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Zenwalk 8 Beta Led Me Down a Rocky Road
February 1, 2016
Zenwalk is a Linux distro that seems to be in a state of flux. I took a gamble with the Zenwalk 8.0 beta edition, released last month, after several colleagues raved about its improvements. Chalk that up to potentially bad advice. It's not that Zenwalk is a bad distro. It is an uncooperative and strange experience. A lot can be said about not having to struggle with a problematic OS version.
Fast Times With Nelum OS
January 26, 2016
Nelum OS is a light and fast live-installable Linux distribution family offering three separate releases. The distro is a brand-new entry to the land of Linux, with its initial release posted earlier this month. It is an unusual twist on what you usually see with a Linux release. For example, the virtual desktops can be changed simply by scrolling the mouse wheel or finger scrolling the touchpad.
Deepin Takes Linux to New Depths
January 18, 2016
The latest release of the Linux distro now called "Depth OS" deserves serious consideration. It is fast, reliable and innovative, with an impressive homegrown desktop design dubbed "Deepin Desktop Environment." Depth OS has a bit of an identity problem. The open source community that developed the distro seems to have a difficult time deciding what to call it.
Solus Project's Virtues Begin and End With Stability
January 11, 2016
The Solus Project is much like the little engine that still can't function. Version 1.0 was released last month as the first stable release from the twice-revamped Linux distro. Solus is built from scratch for the x86_64 architecture around a rewritten Budgie homemade desktop environment. Budgie offers a simplified approach to implementing the look and feel of older-style GNOME 2 functionality.
Elementary OS' Freya Dumbs Down Linux
January 6, 2016
The release last month of Elementary OS Freya version 0.3.2 showed little has changed in this new-style Linux distro that wraps its own lightweight desktop design around the Ubuntu core. I liked the beta release's fresh look and simplified approach to desktop management. However, my hopes for more features and a faster-evolving desktop environment in the latest release went unfulfilled.
Hats Off to Chapeau Linux's Better Fedora Concept
January 4, 2016
The Chapeau project's latest version arrived last month and is a good choice for enterprise users who want something a step above the traditional Fedora distro. An iconic Linux distro, Fedora is a very popular choice in enterprise shops, but it's less than ideal for home and SMB use without an IT staff to make it work. That is where Chapeau 23 comes to the rescue.
Linux Mint Upgrade Sparkles
December 17, 2015
Linux Mint upgrade to version 17.3 Rosa is one upgrade regular users do not want to skip. This latest release in downloadable ISO format, available in the MATE and Cinnamon desktop editions, hit servers earlier this month. Several days later, the upgrade was available from within the package management repository for existing Linux Mint users. That eliminates the need for a clean installation.
GeckoLinux: This Baby Knows What It's Doing
December 11, 2015
GeckoLinux is a custom spin of the openSuse project. It offers an impressive variety of options and easier operation than typical Suse-based Linux distros provide. GeckoLinux is a newcomer. I mean very new. Its first release was last week. You shouldn't view this distro as a wailing infant, however. It's based on openSuse Leap 42.1 and was leapfrogged into near-instant maturity from Suse Studio.
Hot New BunsenLabs Linux Eases Pain of CrunchBang Loss
December 7, 2015
BunsenLabs Linux does a bang-up job of picking up where CrunchBang Linux left off. Developer Philip Newborough retired the popular minimalist distro earlier this year. In a world of feature-packed operating systems and bloated Linux distros, he felt his CrunchBang alternative served no further purpose. BunsenLabs is one of three CrunchBang replacements that mimic the lightweight but functional OS.
Sluggish Download and Install Subtract From Netrunner's Pluses
December 3, 2015
The Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 version is a disappointing release. It seems sluggish and unimpressive right from the start. Linux Picks and Pans last reviewed Netrunner in 2013 and gave it five stars. This was the standard Netrunner edition built upon Kubuntu, Ubuntu's KDE desktop version. The Netrunner Rolling edition, released in 2014, is based on packages from the Manjaro distribution.
Vinux Enhances Productivity for Visually Impaired Users
November 23, 2015
Vinux 5.0 is a striking example of the flexibility and usability of the Linux OS. Vinux is a fully functional Linux distro that caters to blind and partially sighted users. It's based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr 14.04.3 LTS and gives users support through 2019. The latest version was released earlier this month. It greatly improves on the usability features of other Linux distributions.
Ubuntu Studio Is a Treasure Trove for Creative Types
November 17, 2015
Ubuntu Studio 15.10 is a one-stop Linux OS shop for most creative people. It bundles a nearly full range of multimedia content-creation applications for workflows involving audio, graphics, video, photography and publishing. The developers describe this distro as a multimedia content-creation hub for all five creative workflows. The last element -- publishing -- is the weakest link.
Purism's Librem 13 Linux Laptop Is Sleek, Private and Secure
November 12, 2015
The combination of custom-made hardware paired with a tweaked Linux OS makes the Librem laptop lineup a unique offering with several innovative security features not offered in any other computer. The Librem line is a work in progress. The operating system just reached version 2.0 and comes preinstalled on the hardware built with the modified Linux kernel in mind.
GALPon MiniNo Makes Kid-Friendly Lightweight Linux
November 4, 2015
GALPon MiniNo is one of the strangest and most distinctive Linux distros to grace the Linux Picks and Pans computer screens. Those two traits make it an almost ideal option for anyone looking for a reliable operating system for youngsters and educational facilities that cater to early education students. PicarOS Diego 2015 is the latest in the GALPon MiniNo family of Linux products.
BackBox Takes Its Security Tools Seriously
October 30, 2015
BackBox Linux 4.4 is a great Linux distro for IT and other techies who want to do their own penetration tests and security assessments. The latest version, released this month, is an Ubuntu 14.04.3-based distribution that's speedy and simple to use. It's a fully functional Linux distro that comes well stocked with standard software and runs a desktop environment based on the Xfce window manager.
Plasma 5 Powers KaOS Productivity
October 27, 2015
KaOS is an efficient Linux distribution built around a refined KDE desktop environment that just keeps getting better. The KDE integration is more controlled than other Linux choices. I reviewed this distro last year, and I was impressed then with the solid performance of KaOS. The latest version takes it a step further, adding a calming, cleaner look and feel to the user interface.
MuseScore Can Turn Songwriters Into Maestros
October 23, 2015
MuseScore is a complete tool to help musicians and songwriters write musical scores, play them back and print the sheet music. It is available in a variety of Linux distro packages and comes in versions for Windows and OS X. It is fully open source software licensed under GNU GPL. The user interface is similar to a word processor or text editor for entering notes on a blank score sheet.
Liquid Lemur Linux Floats Fluid Desktop Design
October 20, 2015
Liquid Lemur offers a new twist on the usual Linux desktop environment experience. Developer Edward Snyder recently released the second alpha version of Liquid Lemur Linux 2.0. It offers a hybrid desktop experience that combines the Window Maker window manager with elements of the Xfce desktop. Liquid Lemur has been around for a few years, but it has gone through several directional changes.
Mate Makes Robolinux Raptor Soar
October 14, 2015
Robolinux Mate Raptor v8.1 is a stunningly gorgeous and well-tuned operating system that soars with unmatched functionality. This release of the Robolinux line runs the newest iteration of the Gnome 2 fork desktop Mate. It is fast and slick. The integration of Mate as a modern desktop environment is growing on me -- especially the way it's paired with the really cool features in Robolinux.
Slackel Linux: Not Your Father's Slackware
October 6, 2015
Slackel is a Linux distro a step away from the mainstream Debian-based Linux OS line. It is based on Slackware and Salix. Users already familiar with that lineage are more inclined to like Slackel. Slackel offers a few advantages not usually found with the Slackware Linux lineup. The main difference is that its repository includes the current version of Slackware and the latest version of KDE.
VectorLinux Light Has That Old-School Linux Feeling
September 29, 2015
VectorLinux 7.1 Light Edition targets fans of the IceWM desktop environment who own older computers. VectorLinux released its latest light edition this summer. What makes it new compared with previous editions is the shift to the lightweight IceWM. Yes, IceWM is very old school. Still, it is a handy and functional alternative that serves legacy computers well.
LibreOffice 5.0 Is the Office Suite Champ
September 25, 2015
LibreOffice 5.0, The Document Foundation's latest open source office suite, deserves to top the list of contenders for best performance in this category. The foundation last month released LibreOffice 5.0 for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. It is the 10th major release since the launch of the project, and the first in the third development cycle. The release coincides with the rollout of Windows 10.
ExTiX LXQt Breathes New Life Into Weak Hardware
September 17, 2015
The latest release of ExTiX offers a new spin on an old desktop environment and exhibits a passion for speed and ease of use. ExTiX 15.3, a fusion of the LXDE and Razor-qt desktop environments, has the economy of working in the LXQt desktop environment. LXQt is lightweight, modular, very fast and user-friendly. It is based on the popular LXDE -- that is, Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.
New Android-x86 Release Peppered With Problems
August 31, 2015
The latest Android-x86 Project release takes us one step closer to using the Android OS on a desktop or laptop computer -- but the project suffers from stability and reliability issues. If you want one Linux-based OS to run on all of your devices, Android-x86 could become a viable alternative. The major advantage would be keeping all of your settings, apps and Google services on an equal footing.
Nothing Could Be Finer Than Point Linux
August 20, 2015
Point Linux 3.0, dubbed "Agni," combines a solid operating system with a traditional no-frills approach to performance and reliability. In several ways, Point Linux belies the criticisms of Linux desktop newcomers who find that Linux not simple and straightforward to use. Point Linux is easy to install. It has a clear interface. Everything works out of the box.
MyNotex Is an Almost Perfect Note Taker and Task Manager
August 7, 2015
MyNotex is one application I keep revisiting for my note-taking and project management tasks. Italian Developer Massimo Nardello releases one major update per year. MyNotex keeps getting better and better. Version 1.3.1, was released in June. Nardello took what was a near-perfect locally stored note-taking program and made it better than using cloud-based services such as Evernote, Box or Dropbox.
The New Solus: Putting the Pieces Together Again
July 22, 2015
The Solus Project is a rebranded and rereleased Linux distro trying to regain its former popularity. In a field of Linux distributions cluttered with look-alike offerings, Solus brings something simple and something new. Solus has impressive potential for being uncomplicated and different. Based in the UK, the Solus Project is the latest iteration of SolusOS, which morphed into Evolve OS.
Mangaka Is an Artful Blend of Simplicity and Style
July 13, 2015
Mangaka is a not-so-traditional Linux distro with a gorgeous look. After gaining some traction among fans of the manga and anime communities, Mangaka fell dormant in December 2009. Developer Animesoft International regrouped, and the latest Release Candidate version came out on June 20. The Mangaka Project -- the name means "love" in Japanese -- started out with the code name of "AngelOS."
Makulu 9 Aero Soars Above the Linux Distro Crowd
June 26, 2015
The special release of Makulu 9 Aero edition might seem like one flexible Linux offering too many. However, anyone hankering for a Windows-like operating system and the best of what is easy about using Linux could not make a better choice. The Linux OS is notorious for its great variety of distros. Linux is also infamous for having far too many choices.
Antergos Linux Lowers the Arch Barrier
June 18, 2015
Antergos is an Arch-based Linux distribution that offers six desktop choices. This is a distro that Linux tinkerers might well embrace, but it comes with a few more stumbling blocks than other Linux options, which could make it a less welcome alternative. Its developers created a cute logo that espouses the notion that Antergos is a distro "for everyone." In some ways, that is true.
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