on package management that I’ll cover later on. For now, let’s talk about the installation.

MY HARDWARE: I am using my main system, a Dell XPS 15 9570 laptop, which has an 8th Generation “Coffee Lake” Intel i7-8750H (6 cores, 12 threads) @ 4.1 GHz, 32 GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, Toshiba 256 GB NVMe and Crucial 1 TB SSD drives, and hybrid NVIDIA graphics (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Mobile and Intel CoffeeLake-H GT2 [UHD Graphics 630]).

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES: Booting into the live session, you are greeted with a highly themed version of the XFCE desktop that is VERY purple. It certainly makes a statement and is quirky and fun. The important part is that it all works. There is an icon on the desktop to start the Calamares installer. I can’t imagine there are many people who have tried Linux that haven’t seen Calamares so I’m going to skip the blow-by-blow commentary and just highlight the interesting bits.

Calamares often offers several options for swap, normally no swap, swap without hibernate, and swap with hibernate. Rhino offers two options, no swap or swap to file. I have seen it a few times before but it’s not common, hence mentioning it. This is a completely standard Calamares installation routine, which is to say familiar and functional. The entire process took almost exactly six minutes for me, which is pretty quick.

POST-INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES: After installing, rebooting, and logging in, I saw the desktop as it was on the live boot, minus the desktop icon to install. There is no welcome or guidance to be had. According to the Rhino website, there is a Setup Wizard. I checked their GitHub account and could see that there is an application named rhino-setup hosted there but I couldn’t find it on my installation. I opened a terminal and used rpk, which is a shorthand version of rhino-pkg, to install rhino-setup-bin. I launched it and went through the setup process, which included a choice of dark and light themes, dark being the default, which package managers you’d like to use, which includes the ability to enable flatpak along with the flatpak beta channel, snap, and appimage. There is a screen to enable Extra Settings which includes options for Nala, GitHub CLI, and Apport, of which Nala is selected by default. You are informed that these are optional settings and to leave them alone if you don’t know what they do. I do know what they do but figured I’d play along and leave them as is. After this, the system is rebooted automatically and we’re back to the desktop.

So what now? One of the icons in the Plank dock is named “Your System” so that seemed like a logical thing to try. This provides a summary of the hardware and software of the system, as well as a button entitled “System Upgrade”. I clicked it, the window refreshed, and showed an embedded terminal asking for my password. After entering it, I was told that there were 397 packages to install, totaling 966.2 MB to download. I chose to continue and the update process began. There was a nicely formatted status area, complete with bright colors, that was showing the download process.

What I was seeing is their homegrown package management tool rhino-pkg, which is intended to make it easy to find, install, and manage software from a number of sources. It is essentially a wrapper script for apt and Pacstall. It optionally includes support for flatpak and snap as well. There is no GUI package manager available which doesn't matter to me since I almost never use one myself but I could see this being an issue for people not comfortable with the terminal. The update took about 15 minutes to complete.

rhino-pkg provides all the basic features you would expect, including searching, installing, removing, and updating packages. When searching and installing, it will return results from any of the sources it has access to. For example, when searching for 'discord', you can potentially see results from Pacstall, flatpak, and snap, depending on which are enabled. You are provided with a numerical list to choose which you'd like to install. Selecting the number then calls the specific package manager to install, remove, etc.

There's no way to tell where any given package is from using rhino-pkg. It requires using the individual package managers to search and see which packages each has installed. rhino-pkg helps to make managing packages from multiple sources a little easier but it all feels a little messy. It feels like a decent starting point but I hope that the team is able to extend the capabilities of this tool to make it a little easier to use.

Quoting the website, “Pacstall is at the very heart of the distribution, providing essential packages such as the Linux kernel, Firefox, and distinctive Rhino Linux applications and theming.” According to their GitHub project page, “Pacstall is the AUR Ubuntu wishes it had. It takes the concept of the AUR and puts a spin on it, making it easier to install programs without scouring github repos and the likes.” It is absolutely an intriguing concept but, after having used it for some time, I have some reservations about how it works in practice, especially when comparing it to the AUR.

Unlike the AUR, there is very little information available about when something was last updated, the package version, and no way to comment on packages to report errors, flag things out of date, and so on. These features are what make the AUR successful and provide a reasonable amount of confidence that something has been well tested and is being properly maintained. It appears as though the majority of this is handled on GitHub, as that's where the main project and individual pacscripts are stored. I can see that requests are being made to have packages added, as well as reporting issues and flagging things out of date. My problem with this is needing to dig through a general purpose development platform to find information. While it technically works, it is not user-friendly.

Another aspect of Pacstall that is confusing is having multiple options available with no real explanation of which to choose. Using the command line interface, you can search for a package. I’m going to be using Discord as an example since I ended up having a larger issue with it which I will cover later on. If I search for discord using pacstall -S discord, I am presented with four choices, discord, discord-canary, discord-deb, and discord-ptb-deb. Which one of these am I supposed to select? If this were the AUR and I were using an AUR helper like yay, it would show me a description that may help me decide. If not, I can go to the AUR website and review the options there. Each package has a page containing a wealth of information about when it was first published, when it was updated, what the dependencies are, and so on. More importantly, there is a comment section where it’s easy to see if people are having any problems. The equivalent pages on the Pacstall website contain very little of this same information and, while linking to the Pacscript on GitHub, the page provides none of this information either.

I’ve provided a lot of background on package management, so let me move to some actual examples. One of the first programs I always install is Discord. I normally use the flatpak version but, because there were several options available via Pacstall, I decided to try one of them instead. I attempted to install the plain ‘discord’ option and received an error.

The following packages have unmet dependencies:

discord : Depends: libgconf-2-4 but it is not installable

[!] ERROR: Failed to install the package

I searched the various releases of Ubuntu and found that the package is present in all of them except the development one that Rhino is based on. I then tried the discord-deb to see if it was any different but received the same message. I decided to check on the GitHub page for that pacscript file and there wasn’t really anything to see. Then I thought to log it as a bug under the main pacstall-programs repository. The issue was acknowledged pretty quickly and I give the maintainer full credit. It still didn’t work, although very late into this review it occurred to me that something is quite possibly wrong with the 2023.1 release iso file and that a new version had been released in the interim.

Literally the day before recording, as I was finishing my testing and notes, I realized that Rhino Linux 2023.2 had been released a few weeks ago, on August 28th. I downloaded a copy of it and ran some quick tests. It appears that they have addressed the issue of the missing Setup Wizard and Discord was now working. I have been running this copy of 2023.1 for most of this past month and have run several updates as well as making many other changes so I can’t be entirely sure what’s at fault. What I do know is that I have invested as much time as I am going to with this distro for now and am not going to re-test everything on 2023.2.

EASE OF USE: I think that XFCE is easy enough to use for almost anyone and comes well configured here. Not having a graphical package manager means that this is squarely aimed at a more technical audience, as does the language used on the website. I personally had numerous issues with managing packages and feel like this setup would be challenging to maintain over time.


  • I ran the ‘while true; do free -hm; sleep 10; done’ command after booting to allow the system to settle and show me memory usage over time. It started at 650 MB and leveled out at 638 MB used after a minute or so.

  • I used ‘df -h /’ to show that a base installation used 5.6 GB of disk space. That’s very low compared to most distros I have tested. This is thanks to having a minimal complement of software included by default, essentially consisting of the essential system utilities and some basics like an image viewer and media player.

EASE OF FINDING HELP: Rhino Linux has a presence on X (Twitter), Reddit, YouTube, Matrix, and Discord. I reached out to them on Discord to ask some questions, was greeted warmly, and my questions were answered politely. It seemed as though it was an enthusiastically engaged group, which is great to see. Kudos to them for representing themselves so well and being so helpful.

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS: I didn’t notice any issues with it picking up the installation of Linux Mint.

STABILITY: I didn’t have any crashes, freezes, or anything like that. There weren’t any problems running updates but I have a strong suspicion that this won't be true in the long run. I would not use this for anything mission-critical. Given that I ran into missing dependencies with the small handful of software I tried installing, I have to assume that a fully configured system is going to hit some snags as the base packages change over time.

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT: Rolling distros include Arch and its many derivatives, as well as openSUSE Tumbleweed. There are others but those are the two that I recommend trying if someone is interested in a rolling release distro.


Ease of Installation          new user                   8/10 (clean installation)

                                        experienced user    10/10 (custom installation)

Hardware Support                                          10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)       10/10

Ease of Use                                                     6/10

Plays Nice With Others                                  10/10

Stability                                                            8/10

Overall Rating                                                7/10

FINAL COMMENTS: While it is true that I had some issues with Rhino Linux and it is doubtful that I will continue to use it, I don't want to give the impression that it is without merit. This feels very much like a technical exercise that continues to explore some interesting new ideas. It's possible that these ideas turn out to be impactful beyond the distro itself which is something I see time and time again. A smaller distro, which has the ability to try new things, comes up with some great new idea that then makes its way into other, more mainstream distros. I think that might be the case with Pacstall. It would take some work to get it to the level of the AUR but I could see it being a strong alternative to the universal package formats Flatpak, Snap, and AppImage. There are times when running native packages provides a better experience, and needing to hunt them down if they aren't in the repository can be a chore. Pacstall can bridge that gap and make managing those packages much easier and convenient.

I don't recommend this distro for a new or less experienced user, nor do I think it's appropriate for anything mission-critical. However, if you would like to see what Ubuntu is like reimagined as a rolling release, it is well worth taking a look. The developers seem like good people who are enjoying trying out different ideas, and they might just be on to something. I hope they keep at it and I look forward to checking back in sometime in the future.


from 8/10 to 9/13

WM Live 0.95.9-0

Ubuntu 22.04.3 (all official flavours)

XeroLinux 2023.08

OpenMandriva 23.08 "ROME"

Tails 5.16.1

Devuan 5.0.0

Diamond r0_14.Au.2023

Absolute 20230816

siduction 2023.1.0

Regata 23.0.14

Artix 20230814

Bodhi 7.0.0 (64-bit)

openmamba 20230822

SmartOS 20230824

Kali 2023.3

Mageia 9

Emmabuntüs DE5-1.00

AntiX 23

Pardus 23.0

LFS 12.0, BLFS 12.0

ArcoLinux 23.09.03

Gnoppix 23.9

OSMC 2023.08-1


PCLinuxOS 2023.08

Armbian 23.8.1

Arch 2023.09.01

XeroLinux 2023.09

Manjaro 23.0

ExTiX 20230903

Live Raizo

GParted 1.5.0-6

Lite 6.6

Tails 5.17

Hyperbola 0.4.3

SmartOS 20230907

Fatdog64 900

Manjaro 23.0.1

Zenwalk current-230909

SysLinuxOS 12.1

TUXEDO • 2-20230911

HardenedBSD 14.0-STABLE

SparkyLinux 7.1

Univention 5.0-5

Clear Linux 39950



An Email from Bhikhu

Hola gentlemen,

Some feedback regarding episode 45,

Moss, blendOS uses a fork of Crystal Linux's installer called jade-gui

as its own installer,


It would have been better had Moss spent some more time with blendOS as

it would have allowed him to play with and test cross-platform app

installs and atomic updates. Maybe in future? BTW blendOS 3 was named

after a popular Indian delicacy called 'Chole Bhature', a link to the

recipe video for cooks among you,


Eric, no distribution review is too long for Linux nerds so don't worry

about the length of your reviews. Nice and balanced review. Why on earth

did PopOS went with a half featured installer instead of Ubiquity or

Calamares is perplexing for sure. Another confusing thing is replacing

Grub with systemd-boot. Doesn't make sense to me! PopOS's future Cosmic

desktop won't be based on EFL but on good ole GTK. EFL is written in C

and Cosmic is a mix of Rust, C and others.

Dale, the 'raspi-firmware' issue is an actual bug that is caused by the

inclusion of 'raspi-firmware' package which is absolutely not needed on

amd64 systems,



Now the Grub issue you mentioned is caused by the fact that the

installer installed it on the root (system) partition instead of the MBR

of the HDD. Calamares has an option where you can select the location of

Grub to be installed on, it can be a root partition (/), a system

partition or the MBR of the HDD. For some reasons peppermintOS's

installer installed it on the root partition instead of MBR in your

case. You can install Grub on the MBR by running,

sudo grub-install /dev/sdX

sudo update-grub

If you want to install Grub on to a partition you can do it via the --force option,

sudo grub-install --force /dev/sdX1

sudo update-grub

In the examples above, I've used 'sdX' and 'sdX1' but you'll have to

replace them with your actual disk schema which can easily be found out by


lsblk -f

ICE - SSB Manager and Kumo are different beasts, for some reason, after

Mark Greaves' death, the new peppermintOS team stopped its development

and started Kumo. This is the reason why you didn't get what you saw in

those older screenshots.

One wee correction, Gufw stands for GUI for Uncomplicated Firewall.

I'll end this email with over 2000 waterfall images,




Dale: That is an odd bug to have happened. I am surprised this wasn’t caught before the ISO was released. To me, it was kind of obvious.

I didn’t notice where Grub was installed until you pointed this out. I sometimes miss these little details. It makes sense why it was the issue.

Thank you for your attention to detail in your emails and problem solving. I also enjoyed seeing the waterfall pictures. In nature, I love to see waterfalls and rock formations/mountains.

Another Email from Bhikhu to Dale.

I forgot to mention this in my feedback email,

If you were not able to run 'software-properties-gtk' from terminal to

change the settings for unattended-upgrades, it is most likely because

'software-properties-gtk' package was not installed.

Software-properties screenshot

And, lastly a distro suggestion, for the past couple of weeks I've been

testing Garuda Sway edition and it's been a more than pleasant

experience for sure. Unlike most Garuda flavors, this one has minimal

bling-bling, minimal default application set and some sane defaults. I

highly encourage you to check it out,

Download Garuda Sway ISO



Dale: I replied to Bhikhu via Telegram Direct Message. I have the software-properties-gtk package installed and I still don’t have the updates tab. This is an odd issue. It must be an older package that is being used in Cinnamon.

I will consider reviewing Garuda Sway for the next episode. I haven’t looked at Sway yet. It has been on my list of things to check out. I know some in other Telegram channels have been using it.

An Email from Steve.

Hi Dale,

Here's a little note from the Pepp developer on a few of the things you talked about on Distrohoppers. He sent this to me a few weeks back when I was doing a live install of Pepp 12


Here is the Email he is sharing from Grafik, the lead PeppermintOS developer.

I saw you have a stream coming up to install peppermint.

I just wanted to drop you a few notes, so you do not get caught off guard

This concerns the Pep hub and Gnome Store, Flathub and Snap Store

The way they work is, by default they are just web apps that open to their web pages that is because on a fresh install nothing is installed for those stores.

So to install them you can click the Suggested button in the hub and do the following


When you click the Snap Package Platform button that ONLY installs the snap platform meaning you can install snaps via terminal

If you want install the local snap store open terminal and run

sudo snap install snap-store

At this point you will need to click the Gnome Software Store button in the Suggested screen as well that way the hub knows not to use the web app for the snap store.


Clicking the Flatpak packages platform ONLY installs just the flatpak structure. The community feedback we got mentioned no need to add in the repos,

so you still need to run in terminal

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

for the flathub repositories.

Once you do that the Gnome store will handle all the flathub stuff. That's why you will see the FlatHub button gone in the Pep hub.

Any way after installing all that you need to is reboot the system for the changes to take.

Final note on this stuff if you ONLY just install.. the Gnome store and nothing-else that ONLY pulls packages from the debian repos.

Kumo – has also had a lot of changes. With the ongoing popularity of PWA‘s most of the chromium based browsers already support them, it comes down to whether or not the owner of the website or someone has created a PWA supported application for that site.

The question then becomes what is the value of a SSB native application?

We started thinking what value add can Kumo bring, and what were the issues we saw with ICE. ICE needed to have FireFox, Chromium, Vivalidi or any other browser that the developers at the time added support for. The catch was you had to use one of the supported browsers. If you did not want to use any of the supported browsers then you could not get value from ICE, in other words it in a way was forcing a user to install some specific type of browser that they may or may not choose to use. The other problem we wanted to solve with ICE was backup and importing ICE Apps to be shared or moved to another computer. The value that we think Kumo brings is, versatility and, it will generally supply a SSB experience on most if not all websites.

The upcoming changes that you will see with Kumo are:

– We moved away from adding launchers to the whisker menu or any system menu etc…. Kumo will now function more like a SSB launcher rather than a tool to create launchers. Meaning you can create your SSB and save its address to a local database, and use the same window to launch the SSB.

– Kumo uses lua for its SSB browsing its very minimum(6mb) and is a great starting point to build upon for future iterations.

We do have ARM builds coming out Jul15 will be the Debian Arm 64bit(Only) release

Also, Debian is often used for server related functions, with the Peppermint Server builds we configure SELinux, also we add in Cockpit(Debian Only), SSHGuard as well as other options that will be useful for server needs. This is a big one that we are working on and will probably be the last of all the builds we release this year, the release date on these will be TBD

I know you will probably get asked the questions of what is the point of what we are doing:

Peppermint today it is true we do not just focus on just new users, as that is truly unfair to not think about the veteran users in the community

It may not be perfect but we try to strike that acceptable balance of new and veteran users.

What do we offer today

1. A 32 bit /64 bit Debian system, 32 would be non existent if we were still on Ubuntu that’s value add

2. We offer a Devuan base system many community members simply do not want systemd providing choice is value add.

3. We offer ARM architecture that never existed before in Peppermint, it's a value add for those users that need that technology

4. We will offer a server version of Peppermint pre-configured server ISOs to help users in the community to have a system they can use for server needs. That’s value add

5. We ship with nothing installed except most common firmware it’s not perfect but it saves time for users. That’s value add.

6. Because we ship with no packages a user does not lose time uninstalling a lot of packages they do not use. But we also make acceptable methods to easily install software. Again….value add

Oftentimes folks will say well you can just do that with vanilla Debian which is true but Debian will not pre-configure or help you configure anything so that’s time loss in some ways.

At the very least we can show that we have added value where others do not. For that I think Mark would be proud.

Branding - we get questions as to why we dropped the candy logo, basically we are simplifying the branding to just the text PeppermintOS (PMOS) for short. Peppermint should be built and branded by the choice of the user, not by what we push to them.

It should absolutely be the choice of the user to decide what a system should look like, the less branding we bake into the system the better it is for the user to make it their own. after all that is what opensource is about community ownership

Nonetheless, these are just some notes please use them as you wish.


Dale: Hi Steve,

Thank you very much. It answers some of the questions.

Moss: For chatting with us further, you may choose to join our Telegram group or our Discord channel.

Dale: I’m @Dale_CDL on Telegram and Discord. My email is Dale_CDL@pm.me

Eric: I can be reached on most social media and chat platform under my full name, Eric Adams. For example, I’m on Mastodon, Discord, Telegram, Matrix, and so on. I can be emailed at EAonLinux@proton.me .

Moss: And you can hear me every week on Full Circle Weekly News and mintCast. My email is bardmoss@pm.me, and I’m on Mastodon as @zaivala@hostux.social, plus you can find me, Dale and Dylan, at Its MOSS dot com.

No comments:

Post a Comment