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Condres OS Conjures Up Pleasing Arch Linux Transition | Reviews


By Jack M. Germain

Apr 18, 2019 12:00 PM PT

Condres OS, a distro much like the defunct Apricity OS, could be a speedier replacement for Linux OSes that have turned slow to no-go in recent new releases.

Condres OS is an Arch-based distro that offers many pleasing usability traits similar to three popular Debian-based distros: Linux Mint; Peppermint; and Zorin, which bundles ICE and Wine accouterments. Apricity OS was very similar and had many of the traits found in Condres OS.


Condres OS desktop screenshot

Condres OS makes a satisfying first impression, from speedy live session running from a DVD to easy installation on a hard drive.

– click image to enlarge –


Apricity OS was discontinued in May 2017 after a 20-month lifespan. It offered the Cinnamon desktop and a GNOME alternative with a dock bar at the bottom for those who preferred a Mac-like OS flavor. Either way, it came with a quick performance built around a clean and classy Linux look. Apricity OS was an Arch Linux variant with rolling releases.

It tried to bring a fresh approach to dealing with the often difficult Arch Linux way of doing things. Still a rarity for Arch, it had a graphical installer for beginner friendliness. Plus, it had nice theme styling and included Wine and PlayOnLinux to ease the transition from Windows.

Apricity OS also came with a cloud focus, thanks to the inclusion of ICE, a site-specific browser manager that lets you use your favorite Web app like an ordinary desktop application.

Not many Linux distros bother with ICE. Similar easy versions of Arch are Manjaro, Antergos and Bluestar Linux. So the notion that Arch Linux is best used by experts is starting to dissipate.

Condres OS, as is typical of Arch distributions, comes with a rolling release upgrade model. It is very easy to install and use.

Something else that impresses me with Condres OS is its software balance. It does not strictly follow the Arch philosophy of minimal software installs — not that it practices software bloat, either.

Condres OS comes with enough applications to let you get started using it productively. That beats having to spend time installing the basic user tools like Web browser, office suite (which, by the way, is the latest LibreOffice release), several multimedia and graphics applications, plus a slew of handy accessories. They come preinstalled.

I particularly like Condres OS’ fully functional live session ISO with a desktop icon to directly start a graphical installation process within the live session. In fact, the installation was one of the easiest I have ever experienced for an Arch-based product. It produced no errors or special requirements that needed command line solutions.

Seeking a Solution

Condres OS caught me by surprise. I was not aware of it until a reader recommended it. He described it as a different kind of Arch Linux OS. That observation was on target.

My focus in Linux Picks and Pans each week is on presenting a variety of Linux options and new desktop developments. My personal preference is the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint, which I have used for the last few years as my daily workhorse operating system.

That option has fallen out of favor with me since the release of the last major upgrade, Linux Mint 19.1. I have it installed on several desktop and laptop computers. Poor performance was never an issue for me on Linux Mint Cinnamon until now. The troubles transcend a single computer.

The symptoms persist on well-resourced hardware with a range of upper-end specs. They include very long booting times and horrendously long loading times for applications.

The performance agony also involves delays in responsiveness when Alt-Tabbing among open windows and switching among virtual workspaces. Add the intermittent stuttering, and I have constant flashbacks to my days on Windows Millennium.

Condres OS comes in nine editions. These include Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, MATE and Xfce. I hesitantly jumped into checking out the Cinnamon edition hoping for the best results. I was definitely not disappointed.

Unwrapping Condres

The Italian developers released Condres OS 2019.04 on April 14. While less well-known in North America, it ranks quite well on several sources that track weekly Linux distro downloads on other continents.

The developers thought out and executed their mission well. Their goal was to create a computing workspace and playspace more productive and elegant than other Arch alternatives provide. They hoped to attract users looking for the convenience of built-in cloud accessibility.

Thanks to the developers, Condres OS is not a typical Arch Linux distro retread. They provided features that users will not find in most other Linux operating systems, Arch family or otherwise.


Condres OS system settings and control center

The System control panel and the Condres Control Center make it easy to access desktop preferences, system updates and other Condres controls.

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Security in Arch releases is reputed to be a tad bit more rigorous than other Linux releases. Condres OS’ developers maximized that security barrier by incorporating software that minimizes security risk as much as possible.

One example of this is the inclusion of
Suricata Intrusion Detection (IDS) tools. Suricata is a high-performance Network IDS, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and Network Security Monitoring engine.

Specialized Offerings

Power management for Linux-running laptops usually leaves much to be desired. Condres OS addresses that battery-draining problem with TLP technology. TLP is an advanced battery management utility that optimizes battery usage.

TLP comes with a reliable default configuration but allows customization to suit specific needs. This, combined with Condres OS’ decreased resource usage, provides extra hours of battery power.

Condres OS has a lower memory threshold of just a few hundred megabytes of memory usage. Other OSes idle at up to several gigabytes.

With an eye toward the cloud, Condres OS ships with a collection of Web apps that launch using ICE, a simple SSB (Site Specific Browser) manager. It is easy to create more.

An SSB is akin to having a standalone URL bookmark that launches from a desktop icon as if it were a separate application. ICE apps run in their own application-like windows instead of an open tab in a full Web browser.

A cool feature in Condres OS is the Pushbullet service. Pushbullet lets you send links and small files among your devices without having to take traditional file transfer steps, like sending email attachments or manually transferring files through cloud storage or portable storage media. It also lets you receive mobile notifications, texts and phone calls across all your devices.

A related cross-platform feature in Condres OS is Syncthing. This process makes it easy to share large amounts of data across multiple platforms. Syncthing can transfer large files faster than cloud-based alternatives.

An added security benefit with Syncthing is that your files and personal information are stored only on local devices rather than traversing the cloud. Even better, Syncthing encrypts everything along every step in the file transfer process.

Look and Feel

I did not look at the other eight or nine desktop environment options available in Condres OS. I was intent on testing the Cinnamon desktop to find a suitable replacement for Linux Mint 9.1 Cinnamon. Condres OS did not disappoint.


Condres OS Cinnamon desktop

The CondresOS Cinnamon desktop is a picture-perfect view of a well-developed Arch-based Linux distro.

– click image to enlarge –


The bottom panel has all the system icons and applet options that are the core of the Cinnamon ecosystem. The System control panel in the Preferences portion of the Main menu provides access to all the Cinnamon environment options. The Condres Control Center panel in the Administration category of the main menu makes accessing system updates and other Condres controls easy to use.

The desktop view can display icons to launch favorite applications. You can place the same icons on the bottom panel and in the Favorites list within the main menu. A search window sits atop the main menu display to make it easy to start typing application names for instant launching.

Bottom Line

Working with an Arch-based Linux distro put me out of my Debian Linux comfort zone. I was pleased by how quickly I acclimated to Condres OS. The Condres/Arch-specific software was intuitive to use. The few times I needed to clarify an issue regarding software, the answer was readily available. Hopping from Linux Mint to Condres OS was an easy move.

That said, the other Condres OS desktop offerings should not pose any technical or usability challenges for new users coming from other computing platforms. For that matter, Condres OS in any desktop flavor should be a comfy fit on any hardware.

I tested Condres OS on one of the oldest laptops in my lingering collection. I ran the live session ISO on both new and old gear without experiencing any glitches. I installed it on a laptop running an Intel Core 2 DUO processor with 3GB RAM for more extensive testing. The next step is to install it on my primary desktop computer in place of the troublesome Linux Mint.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please
email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.





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Ubuntu 19.04 Radeon Linux Gaming Performance: Popular Desktops Benchmarked, Wayland vs. X.Org


Leading up to the Ubuntu 19.04 release, several premium supporters requested fresh results for seeing the X.Org vs. Wayland performance overhead for gaming, how GNOME Shell vs. KDE Plasma is performing for current AMD Linux gaming, and related desktop comparison graphics/gaming metrics. Here are such benchmarks run from the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” while benchmarking GNOME Shell both with X.Org and Wayland, Xfce, MATE, Budgie, KDE Plasma, LXQt, and Openbox.

Using a Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card with the stock Ubuntu 19.04 components were used for this desktop graphics/gaming benchmark comparison. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with the Linux 5.0 kernel, Mesa 19.0.2, and X.Org Server 1.20.4 as the most prominent components for this comparison. GNOME Shell 3.32.0, Xfce 4.12, MATE 1.20.4, KDE Plasma 5.15.4, Budgie, LXQt 0.14.1, and Openbox 3.6.1 are the prominent desktop versions to report. KDE Plasma with Wayland wasn’t tested since on this system I wasn’t able to successfully start the session when selecting the Wayland version of Plasma from the log-in manager. The Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card was running from the common Core i9 9900K used by many of our graphics tests with the ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard, 16GB of RAM, Samsung 970 EVO 256GB NVMe SSD, and a 4K display.

Via the Phoronix Test Suite a range of gaming and other desktop graphics benchmarks were carried out under these different Ubuntu 19.04 desktop options. Here are those results. Additional Ubuntu 19.04 performance tests will be coming up on Phoronix soon.


At Least 27% Of Gentoo’s Portage Can Be Easily LTO Optimized For Better Performance


OPERATING SYSTEMS --

GentooLTO is a configuration overlay for Gentoo’s overlay to make it easy to enable Link Time Optimizations (LTO) and other compiler optimizations for enabling better performance out of the Gentoo packages. GentooLTO appears to be inspired in part by the likes of Clear Linux who employ LTO and other compiler optimization techniques like AutoFDO for yielding better performance than what is conventionally shipped by Linux distributions. The GentooLTO developers and users have wrapped up their survey looking at how practical this overlay configuration is on the massive Portage collection.

The initial GentooLTO survey has been going on since last October and they have collected data from more than 30 users. The survey found that of the Gentoo Portage 18,765 packages as of writing, at least 5,146 of them are working with the GentooLTO configuration.

While they survey is user-driven and not systematically testing all available packages, at least from the current numbers they are looking at a minimum of 27% of Gentoo portage working nicely with link-time optimizations without any workarounds, but the total number of working packages is likely quite higher.

They survey did not look at the performance differences from LTO optimizations on these packages. Those interested in the results can find the survey data here. Those wanting to look more at the GentooLTO project itself can find it on GitHub.


Linux Mint Founder Calls for Better Developer S… » Linux Magazine


Linux Mint is among the most popular and seemingly most easy to use Linux distributions. The Ubuntu-based distribution has built its loyal user base and has been growing ever since. However, the founder of Linux Mint seems to be burning out.

In the latest blog post, Linux Mint founder Clement ‘Clem’ Lefebvre wrote that he didn’t enjoy the latest development cycle as two of the most talented developers have been away. The project couldn’t make the performance improvements it expected.

“Boosting performance in the Muffin window manager hasn’t been, and still isn’t, straight forward,” he wrote.

Some frustration also seems to stem from the new logo and website design, “Feedback on the new website and logo brought a huge amount of incertitude,” Lefebvre said.

It seems he is also sensing the developer community of Linux Mint is not as energized as it once used to be. “For a team to work, developers need to feel like heroes. They want the same things as users, they are users, they were “only” users to start with. At some stage they decide to get involved and they start investing time, efforts and emotions into improving our project. What they’re looking for the most is support and happiness. They need feedback and information to understand bugs or feature requests and when they’re done implementing something, they need to feel like heroes, they literally do, that’s part of the reason they’re here really,” said Lefebvre.

It’s not certain if Lefebvre is tired of the project or it’s a momentary frustration with some core team members not showing up and negative feedback on some changes.



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Black Hole Image Has an Open Source Connection » Linux Magazine


Last week the whole world was stunned by seeing what was unseen – a black hole. Scientists were able to create picture of a black hole named Messier 87 in the Virgo A galaxy. The black hole is more than 55 million light years away.

The first image of a black hole is the outcome of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, which created a virtual telescope as big as earth by networking 8 ground-based telescopes. The telescopes generated more than five petabyte of data. Collecting data was the first part of the puzzle. The team of scientists used various algorithms to fill gaps in this data to be able to generate an image of the black hole.

TFIR reports that the team of scientists used three imaging algorithm for image processing, and two of these were fully open source Python libraries – Sparselab and ehtim.

Sparselab is a Python Library for Interferometric Imaging using Sparse Modeling.

ehtim is a Python module for simulating and manipulating VLBI data and producing images with regularized maximum likelihood methods.

The source code of these libraries is published on GitHub under GNU GPLv3 licenses.



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