Show Notes for Distrohoppers’ Digest Episode 014


MONTHLY FOIBLES

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

 

Moss

I’ve been playing with lots of distros, and you’ll probably want to hear my review of the new multiboot system called Ventoy, available on Windows and Linux, which will be part of Episode 337.5 of mintCast, available as a podcast on June 23rd. Ventoy allows me to put as many distros on a single USB stick as will fit, and can also let you format a stick such that you can make changes in the distro and keep them saved on the stickl You can also save other files and apps on the stick after you’ve installed Ventoy on it.

 

The biggest problem I’m having finding distros to review this month is that most of the distros out there which will be based on Ubuntu 20.04 are due out soon, including Mint. and we’re even holding our breath for the new Slackware 15 and new openSUSE and Gecko. I hope I’ll have more to work with next month.

 

Tony

So just now I said I’ve been playing with Linux, which while true this is a regular occurrence here at Distrohoppers towers as all my PC’s and laptops run linux, mainly Linux Mint (currently 19.3 mate) but on the test laptop this month I am running Kubuntu. So Linux wise, I updated my wifes PC, she leaves that to me and I hadn't done it for a few weeks so there were a fair few updates, I also booted into the Windows 10 partition and updated that, it’s there as a just in case she needs it for something, but now she is no longer marking Maths exam papers she uses her Mint 19.3 install for her daily driver, not sure when the last time was she booted into the Windows partition was, but it will be a while ago. We recorded the latest mintCast on Sunday and I edit half of the show, but Audacity has been playing up when It comes to editing. So I decided to do an install of Ubuntu Studio 20.04 to an SSD in the IcyDock andI used the audacity install on that to do the show edit, and everything was great, so that will probably be what I use to edit today's show.

 

I’ve also been playing with Moss’s new favorite utility Ventoy and now have it installed on a 64Gb USB flash drive which makes installing and testing iso’s so much easier. I highly recommend this as something to keep in the Linux tool bag. 

 

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

 

Moss

Keep your eyes peeled across Plasma land, as a new version has just been released, 5.19. It has already landed in KDE neon.

 

Tony

The main thing of note is the Mint 20 beta release I downloaded it and have put it in a VM in Virtual box and will take a look at it sometime in the next few days, my only gripe is I can only find the beta with Cinnamon and not my usual Mate DE, but we can not have everything. There has been a huge outcry at the decision of the team to block direct access to SnapD due to the way that Ubuntu are implementing some of the application installs, in particular Chromium, as when you use ‘sudo apt install chromium’ there is no ‘apt’ package only a snap and Ubuntu calls the snap install for this without informing the user that is what is happening. As a result the Mint team have blocked the install of Snapd, and while our good friend Leo on mintCast has published a work around, and I have put a link in the show notes to it. here 

 

Moss - DISTRO NAME:     Pearl OS 9

 

INSTALLATION

I ran this on a System76 Kudu 3, with 16 Gb RAM and a 256 Gb SSD, with a 6th generation i7 CPU and Intel graphics chipset. 

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES

This distro is primarily organized around its hybrid desktop, combining XFCE and LXDE with lots of Compiz Fusion thrown in to emulate the MacOS desktop of a few years ago. That being said, the default wallpaper looks like it was drawn by a 4-year-old and the exit/reboot screen looks like a grade schooler designed it; the optional wallpapers are quite lovely, with some featuring scenes around Texas you’ve likely not seen. Negative points for design, especially since the main reason for this distro is the design.  Besides all that, Pearl is Ubuntu-based with a few bonus Mint tools, and it’s as easy to set up and use as any Ubuntu flavor.

 

EASE OF USE

Using it is easy. Sanitizing it may take some extra time. If you’re into Alex Jones, you’ll belong here, but if not, it’s fairly easy to delete the extra links in Firefox. Version 8 featured some similarly interesting plugins for Kodi, but they left Kodi out of the distro this go-round.

 

Upgrades can be exciting, as the dev has had trouble keeping his few mirrors up. He claims to have fixed it, but I know of at least one site which has offered to be a mirror to which he has not responded.  There is a nice upgrade button in the dock, which shows you what is ready to update, but when you give it the go-ahead, it closes and does nothing. Best break out Terminal to do these.

 

In keeping with the theme of I Like Mac, they have included the Software Center for the most famously Mac-like distro, elementary OS, so you can pay for all that good Open Source software you want to use if you like. Highly recommended if you can afford it, as devs are largely underpaid in our community.

 

APPLICATION ISSUES:

I have had no issues with anything. I even did my mintCast podcast for Episode 336 using Pearl, when my Audacity 2.4.1 wouldn’t work in Mint for some reason.

 

MEMORY USE:

For all the tweaking and hybridizing of the desktop, I have had Stacer report as low as 530 Mb RAM usage, and the entire installation uses about 1 Gb less disk space than my Mint or neon installations.

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP

Debbie Downer time. While most of this distro is Ubuntu core and some Mintiness is involved, the forum itself is often down and has very few users. If you can’t get help from other Ubuntu and Mint users, you may have to do a lot of guessing… or just not use things you would rather be using.

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS

For these purposes, this distro might as well be Ubuntu. There are no issues with multibooting, and you can even use the --no-bootloader option in Ubiquity when you install.

 

STABILITY

I have not experienced a single issue with stability. Granted, I don’t usually put distros through heavy use, just web and word processing and spreadsheets. But it’s as stable as Ubuntu, even with the weird desktop, which did not crash once on me.

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation    new user friendly install scores     9/10

experienced Linux users              9/10

Hardware Issues                                                             10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                         6/10

Ease of Use                                                                     9/10

Plays Nice With Others                                                   10/10

Stability                                                                            10/10

 

Overall Rating                                                                   9/10

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT

Just about any *buntu or Mint.

elementary OS

 

FINAL COMMENTS

If you absolutely hate Mac desktops, you’ll hate Pearl. If you love them, you might still notice a few rough spots you’d think they’d have taken care of by the 9th iteration of this distro. But it works, and it’s beautiful (CHANGE THE WALLPAPER), and it’s solid.

 

Tony - DISTRO NAME:     Kubuntu 20.04

 

INSTALLATION

So this months distro was mainly run on the new test laptop my Dell E7440 the specs are as follows:

CPU - Intel Core i7 (4th Gen) 4600U / 2.1 GHz

RAM - 16Gb DDR3 at 1600Mhz

SSD - 2.5” 128Gb

I also did an installation onto my main box which is an old Intel® Core™ i7-3770 CPU @ 3.40GHz with 4 cores and 8 threads, it also has 24Gb of DDR3 Ram and the 2.5” 4 bay IcyDoc. It was one of the HDD/SSD bays on this I used for the install.

 

Installation is a very easy process as with all the Ubuntu family, boot up the iso of a bootable drive. I was using the Ventoy drive when I installed the Tower, but the original install on the Dell was via a bootable Flash drive. The install process from start to finish, including updates took 20 minutes, this is despite telling it to update during the install there are still updates on reboot. I have found this to be an issue on all Ubuntu based distros, that despite telling it to download and install updates during the install it does not seem to do this, and I’m not sure why.    

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES

All ll hardware was recognised completely and on the Dell which I have been using for the last 5 weeks, I have had no hardware issues other than the laptop not being able to recognise the WiFi card after a suspend, unless you manually switch off WiFi from the hardware switch, and turn it back on again. This is a long standing issue going back to at least Ubuntu 16.04.

 

EASE OF USE

No issues here, Kubuntu is very intuitive, and I had no issues finding my way around the OS and Desktop environment. I was able to install all my usual software and get everything working the way I like things. I like the fact that KDE has kept the traditional Desktop layout of a taskbar/Dock at the bottom of the screen and the menu on the left hand side of that, so I did not need to learn where to find everything or reset the taskbar the way I feel comfortable.

 

APPLICATION ISSUES:

Nothing to report here, all my usual software was available and just works out of the box, you have the option of installing some software as Snaps if you want a different version to that available in the package manager. And you can also install Flatpacks by following the instructions on this Blog so the whole application installation world is open to you on Kubuntu.

 

MEMORY USE:

So this is where a few of you may be surprised but on first boot after adding all my usual software the Dell laptop was using around 650Mb of RAM, and even after opening Firefox and several tabs it is still comfortably below 2Gb of RAM usage, the Dell has 16Gb of DDR3 so no issues here. 

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP

This is Ubuntu so there is a wealth of information and help available on the web and in forums on any issues you may come across in regards to Kubuntu, including the Kubuntu community pages where there is a live chat option.

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS

Not tested on this occasion but I would not see this as an issue if it is as smooth as all the *buntus as far as dual booting is concerned.

 

STABILITY

Rock solid, in the 5 weeks or so I have been using it on my laptop (which gets a lot of general use) I have not had any crashes or issues after updates. I was teasing Rocco on BDLL at the weekend as he seems to be able to get KDE to crash at the drop of a hat, but to be honest he uses his PC for far more intensive applications than I do and if I had his set up I may have had some of his issues. But on my hardware and the software setup I have not had any issues.

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation    new user friendly install scores         9/10

experienced Linux users                 10/10

Hardware Issues                                                                 9/10

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

Ease of Use                                                                        10/10

Plays Nice With Others                                                      10/10

Stability                                                                               10/10

 

Overall Rating                                                                     9.5/10

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT

KDE Neon (Moss’s second review)

Netrunner

Debian KDE Spin

Sparky Linux

Q4OS

 

FINAL COMMENTS

If you are a fan of the Ubuntu ecosphere and love the KDE experience this is definitely a distro to check out. It just works. But then again we say this about all the *buntus when we review tham so no surprise there. Seriously if you use software from the QT libraries then it makes sense to use a QT based system and Kubuntu will meet all your needs in that respect. In fact I have heard that Ubuntu Studio is making the move to KDE Plasma from the 20.10 release for this very reason, as much of the software that is used for creative tasks is QT based and are the primary choice for many doing serious photo, video and audio work.    

 

Moss - DISTRO NAME: KDE neon

 

INTRO

We’ve talked around this distro again and again. This is the distro with the poor self-esteem -- the latest LTS Ubuntu topped by the freshest KDE Plasma, done the way the KDE devs would do it, not the Ubuntu community. Calling this “not a distro” is like not talking about the mouse in the room.  While they have not yet started using Ubuntu base from 20.04, they have recently updated to Plasma 5.19, so it is both ahead of and behind Kubuntu.

 

MY HARDWARE

I ran this on a System76 Kudu 3, with 16 Gb RAM and a 256 Gb SSD, with a 6th generation i7 CPU and Intel graphics chipset. Unlike Pearl and the various Ubuntus, neon is still on 18.04 and will not update to 20.04 until the next point release.

 

INSTALLATION 

Installation went smoothly. I booted to the live USB and used the terminal to run ubiquity --no-bootloader and got everything installed as normal. I went back into Linux Mint to run Grub Customizer and got the boot fixed up the way I wanted it.

 

POST INSTALLATION HARDWARE FACTS & ISSUES

I did have one problem. The first time I installed this system, I attempted to add the Studio tools. At about 92% done, in the middle of installing jack.d, it locked up. When I rebooted, it wouldn’t boot, so I had to do a complete reinstallation. After I finished that, I went to AverageLinuxUser.com and followed about half the advice on their article, “10 Things to do after installing KDE neon”. Several of these items I knew to do anyhow, but the information about changing the menus was very helpful, although I only did about the first half of that section. I also installed SoftMaker Office instead of LibreOffice as suggested, but by now you all knew I’d do that. I did not install Studio tools this time, but had no problems with installation.

 

So I tweaked a few things. KDE neon is a very bare-bones system. You have to add the apps you want. You tweak the settings, add your favorite office package, and add a few tools you might like such as Mintstick. After you’re all done, you still have a lighter system than usual, and oh, is it lovely.

 

But I experienced another issue, one I haven’t seen before. For some reason, whether I’m connected via wifi or ethernet, I get a yellow exclamation point stating “Limited Connectivity”. I asked around a bit, and after determining it is using exactly the same kernel as Mint (so that is not the issue), I checked the KDE Community Forums and found others had the same problem, first reported in March 2018, supposedly to be fixed soon in an update.

 

Plasma 5.19 landed in neon on the 9th of June, and it brings mostly bug fixes and stability. I haven’t seen a change in the connection issue yet.

 

EASE OF USE

This is as easy to use as any KDE desktop, or any Ubuntu system. People question why they even did this, as it seems to conflict with Kubuntu. Try it for a while and you’ll know the answer to that. It’s a breeze to use, and they even have Discover doing pretty much everything it was supposed to do out of the box.

 

MEMORY USE:

As installed, I am using 11.6 Gb of disk space. I currently have Firefox with 6 tabs, Stacer, and a text editor open, and I’m using 2.2 Gb RAM. With everything closed, I have seen it drop below 500 Mb.

 

EASE OF FINDING HELP

KDE is everywhere. Ubuntu is everywhere. You know how easy it is to find help: check  UbuntuForums, AskUbuntu, LinuxQuestions, and just about anywhere else including Telegram and Discord groups. The people you contact are quite likely to be friendly and helpful -- and you are not likely to need them.

 

PLAYS NICE WITH OTHERS

This is getting to be a boring section for me. If it doesn’t play nicely, I don’t bother to install it. Suffice it to say that having the option in Ubiquity Installer to not even bother loading GRUB makes it stupidly easy to get running in a multiboot system.

 

STABILITY

No issues.

 

SIMILAR DISTROS TO CHECK OUT

Kubuntu is the obvious first choice

Feren OS

OpenMandriva Lx 4.1

Manjaro KDE

anything else running KDE, especially rolling releases for comparison to the latest Plasma

 

RATINGS:

Ease of Installation    new user                            9/10

experienced user             10/10

Hardware Issues                                                 7/10

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

Ease of Use                                                         10/10

Plays Nice With Others                                        10/10

Stability                                                                 9/10

 

Overall Rating                                                       8/10

 

FINAL COMMENTS

 

The connectivity glitch is really hurting me this time. I’ve been quite happy with neon in the past, but this had me booting to other distros repeatedly. This will be a great distro as soon as they fix that. In the meantime, try Kubuntu or Feren OS.

 

NEW RELEASES THIS MONTH:

from May 11 to June 17

Absolute 20200614

FreeBSD 11.4

CentOS 8.2.2004

Emmabuntus DE3-1,02

Star 3.0.0

4MLinux 33.0

ArcoLinux 20.6.5

KDE neon 20200612

Endless 3.8.3

pfSense 2.4.5-p1

Haiku R1-beta2

Volumio 2.778

AUSTRUMI 4.2.4

SystemRescueCd 6.1.5

OSMC 2020.06-1

NST 32-11992

Runtu 20.04 "Lite"

Archman 2020-06 "i3wm"

SparkyLinux 2020.06

IPFire 2.25-core145

LibreELEC 9.2.3

Devuan GNU+Linux 3.0.0

Greenie Linux 20.04

MX Linux 19.2

Easy OS 2.3

Linux Lite 5.0

Alpine 3.12.0

BlackArch 2020.06.01

Container 2512.3.0

Kodachi 7.0

Redcore 2004

GoboLinux 017

NuTyx 11.5

OpenBSD 6.7

Bluestar 5.6.13

Android-x86 7.1-r4

BackBox 7

Zevenet 5.11

Finnix 120

Kali 2020.2

Q4OS 3.11

Proxmox 6.2 "Virtual Environment"

 

FEEDBACK

We have consistently gotten more than 300 downloads to all our episodes, but we haven’t had one go over 400 since Episode 009. Please talk us up among your friends and online groups.

 

Dale Miracle (Telegram group): How about having an episode talking about everything you've learned from distro hopping. for new people that want to get into it, give them the ins and outs and things to avoid.

 

A comment on the last show from Mike

One distro that will help those of you with frequent booting issues is SuperGrub2; I have a USB stick dedicated to this extremely useful utility.

Usage is simple - boot up with it, then select the distro kernel that you want to boot from. After booting, run grub-install and grub-mkconfig to restore a working grub.

Definitely worth a quick review on DHD!

TIA, Mike 

 

Mike again said.

Sorry for the duplicate post!

I just started listening to episode 12 and heard my hint being mentioned - thanks. As mentioned above, SGD2 allows you to boot the *installed kernel of your choice* for subsequent repair actions.

Mike 

 

Gordon 21st May

I use the stable version Q4OS as my laptop distribution on my home and work laptops as well as the netbook I use for ereading. I've had a really good experience with the distribution. I like the Trinity desktop environment, and the pre-set styles from which to choose. Though I find the distribution quite stable, I have posted to the Q4OS forum when an issue arise. The folks there have been prompt and helpful. I'm glad that Tony had a good experience with the Plasma version. 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

Moss - My work here and at mintCast can be supported by joining my Sponsus https://sponsus.org/u/zaivala or by direct donation through Sponsus or PayPal (zaivalananda@protonmail.ch)! I have one recurring sponsor, many thanks to esskaybeenz for joining up. I am very grateful for all donations which have been or will be received.

 

<Moss>We would like to thank the mintCast crew for our use of their Mumble room. Our next show will be recorded on or about July 15, 2020. Visit our website at https://distrohoppersdigest.blogspot.com and follow us on MeWe, Telegram, and the mintCast Discord groups. You can contact either Tony or me at distrohoppersdigest@gmail.com.

 

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