Show Notes - DistroHoppers’ Digest Episode 019

 

Show Notes

DistroHoppers’ Digest Episode 019

 

MONTHLY FOIBLES

 

...wherein we discuss what did and didn’t work for us this month…

 

Moss - I almost have my new studio set up. I tried a number of distros this month, only to have some of them not allow me to install them on a UEFI system. One installed but would not write GRUB, and gives me a kernel panic error late in Step 1. But I finally got something installed, which you will hear about later this episode. 

 

I have had a really good holiday season, but still have income insecurity in a big way, with the schools closed and my other job still attempting to fly. This will be my last episode doing a distro review on the Kudu, as mintCast team member Joshua Hawk gifted me with a 2016 Dell Inspiron 13 7353 2-in-1. It came with Fedora, but I’ve gone through a whole carousel of distros and landed on Mint 20.1 MATE, but that will go away when I pick my next distro.

 

Dale - I’ve had my share of computer issues last month and this monthI was using Manjaro Plasma for a couple months.  A day after we recorded last month, I needed to print something but my printer was missing from CUPS on both computers.  Apparently an update must have broken the files that CUPS needed.  After about 2 hours of troubleshooting, all I managed to do was print test pages from CUPS and nothing else.  So Mint Cinnamon was next on my list of distros.  I installed it on my Ryzen 9 desktop and my T460 Thinkpad.  I am pretty happy with it.  That was a quicker fix in my opinion.


 
When I came home this month, I woke up a couple days ago and noticed my Mini-ITX computer was dead.  A great start to my morning.  So I got some cereal and turned my desktop on.  I installed updates in Mint and noticed there was an updated 5.8 kernel, so I thought I would install it.  Well that was a mistake.  I looked up the warranty on my Mini-ITX, then about 20 minutes later I lost the internet on my desktop.  I rebooted to a screen full of kernel messages.  After diving down a rabbit hole of extremely vague kernel messages, I tracked it down to the SATA port connected to my Samsung 860 EVO SSD and decided to try another kernel.  So far 5.8.0-33 has been working fine.  My judgement and critical thinking were clouded that morning due to getting into an annoyed mood over my dead computer.  Oddly I tried 5.8.0-38 again today and I am not getting any more kernel messages.  If anyone else has a MSi X570-A Pro motherboard, let me know if you experience any SATA kernel messages.


 
On a positive note, I installed my Rode PSA1 microphone arm.  I am hoping it will isolate some desk noise compared to the desk stand my microphone came with.  

 

Tony - The holidays were very subdued here in the UK as we were only allowed to have one other person for Christmas Lunch and then only on Christmas Day itself due to the increasing issues with C19 here. Right after New Year we went into a full stay at home order again and are only allowed out for essential shopping, work if you can not do it from home, medical appointments and daily exercise. All the non essential shops are shut and and bars and restaurants are all closed and only takeaway is allowed. You can only meet with one other individual while out exercising, and you are not allowed to sit and have an alfresco meal with that person while out, NO PICNICKS. Although the weather has been quite cold and wet so you probably wouldn’t want too.

 

Updated my Mint 20 laptop to 20.1 which went without a hitch, not many major changes as still based on Ubuntu 20.04.1 but a new feature is Hypnotix an IPTV player, if you have not already upgraded check it out this feature is worth the upgrade on its own. 

 

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

 

Moss - OpenMandriva Lx 4.2 has a release candidate out, and Mageia 8 has a Beta2. OpenSUSE 15.3 is Alpha. Mint 20.1 is out, and includes a fun new tool, Hypnotix, for streaming Internet TV, and WebApps, for turning your favorite websites into their own desktop app.

 

Dale -  GhostBSD updated to Mate 1.24.1 and created a new live image using ZFS.  Bug fixes for their Linux Steam support called linuxulator along with a new kernel among other changes.

 

Slackel Mate and KDE ISO’s are still at 7.3, though their Openbox edition is at 7.4.  It was updated to Kernel 5.10.4 and the latest updates from Slackware’s ‘Current’ tree.  Some of the updates included Firefox to 84.0.1 and LibreOffice to 7.0.4.2.

 

Lastly Solus is continuing to work on their next release according to their Twitter feed.  DataDrake, who is a member of the dev team, has been streaming his work on Twitch.  Joshua Strobl, lead dev, has created a Patreon.  To quote his Tweet, “I’m incredibly excited to be launching my Patreon and with your support, pursuing the goal of working on open source, desktop-focused software full-time!”

 

Tony - I’ve not been paying much attention to the Linux world apart from the Mint 20.1 release which I mentioned earlier.

 

So let's move on to our first distro this month. 

 

TONY:

DISTRO NAME: Ubuntu Studio 20.10

 

INTRO:  

Ubuntu Studio is an official spin of the main Ubuntu branch with an emphasis on creators of all types, Graphics, Audio and Visual and as such has a myriad of software to make this possible installed out of the box. Since 20.10 it has been using KDE Plasma as the default DE, prior to this it was using XFCE as the default DE.

 

My Hardware:

So this is currently installed on one of my drives in the IcyDock on my HP Tower PC that has an Intel® Core™ i7-3770 CPU with 4 cores and 8 threads @3.4GHz, 24Gb Ram, and a GeForce 8400 graphics card, not the most powerful of cards but it works for me at the moment.

I also installed it to one of my Toshiba Z30 13.4 inch laptops with an Intel® Core™ i5-4210U CPU 2 cores and 4 threads @ 1.70GHz to 2.7GHz 128Gb M2 SSD and 8Gb DDR3 RAM.

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES:

On the desktop PC I upgraded the 20.04 install already on the drive and this went very smoothly. It was a simple process of going into the software and updates menu and selecting the update tab, then ensuring that the ‘Notify Me’ of any new Ubuntu version was enabled. Once this was done the update manager gave me the notification that a new version was available and I was able to run the updater to install it. At the end of this process I was able to reboot and was presented with a KDE Plasma DE which is the new default Desktop Environment. 

 

The laptop was a little more tricky I had intended to do a dual boot but I again ran into the same issue I previously had, with another Plasma distro KaOS a couple of months ago where it starts to partition the drive but then says there is not a viable partition to do the install. It does take the space for the install but does not format it and as much as I tried I was not able to resolve the issue so ended up doing a solo install to the laptop.

 

Once I decided on this course of action the install was a smooth process as with any Ubuntu or Mint installation using the Calamares installer, we have talked about this many times so I will not bore you with the details again, suffice to say in about 15 minutes I had a working laptop with Ubuntu Studio 20.10 installed and about 15 minutes or so later this was fully updated.

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES:

Nothing much to report here both the Laptop and the Tower PC’s were all working as expected and as the Tower had been an upgrade the Nvidia driver was still in place, although a few weeks down the line as I didn’t pay attention to updates the video resolution did get screwed up. But after an update this was fixed and everything was back to normal.

 

EASE OF USE:

Now as we normally say this is Ubuntu so it’s a doddle to use if you are familiar with Ubuntu, the only issue you have after reboot is in Plasma the task bar is set to the right side of the screen and if you are not familiar with the Plasma DE it might not be immediately obvious how to move it to where you want it. but it is actually very simple. Right click in the task bar, select the edit panel and in the middle of the panel are 2 options, screen edge and height. Navigate the cursor to the cross hairs next to the screen edge, Left click on this and you can move the panel to whichever edge you want to on the screen. Simple, yes, but it caught me out at first as with the task bar vertical it wasn’t as obvious and a little menu can obscure the screen edge if you are not careful. Once this was sorted to the way I like my taskbar/panel on the bottom of the screen all was good. 

 

The other thing is that you have all the software available in the Ubuntu repositories both traditional and the Snap store. You can also install downloaded Deb files from the internet with the included QApt package installer, so no shortage of applications and it all works as it does in the vanilla Ubuntu. Just one example of software I installed was the Mumble Snap as it is the latest 1.3.3 and works with our server unlike the 1.3.2 version in the repositories that doesn’t like our Mumble server’s security certificate. 

 

MEMORY AND DISK USE

On the laptop at first boot top is reporting 640Mb of Ram usage and Neofetch reports about 740Mb, however on the Desktop Top reports 1GB of Ram usage and Neofetch about 30Mb more so it looks like Plasma manages memory usage based on resources available.

The Laptop shows using about 12Gb of HDD/SSD space after installing of a couple of additional applications, but the desktop has been in use quite a bit and has quite a lot of Audacity files stored in it so is now using about 30Gb. If the laptop is typical this would be OK on a 32Gb SSD with a portable storage solution for on the road use.

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP:

Nothing to say here, it is Ubuntu after all so there is absolutely loads of help out there to fix any issues you may have, I didn’t but I know it is available if needed. 

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS:

This is where it fell down, I could not get a dual boot to work on the laptop, which is strange because I’ve never had an issue with this with other Ubuntu variants in the past, but this is the second time this has happened with a Plasma based distro in recent months.

 

STABILITY

No issues to report apart from me forgetting to update and having the video glitch which was fixed after I ran the updates, and then this was only an issue with the Nvidia card on the Tower no issues at all on the laptop as that is on integrated graphics.

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT:

KDE neon

Kubuntu 20.10

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation                 new user                    7/10

 experienced user       9/10

Hardware Issues                                                      10/10

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

Ease of Use                                                               9/10

Plays Nice With Others                                              0/10

Stability                                                                     10/10

Overall Rating                                                           9/10

 

FINAL COMMENTS:

This is one very fine spin on Ubuntu and the more I use it the more I am starting to like Plasma. But the main reason to install Ubuntu Studio over one of the other flavors is the vast amount of creative software that is included in the install by default. As podcasters we use a lot of audio and streaming tools that you may have to separately install in other distributions, but they were all here at first boot. This goes for Video and Graphics tools, there are things on this system I had never heard of, so if you are a creator this is a good distro to check out and discover new software that you may find becomes essential to your workflow.  

 

DALE:

DISTRO NAME: Garuda Linux

 

INTRO: 

Garuda Linux gets their name and imagery from Hindu Mythology: it is a bird-like creature similar to an eagle.  Garuda is based upon Arch Linux and its roots are in India.  Their 8 development team members are from India, Germany, Austria, Australia and the west coast of Canada per their website.  They offer the following Desktop Environments and Window Managers:  KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Cinnamon, MATE, LXQt-kwin, Wayfire, Qtile, BSPWM and i3wm.

 

Some notable items that make Garuda standout is their choice of Kernel and filesystem.  They use the Zen Kernel.  According to the Arch Wiki: It is a collaborative effort of kernel hackers to provide the best Linux Kernel possible.  Any deeper discussion on it  is beyond the scope of our podcast.  The other notable item is the use of BTRFS, which stands for B-Tree file system, pronounced butter F S.  Its main feature is the copy on write (COW); in short it doesn’t update files directly.  It will create a new file, verify it was written correctly and finally delete the original file.  So in case of a power failure or other issue, the original file will remain intact.  Another feature is the ability of taking a snapshot of the system files in the event where an update caused problems.  That action can be undone by replacing them with the snapshot image that was created before that happened.

 

My Hardware:

The laptop I used was a Lenovo T430, it has an Intel Dual Core i5-3320M 2.6 Ghz cpu, 14” display using Intel graphics, with 4GB of ram and a 240 GB SSD.

 

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES:

Since I installed Linux Mint Cinnamon on my main computers.  I decided to use the Cinnamon edition of Garuda.  I am somewhat new to Cinnamon so it gives me more time to get used to using it.

Installation started off as normal.  With me writing the ISO to the USB stick with dd.  I still had Void Linux on the SSD from the month before, so I decided to dual boot.  Garuda uses the Calamares installer: Calamares is an independent project that many distro maintainers use to install their distro.  It is very customizable.  Distros such as Arco Linux, EndeavourOS, FerenOS, KDE Neon and Manjaro, as well as many others, use it.

 

With that said, the installation is pretty straight forward.  Upon booting from the USB stick, it recognized that I had Void Linux Installed.  It presented me with the usual choices: replace Void partition with Garuda, wipe the drive and install Garuda, or install alongside Void.  I chose the latter.  I was able to resize the drive to half for each distro.  The remaining was the standard questions of  language, location, username and password.  During the account creation, you are given the option of logging in automatically.  You can also choose to use the same password for your administrator account.  Those options are available via check boxes.  Finally you are shown a summary of your selected choices.  The only thing left to do is click the install button and wait. 


 
My install of Garuda took about 20 minutes but I think it was due to my mobile data connection.  I used my smartphone as a WIFI Hotspot.  Once rebooted I saw one of the best themed Grub screens I have seen in a long time.

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES:

All the hardware on the laptop was detected and worked with no configuration needed, except for me disabling the touchpad.  I connected to my home WIFI and my Smart Phone's WIiFi hotspot.  The only issue I had was CUPS was not configured; I had this same issue I had with Manjaro, though it was easier to set up here than it was on Manjaro.  From the Welcome screen, I clicked on the Garuda Assistant.  From there you can enable all of the many services available in Linux, like various audio servers like PulseAudio, ALSA, JACK and Pipewire.  There is also Virtualization, Printing, Scanning, etc.  To enable network printing, I clicked on the check box next to cups.socket.  Printing support was already checked.  It prompted me for the sudo password.  An installation window opened and installed the necessary software.  It doesn’t tell you to reboot, but you need to reboot.

 

After reboot and signing in again, I was then able to open CUPS and configure my printer.  For a run through on that, listen to my Slackel Linux review in Episode 15.  Another good thing I can say about Garuda is that my printer was set for US paper sizes, unlike my experience with Manjaro.

 

I noticed that rebooting fixed a lot of issues I had when using this assistant.  There are also many maintenance options available.

 

As of January 19th 2021,  It is using Zen Kernel 5.10.8-112 and Cinnamon version 4.8.5. 

 

EASE OF USE:

Upon first login you are presented with a Welcome screen.  I must say it is quite a Welcome Screen and it is on par with other Linux distros.  But wait there's more!!…..a lot more.  As I previously mentioned, the dev team for Garuda has really gone out of their way creating GUI configuration menus.  There is the Settings manager, Gamer, Network Assistant, Boot options,  and Timeshift, the GUI application that creates the system snapshots.  They have a System Cleaner, BleachBit, which will remove temp, cache, cookie and other files.

 

The add/remove software app is very nice, and is also where you check for updates via a tab at the top of the window.  Searching for apps is quick, it will clearly show you where that app is being sourced from. Unlike Manjaro, Garuda has the AUR enabled by default.  Garuda also does not have Snap or Flatpak enabled or even installed and I didn’t see any GUI functionality either.  So if you do install it, it appears to be only available in the terminal.

 

Because of the BTRFS SnapShot integration, the installation and removal of software/updates are not as fast in other distros.  This is because it is making and removing snapshots as needed.  Another thing to point out is the heavy use of the AUR in the software repo.  If you have an older or slower CPU, prepare to wait until software is compiled and configured once downloaded.

 

I am not a fan of the ZShell, at least how it is configured in Garuda.  Granted I have never used it and it is also a personal preference.  It is way too busy and gets in the way of seeing what I have typed and the output I am looking for.  They are showing the Tux penguin icon, your current directory, system stats (cpu, disk, network, etc) and the time: there is so much that in a small terminal window and the line wraps around the next line.  I also noticed that it is slower than bash, which is the default on most Linux distros.

 

The command line package managers worked fine, aside from uncommon command switches.  Garuda includes pacman from Arch and pamac from Manjaro.  For example: to perform a system update using pacman you would type pacman -Syu where -S is synchronize the packages, y download a fresh copy of the package database and u is upgrade out of date packages.  Using pamac from Manjaro you would type pamac update. I used them once each, otherwise I used the GUI package manager. 

The default theme is called Sweet.  The first time I signed into Garuda, it reminded me of when I used to use the Enlightenment window manager  back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and it also looked a lot like Bodhi’s Moksha Desktop.  That is not an insult against Garuda; it was very well done and brought back a lot of memories.

 

The functionality of Cinnamon is what you would expect to have in Mint or other distros that use it.  I was able to connect to my Samba server without any problems.  I just entered my username, password and workgroup name.  The file manager window opened showing my files.  I was able to access them with no problem.

 

MEMORY AND DISK USE

Installed size on the SSD is about 14GB and memory usage upon sign in is 713MB; on average with Firefox with a couple tabs open and Telegram running I saw around 1 to 1.4 GB in use.

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP:

I didn’t need any help.  I did read through their wiki available on their website, and they also have a Forum available on their website.  Other forms of contact are by way of Telegram and Twitter.

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS:

I was able to dual boot with Void Linux using BIOS.  I have been booting into both and running updates, just to make sure they were not going to fight over control of GRUB.

 

STABILITY

I never had any crashes or lock ups.  The only issues, previously mentioned, was the need to reboot after enabling some services.  After the reboot everything I tried worked.

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT:

Manjaro

Arco

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation                new user                      7/10

experienced user       10/10

Hardware Issues                                                        8/10

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

Ease of Use                                                               6/10

Plays Nice With Others                                            10/10

Stability                                                                       8/10

Overall Rating                                                           8/10

 

FINAL COMMENTS:

Overall this is a very nice distro, considering its Arch roots and not needing to use the terminal is quite remarkable.  I didn’t experience any packages breaking during the many updates the past month.  My only concern about it is their dependence on the AUR, and that can be somewhat mitigated by installing and configuring Snap or Flatpak, though you will need to use the terminal to maintain those packages.

 

MOSS:

DISTRO NAME: Lubuntu 20.10

 

INTRO: Lubuntu is intended to be a lighter, friendlier Ubuntu, for people with limited resources on their computers. They switched from LXDE to LXQt in 19.10, and it looked pretty sparse and unusable, but it looks like all their work paid off with the 20.10 edition. Still, it’s Ubuntu, so it could be difficult finding illuminating things to say about it.

 

MY HARDWARE:

My laptop is a 2014 model System76 Kudu 3, with a 17.3” screen, an i7 processor and Intel graphics, 16 Gb RAM and a 1 Tb SSD.

 

INSTALLATION EASE AND ISSUES:

Lubuntu used the Calamares installer, my favorite, but it was themed to the point it nearly looked like Ubiquity. Everything went smoothly, as it nearly always does with this fine installer.

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES:

Everything seems to just work. The project replaced the Falkon web browser with Firefox in 2019. It also has its own Terminal and other fairly standard apps. 

 

LXDE was written in GTK 2+, which is now completely discontinued. The developer expressed several issues he had with GTK 3+, refused to use that version of GTK, and started experimenting with porting it to using the Qt tools. Another similar project, Razor-qt, later merged with his project, creating LXQt. The first release of LXQt was in May 2014, and the project completed its split from LXDE in May 2018. 

 

EASE OF USE:

I must say, LXQt has come a very long way in the past two releases and now looks both beautiful and fully functional. The one difficulty I’m having is moving app launchers to the Taskbar, or even the desktop. I especially wanted to get Terminal on the Taskbar, and have failed to do so. You have to go through the menus to find Terminal. The instructions on the website for adding things to the taskbar make it sound like you have to add the entire Application Menu, and those instructions confuse me so I didn’t try it.

 

MEMORY AND DISK USE:

It isn’t the lightest system on my laptop, but at 486 MiB (reported by neofetch) it’s really not bad. That comes in behind Bodhi and Peppermint 10 but ties with PCLinuxOS MATE. With a few tabs open in Firefox, neofetch and Stacer both report 1.7 Gb RAM use. Disk usage is 6.0 GiB.

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP:

Ubuntu forums and Telegram and Discord groups abound. I was a bit surprised to find there was a specific Lubuntu forum at Lubuntu.me, but since it is an official flavor, you can probably get help at  Ubuntuforums.org and AskUbuntu.com as well.

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS:

It works just fine with my other 9 distros on my laptop, as it should, being Ubuntu. (Last week I reduced the distros on the laptop to 8, with no issues.)

 

STABILITY

Are you getting tired of hearing us say this yet? It’s Ubuntu. It’s stable.

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT:

Manjaro LXQt

Fedora LXQt

ALT Linux

Sparky Linux LXQt Full Edition

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation                new user                      9/10

experienced user       10/10

Hardware Issues                                                      10/10

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

It’s fairly light, it’s very pretty, and it’s simple to use, other than it being difficult to move apps to the Taskbar or desktop. I think most people who try this distro will be happy with it unless they really need a feature only found in another desktop environment.

 

NEW RELEASES SINCE LAST EPISODE:

from 12/12-01/20

GeckoLinux 152.201210

NuTyX 20.12.0

UBports 16.04 OTA-15

Q4OS 3.13

Kwort Linux 4.3.5

4MLinux 35.0

Parted Magic 2020_12_25

OSMC 2020.11-1

deepin 20.1

Slackel 7.4 "Openbox"

Nitrux 2020.12.31

Septor 2021

ArchBang 0101

Rescuezilla 2.1.2

Garuda 210101

ExTiX 21.1

Puppy Linux 7.0 Slacko

Linux Mint 20.1 all flavors

CloudReady 87.3.28

RasPiOS 2021-01-12

Bluestar 5.10.6

KDE neon 20210114

Alpine 3.13.0

KaOS 2021.01

ArcoLinux 21.03.1

GhostBSD 21.01.15

Zeroshell 3.9.5, which might just be an app

GeeXboX 20210117

and, just this morning, Archman 2021.01.20

 

FEEDBACK

[Moss:] I didn’t see anything new in email. We have had some good discussions in the Telegram group. We are quite pleased to see our numbers rise, and our last 4 episodes are in the top 5 in terms of downloads. I did get a new article submission for It’s Moss, and welcome any such submissions.

 

 

 

No comments:

Post a Comment