Ubuntu Remixes: 4 Of The Best Alternatives to Ubuntu –

Our recent article entitled Ubuntu As Intended drew in a fair amount of discussion about the base software and configuration in the default Ubuntu install. Some readers pointed out a few alternatives that aim to take the standard Ubuntu desktop and give it more polish than the original. Some of these projects just include a few extra packages, some replace the standard software suite, and others are complete makeovers. Today we aim to sift through a few of the more popular Ubuntu variants to find the best ones of the bunch, and see what they can offer.

Linux Mint

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Linux Mint is an extremely popular Ubuntu variant, and for good reason. Mint provides several desktop solutions including Gnome, KDE, Fluxbox and XFCE, and what they all have in common is a solid software base with several of Linux’s “trickier” packages already installed. This includes some non-free software so that you have support for MP3, DVD, and Flash right out of the box.

ubunturemixes-linux-mint

Saner Defaults Remix

This is a fairly new project, but it’s beginning to gain a following. The basic idea of the Ubuntu SDR is that the stock Ubuntu is great, but some of the decisions regarding included software may not be ideal. While that is of course subjective, it’s hard to argue with some of the enhancements found in SDR.

ubunturemixes-sdr

Some of the changes you’ll find include:

Empathy IM replaced with PidginMin/Max/Close buttons moved back to the rightEvolution mail replaced with Mozilla ThunderbirdSimple clean blue (Clearlooks) themeGufw firewall included and activated on installAll Mono-based apps removed (includes GThumb for photos and Gnote for notes)Multimedia repos enabled by default

and more

Ubuntu Ultimate Edition

While some (including this author) find the intensity of the color scheme to be a bit jarring, Ultimate Edition does have a bit working for it, and one of those things is speed. Several of the existing applications have been removed in favor of smaller and faster alternatives. Additionally, UE gives you some help with a few of the more legally or technically complicated packages like Flash and DVD support, either by bundling in to the default system or providing install helpers.

ubunturemixes-UUE

Ultimate Edition is clearly the most “home made” of those on the list, but if you’re willing to tolerate or change the visual theme, it can quickly become a useful desktop.

Lubuntu

One common complaint about the normal Ubuntu release is that can sometimes be a bit slow, especially on older computers. Lubuntu aims to solve that by replacing the normal Gnome desktop with LXDE. Gnome apps like Nautilus and Gnome Terminal have been replaced with the liked of PCMan File manager and LXTerminal. The system is also designed to reduce power usage over the standard install, making Lubuntu and excellent choice for laptops.

ubunturemixes-lubuntu

There are certainly several other Ubuntu forks worth checking out, including Super OS, gOS, andwattOS. There’s certainly no shortage of high-quality Ubuntu variants out there, so if you’ve got any others to recommend, let us know in the comments!


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Getting Enlightened with Bodhi Linux –

bodhi-smallIn our recent discussion about Ubuntu Remixes, there were a few names that kept popping up in the comments. One of them was a distro mostly unknown to MTE but immediately of interest, and that’s Bodhi Linux. With an Ubuntu base it’s got a solid core behind it, but the real kicker is the Enlightenment (E17) desktop. Over the last few years many distros have tried to base their desktops around the notoriously unwieldy Enlightenment, and the success rate has been somewhat limited (though Elive is certainly worth a look). Bodhi seems to not only include a usable Enlightenment desktop, but a few extra options when it comes to choosing just how that desktop will look and act.

A Bit About Bodhi

As an Ubuntu spinoff, it’s got the same behind-the-scenes software as your average Ubuntu remix. The two design principles behind Bodhi could be summed up as:

Users should make their own choicesE17 is cool

It doesn’t bundle in hundreds of helper applications, and the things it does include are generally pretty light. This keeps the ISO around 400MB.

Setting Up the Bodhi Desktop

When you boot the live CD, you’ll notice that you’re given a couple extra options on boot. This is part of the first principle mentioned above – there’s not one default Bodhi desktop, there are several, for different needs.

Once you’ve got past the language screen, you’ll choose which style of desktop you’d like.

bodhi-setup

We’ll be going with Desktop Light for the examples here, which looks something like this:

bodhi-lightdesktop

Whereas, for the sake of comparison, the Fancy Dark looks like this:

bodhi-darkfancy

After that you’ll get to an Applications selection screen, but as it’s only got one option (XTerm), it doesn’t take much explanation.

The Quick Launch screen, however is a bit more complicated, as many of the choices are named similarly and give no detailed explanation as to their function. For example, if you wanted to open Nautilus, would you want File Browser, File Management, or File Manager? For the records, File Browser will get the job done.

bodhi-quicklaunch

These applications will be available on a OSX-style dock at the bottom of the screen.

Modules

Much of E17′s functionality is contained in modules. Modules can be controlled from the Module Settings screen (Main Menu -> Settings -> Modules) and control nearly all the interactive aspects of your desktop. The taskbar, desktop monitor, clocks and even the main menu itself are all modules.

bodhi-modulesettings

Some aspects of E17′s modules can be a bit confusing (such as remembering the difference between and iBox and an iBar) but they all have a purpose. Remember that many modules can exist independently on the desktop as well as from within other modules (like the iBar).

To create a new dock-type launcher bar, for example, you’d open the main menu by left clicking the desktop. From there you’d go to Desktop -> Shelves -> Add a Shelf. Your new shelf will show up on your desktop, where you can right-click it to view it settings and change the contents.

This modular, layered approach leaves Enlightenment open to nearly unlimited flexibility, but can often cause confusion and frustration when trying to get used to the system.

Conclusion

It’s hard to separate Bodhi as a distro from Enlightenment, its defining characteristic. Ubuntu is clearly a quality base to build on, and E17 has been improving for a (very, very) long time now. Along with Elive, Bodhi seems to be one of the few E17-based distros able to make a thoroughly useable system. While there are a few rough spots here and there, Bodhi seems worth while. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to master Enlightenment (pun intended), this might the the distro for you.


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iPad Lookalike Dual-Boots Ubuntu and Windows

Hard on the heels of the news earlier this month that Taiwanese firm Tenq has an Ubuntu-powered tablet on the way comes word of yet another iPad challenger running Canonical’s popular Linux distribution.

It’s a dual-booting machine, this time–running both Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7–and it’s reportedly even closer to being an iPad twin.

Featuring a 9.7-inch screen, the new device is reportedly much thinner than the Tenq machine is, according to a Friday report on Giz-China. It also features a dual-core, 1.6GHz Atom Z530 CPU, 1GB RAM–expandable to 2GB–and an SSD hard drive, reportedly 16GB on the model Giz-China spotted

Compared with Tenq’s P07, the new tablet is “based on a design more similar to an iPad,” the publication reported.

Shenzhen Ruixin is the manufacturer of the device, Chinese Newpad noted on Thursday. Newpad also features a number of photos of the new tablet.

The Dual-Booting Trend

It’s not yet certain whether this dual-booting device will make it to market, of course, as Giz-China points out. What is becoming increasingly certain, however, is the growing interest among tablet makers in the free and open source Ubuntu operating system.

In addition to these two latest tablets, we also saw last fall Augen’s dual-booting Gentouch Espresso Doppio, which takes a different approach by dual-booting two Linux-based operating systems: Android 2.2 and Ubuntu.

Dual-booting, I believe, is a growing trend for 2011, and will be seen on an increasing number of devices this year.

A Natural on Tablets

But while Windows has been slow to adapt to ARM and the era of tablets, Linux-based Android has been on the forefront, posing the first real competition to Apple’s market-leading iPad.

Now, it’s particularly exciting to see Ubuntu stepping up as another mobile-friendly and Linux-based alternative. With its open source nature, its low resources requirements and its free price, Ubuntu may just prove to be the next tablet winner.


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Install LibreOffice 3.3 on Ubuntu using PPA

LibreOffice the forked open source suit emerging from Open Office is now available in Launch pad PPA. The current version of LibreOffice 3.3 RC 2 can now be installed using a PPA on Ubuntu.

A Word of Caution: Installing LibreOffice will lead to complete removal of Open Office. So if you are using Open Office and want to keep it then this method is not suitable.

Install using the terminal:

[sourcecode lang='bash']sudo apt-get purge openoffice*.*
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libreoffice[/sourcecode]
Also, install the following packages for better compatibility with your desktop environment.

For GNOME

[sourcecode lang='bash']sudo apt-get install libreoffice-gnome[/sourcecode]

For KDE

[sourcecode lang='bash']sudo apt-get install libreoffice-kde[/sourcecode]

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