This is the second of a handful of long-term reviews I will be doing this summer. The initial subject of this was the 64-bit edition of #! 11 “Waldorf”, so follow the jump to see how that turned out.
I was able to install and run Mozilla Firefox (and not just Iceweasel), LibreOffice, Skype, Google Talk, Mupen64Plus 1.5, and Redshift all fine on the live session (through a live USB made with MultiSystem) on my laptop. That said, installing the Debian menu to get an automatically-updating Openbox menu did not work, in that while the Debian menu did show all the installed programs, it did not automatically update itself to reflect newly installed applications.
I quickly checked stuff out on the live session on the office desktop just to make sure things worked OK. I couldn’t find a shortcut to the installer in the live session, so I rebooted and picked the boot menu option to install #!. The #! installer reminds me of a combination of the Debian installer and the Debian-based Linux Mint installer, and it seemed pretty nice. That said, when it came to actually loading and installing packages, the installer kept looking for a CD and couldn’t find any because I was using a live USB. Looking at the #! forums, it seemed like this was a problem with live USB systems made with UnetBootin, and while I had used MultiSystem instead, I suspected that they make live USB systems in similar ways.
I then tried the “dd” command to write the full ISO file to the USB drive. While once again the live session worked fine, the installer again got stuck regarding how I was using a USB drive rather than a CD. I figured that was not the problem, so I reformatted my USB drive and put MultiSystem with the #! live image back on it; this also allows me to conduct my usual reviews again in my usual fashion.
I saw some forum posts about how the live session file system has a folder called “sid” which needs to be renamed “wheezy”, so I did that from the installed Chakra session (which had not yet been touched) and tried again. Just to be sure, when rebooting into the #! installer, I also added the boot parameter “cdrom-detect/try-usb=true” to the commands in the boot menu entry. This time, the installer did progress and was able to properly format appropriate partitions of the hard drive in the office desktop and install #! properly. That said, it had trouble configuring APT and could not install GRUB. I rebooted into the live #! session and followed steps in the forums to properly configure APT and install/configure GRUB through the “chroot” command. Finally, I rebooted back into the newly-installed #! system and performed the final required steps as outlined in that same forum post, and after all that song and dance, GRUB worked. Then, I hit a brick wall in the form of the login manager SLiM. I mean, it seemed to say my username and password were fine, but it could not execute the command to actually log me in.
Here, I again turned to the forums for help. Apparently it’s a known problem with this prerelease of #! 11 “Waldorf”. There were a few possible solutions, but all of them, including purging the system of SLiM and then reinstalling it, failed to fix the issue. Finally, I gave up and tried logging in as the root user, and that actually worked. That said, I was greeted not by the nice customized #! Openbox session but by a completely bare (no Tint2 panel, no custom themes, no wallpaper, no custom Openbox menu except for the submenu containing the Debian menu) Openbox session. Granted, I was able to use all of my programs just fine, but it was extremely cumbersome having to manage windows manually (i.e. using ‘ALT’+'TAB’ all the time to switch windows).
More related to my work, none of the issues that I had with SSH and X/11 in Chakra appeared in #!. I didn’t need to quit and restart SSH just to use Gedit consecutive times. I was able to copy text from Gedit in the SSH session to LibreOffice in the host session. And logging in was very fast, as it should be.
To be honest, given that there appears to be no solution to me not being able to log in as a normal user, I don’t think I’m going to go any farther with #!. It apparently just isn’t ready for my desktop. That’s fine, though, because it’s a year away from achieving a final, stable release. Frankly, I was shocked that even the live session worked as well as it did. That said, I would like to see the #! developers put a little more time into making the ISO files play nicely with USB drives, because even the recommended “dd” method seems rather hit-or-miss. In any case, I’m going to switch to a different distribution to review. I’m thinking Fuduntu if it works out, because I’m putting out a (regular) review of that today; if it doesn’t, it’ll be Sabayon, SolusOS, Kubuntu, or something else. Whatever it ends up being will be reflected in the final title of this post.
Before getting to what I actually did install to replace #!, I’ll briefly discuss what I tried out before that. First, I tried Fuduntu 2012.3. I am still attracted to the fact that it uses GNOME 2. Things like Mozilla Firefox, Skype, Google Talk, and Mupen64Plus 1.5 all installed fine, as did the Linux Mint Menu. All of those worked fine except for Mupen64Plus, which, when closed, caused the whole system to freeze. Furthermore, I had encountered another random crash before that too, and that caused menu items and open programs to stop working as well as panel applets to disappear one by one. Finally, neither F.lux nor Redshift worked properly. The two major crashes combined with that minor hiccup mean that I’m not going to use Fuduntu.
Next, I tried the 64-bit edition of Sabayon 9 KDE (where previously I had reviewed the 32-bit edition). Mozilla Firefox, Skype, Google Talk, codecs, and Mupen64Plus 1.5 all worked great, which would basically make it workable on my personal laptop. However, using SSH to access the computing cluster for my UROP did not work for whatever reason; issuing the command caused the terminal to just hang there. This makes it totally unsuitable for my office desktop; also, for future reviews, I’ll probably add using SSH to log into my account on that computing cluster to the things I test.
At this point, I was getting a bit desperate for a replacement for #!, so on the advice of commenter Jagdeesh Deshpande (and also because I had the ISO file still on my computer), I made a live USB of the 64-bit edition of Kubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin” with UnetBootin. Before using it on my office desktop, I gave the live session another run on my personal laptop. While Mozilla Firefox and Google Talk worked, codecs did not, and neither did any attempt to install them in the live session. Furthermore, installing the 64-bit edition of Skype failed miserably despite following instructions elsewhere to install the requisite 32-bit libraries and other dependencies, because some packages simply weren’t present as listed in the repositories. Maybe this is because additional repositories enabled in the installed session are disabled in the live session, but unless I really messed up somewhere (which is probably the case), the required repositories were already enabled anyway, yet the packages just weren’t there. Also, Mupen64Plus 1.5 did not fully work because of the lack of two key packages; starting it worked, but I could not configure the input settings, which is the biggest reason why I stick with version 1.5. While this meant that I probably won’t be using Kubuntu on my laptop anytime soon, I went ahead and installed it on the office desktop. The installation itself took a couple minutes, but because I had also told the installer to download proprietary packages and apply some updates, the whole process took longer. After all of that, I rebooted and used “sudo apt-get update” followed by “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” in the terminal to upgrade the system. (Also, GRUB and everything else worked just fine.)
After rebooting again to allow kernel updates to take effect, I customized the desktop in exactly the same way that I did to Chakra, including the KDE Lancelot menu, the Plasma theme (Ronak, which is the default in Chakra), the shortcuts on the panel, and the widgets on the desktop. I also set the keyboard shortcuts for switching workspaces, assigned applications to different workspaces, and made windows of the same parent application automatically tab together, as I did in Chakra.
After that, I installed Mozilla Firefox using the given menu entry. Strangely, there was another dummy menu entry for Mozilla Firefox that did not work. But even more weirdly (in a very good way), Mozilla Firefox came with exactly the same customizations as I had done in Chakra. This really weirded me out, but I was quite happy nonetheless.
Following that, I installed Redshift and its accompanying GTK-based panel icon (the latter of which was not available in Chakra but is available in Ubuntu and its siblings). Even more weirdly, when I went to the KDE System Settings program to add it to the list of programs to start upon startup, it was already there (though I had to change “redshift” to “gtk-redshift” to get it to display in the panel). The only conclusion I can draw from this is that these customizations that I made in Chakra were saved in my home folder, and those were carried over because I only changed the root partition when installing Kubuntu and left the home partition intact. This also explains why Mozilla Firefox was already customized to my tastes and why there may have been another dummy menu entry for Mozilla Firefox. I guess from now on, I’m going to try to make a separate home partition unless space constraints prevent that from happening.
Regarding my UROP, SSH again worked just fine. GUI applications like Gedit were not at all problematic, and I was able to copy text from Gedit through SSH to other applications on the host session like LibreOffice Calc.
Overall, Kubuntu seems quite smooth and workable. Again, it probably won’t fit my personal needs, but it seems to fit my (rather minimal) work needs quite well, and I like the way it has worked so far.
Read Full Review at Source Web Site: dasublogbyprashanth.blogspot.ca