ArtistX Linux 0.7 – An Ubuntu Alternative – Review & Screenshots

ArtistX 0.7 http://www.artistx.org/site2/

ArtistX is touted as a “free multimedia live Gnu/Linux distribution for audio, 2D and 3D graphics and video”.  It’s based on Ubuntu (Intrepid 8.10) with Gnome and KDE desktops and featured literally 2,500 software packages in the media, graphics, and video space.  In fact, ArtistX claims to have included all currently available Linux software in the multimedia space, and therefore can turn your computer into a full multimedia production studio.

When I read the blurb from their website, my initial reaction was, why not just stick with Ubuntu and toss in whatever apps from their distro looked interesting.  For starters,  how much time would it take you to carefully select and add 2,500 new apps (many that are not available on the Ubuntu repositories)?  There is an amazing number of useful tools all packaged up nicely here into one distro.  Have a look at the gallery below to see the screenshots of the menu categories.

Here’s the main desktop.

Artisitx Desktop

Pleasant, neat, very Gnome…  The desktop background is a bit too much in my opinion, but we get the idea of what they are trying to accomplish.   ArtistX has a KDE desktop as well, but the real action here is in the multimedia packages.

Live DVD

The download is about 3.3 GB, which I decided to take from the Torrent listed on their website.  The iso file download is then burned to a DVD, and voila, you have a Live DVD to either run ArtistX or install to your USB drive without ever touching your hard drive.

Is ArtistX the Uber Linux?

The menu structure is very pleasant, and well organized.  It’s actually easier to use than Ubuntu.  Considering the large number of applications to choose from, you can see that they gave a lot of thought as to how to display them and make it easy to access all your favorite (and never seen before) tools.

This distro really has a lot of good things going on.  ArtistX is based on Ubuntu (which itself is based on Debian), so you know you’re starting with a solid base.  The polish of the site is evident.  Likewise, they have compiled an enormous amount of software tools into one flavor of Linux.  It would take many days (and weeks) to go through all of the thousands of tools included in ArtistX.

Despite their ‘calling card’, ArtistX is not just about an enormous number of graphical and multimedia tools.  Have a look at the Games and Education section.  It looks like they tossed in Edubuntu as well.  There’s also about 50 internet tools, 30 office tools, 40 programming tools, and needless to say, a seemingly unending number of graphics, sound, and media tools.

Conclusion

ArtistX is still in the early stages and may not be your workhorse desktop distro just yet (they are still on v.0.70), but there’s a great potential here.  If you are interested in using Linux as your multimedia workstation, then you’ll definitely want to give it a try.  The only question that I have is, what can they add for the next release, since everything is already included!

20 Free KDE Linux Arcade & Board Games Reviews

Linux Games Quick Reviews

Here’s another instalment in our huge list of great free games broken out by category that you can install and enjoy on your Linux desktop.  We tested these on Slackware on a KDE desktop, but they should work on Gnome and other distros as well.  To install them, simply go to your package manager and add any or all of them to your desktop.  There’s so much free stuff out there for us to enjoy!  No bloodshed or violence here…

Arcade Games

KGoldrunner
kgoldrunner screenshot

KGoldrunner is a great maze game. It has hundreds of levels where pieces of gold must be collected, with enemies in hot pursuit.   This is the type of game we used to plunk a hunk of quarters next to the coin slot and play all day.

Kbounce
kbounce02

KBounce is a single player arcade game. It reminds me of Breakout, in a more intelligent form.  The field is surrounded by a wall, with balls that move about in the field bouncing off of the walls. The player can build new walls, etc…  I was a bit frustrated while playing, that’s probably a good thing.

Kfouleggs
kfouleggs screenshot

Kfouleggs is a Tetris type adaptation of the Japanese game Puyo-Puyo.  It includes multi-player action too.  Simple and fun.

Kolf
kolf screenshot
Kolf is a miniature golf game with top down view with a large number of golf courses.

ksnakerace | ksnake
Snakerace screenshot

Your snake eats apples and tries to avoid the obstacles.  Comes with 25 levels.

kspaceduel

kspaceduel screenshot

kspaceduel is one of those ‘shoot em up in outer space’ type of games.  Simple but effective.

kasteroids

KAsteroids_2.3

The name says it all.  How much money did you spend as a kid playing asteroids at the arcade?  This is fun and nostalgic too.

ksirtet

ksirtet
How do you avoid copyright issues when you want to make a game like Tetris? You spell Tetris backwards.  Seriously though, ksirtet is a great implementation of Tetris with multiple players, world-wide scores, etc…

ksmiletris

ksmiletris

Another adaptation of Tetris.  It works on Debian/Slackware with KDE3. We haven’t tested this on KDE4.

ktron

ktron

Remember when Tron was sci-fi?  We used to wonder what the future would be like and Tron was our vision?  The 1980s movie helped hype the game, or was it the other way around?  Either way, it’s nostalgic.

Board Games

These board games are all great uses of ‘unused’ time.  If you are at the airport waiting for your next flight, sink into these guys and the time will fly by.

kenolaba

kenolaba

This game requires two players.  This is the Linux version of Abalone.   The object is to push 6 of your opposing player’s marbles off the board.  Abalone was voted the most popular board game in Europe.   Get yuor neighbor on a long haul flight to be your opponent, and before you know it you’ll be landing in London…

kbackgammon

kbackgammon

Backgammon on Linux.  Forever fun.

kblackbox

kblackbox

This is a hide and seek shoot em up game.  Kind of mixes up the metaphors, looks like strategy but with an arcade element.

xboard

xboard

Chess anyone?  This version comes with a timer, so you can pretend you are on a park bench in some inner city playing against your opponent for money and hitting the time box each time you move.  Play against a human or the computer.

eboard

eboard

Chess with an extensible board and designer kit.  Very pretty too.

kmahjongg

KMahjongg

Mahjongg is one of those games that once you get started you can’t stop.  I go through phases where it’s the only game i’ll play for a few weeks.  This is a nice version with all the extras you’d expect to pay for, only on Linux it’s free 🙂

Atlantik

Atlantik
Monopoly anyone? This game comes with a separate designer pack in case you fancy making your own version.  I am simply amazed at how great Linux is and the developing community that produces wonderful fun and entertainment.  Atlantik is a great game to show your kids and get them interested in the ‘programming’ process of creating their Monopoly environment, or just to play with the preset board.

shisen-sho

shisensho
You think it’s going to be another mahjongg game, bit it isn’t. Hey, when non-English speakers look at Western board games, they must think Risk and Stratego are the same thing too?  I really don’t get this game, but I’m sure that Linux users in the East are having lots of fun with it.

KFourInLine

kfourinline screenshot

Here’s the kids favorite Connect 4.  Actually this version is simply gorgeous.  It has the eye-candy and it’s a great game too.

Kreversi

kreversi-kde3

Othello for the rest of us.  Here’s another great game to play when you have time on your hands. Why fuss with setting up the pieces when you can play on the computer and restart just like that?

These games are all a lot of fun and sure to keep you and your kids busy, but wait, there’s more…

Next instalment of game reviews –  Card Games, Tactics, and strategy.


Mint Linux 7 Quick Review and Screenshots

Mint Linux 7 (Gloria) http://www.linuxmint.com/

Mint Linux promises to be an elegant and easily updateable distro.  Originating from Ireland, it was launched as a variant to Ubuntu (which is based on Debian) and has quickly become one of the most popular flavors of Linux available.  The two great assets of Mint Linux are that everything works out of the box, and that it’s simply gorgeous.

Let’s have a look…

Mint Linux - Login Screen

The intro screen offers a nice clean look and easy to understand access to login and session management.

mint2

The welcome screen features quick links to version information and a PDF user guide.

mint3

I like the Menu, Gnome based, but much easier to navigate.  You have all your favorite applications neatly arranged to select.

mint4

Or page through all your installed applications with a brief description of what each one does.

Package inclusion

The installed application is more or less what you’d expect.  Aside from the Ubuntu/Debian ‘usuals’,
they have included Gimp and Thunderbird.  You are always just an install away from adding any other package, so we won’t dwell on what’s missing.

Conclusion

Mint Linux is a clean and very usable Linux Distro.  Knowing that it’s based on Ubuntu means that you should have no problems with package support and sustainability going forward.  The layout and interface is clean and easy, and the menu structure is particularly straightforward.

Linux KDE Web Development Tools – Reviews and Screenshots

All apps listed here, unless otherwise noted, refer to the KDE Specifc version, but have been tested in Gnome as well.

KImage Map Editor

Screenshot-KImageMapEditor

Here’s a simple to use and very useful image map editor.  Drop an image or existing HTML file into the app window and draw the part of the image you want to map.  You can even define map parts of the image using a polygonal area tool.

Even more impressive is that you can define all the javascript functions that should occur when the selected part of the image is effected.  Onclick, OnMouseOver, etc… Tested and works well in KDE and Gnome.

How to Install

From a terminal window type   sudo apt-get install kimagemapeditor

Klinkstatus

Screenshot-KLinkStatus

URL checker.  Straightforward utility.  Enter a URL and this tool will recursively check all links on that page, and optionally check parent folders as well.   You can then sort the results by good and bad links, etc…  Tested in KDE and Gnome.

How to Install

From a terminal window type   sudo apt-get install klinkstatus

Kdevelop

http://www.kdevelop.org/

kdeveloper screenshot

Provides an easy to use Integrated Development Environment for Linux with support for KDE related development.  The KDevelop-Project was founded in 1998 to build up an easy to use IDE for KDE.  This is the tool to use to create more great KDE apps.

How to Install

From a terminal window type   sudo apt-get install kdevelop

Quanta+ 3.5

http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/

Screenshot-Quanta

Quanta Plus is a highly stable and feature rich web development environment. This app was built for the KDE Desktop.

How to Install

From a terminal window type sudo apt-get install quanta

Kxsldbg

http://docs.kde.org/kde3/en/kdewebdev/kxsldbg/index.html

kxsldbg

KXSLDbg is a debugger for XSLT scripts written for the KDE environment, and works in Gnome too. It includes a graphical user interface as well as a text-based debugger.

How to Install

From a terminal window type sudo apt-get install kxsldbg

Kompare

screenshot - Kompare

Kompare is a great tool to use for comparing files.  This is especially useful in development when comparing two versions of a file or application set.

How to Install

From a terminal window type sudo apt-get install Kompare

Kommander

http://kommander.kdewebdev.org/

Kommander snapshot

Kommander 1.3 includes an editor where you visually build dialogs and applications and edit the scripted elements. It also has an executor which processes the generated XML file.

How to Install

From a terminal window type sudo apt-get install Kommander

Kjscmd

kjscmd is a tool for launching KJSEmbed scripts from the command line.  kjscmd is a script interpreter that uses the KDE JavaScript library and runs on the command line only.  It can be run without KDE support as well.

KbugBuster

KBugBuster is a GUI front end for the KDE bug tracking system that includes many reports and user options.

KCacheGrind

http://kcachegrind.sourceforge.net/

CallGrind KcacheGrind screenshot

Open Source Profiling and visualization tool that includes CallGrind.

KUIViewer

KUIViewer is a utility to display and check user interface (.ui) files created in Qt Designer.

Umbrello

http://uml.sourceforge.net/

umbrello-elcuco1

An UML modeling tool for the KDE environment.  It supports Java, C++, reverse engineering, and more.  I am always amazed at the wealth of tools available in open source, and this tool is such a rich example. It’s availabe in many languages and works on a bunch of platforms, including Windows.

Samurai Linux – Review Screenshots – Web Testing Framework

Samurai Linux – Testing for security, penetration, and reconnaissance

The Samurai distro is available as a Live CD and it comes with the a gob of testing tools for security and applications.  Samurai is Gnome-based and has a pleasant, yet simple, interface.  The real wealth of this distro is in the number of security and testing related apps pre-installed.

Reconnaissance Tools Fierce domain scanner and Maltego.

Mapping Tools WebScarab and ratproxy.

Discovery Tools w3af and burp.

Exploitation BeEF, AJAXShell, etc…

Th Live CD comes with a pre-configured wiki that you can set up to be the central information store during your pen-test.

The Gnome Menu creation tool is installed, so you can rearrange the menus to your own liking.

Wine is also pre-installed with none other than the venerable Windows Notepad.  Interesting.

Conclusion

If you are doing extensive app security testing, or like to hack in your spare time, this distro is what dreams are made of.  If you are look for eye-popping graphics and nifty graphics, try a different flavor of Linux.

Gallery of Samurai Linux Screen Shots

samurai1

samurai2

samurai3

samurai4

samurai5

samurai6

Windows 7 Ultimate Screenshots Review – A lot like Linux

Is it Windows or Linux?

Let’s take a look at the latest Windows 7 Ultimate RC.  After spending some time with it, the bells started ringing.  It became quite evident that they were recreating the best elements of Linux while reversing some of the confusion created in Vista.  As a matter of fact, the widgets look like direct copies of KDE 4.x plasma desktop.

What’s new in Windows 7

Windows 7 does a much better job of presenting video and images than any previous version of Windows, and it’s centrally designed and fully upgraded Windows Media Player organizes all your various media into one location.  The aggregation of media is surely Windows 7’s finest feature and is far superior to any competing product in that space.

The installation was painless, so let’s get right to the desktop and sees what’s cooking…

Nice clean desktop with many options

There is a large assortment of desktop images and eye-popping screen saver themes to choose from.  You do not have to download ‘extras’ as in the past.  You simply go to the desktop configuration applet (similar to Gnome or KDE on Linux) and choose the elements of the theme that you want to replace.

Windows 7 Desktop
Windows 7 Desktop

I downloaded and installed Irfan, the great freeware graphics program.  Windows 7 popped up with a warning notification that this application I was about to install wanted to modify registry information.  The rest of the screen went dark to draw attention to this Yes/No decision of going forward or not.  That’s a good security feature.

Windows 7 Security in action
Windows 7 Security in action

Sticky Notes – borrowed from Linux

Usually I’ll get a phone call and will need to jot something down. I’m always looking for a pen on my real desktop.  Now, with sticky notes you’ll never have to jostle again.  Thanks to Sticky Notes, you just type something on to your Windows Desktop, and there it will stay until you make it go away.  This is a great feature for Windows enthusiasts.  Linux users will be less impressed since we’ve had Tomboy Notes and the like for many years.

Sticky Notes (A nice Linux feature import)
Sticky Notes (A nice Linux feature import)

Calculator, Screen Capture

windows7-4

The calculator got a bit of a face lift.  Notice that scientific looking Zero…  Then of course Windows 7 adds the extremely useful (and baked into Linux for many generations) Screen Capture utility.  It works well, and I am glad they finally added it into the basic toolset.

Windows 7 ships (so far) with IE8.  Since you are already probably using IE8, there’s not much new to report there.  IE8 does give a good preview of the design and centralization of Windows 7.

The Newly Revamped Windows Media Player

It’s gorgeous eye candy, and it’s functional too.  This is the crown in the jewels of the new Windows OS.  Microsoft has captured all the media related elements of the OS into a cohesive entertainment center that is both aesthetically pleasing and useful too.  The thumbnails barely do justice to the beauty and ease with which you glide from TV to Videos to images to music to live entertainment guides and more.

windows7-5 windows7-6 windows7-7

windows7-8 windows7-9 windows7-11

Mirosoft Widgets Look like KDE 4.2 Plasma

Microsoft lets you widgetize your desktop and pull elements from the Media Player on to a separate and smaller widget.  Look at the TV listings widget below.  Does this not cry KDE 4.2 Plasma?  I wonder who dreamed up the plasma look first?  The folks at KDE or Microsoft.  I also wonder if there isn’t a patent infringement somewhere in the offing?

windows7-10

Windows Libraries (aka Explorer)

Nicely organized, slightly updated look, still Vista-looking, and essentially the same functionality as from XP.

windows7-12

KDE or Windows?

Is it just me, or does this new tab menu interface borrow a lot from Linux KDE?

windows7-13

windows7-15

Windows Power Shell

Finally we have something to sink our programming teeth into.  The power shell combines many of the best shell and terminal commands from Linux into the Windows command line utility.  Notice the ls and dir work here.

windows7-14

Conclusion

This is still an early review and Microsoft is still tweaking elements before the actual release of Windows 7 scheduled for next year.  Clearly they are on the right track.  By combining many of the best of Linux, side-stepping the potholes of Vista, and fusing the Media Player as a central ‘meeting spot’ on the desktop, Microsoft will reclaim its glory with Windows 7.

Note – we have mostly focused on the visual and functional elements for this review.  There are many enhanced security features, that we have not reviewed, which Microsoft touts as a major reason to move to the new OS.

Dreamlinux 3.5 Quick Review and Screenshots

Dreamlinux 3.5 is a Debian (Lenny 5.0) based popular Linux distro from Brazil.

Dreamlinux can be run directly from a CD/DVD/USBStick or to a Hard drive. Dreamlinux comes with a selection of the best applications designed to meet most of your daily needs.  Dreamlinux ships with the XFCE desktop, which is pleasant and easy to navigate.

This distro is really suited for a USB disk on key install, and the installation disk offers several easy step installations depending on your intended media (USB, CD, Hard drive, etc…).

In pursuit of the perfect Linux Distro

The folks at Dreamlinux have a goal, to make a distro where ‘dreams can come true’.  The idea is to take a solid core Linux distro, Debian, make it look pretty, add the coolest and most-needed apps, then make it easy to install to just about anything.

The distro lives up to the magic of easy to distribute and pretty looks.  As for the most-needed or best apps, I guess that’s a matter of personal preference.  I for one would have liked to see Gimp, for example.  But then again, with Linux, you are always just an install away from your favorites that may have been left out from the start.

Bottom line

Dreamlinux is a good distro and looks great.  Do they have the stamina for udpates and consistency of the larger distros?  Maybe users with more experience on this distro can chime in here.

Let’s take a walk through the OS with screenshots.

Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen
Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen

Nothing fancy here, but wait, the good stuff is soon to come.

I’m running this in a virtual machine (VMWare) so you can see the VMware menus straddling some of these snapshots.

Dream Linux 3.5

Nice looking desktop with easy to navigate menus.  Here’s the Office menu.  No suprises here.

Dream Linux 3.5

A matter of personal taste.  Many users like the menu bar with the Mac look.  As you mouse over the icon enlarges to give the 3d effect.

Gallery of Screenshots

Here’s a gallery of screenshots, including the nifty compass that appears as the default homepage on the internet browser.


VMWare – Server 2.0 Easy Install on Ubuntu

Reasons to get VMWare

VMWare Server is a tremendous tool. It allows you to run multiple ‘virtual’ machines on your computer.  This has many applications for the enterprise world.  It is also a great tool for testing and tinkering for individuals.  For example, you are running Ubuntu as your desktop OS, but you want to have a Windows machine available for those Windows apps that don’t run on Linux.  You might want to test several flavors of Linux before deciding on your favorite OS.

With VMWare, you can accomplish all this and more without having to reboot, and without the mess of Grub and partitioned disks.

VMWare Server – the best kept free secret

VMware offers several tools for free.  Their focus as a business is of course to get you to upgrade to their licensed products.  These licensed tools are wonderful for the enterprise.  When you pay you also get technical support and possibly a more robust solution.  However, for private use, the free tools are just as good.

VMware offers VMWare Player and VMWare Server for free.  Their website is sparse on information and instructions on how to install and deploy their free products.  Obviously, they want you to upgrade.

I’d recommend skipping the player and going straight to the server. It requires a bit more perseverance to get it up and running, but then you’ll have a bunch of additional resources at your fingertips that are not available for the simple Player.  For example, with the Server, you can add additional hardware to your VM appliance.  An appliance is essentially an OS running as a ‘virtual machine’ on your computer with the VMWare Server managing the access to it.

Installation of VMWare Server

Note: These instructions assume you are running Ubuntu desktop, they probably will work on most Linux Distros.

1. Go to http://www.vmware.com and sign up for an account.  Then download the Server 2.0 (Go to the Store tab, then click on Download on the right side).  You will also get a serial number license for your free Server download.  Keep it in a safe place, as you will need it start using the server.

2. untar the downloaded file (tar -xf filename path)

3. Go to the directory that you placed the files and run  sudo ./vmware-install.pl

4. You will be prompted through a very detailed installation.  The only important prompt that you’ll want to change from the default option is access and permissions.  When it prompts you for the username you want to administer the server, make sure to type in your user account.  This will enable you to run the server for your regular login.

5. Once the server is successfully installed (you can run sudo /etc/init.d/vmware restart ) to make sure it’s running.

6.  Access your VMware server from a Browser window https://127.0.0.1:8333/  (or if you have trouble with SSL you can open http://127.0.0.1:8222/  which should redirect to the https address above).

The VMware Server should look something like this. (Click for larger screen)

VMware Server 2.0
VMware Server 2.0

In this implementation, we have five different Linux OS and Windows 7 running as separate virtual machines.  In our next installment, we will discuss managing appliances on the server.

Slax 3.5 Minimal Linux KDE – Live CD – Quick Review & Snapshots

Continuing on my search for a Kubuntu replacement as I wrote about in my earlier post.

Slax 3.5 Minimal Live CD
Here’s a nice KDE 3.5 Linux distro with a minimal set of applications and only a 180 MB download. The Live CD took about 5 minutes to fully load and the CD was constantly churning throughout the entire time I demoed the product.

Since it’s a minimal distro, there’s no Gimp, no Firefox, no Open Office. Instead, you have Kplayer, Kopete, K3B, Konquerer, ,Konsole, Kword, Kspread, and Kpresent. Everything worked fine (except for the excessive CD churning).

The desktop is aesthetically pleasing with the tux background spread over the continents.  The menus are set pleasingly to the eyes.  The folks at Slax have decided not to jump to KDE 4 yet, and I think that’s a great move, until the kinks have been ironed out on the plasma desktop.

Although Slax was pleasing, it didn’t tickle my Linux bone enough to give up Ubuntu in my search for a Kubuntu replacement. The search continues…

Slax Live CD Screenshots


PCLinuxOS Quick Review and Screenshots – Kubuntu Alternative

Continuing in my quest for a replacement to Kubuntu as discussed here in my previous post. We are looking at KDE distros that can replace the Kubuntu 9.x release, which to me still seems like it’s in beta.

PCLinuxOS 2009 KDE
It’s running on KDE 3.5, which is a good start in my opinion. It took nearly 4 minutes to load the opening screen from the live CD, which seemed like forever. During the whole time I played with the live desktop, the CD was churning and I was afraid it was going to bust a gut.

Radically Simple

The PCLinuxOS tagline and philosophy is to make the Linux distro desktop simple and easy to use.

Some notables – They are still using Synaptic for package management, which is better and easier to use than the new Kubuntu package manager. The package selection was quite rich, with a heavy accent on graphics programs and sound and music devices. All told, I think there was a couple dozen programs in those two sub menus. Which brings me to the next point, the menu selection is based on hierarchies. Sometimes, you’ll have to wade through several submenus to get to an application.
Generally speaking, it was a pleasant distro.

Here’s some screenshots of PCLinuxOS 2009 on KDE 3.5

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot Configuration Manager
PCLinuxOS Snapshot Configuration Manager

PCLinuxOS Snapshot Control Center
PCLinuxOS Snapshot Control Center

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot - Help Screen
PCLinuxOS Snapshot - Help Screen