Tag Archives: ubuntu

PinguyOS Tosses Everything at the Desktop | Linux.com


For the longest time, naysayers were fairly intent on shutting down anyone who believed the Linux desktop would eventually make serious headway in the market. Although Linux has yet to breach 5 percent of that market, it continues to claw its way up. And with the help of very modern, highly efficient, user-friendly environments, like PinguyOS, it could make even more headway.

If you’ve never heard of PinguyOS, you’re in for a treat — especially if you’re new to Linux. PinguyOS is a Linux distribution, created by Antoni Norman, that is based on Ubuntu. The intention of PinguyOS is to look good, work well, and — most importantly — be easy to use. For the most part, the developers have succeeded with aplomb. It’s not perfect, but the PinguyOS desktop is certainly one that could make migrating to Linux a fairly easy feat for new users.

In this article, I’ll take a look at what PinguyOS has to offer.

What makes PinguyOS tick?

As I’ve already mentioned, at the heart of PinguyOS is Ubuntu. The current build is a bit behind at Ubuntu 14.04. This means users will not only enjoy some of the best hardware recognition on the Linux market, but the apt package manager is ready to serve. Of course, new users really don’t care about what package manager is employed to install and update applications. What will draw them in is a shiny GUI that makes everything a veritable point-and-click party. That’s where GNOME comes in. I’ve already been on the record saying that GNOME is one of the slickest and most stable desktops on the market. But PinguyOS doesn’t settle for a vanilla take on GNOME. Instead, PinguyOS adds a few extra options to make migration from other desktops a breeze.

To the standard GNOME desktop, PinguyOS adds a quick launch Docky bar to the bottom of the screen and an autohide Docky Places bar on the left edge of the screen (Figure 1).

As you can see (on the default desktop), there is one piece that tends to appeal to Linux users. That piece is Conky. I’ve used Conky on a number of desktops, for various purposes. In some instances, it’s actually quite handy. For many a Linux user, it seems a must to have detailed reports on such things as CPU, memory, and network usage; uptime; running processes; and more. Don’t get me wrong, Conky is a great tool. However, for new users, I’d say it’s far less interesting or useful. Thing is, new users won’t even know what that window on the desktop even is. Experienced Linux users will see it, think “That’s Conky,” and know how to easily get rid of it (should they not want it on their desktop) or configure it. New users? Not so much.

But that is a rather minor issue for a desktop that has so much to offer. Set aside Conky and you’ll see a Linux distribution that tosses just about everything it can at the desktop, in order to create something very useful. The developers have gone out of their way to add the necessary tools to make GNOME a desktop that welcomes just about every type of user. One way the PinguyOS developers have managed this is via GNOME extensions. Open up the Tweaks tool, click on Extensions, and you’ll see a healthy list of additions to GNOME (Figure 2).

All told, there are 23 extensions added to GNOME — some of which are enabled by default, some of which are not.

Installed applications

Beyond Conky and GNOME extensions, what else can you expect to find installed, by default, on PinguyOS? Click on the Menu in the top left of the desktop, and you’ll see a fairly complete list of applications, such as:

  • GNOME Do (do things as quickly as possible)

  • Shutter (capture and share screenshots)

  • Play On Linux (Install games via Wine)

  • Steam (manage Steam games)

  • Pinta (image creation/edit)

  • Empathy (instant message client)

  • Firefox (web browser)

  • Remmina (remote desktop client)

  • Skype (VOIP client)

  • TeamViewer 10 (tool for remote support)

  • Thunderbird (email client)

  • LibreOffice (full-featured office suite)

  • wxBanker (finance manager

  • Plex Home Theatre/Media Manager

  • Clementine (audio player)

  • OpenShot (video editor)

  • VLC (media player)

That’s a healthy list of tools — one that comes with the slightest price. The minimum installation size of PinguyOS is 15.2 GB. That’s nearly four times the size of a minimum Ubuntu installation. However, you do get a considerable amount of software for your trouble — something that will greatly appeal to new users. Instead of having to bother installing a number of software titles (after OS installation), you should have nearly everything you need to get your work done, in a very user-friendly environment. And with GNOME in control of the desktop, you can be certain PinguyOS will enjoy a very stable and slick desktop.

Tiny Faults

If I had to find something wrong with PinguyOS, it would be three particular somethings. The first two, I’ve already mentioned — being based on an outdated version of Ubuntu and the addition of Conky by default. The PinguyOS developers should consider working with Ubuntu 16.04 (also an LTS release). Also, Conky should be an optional addition, one that includes a user-friendly setup wizard upon first boot. The third isn’t quite as minor a nit. Instead of including GNOME Software as the default front end for the package manager, PinguyOS opts to include both Synaptic and the now-defunct Ubuntu Software Center. First off, Ubuntu Software Center shouldn’t be included on any distribution these days. The tool is broken, slow, and buggy. But adding Synaptic as a second option (or, rather, a first option — as it is the tool included in the Dock), is a mistake. This is not to say Synaptic isn’t a solid tool; it is. But considering how much better (and, again, user-friendly) GNOME Software is, it would only make sense to include it as the default.

As I said, Synaptic is a good tool, just not one I’d recommend to new users. Since PinguyOS’s focus is simplicity, maybe migrating to GNOME Software would be the right move.

Minor nits, major hits

Set aside the minor nits found in PinguyOS and you’ll see there is quite a lot to love about this distribution. It’s well polished, stable, offers all the software you need to get your work done, and it’s user-friendly. What more can you ask for from a desktop operating system?

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

System76 Releases Pop!_OS » Linux Magazine


System76, one of the few hardware vendors that sell systems preloaded with Linux, has released the final version of Pop!_OS, their own Ubuntu-based distribution.

System76 CEO and founder Carl Richell told us in an interview that the OS is the result of the feedback that they received from their customers. What makes Pop!_OS different from many other Linux distributions is that System76 sells Linux hardware, so they do have a very trusted channel of feedback from customers.

System76 caters to professionals who use desktop Linux for their workloads. In a press release, System76 said that the OS is geared toward users in STEM, computer scientists, makers, and developers. During the release of 3D rendering software as open source, Pixar developers were spotted using System76 machines running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Pop!_OS is seen as a System76 response to Canonical’s withdrawal from the consumer space. Richell said that their current focus is on offering a very stable and minimalistic experience around Ubuntu and Gnome to cater to its customers.

Contrary to Linux Mint, Pop!_OS will be based on the latest Ubuntu instead of the long-term support (LTS) version. Richell said that they have been working with Ubuntu for more than 12 years, and they have all the needed expertise to keep up with Ubuntu. The good news is, now that Unity is discontinued, Ubuntu will focus on a rock solid base that can be used in enterprise setups. Because Gnome is already mature, it’s more predictable than Unity, making the job of System76 developers easy to tack to slow-moving stable targets.

The primary focus of System76 will be to offer a very polished experience on the machines, including hardware support and optimization. System76 is also working on setting up their own manufacturing unit, where they will build desktops and laptops in-house.

Even though Pop!_OS is designed for System76 machines, it’s freely available for anyone to use.

You can download it from GitHub.



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Samsung to Bring Linux to Desktop » Linux Magazine


The same year Canonical decide to pull out of the consumer space, Samsung is bringing a pure desktop Linux experience to PCs. Unlike Apple, Google, or Microsoft, Samsung doesn’t have any tightly integrated offering for professionals who need a desktop to get work done. Samsung came out with DeX, an accessory for Samsung Galaxy phones that connected with a monitor and offers a desktop-like interface. It’s an experience similar to Ubuntu Dock or Motorola Atrix Webtop.

However, the desktop experience was subpar compared with macOS or Windows. Samsung is now looking at desktop Linux for DeX. “Installed as an app, Linux on Galaxy gives smartphones the capability to run multiple operating systems, enabling developers to work with their preferred Linux-based distributions on their mobile devices. Whenever they need to use a function that is not available on the smartphone OS, users can simply switch to the app and run any program they need to in a Linux OS environment,” Samsung said in a press release.

Samsung is quite ambitious about the project, the company is also luring developers, a market that already has a strong hold on desktop Linux. “Now developers can code using their mobile on-the-go and seamlessly continue the task on a larger display with Samsung DeX,” said the company.

While it’s currently in the trial phase, Samsung plans to bring DeX to larger displays. If it does gain mindshare, Samsung might even consider desktop Linux-powered laptops.

One advantage Samsung has over traditional desktop Linux distributions is that Samsung owns the entire hardware chain, from touchscreen to storage. It will be relatively easier for Samsung to offer a fully polished desktop Linux experience compared with a community-based distro, where developers either rely on reverse engineering or are at the mercy of hardware vendors to offer drivers.

Desktop Linux users may finally see the year of Linux. “Linux on Galaxy is made even more powerful because it is DeX-enabled, giving developers the ability to create content on a large screen, powered only by their mobile devices. This represents a significant step forward for software developers, who can now set up a fully functional development environment with all the advantages of a desktop setting that is accessible anytime, anywhere. Samsung Linux on Galaxy is still a work in progress,” said Samsung.

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Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator and Engineer: Lars Kronfält | Linux.com


The Linux Foundation offers many resources for developers, users, and administrators of Linux systems. One of the most important offerings is its Linux Certification Program. The program is designed to give you a way to differentiate yourself in a job market that’s hungry for your skills.

In this series of articles, we consider how well certification prepares you for the real world.  To illustrate that, the Linux Foundation we are highlighting the experiences of some people who’ve recently passed the certification examinations. These testimonials should serve to help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer certification is right for you. In this article, we talk with recently certified Lars Kronfält.

Linux.com: How did you become interested in Linux and open source?

Lars Kronfält: My first encounter with Linux was back in the late 1990s. I had an Amiga growing up, exchanging floppy disks to share things. Running services on Linux and connecting computers in a network made a deep impression. Realizing that it was free to use and community-driven got me even more interested. The openness and accessibility of information backed by great minds collaborating really had me hooked.

Linux.com: What Linux Foundation course did you achieve certification in? Why did you select that particular course?

Kronfält: Both LFCS and LFCE. I wanted to show that I still know the craftsmanship of managing Linux even though I use tools to automate everything; I only write things once and often work in front of a whiteboard. Certification from Linux Foundation is a stamp of quality and I’m proud to say that I have those certificates, and I often ask certification-like questions when we are hiring.

Linux.com: What are your career goals? How do you see Linux Foundation certification helping you achieve those goals and benefiting your career?

Kronfält: I work in a DevOps context with half a foot in Infrastructure Architecture. My career is probably heading towards Enterprise Architecture. I think that the LF certifications, in combination with my ITIL and CITA certifications, shows a broad body of knowledge which will be beneficial for my career.

Linux.com: What other hobbies or projects are you involved in? Do you participate in any open source projects at this time?

Kronfält: Outside of work and family I try to find time for endurance sports, art, culture, and programing. I have hobby projects where I do as much programing as possible. My daytime job is for a B2B company with client specific closed source software. I am neither privately nor professionally engaged in an open source project at this time, but contributing when it fits.

Linux.com: Do you plan to take future Linux Foundation courses? If so, which ones?

Kronfält: Yes, I really enjoy them and think that they are great both for the direct learning and as a sources of reference. For example the MOOCs like Introduction to DevOps: Transforming and Improving Operations is a great resource in improving one’s way of working. Before trying to move code to a cloud, courses like Introduction to Kubernetes provide great guidelines.

Linux.com: In what ways do you think the certification will help you in today’s job market?

Kronfält: From my point of view certifications are beneficial and show domain knowledge, understanding of best practices and design patterns. That knowledge is helpful in finding common ground with peers and stakeholders.

Linux.com: What Linux distribution do you prefer and why?

Kronfält: My personal preference is for something Debian-based, but at work the main distribution has been CentOS for a while. For me, it doesn’t matter much. My basic needs for a workstation are a terminal, an editor, and a browser; the rest is just icing on the cake, especially when automation increases the level of abstraction. About BootProcess, let’s just say that I’m old school. Our main road ahead looks cloudy, filled with containers, and our base image right now is Ubuntu-based. At the same time, I’m playing around with minimized immutable servers. Well, I do dabble.

Linux.com: Are you currently working as a Linux systems administrator? If so, what role does Linux play?

Kronfält: Linux is a huge part of the foundation to all I do. I work at a software vendor. Basically everything we build is on Linux. Almost everything we use runs on Linux.

Linux.com: Where do you see the Linux job market growing the most in the coming years?

Kronfält: Hard to pinpoint where it will grow the most. It will grow in all markets. The future for Linux professionals looks bright.

Linux.com: What advice would you give those considering certification for their preparation?

Kronfält: Run a virtual environment and test out the Domains and Competencies for each certification. Search the web for examples but try to complete them without using the web. Reset and restart, do it again. Read man pages. Ask a friend. Find a mentor. Practice makes perfect.

Linux.com: If you have found employment in the IT industry, do you feel like your certification was beneficial?

Kronfält: It has been beneficial. Even though I’ve been in the business for a long time (and have proven my skills) in many ways, the LF certifications show my interest and level of seriousness in my relation to Linux. Personally, I really like LF and being certified makes me happier. Passion and grit go a long way.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

Read more:

Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator: Gabriel Rojo Argote

Linux Foundation LFCE Georgi Yadkov Shares His Certification Journey

Linux Foundation LFCS and LFCE: Pratik Tolia

Linux Foundation Certified Engineer: Gbenga “Christopher” Adigun

Linux Foundation Certified Engineer: Karthikeyan Ramaswamy

Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator: Muneeb Kalathil

Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator: Theary Sorn

Linux Foundation Certified Engineer: Ronni Jensen

Void Linux: A Salute to Old-School Linux | Linux.com


I’ve been using Linux for a very long time. Most days I’m incredibly pleased with where Linux is now, but every so often I wish to step into a time machine and remind myself where the open source platform came from. Of late, I’ve experimented with a few such distributions, but none have come as close as to what Linux once was than Void Linux.

Void Linux (created in 2008) is a rolling release, general purpose Linux distribution, available for Intel, ARM, and MIPS architectures. Void offers a few perks that will appeal to Linux purists:

  • Void isn’t a fork of another distribution.

  • Void uses runit as the init system.

  • Void replaced OpenSSL with LibreSSL (due to the Heartbleed fiasco).

  • Void uses its own, built-from scratch, package manager (called xbps).

Most of all, Void makes you feel like you’re using Linux of old (especially if you opt for the Xfce take on the desktop). With Void, you can opt to download a release with one of the following desktops:

  • Xfce

  • Cinnamon

  • Enlightenment

  • Lxde

  • Lxqt

You can also download a GUI-less version and install your desktop of choice.

With the exception of Cinnamon, the options are all focused on creating a very lightweight desktop. To that end, Void Linux will run very well on your hardware. I should make mention here that working with Void Linux in VirtualBox is an exercise in frustration. I use VirtualBox for all my testing purposes and Void does not play well with the VirtualBox ADDONS. Because of this, Void runs terribly slow in VirtualBox (even after following the Void Linux official instructions on successful host installation). With that warning in check, if you want to test Void Linux, install it on a desktop machine and save yourself an hour or two of hair pulling.

That old-school installation

Regardless of what Void Linux desktop you opt to install, you’re going to get a taste of what it was like to install Linux “back in the day”. No it’s not a perfect recreation, but it’s close enough. So download Void Linux, with your desktop of choice, and get ready.

When you boot the live ISO image, you will find yourself on whatever desktop you’ve chosen. One thing you won’t find is a tried-and-true Install icon on the desktop, for simplified installation. Oh no. The installation of Void is handled through the terminal window, thanks to a lovely ncurses-based system.

Upon boot, you must open up a terminal window, su to the root user (the default root user password is voidlinux), and then issue the command void-installer. This will fire up the ncurses-based installer, where you must walk through the various installation steps (Figure 1).

You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move up and down and hit Enter to select a menu entry to configure. However, if you just hit Enter on the first entry, and then configure that option, you will automatically be moved down to the next step. Most of these steps are very intuitive. It’s not until you get to the Partitioning and Filesystems that you might find cause to raise an eyebrow. Of course, any user who remembers the process of installing Linux from the early days shouldn’t have a problem with these steps. But if you’re used to, say, the Ubuntu installer (that makes the installation of the platform as simple as installing an application), you might have trouble.

When you reach the partition section of the installation (Figure 2), you’ll want to tab down to New, hit Enter, and then define the size for the partition. Mark the partition bootable, tab to Write, and hit Enter (on your keyboard).

Once the partition is written, tab to Quit and hit Enter. In the filesystem section (Figure 3), you must first select a filesystem type and then specify the mount point.

The mount point for your filesystem will most likely be /. Enter that in the section to specify the mount point for /dev/sda1 (Figure 4), tab down to OK, and then hit Enter.

Once you have your filesystem and mount point taken care of, you can then move down to Install and run the installer. This section will take about two minutes. When the installation completes, you can then reboot and enjoy your newly installed Void Linux distribution.

Post installation

With Void Linux installed, you’ll find a fairly minimum set of tools available. Out of the box, there is no office suite, no email client, no image editor, not even a graphical package manager. What you have is a barebones desktop, with a nice command line installation tool, that allows you to install exactly what you want.

What many Linux faithful will appreciate the most about Void Linux is that it opts for runit, over systemd. The runit system is incredibly fast and easily configured. For example, where systemd requires complex run scripts, runit can start a process with a single line of code. That not only makes runit very easy to configure, but goes a long way to speeding up the process. For more information on runit, check out the official page.

If you don’t happen to like the desktops offered by Void, you can install, say, GNOME using the xbps-install command like so:

xbps-install -S gnome

It just so happens, the version of GNOME available to the Void Linux repositories is 3.26, so you’re getting the latest greatest GNOME desktop. There are thousands of other applications you can install on Void. You can query the package manager like so:

xbps-query -Rs PACKAGENAME

Where PACKAGENAME is the name of the software you want to find.

Who should enter the Void?

I can’t say I’d recommend Void Linux to just anyone. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that new-to-Linux users need not apply. Out of the box, Void doesn’t really offer enough in the way of user-facing applications to appease the new crowd. And because there isn’t a GUI package manager, new users would find themselves frustrated very quickly.

However, if you’re wise to the ways of Linux (especially the command line), Void is a refreshing change from the same ol’ same ol’. Void offers just the right amount of old-school Linux to make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, while still able to maintain enough modernity to remain current.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.