Sunday, December 11, 2011

Linux Mint 12 cont

A couple of weeks ago I posted here that I had downloaded Mint 12 into Virtual box and was going to see how the new interface worked now they have moved to Gnome 3.2. Unfortunately due to issues with VB and the new Gnome interface I was not able to get it fully working as it should so was not in a position to really make any comments.

However Yesterday I installed the Distribution release onto a Toshiba R500 dual core laptop I have as one of my portable solutions. I'll not go through the install process there are a number of good videos on U tube showing this, one is to be found here:

I like the the mint interpretation of the Gnome 3.x desktop but I still have some issues in that I do not seem to be able to create desktop or panel short cut icons to lunch an application, I have to go to the menu to find it. if this is not in the favourites bar then this can take a moment or 2 before your able to launch the application. Aesthetically this leads to a very clean desktop environment but productively it does nothing to speed up my work flow and it's my desk top and panel if I want to populate them with launch icons the system should allow this.

However Mint have provided a solution in the form of the MATE desk top environment which is a fork of Gnome 2.6. If you log out of Gnome 3 you can choose to use the MATE option before logging in again. Booting into MATE and your back in the world of Gnome 2.6.x as you know and love it. 'Warning' the Mint developers do say this is still work in progress, MATE is not yet fully stable and not all the functionality is working yet, but if this comes off then there is a solution for those of us who are happy with the Gnome 2.6 interface without having to jump ship to one of the other desck top solutions, such as XFCE or LXDE.

As for Mint 12 generally, desk top environment apart, this seems like another solid release, with all the usual tweaks having been made to Ubuntu 11.10 to make it a very friendly Distribution for those new to Linux. All the codecs needed for music and video playback including Flash and propriety DVD playback are included so if you just want to brows the internet, do social media and play your music and videos this is the Linux distribution for you.

If your a more experienced Linux user and have a more demanding work flow then you may find that Gnome 3 is not your preferred choice and until MATE is more stable you may want to stick with Mint 11 or try another Debian based distribution that better meets your needs.

For the time being I'm sticking with Mint 11 Gnome edition, as there is nothing dramatic in the new release that I need to upgrade for and I'll wait and see how the development of MATE progresses in the coming months. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Acer AspireOne RAM upgrade

This morning My friend Les from our local LUG gave me a 1Gig stick of Laptop DDR2 Ram so that I could upgrade my Acer AspireOne Netbook PC. This is one of the early Netbook models and comes with 512Ram on the mother board and an expansion slot to add a further 1Gig Ram. It also has an 8Gig SSD drive and usual 1.6Gig Atom CPU.

The main issue is that you have to almost disassemble the PC to get to the expansion slot as it is situated on the underside of the motherboard, I have done this in the past and added a 256mb ram module as that was all I had at the time but this upgrade would give the maximum potential to the Netbook. You can see how to dismantle the PC at:

Well all went well and I installed the new memory and resembled the PC and It seemed to be working well, Boot time has reduced by about 40% and it is now far more responsive. However when I got home the PC would not connect to my home WiFi and after fiddling with the WiFi switch for a while I realised I had probably forgotten to reconnect the areal to the WiFi card. So after a further strip down to inspect this and find this was the case I reconnected the areal and all now works fine.

The moral here is if you do pull things apart make sure that you reconnect all the working bits as you are putting it all back together again.

On a more general note, it would have been better if the PC had been designed with a little more thought to allow access to the memory slot from the bottom of the PC case. I love the Acer and It has done me good service in the 2 and a half years I have owned it, but you should not have to pull a Netbook apart just to upgrade the memory. To give them credit I think Acer recognised this and later models are far simpler to upgrade.

While I'm here I recently put Lubuntu 11.10 onto the Acer. I can report that If you are not a fan of Ubuntu 11.10 with the Unity interface and need an OS that will run smoothly on lower spec hardware then Lubuntu seems to be a good choice. I've had it installed on the Acer for nearly a month now and I'm quite impressed. I have installed all the extras needed to get all the multi media working and it now does everything I need of a portable PC. With the extended battery I'm now getting a reported 9 hours battery life, a good hour more than with other Linux distro's.

To give me the office software I need I've added Impress from the Libre office suit, but stuck with Abiword and Gnumeric for word documents and spreadsheets as these require less resources.