Fuduntu Linux 2012.4

Over the last few weeks a lot has been going on in Linux-land! New releases of Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Edubuntu (did I miss any?), as well as the Release Candidtate of Linux Mint 14 last week with the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments. Also there were a whole bunch more new releases of distros like Pear OS 6, Zorin Core 6.1, Luninux Beta 2, and the first Beta version of Elementary OS 2, Luna, among numerous others. It’s enough to make any Linux-lover’s head spin! 

Of course because I can’t leave well enough alone, I’ve been trying out some of these new versions of familiar old distros and newer ones as well; ever in search of that next elusivePerfect Operating System’. And because it’s just plain fun, seeing how distros change and try out new features and desktop environments and different ways of doing things. The Open Source world is continually improving, experimenting and transforming itself, and that’s exciting!

So in the past five weeks I’ve installed the new Xubuntu 12.10 on the kitchen laptop, and it looks and works beautifully. Not a lot of changes since the 12.04 version, but the panel is more configurable now, the weather applet has seen some enhancements, and numerous other little changes. But it just feels nice. I love Xfce! I’ve also extensively tried out the RC of Mint 14 (Nadia) with Cinnamon. I also gave the MATE edition a spin, but keep leaning toward the future and the Gnome 3-based Cinnamon. The Cinnamon DE continues to develop and mature, and the ease of use and stability of Linux Mint makes it one of my top three favorite distros.

All this leads me to my topic for today; another distro that I’ve heard about for a while and tried out from a Live CD – Fuduntu. New version 2012.4 just came out, and with it a lot of changes from the previous release. (See HERE for more details). Fuduntu is based on Fedora, but has an aesthetic look and feel (and non-free software pre-installed) like Ubuntu, hence the funny name (though personally I think Feduntu would have been a better choice)! It uses Gnome 2 instead of the Unity interface, which many old-school Linux users will find more familiar and user-friendly.

Fuduntu until recently was fully compatible with the Fedora software repositories, but now it has become it’s own distro with it’s own repositories, as well as being a rolling release. On the Fuduntu website I read that you can also enable Fedora repositories, but doing so may cause conflicts with Fuduntu, so I have left the default settings. In the past I was never that impressed with Fuduntu; but after reading about the new Fuduntu I decided to download and try out the Live DVD of 2012.4. And wow, was I pleasantly surprised!

The first thing I noticed was that some nice Compiz effects were active by default. I had wobbly windows again! Dialogue boxes, windows and opened applications faded in and out like ghosts; and all using the included open source drivers without having to install the Nvidia driver for my system. How cool! The desktop has a crisp, clean look, with a pre-installed AWN dock at the bottom and a configurable Gnome 2 panel on top. It comes with a nice assortment of themes and desktop backgrounds. And everything was quite perky, even running from the DVD.

In fact the more I played around with Fuduntu, the more I enjoyed this simple yet stylish OS. I had a little trepidation since Fedora/Fuduntu uses RPM packages for software installation instead of Debian/dpkg, as I’m used to in Ubuntu-based distros. (More on Linux Package Management HERE and HERE). So doing things in the Command Line (Terminal) are a little different, too. But as I did more research, I thought this might not be such a big problem. Learning new things is fun, right!?

I checked around the Fuduntu forums, which are pretty well-populated and friendly. And I tried out the Software Management program in Fuduntu, which has about 95% of all the applications I might ever need. SO, I finally decided to install Fuduntu on the kid’s desktop computer and really see what this was all about!

To make a long story short – The installation was a breeze (very quick, as a matter of fact) and after five days of using Fuduntu I really love it. I’ve had zero problems; found an RPM to install my beloved Radiotray, which was one app I use a lot that was not in the Fuduntu repositories; and I can’t find anything not to like about this distro. It runs very quick on this Pentium 4 machine. Everything, as they say, just works out of the box!

To finish – here is a handy site to search for elusive RPM packages

…And a very nice review of Fuduntu HERE.


Linux Apps and Icons and Themes, Oh My!

I’m here today to share a few more Linux applications that I find particularly useful, plus a GTK theme and an Icon Theme that I’ve recently become very fond of.

First up is a really easy to use and useful little app called ClipGrab. It’s a free downloader and converter for YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many other online video sites. It works a lot like some video download extensions for Firefox, but it’s a standalone application that I think is a little easier to use and has more functionality. It lets you download and convert on-line video to many different formats, and is dead simple to use. When you start the application, ClipGrab will automatically inform you when there is a downloadable video URL in your clipboard and it starts to work by just clicking on the notification. Or just highlight a video URL, and ‘Ctrl+C’ to start the download. And it also has a web search functionality and many different settings. The website has more info and screenshots.

Another application I’ve been using for a few years now on several Linux distros is Radio Tray. This little app lives in your panel and is a wonderfully quick and easy way to listen to internet radio streams. It’s easy to configure and plays shoutcast radio streams as well as many other playlist formats. Check out the home page. This is one of my must-have applications! It does one thing and does it very well. And it also just happens to come pre-installed in Voyager Linux.

I’ve been using a groovy little calendar application for quite a while that  I’d also like to share with you. It’s cross-platform (works on Linux, Mac and Windows) and I’ve found it to be the perfect calendar/to-do application that sits on my computer desktop. It’s called ‘Rainlendar‘, and I discovered it on one of my Linux forums.You can drag it around and put it anywhere on your desktop, and keep abreast of appointments and such at a glance. Rainlendar has many features and is highly configurable to show monthly, weekly or daily activities. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. But check out the website, where you’ll find everything you need to know.

There is a completely free version to download, or a more advanced paid version for a minimal price. I, of course, am using the free version of Rainlendar and it does everything I need at the moment. I’ve quickly become quite fond of this app. I hope you’ll find it useful as well.

Another well-known full-fledged media player app that I’d also like to suggest is good ‘ole Banshee. It’s been around for a while; and years ago I didn’t care for it much. I used to prefer Rhythmbox, but today Banshee has an interface that is usefull and that I can comprehend; it has all the functionality I need and more; and it hasn’t given me any problems in a long, long time. And it’s easy to burn music CDs using Brasero. You just need to select songs from a playlist, then right-click and go to ‘Write CD’ and Brasero automatically opens. I like programs that are useful and just work!

And to finish up today I wanted to recommend a lovely new icon theme I recently discovered. It’s called Nitrux and it resembles a slightly more streamlined/modern take on the very popular Faenza icons. There are a few variations of Nitrux; the one I’m using in this screenshot have the slightly rounded button edges.

I’m a big fan of dark themes. Sometimes I like to switch to a lighter one, but I guess my aging eyes just find the lower contrast/brightness of dark themes easier for lengthy viewing. And the Xfce theme I’m currently using is called Plasma Shock. It also can switch between different hightight colors. Some dark themes seem too washed out to me, or have problems with print and background contrast; but this theme seems just right for me.

Those are my humble recommendations for today. Very soon I’d like to talk about the new version of Bodhi Linux; a very nicely done distro that uses the Enlightenment Desktop Environment.