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I know this isn’t the MAME post I promised, but I felt that I should write about this first.  Network Manager, which comes with GNOME, does exactly what its name implies.  It manages networks…well…sometimes it does.  It crashes a lot and for no apparent reason.

That is why I decided to switch to Wicd.  Wicd does exactly what Network Manager does except it doesn’t crash and it doesn’t have any GNOME dependencies, so it runs great in all desktop environments.  Installation is simple.  Simply use apt-get or whatever your distro uses to manage packages to get it.  It should remove Network Manager and replace it with Wicd.  The rest is quite self-explanatory.  Try restarting if something doesn’t quite work and go into Wicd’s options to set it up.

Why Wicd isn’t included by default is beyond me.  Nearly everyone complains about NetworkManager.  The only benefit I see is that Network Manager can use 3g cards and that Wicd cannot as far as I know, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, if you are looking for an alternative to Network Manager, Wicd is for you.

My Eee PC has been gathering dust, so I decided to put Xandros back on it and see what I could do with it.  I never really got into customizing Xandros because I immediately put Ubuntu 8.04 on it when it arrived.  Little did I know, there is a heck of a lot of good stuff you can do with it.

I got the “Full Desktop” mode first.  By default, Xandros uses a custom ASUS “Easy Mode”.  This was easy to fix by following these directions.  Next, I installed the latest stable version of Opera.  The Eee PC comes with an outdated version of Firefox, so I decided to just switch to Opera rather than upgrading (which is not a very easy process).  Installation was simple.  I went to Opera’s download page, downloaded the Debian Etch package, and installed it using dpkg -i.

Xandros Running Opera and Console

After I was done doing this, I wanted to play some games.  The Eee PC does come with some great casual games, but I wanted real ones.  Tremulous and Open Arena run well on it and don’t require installation, so I naturally chose them.  I downloaded both (Tremulous can be found here, while you’re going to have to Google for Open Arena), ran chmod +x on the tremulous.x86 file and the openarena.i386 file, and then ran them with ./.

There are many more things I’m planning to do as well.  My next post will most likely be on getting MAME installed.  Finding ways to get things to work on this odd distro is quite fun and has been the focus of my time recently.  If you have any tips on installing applications or modifying the distro leave a comment below.

Linux isn’t known for games.  In fact, one of the main reasons people don’t switch is because almost no commercial games have native Linux support.  The Wine project is certainly helping, but we Linux users really want native Linux games, which there are many already available.

Crack Attack! is a free, fast paced puzzle game for Linux.  It is in most distribution’s repositories and is a blast to play.  In the game, you try to line up blocks of the same color.  Once you have three or more lined up either vertically or horizontally, the blocks dissappear and you get points.  While you are doing this, more blocks are slowly added until the blocks touch the top of the window.  When that happens, the game ends.  The goal is to prevent this from happening by getting rid of as many blocks as possible.

Crack Attack! Being Played on Fedora 11 KDE

Although it is a “casual game”, it is great fun.  Also, all you really need to move the blocks are the arrow keys and the spacebar, so a netbook will be fine to play it on.  In fact, it was one of the games included in the ASUS Eee PC’s Xandros Linux install, so it should work on almost any machine.

Fedora doesn’t include support for Mp3s by default.  Thankfully, the people over at RPM Fusion have made it easy to get.  To start, you have to add the RPM Fusion repositories.  To do that, follow the directions here.  I recommend that you use the command-line directions on KDE (the standard directions didn’t really work with KPackageKit on my system), but the standard directions should work fine on GNOME.  Once you add them and apply the two updates you have waiting for you (click yes on all of the warning dialogues), add gstreamer-plugins-ugly on GNOME or add xine-lib-extras-freeworld if you use KDE.  This can all be done from either PackageKit or KPackageKit.  Now you have Mp3 support on Fedora!

Note: You may have to close your package manager and reopen it after the updates are applied.

Fedora 11 is amazing, but due to their commitment to freedom, they leave out Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in.  Getting it is easy, but it could be confusing to someone who has never used anything but Ubuntu.

There are a few ways to install Flash.  The easiest way is installing it using a .rpm package.  The only downside is that you have to manually upgrade it.  In other words, it doesn’t add a repository to update itself with.  To install it this way, go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ and select the .rpm package.  Download it and open up a terminal window.  Login as root with the command su -l, go to the directory you saved it to, and run the command rpm -Uvh filename.rpm.  Then you’re done.

Using RPM To Install Flash In Fedora

To install it using YUM, which is recommended, go to the site mentioned above and select YUM for Linux.  Once you have that, open up a terminal window, login as root, go to the directory you saved it to and run rpm -Uvh filename.rpm.  Then, run yum install flash-plugin. To update it using YUM, run the command yum update flash-plugin.

While the commercial operating systems are looking more towards flashy GUI’s, we Linux users seem to be trying out lightweight window managers.  Openbox, IceWM, Fluxbox, and Enlightenment are just a few of these usually bare, but extremely fast user interfaces.  Why are so many switching you ask?  To tell you the truth, I don’t know myself.

I think that this trend toward lightweight desktops is kind of odd.  We have the processing power, so why wouldn’t we use it?  I like XFCE, but it is ugly compared to KDE and if my friends saw what XFCE looked like, their interest in Linux would decrease.  If we are to spread Linux, shouldn’t we show that it looks better and has more features?  Yes, speed is important, but with hardware at the level it is today, it isn’t much of an issue.  I mean, if something has enough power to run Windows Vista, then it definitely has enough power to run Linux with KDE 4, which is the heaviest of all Linux desktop environments as far as I know.  So why then, are we trying to make Linux look like Windows 95?

We shouldn’t compromise looks for speed.  It is fine to want a fast desktop, but who wants to use an ugly one?  What we, the Linux community, should do, is write a desktop environment in an extremely fast language like C, and make it look great.  That way we have the best of both worlds, speed and good looks.  While speed isn’t as important to me, with this desktop, Linux will at least be acceptable to all users.  Also, I guarantee that the first desktop environment to do this will be the most popular.

Recently I dropped TweetDeck (and Adobe Air all together) for a simple and lightweight Twitter client known as Twitux.  It is a GTK app, so if you use KDE, it won’t look that great, but you will be hard pressed to find anything lighter.  On my netbook running Linux Mint 7, it only uses around 9mb of RAM.  So, if you are interested and want to give it a shot, run sudo apt-get install twitux and tell me what you think!

Linux Mint 7 has arrived, which means that this very popular distribution has been updated in almost every way.  Just as Linux Mint 6 is based on Ubuntu 8.10, Linux Mint 7’s core is Ubuntu 9.04.  This means that Mint has everything that Ubuntu has and more.  The new notification system, better hardware support, and all of the new releases of our open-source favorites are included in Mint, as well as a few Mint specific applications like mintMenu and mintBackup.

Appearance

Out of the box, Linux Mint is beautiful.  It is what Ubuntu should aim to look like.  The theme is very nice and fits in well with the look of older Mint releases.  The Linux Mint wallpapers are also spectacular, the default being the best in my opinion.  It just screams professional.  Compiz Fusion works fine and can easily be configured with the included CompizConfig Settings Manager.  Mint includes a simple version as well if you, for example, just want the Compiz Cube instead of the Desktop Wall.

Mint's Custom Menu

Mint's Custom Menu

The fonts are the best I have seen on any distro other than Fedora.  They are readable and look great.  The default icon theme is the same as Xubuntu 9.04’s which I personally think is one of the best out there.  Mint comes with GNOME by default.  If you use another desktop environment like KDE, there are community created versions that will soon be upgraded to Mint 7 for you.  There’s even a Fluxbox edition if you want a light desktop.

Applications

Linux Mint 7 comes with the same applications Ubuntu does and a few more as well.  Some applications are modified too.  For example, Thunderbird comes with Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar installed.  It has a few Mint applications like mintBackup which backs up your home directory and mintNanny which blocks domains you don’t want anyone to visit on your computer.  Mint’s version of Add/Remove software is called mintInstall.  It is perfect because it gives you extensive information on the applications, screenshots, and even recommends applications like Opera.

mintInstall in Action

mintInstall in Action

One of Mint’s claims to fame is the included multimedia codecs.  I am not going to go too into detail, but basically, you can play Mp3s and other proprietary codecs without having to install them yourself.  This is great because it doesn’t confuse new users.  All they have to do is import their music collection and they are done.  Other notable applications included with Mint are Gufw, a graphical interface for setting up a firewall, GNOME Do, an application launcher, and Giver, a file sharing program.

What I Like

  • Default look and feel
  • Included Applications
  • Fonts
  • mintInstall
  • Codecs
  • Configuration Tools
  • Features carried over from Ubuntu
  • Funny terminal messages
One of Mint's Odd Jokes That Are Printed Everytime You Open A Terminal

One of Mint's Odd Jokes That Are Printed Everytime You Open A Terminal

What I Don’t Like

  • The Firefox add-on that turns Google searches into Mint’s custom Google search
    • It only does this with searches entered into the Google box in Firefox

Is Mint Worth It?

Mint is a solid distribution and should be downloaded and tried out by any Ubuntu or Debian user.  It is what a Linux distribution should be.  While I will download and try Fedora 11, Mint is really making me question if Fedora’s excellent ext4 support is worth it or not.

Yes, I am now using Linux Mint 7 and I must say that I’m impressed.  It looks amazing, it is stable, and the custom applications, like the menu, that are included with it are impressive.  Yesterday I downloaded it using Transmission and immediately installed it.  While I’m not ready for a full review, I can say that Mint 7 is definitely worth a look.  My review will be posted in the next few days.  I’ve been quite busy lately.  So, in the meantime, go check it out!

My Linux Mint Desktop

This is just a quick little update to my VirtualBox post a few days ago. If your distro is Debian-based, you should follow the instructions on the bottom of this page. Basically, it tells you to add a repository to your sources.list, add the key using apt-key, and then  sudo apt-get install virtualbox-2.2.  Also, run sudo apt-get install dkms before you do anything.  This way, the kernel will recompile the VirtualBox module after a kernel update.

Adding The VirtualBox Repo