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


Goodbye Kubuntu, I’m Staying With Ubuntu. Here’s why.

Saying Goodbye to Kubuntu
I said goodbye to Kubuntu two weeks ago when I replaced my KDE desktop with Gnome and I haven’t looked back. It feels at the same time invigorating and betraying. Like I’ve left a former love for my new fling.
I had been using Kubuntu as my main OS for over three years, having started with v 5.x and migrated along all the way to 9.x. When the Kubuntu folks decided to abandon KDE 3.5 and jump to the new experimental KDE 4.x, I felt as though I was using a beta product, as opposed to the solid well-built OS that I had come to love.

Very Happy with Ubuntu Instead
But make no mistake, Ubuntu is a better distro. The Gnome environment is very straightforward. Yes, there are less gadgets. But how many flying windows and 3-D animations do you really need on your desktop?
As a developer, and entrepreneur, most of my day is spent either on Evolution (email), Firefox or in Terminal windows, developing and monitoring my servers. I’ll check some spreadsheets on Office and occasionally play some music in the background.

Kmail vs. Evolution  (Side by Side)

Kmail on KDE
Kmail on KDE
Evolution on Gnome
Evolution on Gnome

Sure, Kmail is nice, but I like Evolution better. Why? I can’t explain, it’s just a feeling that the software is more-baked. Evolution had a more elegant interface.   Evolution doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as Kmail, but their handling of Signatures, HTML formatting, and general ease of use beats out the more extensible Kmail.  Both include calendar, memos, tasks, and contact management.
Continue reading “Goodbye Kubuntu, I’m Staying With Ubuntu. Here’s why.”

Turn your Ubuntu into Edubuntu “Lite”

If you’re like me, you want the best of all worlds 🙂

I want my Ubuntu to have all the great educational tools that are on the Edubuntu Distro, but I don’t want a separate environment.  I want to let my kids on my Ubuntu computer for an hour to play math and spelling games, but then jump right back to my work environment.

Edubuntu has a vast selection of educational programs.  You may not want (or don’t have room) to install over 500MB of new packages.  Instead, here’s the top educational tools that by adding them to your Ubuntu, your kids will certainly enjoy.  These packages will give you a good taste of the Edubuntu suite of programs before you decide if you want to add the rest.  All of these tools can easily by installed in Synaptic Package Manager, or on your terminal command line (e.g. sudo apt-get install kalzium , etc…)

kalzium screenshot
kalzium screenshot

Kalzium – Periodic table of elements

Kbruch – A great math game / skills test.  The kids (and adults) will have a lot of fun with this.  This is a KDE tool, but it works great on my Gnome Ubuntu

Khangman screenshot
Khangman screenshot

Khangman – A simple but effective visual hangman game to encourage your kids to practice their spelling. Comes with nice background choices and hints.

Tuxpaint – Tux Paint is a drawing program aimed at younger kids.  It includes audio sounds integrated with the actions being drawn.  For example, you can “stamp” a frog on the screen and hear the sound that a frog makes too.

Tux Typing – A nice typing tutor that adds a space-invader type arcade game.  You save the Linux penguin from being smothered by the falling words by correctly typing them.

Tux Math – A nice game / math learning tool integration.

Tux4Kids – Another great learning tool from the Tux group.

Gcompris – Kindergarten aged kids will love this learning program.  There are many different modules, including spelling, math, telling time, etc…  (Gnome based tool that works in Kubuntu as well)

It’s amazing that all these tools are open-source.  Grab then now and make Ubuntu that fun learning tool you always wanted for your kids.

Best Ubuntu & Kubuntu Software to Add After Installation

Canonical’s Ubuntu & Kubuntu distros are loaded with great software and utilities. There are, however, a bunch of great tools that are not included in their standard installations.  Aside from Skype, all of these tools can easily be added by going to your download package manager (in Ubuntu, Synaptic) and search for the program names.

We’ve compiled a list of the must-have software that can be added on after installation.

Voip – (Voice over IP)

Skype for Linux
Skype for Linux

Get Skype – It works great in Linux. Their Linux version isn’t as full with bells and whistles a their Windows version, but it works great and all the essential functions are there. Even better, skype is in the 64 bit software repository for Ubuntu, so a simple terminal command will get you up and running. First, you’ll need the Medibuntu repository.

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/`lsb_release -cs`.list –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list; sudo apt-get -q update; sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring; sudo apt-get -q update
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

Then install Skype
sudo apt-get install skype

Windows Tools

Do you need to run Windows software on Linux?  If so, you’ll want to run Wine
sudo apt-get install wine

Educational Software

Edubuntu is the Ubuntu distro aimed at K-8 and highschools.  You may want to download some of the great educational tools they have included in that distro into your very Ubuntu.

Kalzium – Periodic table of elements

Kbruch – A great math game / skills test.  The kids (and adults) will have a lot of fun with this.  This is a KDE tool, but it works great on my Gnome Ubuntu

Khangman – A simple but effective visual hangman game to encourage your kids to practice their spelling. Comes with nice background choices and hints.

Tuxpaint – Tux Paint is a drawing program aimed at younger kids.  It includes audio sounds integrated with the actions being drawn.  For example, you can “stamp” a frog on the screen and hear the sound that a frog makes too.

Tux Typing – A nice typing tutor that adds a space-invader type arcade game.  You save the Linux penguin from being smothered by the falling words by correctly typing them.

Tux Math – A nice game / math learning tool integration.

It’s amazing that all these tools are open-source.  Grab then now and make Ubuntu that fun learning tool you always wanted for your kids.

Graphics

Gimp – This is the Linux world’s answer to Adobe Photoshop.  What’s better is that it’s free!  This tool is so rich and includes so many wonderful add-ons and plug-ins, it’s nearly impossible to describe just how great it really is.  If you need a graphics package, get Gimp!  I also recommend adding the animation plug-ins for 3D graphics.  There are plug-ins for many of your favorite Photoshop filters and for saving as a web optimized file.

Sound & Video

Kstreamripper Not enough can be said about this simple “dark horse” tool.  How many Linux users know of its existence?  The display is quite spartan, but the results are excellent.  You add the URL for an audio stream.  Preferably, Shoutcast, or some other stream that displays song information while its playing.  Kstreamripper takes the feed and splices it up into MP3 files in your chosen directory, and injects the song information to the song’s tag and filename.  This is also a KDE tool, but it works great in Kubuntu and Ubuntu.

KDE Apps on Ubuntu – The Best of Both Worlds

So you’ve decided to leave Kubuntu and headed over to the world of Gnome on Ubuntu

Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

From the linux forums these days it seems that many former hard-core kubuntu users are fleeing to ubuntu after the failed-start of KDE 4.x They, and other Ubuntu users who have only known from the Gnome world, are devoid of all the rich application tools available to the KDE community.

Compusa (Systemax, Inc.)

I am not willing to leave the Ubuntu distro, as others have suggested, to try KDE on Mandriva or on other KDE driven distros. I am very familiar with Kubuntu, the command line, the tools, the whole ‘way of doing things’.

I switched to Ubuntu last week and haven’t looked back yet. What’s the key to my success? I kept most of the familiar KDE tools. Even though I’m on Gnome, I am using Amarok for music playing, Kstreamripper to save audio from my favorite streams (shh…, the best kept secret on the internet), and other KDE specific tools that I’ve been using for years and don’t want to depart from so quickly.

Adding KDE apps on Ubuntu is simple. From the command line, you can add an app by typing:

sudo apt-get install program_name

If you can’t find the KDE app you want to install, then you’ll probably need to add the app source lists for KDE tools, which can be found by search on Google and at the Kubuntu website.

On the other hand, for all us KDE users who switch to Gnome, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is a rich world of many apps that work great and are well stitched to the linux distro. I kind of wonder what it would have been like had I started on Ubuntu in the first place. I’ll discuss in a later article more in depth the greatness of the Gnome deployment on Ubuntu – especially for developers.

Ubuntu vs. Kubuntu – A Linux Lover’s Challenge

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that you’ve already decided on or are using the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.  e.g. There are plenty of linux flavors out there, and this article will only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu and Kubuntu.

First of all, both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are based on the same cannonical distribution and core.  The only (and important) difference between them is the desktop environment offered with either option.  Ubuntu comes with the Gnome desktop environment, whereas Kubuntu offers the KDE desktop.

KDE vs. Gnome
Many will say that the value of Gnome vs KDE is in their graphical presentation.  KDE is a 3D highly graphical environment with much eye-candy objects.  Gnome is a more basic, pleasant IMO, graphical implementation.  It more resembles Windows XP in form and function.

In addition, KDE and Gnome each have different software packages that are specific to them. For example, KATE is a KDE text editor.  Amarok is a KDE music player.  Gnome has a whole set of tools specific to it as well.  Most of these tools will work fine on either desktop.  I have used Amarok on KDE and Gnome with no problems in either case.

Review
I have used Kubuntu as my desktop operating system for the last three years.   I use my desktop PC for development, email, media, file management, SSH connections with servers, and just about everything else. I need my OS to be a workhorse.
After three years of strong Kubuntu performance on KDE 3.x, I upgraded first to Kubuntu 8.x which upgraded the KDE to 4.0. I found the desktop interface changes to be clumsy, and although well-meaning, were essentially a dud. After reading the much-hyped reviews of Kubuntu 9.x which shipped in May and included the update to KDE 4.1, I thought maybe we could go back to the ‘good ole days’. My wishes were not delivered. Kubuntu had been slow and causing many crashes – primarily with the media players. I found myself on a regular basis having to kill the mplayer or npviewer.bin (the 32 bit wrapper for the Adobe flash player on 64 bit OS). Granted, there are other factors, possibly hardware and/or configuration changes due to added software, but the same machine performed well in the past and after the upgrade to 9.x and until my switch to Gnome (Ubuntu) last week, had become nearly unbearable.

RiseSmart Inc.

Verdict
After much consideration, I have changed the desktop environment on my copy of linux Kubuntu to Gnome. Essentially, I am running Ubuntu, but the logon splash screen says Kubuntu. Since both desktops rely on the same core operating system, i was able to upgrade (or simply to switch) to Gnome / Ubuntu by going to the upgrade manager and requesting the Gnome desktop. The upgrade/switch took about 20 minutes, and not only was it seamless, even the bookmarks in Firefox and all the configurations are still in place.  Here’s a tutorial for Kubuntu users to switch to Gnome.

Therefore, my experience has been that if you are looking for a dependable Linux OS and without the bells and whistles of a developmental phase of KDE (at least until it’s fully baked in this new 4.x generation), stick with Ubuntu.
What have been your experiences with Kubuntu and Ubuntu? Please share with us.

Kubuntu Download
Kubuntu Download

Ubuntu Download
Ubuntu Download