Friday, May 28, 2010

Opera Browser is Officially Faster Than A Potato

Opera, ever cool in its effort to promote its browser over larger rivals, is poking fun at Google's recent video boasting about the speed of its Chrome browser.

This awesomely funny ad says "The Opera browser is much faster than a potato," which features herring-obsessed caricatured Scandinavians rolling the tubers into a pot of water at the same time Opera loads a Web page.

The video is a not-so-subtle dig at Google, which promoted Chrome's speed using elaborately staged stunts recorded with high-speed videography. The first example: involved shooting a potato through a grid to make french fries, with a Web page loading in scene as the sliced potato pieces whizzed by.

Do take a look!

Amazing Gnome Media Player 0.1.3 Released

gnome media player

Gnome Media Player is a very young Linux application which although it doesn't come with many features, it's amazing under-the-hood as it supports the VLC, Xine and Gstreamer engines for playing media - you can either choose the engine manually or allow Gnome Media Player to automatically select the best one for the video you're trying to view.

Today, a new version of Gnome Media Player has been released: 0.1.3 which doesn't bring any new features but only bug-fixes.

If you didn't give Gnome Media Player a try, you really should. Among it's features are:

  • has a GNOME/GTK interface
  • does double-click fullscreen
  • can use the mouse scroll wheel
  • uses libvlc, xine-lib or libgstreamer
  • a playlist that loops
  • middle mouse button pause
  • can deinterlace (not available on the libgstreamer engine)

Install Gnome Media Player in Ubuntu Karmic and Lucid using the following PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome-media-player-development/development && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-media-player

gnome media player

Gnome Media Player is a very young Linux application which although it doesn't come with many features, it's amazing under-the-hood as it supports the VLC, Xine and Gstreamer engines for playing media - you can either choose the engine manually or allow Gnome Media Player to automatically select the best one for the video you're trying to view.

Today, a new version of Gnome Media Player has been released: 0.1.3 which doesn't bring any new features but only bug-fixes.

If you didn't give Gnome Media Player a try, you really should. Among it's features are:

  • has a GNOME/GTK interface

  • does double-click fullscreen

  • can use the mouse scroll wheel

  • uses libvlc, xine-lib or libgstreamer

  • a playlist that loops

  • middle mouse button pause

  • can deinterlace (not available on the libgstreamer engine)

Install Gnome Media Player in Ubuntu Karmic and Lucid using the following PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome-media-player-development/development && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-media-player

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Skype Now in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx from official partner repository

imageSkype has just been uploaded to the "partner" official Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx repository.

So you can now install skype in your ubuntu 10.04 without downloading the setup files from skype.

So to install Skype in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx from the partner repository, go to System > Administration > Software Sources and on the "Other software" tab, enable (check the box next to it) the " lucid partner" repository.
Now type
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install skype
Enjoy using skype.

Fedora 13 released with open 3D drivers and Python 3 stack

imageThe developers behind the popular Fedora Linux distribution announced on Tuesday the official release of version 13, codenamed Goddard. It brings some important platform improvements and several new desktop applications.

In order to get hardware-accelerated 3D graphics on the Linux desktop, users have typically had to rely on the proprietary drivers that are supplied by the graphic card vendors. The Linux community has had tremendous difficulty building its own alternative open source drivers, but the hard work is starting to pay off.

Fedora 13 offers open source drivers that support an assortment of ATI, NVIDIA, and Intel graphics cards, allowing many users to run a compositing window manager or play 3D games without having to install proprietary bits. The availability of hardware-accelerated graphics with open drivers will be especially important after the upcoming release of GNOME 3, which has a new user interface shell that relies on compositing. An early preview of the new GNOME Shell is available from the Fedora repositories for users who want to test it now.

The Fedora team introduced a major overhaul of its installer in version 11 last year. It had very serious problems when it was first included in the distro, as we documented in our review. It became substantially more robust in version 12 as the bugs were fixed. Work on the installer has continued in Fedora 13, with an emphasis on simplifying the installation process and making it more intuitive. The designers have done some nice work to make partitioning less intimidating to new users, as you can see in the following screenshot of the installer:


Software developers have a lot to look forward to in Fedora 13. One of the major goals for the release is to make it possible for developers to install a working Python 3 stack alongside the 2.6 series. It's important to note that this initiative isn't isolated to just the runtime and standard libraries—it also includes a lot of commonly-used third-party modules. This will simplify the process of porting existing Python applications to the new version of the programming language. For an overview of some of the packages that are available, you can refer to the table that is published in the Fedora wiki.

Fedora 13 ships with GNOME 2.30, the latest stable version of the GNOME desktop environment. The new version of GNOME adds a few noteworthy improvements, such as support for a split-pane view in the Nautilus file manager, support for Facebook chat in the Empathy instant messaging client, and improved iPod compatibility. In a move that is sure to disappoint my colleague John Siracusa, Nautilus now defaults to browser mode instead of spatial.

Fedora has introduced several new tools of its own that improve the desktop user experience, including a system that leverages PackageKit to automate the installation of printer drivers. Another nice improvement is robust support for color management, including a tool for configuring color profiles. Fedora is cozying up to the Vala programming language with the addition of a nice new image management tool called Shotwell and a lightweight Twitter and client called Pino.

I tested Fedora 13 myself to see how it compares to the previous version. It's a fairly solid release, certainly one of the better offerings from Fedora that I've seen in a while. The improvements relative to version 12 are somewhat modest, but compelling enough to motivate an upgrade. The general level of fit and finish has increased since the previous version. After spending several hours with Fedora 13, my conclusion is that the new hat is a good fit.

Fedora 13 is available for download from the project's official Web site. For more details about the new version, you can refer to the comprehensive release notes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to install Adobe PDF Reader on any Linux

Installing Adobe Reader on Linux is easy. Here are the full steps how to install it on Linux.
This tutorial should be applicable on various Linux distributions such as Slackware, Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Redhat and others.

1. Download the Adobe Reader
Go to to download the latest version of Adobe Reader. Make sure to download the .bin file.

2. Make it executable
Once the file downloaded, make it executable.

$ chmod +x AdbeRdr9.3.2-1_i486linux_enu.bin
3. Start to install it
Now it is the time to start the installation.

$ sudo ./AdbeRdr9.3.2-1_i486linux_enu.bin

Extracting files, please wait. (This may take a while depending on the configuration of your machine)

This installation requires 145 MB of free disk space.

Enter installation directory for Adobe Reader 9.3.2 [/opt]

Installing platform independent files ... Done
Installing platform dependent files ... Done
Setting up libraries ... Done
Setting up desktop and menu icons ... Done
Setting up the browser plugin ... Done
It will be installed in /opt directory. Of course you can change to other directory as you want.
A shortcut icon will be created in the Desktop. To run, just double click it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Improved WebM Support for Linux Opera Browser

Opera dev team has just released new releases of their experimental WebM supported browser.

When we initially announced WebM support some Linux users may have found that the builds provided did not work for them. However, we have subsequently made a small tweak to the Linux packages so that they should now work on a wider range of distros. If WebM support wasn't working for you before on Linux, then please re-download the package and try again.

As always the best way to test an experimental build is to run Opera 'in place'. To use a package in this way, from the terminal enter the following:

$ tar xf opera-10.54-21867-webm.i386.linux.tar.bz2
$ opera-10.54-21867-webm.i386.linux/opera &
(This assumes a 32-bit system. Adjust accordingly if you have a 64-bit system).

If you want to install the Linux build alongside your main Opera Linux install, use the included install script and specify a suffix of webm, as follows:

$ opera-10.54-21867-webm.i386.linux/install --suffix webm

If you continue to have problems playing video, ensure that you have all the required video dependencies installed. See "Using video with Opera 10.50 on Linux/UNIX" for more information.

WARNING: This is an experimental Labs release. It may contain severe bugs and cause data loss. Or it may just provide great HTML5 video support.

Linux (32-bit)
Linux (64-bit)

Ubuntu Maverick Improvement, Faster Calculator?

A new version of GCalctool, the default calculator application used in Ubuntu has been released. The new version (5.31.1) has some changes, most notably its speed. It is now faster than Chromium. (Yes the browser. See this:


Here is a list of the changes with GCalctool 5.31.1 :
New color scheme, as you have already seen from the picture above.
It starts really fast.
Keyboard input and accessibility works without any problems.

Although it is supposed to come with Maverick, you can install it from the PPA if you are using Lucid. To do it, open the terminal and execute the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:robert-ancell/gcalctool
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gcalctool


Here is the reason behind this ‘improvement’, from this link

Calculators. You need them.

On the Friday of the Ubuntu Developer Summit we do 5 minute lightning talks. Evan Martin from Chromium did a bit on Speed, and why they’re so obsessed with it.

To prove his point he compared Chromium’s launch time vs. gcalctool. Yes, the web browser was launching faster than the calculator.

I am not sure if Evan knew it or not, but Robert Ancell (one of the gcalctool guys!) was in the audience. And not content with failure, he went and fixed it. The ball is in your court now Chromium!

(Note: I am not advocating any kind of Calculator acid test or Calcspider speed test, before anyone gets any bright ideas.)

Manage Kindle From Ubuntu

In this article I will show you how to install and use Calibre to manage your Kindle book reader. NOTE: I have written about Clibre before (but only covered managing books in the Sony ebook reader). See my article “Manage Sony Reader in Linux”  for more details.


Installation is simple as you will find Clibre in the standard repositories. So you will only need to issue a command like sudo apt-get install calibre. Or you can do the usual:
Open up your Add/Remove Software application.
Search for “calibre” (no quotes).
Mark Calibre for installation.
Click Apply to install.

You can fire up Calibre either from the command line (enter calibre) or from the Applications > Office menu. As you will know (from previous Ghacks Calibre articles), the interface is simple. I won’t go over that. But I will walk you through the new first run wizard for setting up Calibre to be used with a Kinde.


When you first fire up Calibre you will be asked to set up the application for your eReader. The first step you will see this in is shown in Figure 1. Make sure you select the correct version of the Kindle you own.


In the next step you will set up how Calibre can send books to your Kindle without the device having to be plugged in. You will need to know your Kindle email address in order to set this up. Figure 2 shows the information you will need in order to get this working. You can use Gmail mail servers if you do not have access to an smtp server. I highly recommend you test the email settings before you move on. Upon a successful email test, you can then click the Next button to complete the setup.

Sending books to your Kindle


Let’s say you have already added a bunch of books to your Kindle. You don’t have your Kindle attached to your computer but you want to send a few books anyway. If you open up your library and right click a book you want to send you can select the book to be sent to your Kindle email address (see Figure 3).

Yes, there are books on my Kindle written by me ;-).  As usual, the emailed book will only arrive to your Kindle if you have the Whispernet turned on.

Final thoughts

Managing your Kindle books is getting easier and easier. And thanks to applications like Calibre, the task only gets more seamless


Lookit-Screenshot Application For Ubuntu

Lookit is a TinyGrab inspired application for taking desktop screenshots and having them automatically upload to an FTP or SFTP server of your choice.

URLs are automatically copied to the system clipboard allowing users to quickly paste the link in an email, blog post, on Twitter, or any instant messaging application.

Screenshot options sit in the LookIt indicator applet menu and the FTP server can be configured from the preferences menu.


Future plans include adding Ubuntu One and imgur as upload locations.
PPA Installation
LookIt is installable from the official Lookit Lucid-only PPA.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lookit/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install lookit



Friday, May 21, 2010

5 Alternative Ways To Install Ubuntu

Installing From USB

alternative ubuntu install

It’s 2010; optical drives are all but dead. If you’ve got a computer without an optical drive, be it a netbook or simply a desktop with a broken drive, don’t panic: you can install Ubuntu from your USB drive.

The best tool for the job, of course, is UNetBootin. This tool is capable of writing a wide variety of Linux Live CDs to your USB key or external hard drive. Boot from your USB key and you should be good to go, installing Ubuntu the same way you do from a computer.

Want to learn more about using UNetBootin? Check out Blake’s article How To Install Linux With Ease with UNetBootin.

Trying to create a bootable disk from your Mac? UNetBootin won’t work, but Jeffry’s article How To Create A Portable Ubuntu Installation USB On The Machas you covered (but if you have access to a Windows or Linux computer that’s the simplest way to go).

Installing From Within Windows

Many Ubuntu zealots will tell you that the ideal Ubuntu situation is quit Windows entirely, but that’s not completely necessary: Windows and Ubuntu can co-exist quite peacefully.

In fact, if you want, you can install Ubuntu directly from inside Wubi. If you have an Ubuntu CD go ahead and insert it in Windows; you’ll be asked if you want to install Ubuntu. This is possible because of a program called Wubi.

alternative ubuntu install

Don’t have a Ubuntu CD? That’s okay, you can download Wubi from the web. It will automatically download Ubuntu and install it for you. Best of all, if you decide you don’t like Ubuntu you can remove it from within Windows the way you would any piece of Windows software.

Read all about the wonders of Wubi in Tim’s article How to Set Up a Dual Boot Windows & Linux System with Wubi.

On A Mac

Mac users are often hesitant about installing Ubuntu on their system. This is understandable; Mac’s own Boot Camp software doesn’t officially support Linux and many of the guides for doing so around the Internet are really complicated.

To a certain extent there’s no getting around this: this is going to be complicated. Ubuntu’s got an excellent set of documentation, however, which will give you an idea of what’s involved. All methods described there are based on rEFit, an alternative boot loader for Macs that’s far more Linux friendly than BootCamp. If you want an in-depth look at rEFit from us here at MakeUseOf be patient – I plan on writing it up just as soon as I get my hands on a Mac (though my Mac friends are quite careful to keep this from happening, so it may be a while…)

Install To USB Disk

Having your USB disk function as a LiveCD is cool, but if you want a portable version of Ubuntu that you can customize however you like and use on any computer don’t worry: there are a variety of tools for the job. You could use Portable Linux for the job, orLiveUSBCreator.

Alternatively, you could just boot the Ubuntu installation CD and install to your thumb drive instead of to a regular drive. For more information check out this article over at

Install Using VMWare

As it turns out, you can make use of VMWare to install Ubuntu onto any drive. Here’s how it works: create a new virtual machine, but instead of creating a virtual disk tell VMWare to write the operating system directly to a physical drive. This can be a secondary drive in your computer or a USB thumb drive, it doesn’t matter; what does matter is the result. You’ll have Ubuntu installed on the external drive of your choice.

This could be a solution if you need to install Ubuntu onto a computer with no optical drive and no working USB port, provided you have an extra computer. Simply remove the hard drive from that computer and connect it to another computer with a USB to IDE connector, or by opening your other computer and connecting it internally. Then fire up VMware and install Ubuntu to the drive with it.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Check out the write-up over at for more information.

Upgrading From The Previous Version

If you’re using Ubuntu 9.10 and want to switch to the sleek Ubuntu 10.04, don’t worry: Ubuntu has you covered. Just fire up your update utility and you’ll see the following:

upgrade ubuntu

Click this and your upgrade will start. Just know that you should probably back up your data before doing so. It’s also worth noting that this process can take a long time – it involves downloading and installing about 700 MB worth of packages – so make sure you won’t need your computer for at least a few hours beforehand.

Find more information about upgrading Ubuntu over at Ubuntu’s website.


There you have it: a series of unique ways to install Ubuntu. I realize many of these methods could work with just about any version of Linux, so feel free to apply them as you see fit.

There are more methods out there, that’s for sure. If none of these fits your unusual situation I highly recommend you check out the many scenarios laid out and see what you can find.

Have any other alternative Ubuntu install methods you particularly like? Let me know about them in the comments below, and link to documentation if you want. Also feel free to point out any details I may have missed in describing these methods.


Battery Applet For Gnome

battery status screenshot ubuntu

Battery Status is a project for GNOME, that shows information about laptop battery state. It comes with a lot of additional features, so usual icon of GNOME Power Manager can be removed from Notification/Indicator Area. Don't worry about the battery icon in Ubuntu being a part of the Indicator Applet, when you first add BatteryStatus to the panel, it will ask to remove the default battery icon (but will keep the Indicator Applet).

battery status ubuntu

Gnome's Power Manager battery icon only shows the remaining battery power. But using the Battery Status applet, the user can access:

  • Battery Status dialog
  • Power Statistics (provided by GNOME Power Manager)
  • "Show" setting
  • CPU frequency scaling (provided by gnome-applets/cpufreq-applet)
  • Power Management preferences (provided by GNOME Power Manager)

You can also set the icon display the remaining battery (either minutes or percentage) in the notification area. But that's not all Battery Status can do and Battery Status 0.1 has just been released so more tweaks to come! For more info, visit Battery Status webpage.

To install Battery Status in Ubuntu, simply paste this in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:iaz/battery-status && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install battery-status

Once installed, right click your Gnome panel, select "Add to panel" and then add the "Battery applet". If you're using Ubuntu Netbook Edition, the Gnome panel is locked and you cannot add/remove applets by default, but here is a fix for this: Add / Remove Gnome Panel Applets In Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04

Ubuntu users can even run the Battery Status as an indicator using the following command:

/usr/lib/battery-status/battery-status --indicator

(make sure you put this in your startup applications).

Battery Status uses GConf for settings so if you want to change anything, you can find all the settings in/apps/battery_status.

If you're not using Ubuntu, see installation instructions for Battery Status, HERE.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Avidemux 2.5.3 Released (Available At GetDeb Ubuntu Repository)

avidemux screenshot ubuntu

Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.

Avidemux came in second place in our best Linux video editor poll. Although designed as a video editor, many people use Avidemux as a video encoder as well.

Avidemux 2.5.3 was released 2 days ago, the new version bringing:

  • Fixed again partial filter
  • Added support for I420 video decoding
  • H.263 video encoder now supports more profiles
  • mpeg2enc video encoder no longer drops first few frames and now works on Win32
  • The majority of video encoders are now plugins
  • Updated the FFmpeg libraries
  • Updated libass
  • Avsproxy now supports audio
  • All auto wizards are now scripted and available in both interfaces (GTK+ and Qt)
  • Needed files to compile your own plugins on windows (the *sdk*.zip file)
  • Various minor fixes and enhancements

Avidemux 2.5.3 is available @ repository for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx users only. If you don't have the repository added to your sources.list simply download THIS deb package, install it and it automatically adds the repository.

Then, to install Avidemux 2.5.3, paste this in a terminal:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install avidemux

For other Linux distributions, MacOS X and Windows, see the Avidemux download page.

from Web Upd8 by Andrew

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sheldon Cooper Of Big Bang Theory Uses UBUNTU!

The Big Bang Theory has become my top favorite series from the time it started. The Big Bang Theory starring a group of four friends, all of whom have unusual habits has been a hit with the student and the geek culture.

The humor is something that only geeks get and that makes them feel special and exclusive.

Well, if you are a Linux fan and you have not noticed, Sheldon Cooper, the self-proclaimed genius and truest nerd on The Big Bang Theory has been seen using Ubuntu.

See for yourself in this video.

Bring Compiz-like Eyecandy to Firefox

If you’ve read me long enough, you know I like my eye candy. And one of my favorite bits of eye candy is Compiz (check out all the Compiz-related content here on Ghacks). And although Compiz can really saturate your desktop with 3D effects, it doesn’t actually offer anything within the applications themselves. Fortunately there are third-party tools for this. One of those third-party tools is for Firefox and brings a 3D effect to tabbed browsing. That tool? Foxtab!

Foxtab is a Firefox extension that add a 3D tab management within the Firefox browser. It allows you to easily cycle through all of your currently open tabs in various 3D methods.  It’s easy to install and fun to use. In this article I will show you how to install and use this nifty extension.


Foxtabs offers the following features:

  • 3D tabs management.
  • Quick access to certain sites.
  • Reopen recently closed tabs.
  • Cycle between tabs.
  • Set different layouts and themes.
  • Set top sites as default tab view.

So it’s not just beautification, it does offer some enhancements to functionality. Now, let’s see how the magic happens.


Foxtabs is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. In order to install you simply have to visit the Foxtabs main page and click on the Install Now button. Foxtab installs like any other Firefox extension. Once installed, you will have to restart Firefox. That’s it for setup. You are now ready for a bit of configuration.


Figure 1

When you restart Firefox the Add-ons window will open up (along with the Firefox window). In this window you will see the Foxtab extension listed. If you click on that listing you will see the Preferences button appear. Click on that Preferences button to bring up the Foxtab Preferences window (see Figure 1).

In the Preferences window you will find five tabs. These tabs hold some very cool features:

General: This is where you can configure the default new tab page (the Top sites page is cool), where to show Top Sites (either in context menu or button in toolbar), and how to display open tabs.

Interactive Mode: This tab is where you configure how various aspects of Foxtabs are launched (such as theming, top sites, recently closed tabs, etc), the size of Foxtabs top sites when it is in use, and a few miscellaneous options.

Flip Mode: In this tab you configure the key combination to cycle through your tabs as well as the size of the tab cycling, the preferred cycling layout (Carousel and Page Flow are my favorites), and when not to launch Foxtabs.

Display: On this tab you can configure how to display some of the various aspects of the different cycling layouts and the orientation of the cycling layouts.

Advanced: On the final tab you can configure a number of settings such as animation, grouping, and filtering.


Figure 2

It’s very simple to use Foxtabs. When you have a number of tabs open, to cycle through those open tabs by clicking <Ctrl>Tab. Figure 2 shows what the Page Flow cycling option looks like when cycling through tabs.

Final thoughts

Foxtabs is a pretty cool extension for the Firefox browser. Do try it out!

via Ghacks

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video Codec War: H.264 Fork For Firefox

I'd love for fifteen or twenty minutes to go by without my Google Reader barfing out yet another piece of software patent or "HTML5 video codec war" news, but that's how it is. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the video tag didn't become standardized until HTML6 or 7.
One serious downside to the lack of consensus is the fact that your browser may very well not have built-in support for some video files embedded with the tag. Firefox, for example, is running with Ogg Theora and won't be bolting on H.264 support. Apart from patent issues, there's a $5 million price tag to be paid to MPEG-LA if Mozilla did want to support the codec, and they still wouldn't be able to include that code in their open source.
But developers love to spin remixes of the Fox, and it only makes sense that someone would take matters into his or her own hands. Enter Maya Posch, who has launched the Wild Fox project on SourceForge. The plan: add H.264 support to Firefox's stable branch using
libavcodec or GStreamer.
Posch feels "that decisions have been made due to patents which do not apply in most parts of the world." He continues, "The Wild Fox project aims to rectify this by releasing builds with these features included, builds which will of course only be available to those not in software patent-encumbered countries."
That sounds useful, right? A nice, pre-packaged Firefox build with H.264 support? Sure it does, but there's a potential pitfall.
While you would probably be able to download and install Wild Fox even in the U.S. and Korea (two of the patent-encumbered countries),
Thomas Holwerda of OSNews warns that you'd be doing so at your own risk, saying "MPEG-LA has clearly stated that it will sue unlicensed users (and is clearly not afraid to do so)." Their director of Global Licensing, Allen Harkness, has said "where a royalty has not been paid, such a product remains unlicensed and any downstream users/distributors would have liability."
Yes, that means MPEG-LA could come after you if you choose to browse with Wild Fox. However, it's infinitely more likely that they'd target Posch and Wild Fox.

via Download Squad

Sunday, May 16, 2010

4 Netbook Operating Systems Worth Checking Out

netbook operating systemsNetbooks are fantastic portable devices. They’re portable, lightweight and–perhaps best of all–really cheap. But netbooks can seem hopelessly limited when used with standard desktop operating systems such as Windows or Ubuntu. This is why I recommend every netbook owner look into getting a netbook operating system.

A netbook OS is, simply put, an operating system designed with netbook users in mind. These will leave out features netbook users never need, such as CD burning. They also typically feature a user interface that keeps in mind the limited real estate netbooks feature.

Currently, the best netbook operating systems on the market are Linux-based, and most of those are based on Ubuntu. If you’re not sure what your options are, you’ve found the right article. Below are four excellent systems you can download right now, and another to keep an eye on for later this year.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Most Linux netbook systems seem to be based off of this one in some way or another, so it’s really worth starting with Ubuntu Netbook Edition (previously named Ubuntu Netbook Remix.) In March of 2008, the folks at Canonical launched this operating system, attempting to establish the Ubuntu brand on the rapidly expanding netbook market. It worked: Dell sells Ubuntu netbooks and Canonical is reportedly working out a bunch of other deals.

netbook operating systems

This operating system wasn’t exactly designed from the ground up. It’s a Gnome-based system including most of the standard Ubuntu apps (Firefox, Open Office, F-Spot, etc.) What makes this setup different is compatibility with netbook hardware, and a GUI tailor-made to take advantage of the limited real estate netbook screens feature.

You don’t need to buy a Ubuntu netbook to make use of Ubuntu; you can install it on your netbook right now. Find instructions for doing so and a download over at


I’m not going to lie: this is the OS on my netbook right now. In fact, I’m writing this post from Jolicloud. I explained my love for this system in a recent post.

netbook operating systems

I won’t rehash too much here, so read the above article to find out more, but know that this system takes all that is good about Ubuntu Netbook Edition and builds from there. You’ll find an incredibly easy to use app installation process, apps customized to work well with your netbook and much more.

It’s also worth pointing out that this system is compatible with most netbooks on the market; check out a list of working computers here.

Find Jolicloud over at;  you’ll even find instructions for a simple installation.


This one’s not exactly a netbook operating system per se, but it can make a pretty good one. Crunchbang is based on Ubuntu but focuses on “speed, style and substance” to quote their website. Based on the lightweight Openbox window manager, Crunchbang certainly is fast and could run really well on your netbook. I highly suggest trying this out if traditional netbook operating systems don’t work out for you.

netbook os options

Find a download over at

It’s worth noting that in 2008, a group of EEE enthusiasts made a custom Crunchbang for EEE users: CrunchEEE. Check out Cruncheee here, but know that it’s over a year out of date.


Ubuntu Netbook Edition is great, but a lot of things don’t work out of the box. MP3s, for example, can’t be played until you install the codecs. EasyPeasy aims to be simple by offering propietary applications and codecs out of the box. You’ll be pleased to find MakeUseOf favourites including Skype and Picasa included by default.

netbook os options

Installing EasyPeasy is pretty easy. Check out downloads and installation instructions over at

Honorable Mention: Moblin/Meego

Back in December, I raved about the Moblin project in an article entitled “The Moblin Netbook OS – Giving Chrome OS a Run For Its Money.”  Well, since I wrote that article, Moblin merged with Nokia’s Maemo project to become Meego. There’s no downloadable version of this system yet, but based on how excellent Moblin was, I’m expecting big things. Keep an eye on this project, and know that I’ll write a review here at MakeUseOf as soon as something solid comes out.

netbook os options

For now you can still download the old Moblin at and keep up with the Meego project at


There are a number of great netbooks on the market, and a bunch more great netbook operating systems worth trying out. I’ve only highlighted a few of the pack leaders worth checking out, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface if you’re willing to dig.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chromium to be default browser in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition

The Opensource Chromium browser - the base behind Google Chrome - will be the default browser in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Netbook Edition - at least until Alpha 3!
The decision, taken today in the Default Netbook App Selection session at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, was based on a variety of reasons not least of which favoured the good code base, upstream maintainance and the browser speed. The wide plugin base and the flexibility of webkit were also seen as plus.
Issues raised concerning Chromium's non-native look, lack of support for native scrollbars and issues with printing will lead the Netbook team to decide, by Alpha 3, whether or not it will remain default for the full cycle. One area that will certainly need consideration will be compatability with the new global menu bar coming in the netbook edition.
During the discussion other alternative browsers mooted were Midori - which was praised for its speed and active development but untimely rejected due to lack of user awareness and the surging popularity of Chromium.

Coming Soon… Linux Mint 9

According to Clem at the Linux Mint Blog, version 9 of Linux Mint will soon be ready for public release. Here’s what Clem says about it:

Looking at the remaining bugs and considering the amount of testing needed I would say we’re about 1 week away from releasing Linux Mint 9. I know most operating systems and distributions stick to release dates and announce them well in advance but I see no reason not to release something once it’s ready …

Clem stated this on Monday of this week, so we can expect to see some action shortly after the coming weekend. I enjoy using Mint and nearly always keep a copy of it on home machines. Here’s a snapshot of version 8 on my netbook:


Here’s a video showing off the look and feel of Mint 9.


Link to video

The major change for Mint 9 will be that it’s running on top of the new Ubuntu 10.4. Mint is one of the best versions of Linux for new users because it’s ready to use as soon as it’s installed. Ubuntu is often missing multimedia codecs, players such as Adobe Flash and support for some types of movie files.

New users will also have no problems figuring out the program menus which are similar to those used in Windows. When my nieces and nephews drop in for a visit, I often make them use Mint to surf the net. That way, I don’t have to worry about my PC getting infected with the latest Facebook or MySpace bugs. It’s bullet proof! (kid proof)

I am looking forward to trying out the new Mint next week. What are you doing next week?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Linux now makes ice cream. Can your OS do that?

Before I get a bunch of angry comments, I want to say I'm aware that Linux powers all sorts of computers outside of the PC market, but this particular example was too, well, cool not to share. TheMooBella is a Linux-powered ice cream maker currently being tested in New England. It's not small enough to use at home, but the ice cream is reportedly pretty tasty.
The brain of the MooBella uses Red Hat running on pretty basic off-the-shelf hardware. It has a wireless connection for remote maintenance, and you order your ice cream on a 15" touch screen. Even if you would never run Linux on your own PC, you have to admit it's good for something. Check out a video of this sweet (har har) technology after the jump.

Linagora Acquires Mandriva

Mandriva, the Linux distro and the company behind this distro are both up for sale as confirmed by one of the potential buyers. Mandriva is a French company with a Linux distro by the same name. This announcement was made on the French Mandriva portal.

Mandriva is a merger of the Mandrake and the Conectiva distro. Though, it seems like the company is in heavy losses and cannot hold up anymore. Mandriva is also well know for filing a bankruptcy protection earlier. This time though, it is simply giving up for good.

Mandriva is said to have decided on this a month ago and is looking for potential buyers ever since. A potential buyer includes Linagora, which is a French open-source company. Lingaroa has also confirmed that it is going to acquire Mandriva and they have already started moving Mandriva assets.

Mandriva has been a very popular Linux distro and has gathered a strong following. Once this acquisition completes, Linagora should assure Mandriva users with a continued support and development.

(Via: Unixmen)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Use wget to Download Entire Websites in Linux

Basic wget Commands:
To download a file from the Internet type:

If you are downloading a large file, for example an ISO image, this could take some time. If your Internet connection goes down, then what do you do? You will have to start the download again. If you are downloading a 700Mb ISO image on a slow connection, this could be very annoying! To get around this problem, you can use the -c parameter. This will continue the download after any disruptions. eg:
wget -c

I have came across some websites that do not allow you to download any files using a download manager. To get around this,
wget -U mozilla

This will pass wget off as being a Mozilla web browser

Downloading Entire Sites:
Wget is also able to download an entire website. But because this can put a heavy load upon the server, wget will obey the robots.txt file.
wget -r -p

The -p parameter tells wget to include all files, including images. This will mean that all of the HTML files will look how they should do.

So what if you don't want wget to obey by the robots.txt file? You can simply add -e robots=off to the command like this:
wget -r -p -e robots=off

As many sites will not let you download the entire site, they will check your browsers identity. To get around this, use -U mozilla as I explained above.
wget -r -p -e robots=off -U mozilla

A lot of the website owners will not like the fact that you are downloading their entire site. If the server sees that you are downloading a large amount of files, it may automatically add you to it's black list. The way around this is to wait a few seconds after every download. The way to do this using wget is by including --wait=X (where X is the amount of seconds.)

you can also use the parameter: --random-wait to let wget chose a random number of seconds to wait. To include this into the command:
wget --random-wait -r -p -e robots=off -U mozilla

Other Useful wget Parameters:
--limit-rate=20k : Limits the rate at which it downloads files. (20Kb/s)
-b : Continues wget after logging out. Very useful if you are connecting to your home PC via SSH.
-o $HOME/wget_log.txt : Logs the output of the wget command to a text file within your home directory. Useful for if you are using wget in the background, as you can check for any errors that may appear.

Ubuntu 10.10 Will Get Unity, Ubuntu Light Interface

unity light ubunut
Ubuntu Light with Unity launcher

Mark Shuttleworth just announced a version of Ubuntu for the dual-boot called Unity and a range of Light versions of Ubuntu, both netbook and desktop, that are optimised for dual-boot scenarios. These "Light" Ubuntu versions are optimized for the web.

The Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 Maverick will get a new panel on the left of the screen which will be used for launching and switching between applications. This panel can be expanded so it is touch-friendly.

The top panel won't be removed since it will be used for the Global Menu which we aleady talked about as well as the window title.

But like Mark said, the Unity interface will also be available for the Desktop, with a dual-boot for instant web access (known as Ubuntu Netbook Light and Ubuntu Desktop Light). However, Ubuntu Light for the Desktop will only be available for OEM's, and you won't be able to download Ubuntu Light from

Given the requirement to customise the Light versions for specific hardware, there won’t be a general-purpose downloadable image of Ubuntu Light on



Unity already exists and can be installed from a PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:canonical-dx-team/une
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install unity

Then logout and then log back in selecting 'Unity UNE Session' from your login screen.

There are also a lot of branches to this project which you can get from HERE.

unity ubuntu 10.10

However, Unity for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 will evolve a lot and won't look like it is today. There is currently a mock-up available with an app called Dash which presents files and applications as an overlay. The inspiration for the Dash comes from consoles and devices, which use full-screen, media-rich presentation. We want the Dash to feel device-like, and use the capabilities of modern hardware:


Unity will use Mutter for window management, and Zeitgeist will be an anchor component of the file management approach. The interface itself is built in Clutter.

Unity already has its own page @ The webpage says that Ubuntu Light boots to the web in seven seconds on a Dell Mini 10v.

Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS)

More news on Unity will probably come soon, as the Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat development has already started. Also, UDS is not over yet, so things we might get some new announcements.

Mark Shuttleworth also announced at Ubuntu Developer Summit today that "The Perfect 10" will have new icons, new fonts and many other desktop improvements. Also, he said that Ubuntu 10.10 is set to be released on October 10, 2010 (that's 10.10.10).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Install Flash Player 10 on Ubuntu 10.04 64-bit Lucid Lynx

By default, the Flash player in the repositories is a 32-bit version of Flash. This version does not work properly on 64-bit installations of Ubuntu 10.04.
Someone made a bash script to automate the process of installing Flash Player 10 to Ubuntu. All you have to do is to type or copy-paste the following in the Terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal):
chmod +x

It will ask for your password. Just provide your password. Restart Firefox and enjoy your Flash Player 10!

Beagle Desktop Search

It's still lumbered with the memory-hog tag, but Beagle's becoming a classic

Having been around since the glory days of Richard Burton, discussions about Beagle's memory-hogging habit should really have come to an end by now. If anything, however, it's become a prime example of an application that just can't drop an old tag, however inaccurate.

Not surprisingly then, a large number of potential new users are scared away from Beagle because of the numerous forum and blog posts trashing it for its insatiable appetite for memory. The latest version, 0.3.9, is available in the repositories of just about all distros.

Beagle boolean

Controlling what directories to index and what paths to ignore has become standard in most desktop search tools, and Beagle doesn't disappoint.

Unlike most other tools, however, it also enables you to index your emails, IM, RSS readers, address book and more, in addition to the browsing history and bookmarks from your browser. And, with its built-in Inotify support, Beagle updates the index as soon as it detects any changes to files or directories.

By default, it indexes everything in your home directory, excluding the default *~, ~.tmp and other such paths. To change this behaviour, start Beagle, listed as Search under the Application > Accessories menu, and click Search > Preferences. From the Indexing tab of the Search Preferences window you can specify the directories to index, as well as the paths to exclude.

In addition to the graphical interface, Beagle has an extensive suite of command-line tools that you can use to create an index and search files. The command beagle-search .txt launches the graphical interface and shows you search results for .txt. The alternative is to use beagle-query, which prints out the search results on the terminal itself.

Browser interface

Beagle is equally at home on Gnome and KDE, but if you prefer a neutral environment, it can easily be arranged. To enable the web interface, open a terminal window and type the following:

/beagle-config Networking
WebInterface true

You can access the experimental web interface at http://localhost:4000. This is supposed to be accessible from other machines on the network too, but hey, it's still experimental.

When using these desktop search tools, remember that few of them can differentiate between filenames and file types, so searching for "mp3" and ".mp3" gives you very different results.

Beagle can extract text and metadata from a host of filetypes including Office documents, plain text, HTML, DocBook, various image and audio formats, and more. When looking for files, you can refine your search to one of the 14 available categories, such as Pictures, Media, Files, Archives, Mails and so on.

Select a type from the Find In drop‑down list to narrow the criteria. Beagle displays only eight items per page, so it's best to refine the search as much as possible, or you'll be clicking away at the tiny blue navigation arrow until your mouse gives up.

Beagle index

If you don't specify a category when searching, Beagle will still break up the results into different categories, such as Images, Documents or Folders. You can then scroll through several pages of each of these if there are many results.

Beagle can also look for search terms within files. If your search returns files that contain the query term, clicking on the file will reveal a partial sentence or matching text within that file. This isn't true for PDFs, for which Beagle only gives you a thumbnail.

The interface isn't very aesthetically pleasing, but the real beauty of Beagle lies in its complex search options. You can, for instance, prefix terms with a minus sign to exclude them from your search, or use the OR operator to define your query, or the date operator to limit the search within a date range.


Version: 0.3.9
Price: Free under GPL

Surviving despite the bad press, a little interface redesign will spell victory for Beagle.

Rating: 9/10

8 Best Tiny Linux Distos

There are plenty of reasons for wanting a low-resource distro running on your computer.
Maybe you have some ancient hardware that you need to breathe new life into. Perhaps you want something that will fit on a modestly sized memory stick. Or it might be that you want to run 200 virtual machines simultaneously on your desktop.
The important things that we'll look at here are the amount of space needed, how much processing power is required to get the distro running at an acceptable level, and the effort required to get it to work.
Something to bear in mind is that one of the ways in which developers are able to create slimmed down distros is by ditching the scripts and wizards that we've come to take for granted. This can complicate tasks that you might expect to be straightforward, such as installing software.
Strict criteria
The simple truth is that you'll be getting your fingers slightly grubbier with a low-resource distro than you would with a fully featured one. In selecting our shortlist, we've left out some contenders either because they didn't support older processors, they wouldn't install in 4GB or less of space, they simply didn't work on our hardware or they're no longer being maintained (as is the case for both RULE and U-Lite).
The one exception to this is Damn Small Linux – although it has been over a year since the last release, and the homepage is as quiet as the LXF office at 9.30 on a Monday morning, this is still such a widely used and influential project that it was considered worthy of inclusion.
There's still plenty of activity in the area of low-resource distros, including WattOS, which we hope to cover next time. We also gave Zenwalk a try, but ran into difficulty trying to run it on the low-spec system that we permitted ourselves here. But aside from this, it's a light and capable distro nonetheless and worth a look if you have the time.
Damn Small Linux: the original credit card distro
The rise and fall of Damn Small Linux is one of those tales along the lines of a great concept executed well. The idea was to create a Linux distro that was small enough to fit on a credit-card sized CD-ROM. With a target size of 50MB or less, this format certainly concentrates the developers' minds if they also want to create a hassle-free user experience.
For the most part, DSL does succeed. Based on the grandfather of all Live CDs, Knoppix, DSL strips out layer after layer of non-essential stuff, while leaving a core working system. It might not exactly be replete with applications, but there's enough there to legitimise its claim to the title of a desktop operating system.
Look past the rather clunky interface and the tricky-to-read text and you'll be amazed at the amount of functionality included with DSL. Text editors, a PDF viewer, Firefox and other handy utilities provide a workable and stable environment.
There are task-specific add-on Damn Small Linux packages available to download as well, and it's difficult to fault the level of hardware support.
Unfortunately, the story of DSL doesn't have a happy ending at the moment. The community developing it seems to have split rather fractiously over demands made by some of the contributors, so it's been a year since any of the main contributors has even posted on the project's website. The future of development seems uncertain.
We've included it here (in spite of the exclusion of other defunct systems) because it still holds up surprisingly well to some of the other options, and remains widely used.
If you need further testament, DSL was selected is one of the few systems supported by the (BKO) project. That said, obviously as time wears on, DSL slowly becomes more and more out of date, and may eventually become something of a liability.
Verdict: Damn Small Linux 
Version: 4.4.10 
Price: Free
This is a decent choice if you have space and memory to spare
Rating: 7/10

Crunchbang: the unofficial Ubuntu Lite
Long before there was an official Ubuntu-lite project, the ground had been contested by the likes of Xubuntu and U-list. CrunchBang ('#!', get it?), or HashPling as one might decide to call it, evolved some time later, but before there was official support for the Lubuntu project. The head-start seems to have worked out for the developers, though, because CrunchBang is pretty much there.
It comes in more than one flavour, but we decided to test the lite version because it fits in better with the theme of this particular Roundup. The installer was one of the easiest to use, but it didn't work on our decrepit hardware, only the virtual machine. The graphics driver seemed to be causing difficulty, so your mileage may vary.
Although this is a lite version, it still includes useful applications, including the Leafpad editor, VLC and Firefox 3.0.11. One of the major selling points is that this distro is built around Ubuntu, to the extent that the included Synaptic Package Manager will happily fetch anything from the Canonical repositories to bung on your box.
But as soon as you start installing big things, it comes tumbling down as dependencies spiral into gigabytes of space.
CrunchBang also takes the unusual but welcome step of stuffing a whole load of keyboard shortcuts into the desktop – quite literally, because the list is displayed on the screen via the Conky system monitor software. They mostly make use of the 'special key that should have a penguin on it', so they won't interfere with normal operations.
CrunchBang is small, stylish and performs well. It'll be interesting to see what happens here when Lubuntu is released publicly, but it seems that CrunchBang has a pretty solid proposition ready to go.
Verdict: Crunchbang 
Version: 9.0.4 Lite 
Price: Free
Stylish, compact and plenty of Ubuntu software available
Rating: 8/10

Lubuntu: here comes the official Ubuntu mini-distro
Early in 2009, Mark 'Space' Shuttleworth gave the nod to an Ubuntu project that would create a lightweight variant of the world's favourite distro. Based around LXDE, Lubuntu was on its way. And it still is. Well, getting a new distro sorted out takes more than a few months, so we shouldn't be too harsh.
It's also worth noting that at the time of writing, the current release was still an alpha version, so we're giving it extra latitude.
As with most of the other distributions here, the install media runs as a live CD first, which is a useful way to check that the system is going to work with your hardware before you go to the trouble of installing it. If you imagine that Lubuntu is going to look anything like Ubuntu, that idea will be destroyed the minute the desktop loads.
Lubuntu has more in common with the other LXDE distributions, with the LXPanel running at the bottom of the screen and a more KDE 3.x look to things rather than Gnome. The chosen apps aren't quite the usual – Firefox, AbiWord and Gnumeric are among those included, which seems to suggest that not everything in this distro is going to be pared to the bone.
Of course, the main selling point of this distro is that it will have access to the Ubuntu repositories for easy upgrades and plenty of extra packages to install if you need them.
We did have a couple of problems installing this to disk, so the figures in the table on page 35 that compare memory usage and disk space aren't that reliable. However, since this is still an alpha release, you couldn't really rely on them anyway.
Lubuntu is definitely one to watch for the future. With the backing of Canonical, it'll have the developer resources to make the other lite distro projects rather jealous.
Verdict: Lubuntu 
Version: Lucid Alpha 2 
Price: Free
Although it looks nothing like Ubuntu, this is one to keep an eye on as it moves towards a stable release
Rating: 6/10
Puppy Linux: is that a puppy in your pocket?
This sounds as though it ought to be based on Yellow Dog, but in fact, Puppy is a built-from-the-base-up independent distribution from down under. This is a middleweight offering – not as stripped back as some of the distros, but not bloated out to a full CD either.
Puppy linux
Memory usage is low to average and a recent kernel gives a good chance of hardware support, although it'll run on i386 hardware. It runs direct from RAM on the initial boot and reveals a packed desktop with some thoughtfully selected apps scattered about.
There are loads of helpful scripts to guide you through things such as setting up display preferences and installing to disk, but you still need to perform some stages manually. As is so often the case, less bloat means less complete and helpful apps that do everything for you, so you will need to put a little bit of effort in.
Puppy manages to pack a lot of programs in to a small space. For graphics, there's a lite version of Inkscape, a few camera tools, MTPaint and Gxine. Browsing and mail is taken care of by a full version of SeaMonkey rather than separate apps, while Gnumeric and AbiWord should suffice for most office purposes.
Packages available for additional install include IceWM and Openbox if you don't like the default window manager, plus a selection of other tools. Of course, the distribution also has GCC, so you can build your own software – which may be necessary since the repositories only hold a few dozen extra apps.
While it may be restrictive in the number of programs available, there's still a lot to recommend Puppy – it runs like a solid, modern distro but in a fraction of the space. However, if you have specific application needs, it may be easier to look elsewhere.
Verdict: Puppy Linux 
Version: 4.3.1 
Price: Free
A solid and dependable offering, but limited software available
Rating: 6/10

Slitaz: home brewed since 2007
Many of the lightweight Linux distros on offer are based on more popular desktop variants such as Debian, but this one's grown completely from scratch since 2007. It's one of the few that includes languages other than English (Spanish, French, German and Portuguese).
The base install is competent enough for a variety of tasks. The browser is Firefox 3.5, which may not be the most lightweight app you could think of installing, but it does give Slitaz the ability to run pretty much any web app, which is what many people will want to do with such a diminutive distro that doesn't have a lot of its own software.
That said, there's a cluster of useful tools included as part of the minimal install, including a MTPaint, a PDF reader, music player and a couple of editors (Leafpad and Nano). For lightweight and embedded projects, it rather unbelievably includes a fully functional webserver (Lighttpd) with PHP/CGI support, and various other standard network tools as well (such as SSH and FTP).
If you feel the need to bloat out the system, there are over a thousand packages available in the online repository. Package management is via a tool called Tazpkg, which is tiny, but straightforward and easy to use.
The packages themselves are custom archives with included information and dependencies, so you won't get caught up in a whole world of install pain (though you are limited to the packages available from the Slitaz repository, unless you want to make your own).
The desktop uses the nippy but low overhead Openbox window manager, combined with LXDE desktop, which should be pretty intuitive to most users (it's most akin to a KDE 3.x desktop).
Slitaz achieves the objective of cramming a lot into a small space. It doesn't have an overwhelming selection of default packages, but they do the job, and they do it very fast.
Verdict: Slitaz 
Version: 2.0 Cooking 
Price: Free
Exceptionally quick, deceptively powerful and has a built-in webserver
Rating: 9/10
Tiny Core Linux: smaller than the smallest thing
The Tiny Core project was started in 2008 by one of the refugees from DSL, so it isn't much of a surprise that it follows the same ethos of trying to get as much as possible into the minimum amount of space.
TinyCore linux
If anything, Tiny Core has taken this to more of an extreme, completely savaging the package base to create just about the smallest distribution you could still consider to be a Linux OS. While this is great news for those trying to fit the OS on to ancient hardware or embedded devices, it does inevitably mean you'll need to do more work if you want to do anything other than boot it up and look at the X display.
Fortunately, there's an app installer that enables access to the large repository of TCZ packages, so you can easily install the apps that you want. Dependencies are handled, but obviously, if you choose to install something like Firefox, you're going to see the disk space taken up by this distro ballooning to new levels. But you will have to install something, otherwise a few system scripts and a terminal will be your only company.
In some ways, it's not quite so useful to have such a diminutive distro. There may be some specialist cases, but for general use, most people can easily spare, say, 100MB of space. Sure, you can build on the Tiny Core install by adding applications, but it may have made things easier to aim for a slightly higher target to begin with.
But that's to take nothing away from the remarkable achievement of creating a Linux install that fits inside 10MB of space. It's easy to see Tiny Core becoming the basis of many specialist application distros – if you can get the base install down in size, it leaves you with a lot more room to pile on your custom applications.
Verdict: Tiny Core Linux 
Version: 2.8 
Price: Free
A remarkable achievement, but requires effort to install and use
Rating: 6/10

Unity Linux: great big Mandriva-based lusciousness
This Mandriva-based distro wants to give you low resource computing, but it doesn't want you to slum it. Although possibly the best-looking of the distros in the Roundup, it does come at the cost of a slow boot time.
Unity is pretty much as sluggish as a full desktop distro when it starts, compared to the nippy zippy likes of Slitaz and Tiny Core. Once the Openbox-based desktop is running, though, it is as fast and responsive as you could want a distro to be.
The install process couldn't be easier – run the graphical installer, tell it where you live, allow it to partition the drive however it likes and you're done in a couple of clicks. In fact, it may be a little too easy – perhaps it should ask a bit more about where you're installing, but there are manual options available for most of the stages. Installation may take a while, but you can always avail yourself of the live Unity while you're waiting, then reboot back into that lovely desktop.
That's when the real shock hits you – Unity has gobbled up nearly 1GB of space before you've even started installing anything! The minimal install does contain lots of configuration tools, but if you want to do anything like browse the web or play some music, you'll need to get downloading.
The smart package manager is preconfigured to fetch updates and packages from the extensive Unity mirrors, though you could most likely install Mandriva or generic RPMs without much difficulty. Setting up networking was seamless and we were gorging ourselves silly on frivolous applications such as image viewers and audio players in no time.
Surprisingly, once installed, Unity only came mid-table in terms of memory use, but we found that it was sprightly and easy to use. As with some of the other distros we've tested here, this is a beta release, but based on what we saw, it seems ready for a full release already.
Verdict: Unity Linux 
Version: 2010 Beta 2 
Price: Free
It's both slick and fast, but you will need a bit more disk space available
Rating: 7/10
VectorLinux: by the power of Slackware
Based on Slackware, VectorLinux was originally all about being a small, self-contained and easy to install and use distro. Since it started life in 2000 it has been through many different iterations and sprouted a few different variants (SOHO, Deluxe, Standard, Light) to target specific use scenarios.
Vector linux
We tested the Light version, though even that's a full CD. At 617MB, it's heftier than some of the others on test. Even if you discount the optional packages, the Light install requires 1GB of space, so it isn't that surprising that it has a wide choice of apps occupying all that space.
Development tools and the kernel source can be excluded to give you change, but we don't recommend you install this on anything smaller than a 4GB drive if you want some swap space (which you do on a low-memory system) and room to store your files.
In terms of app choice, things are skewed towards web and media stuff. There are four web browsers, but only Leafpad, Pathetic Writer and Siag Office by way of office programs, and MTPaint holding up the graphics end of the ship.
Installing VectorLinux is straightforward for a veteran of pre-Ubuntu installers. This Curses-based trip back into prehistory actually has the temerity to ask you questions about things and also wants you to partition and format your drive!
There's nothing particularly wrong with VectorLinux, it just isn't that inspiring. It has by far the largest boot image, consumes the most disk space and yet doesn't deliver an exceptional performance or user experience. In some ways, you might as well be running any normal mainstream distro.
The interface may seem fussy and there isn't much customisation available, but it becomes deceptively easy to use after a short time.
Verdict: VectorLinux 
Version: 6.0 Light 
Price: Free
This is a decent choice if you have space and memory to spare
Rating: 5/10

The winner: Slitaz 9/10
We hope you've seen that the world of light distros is more exciting than you may have imagined. Choosing the right one depends on the hardware you want to run it on and what you want to use it for.
The Ubuntu-based distros are interesting, particularly the nascent Lubuntu, mainly because they have a tiny footprint but offer the promise of installing anything from the vast Ubuntu multiverse. However, we were looking for a a distro to work painlessly in a cramped hardware environment.
Honourable mentions must go to DSL and Tiny Core at this point, which have clambered into the territory of the minuscule. It's amazing how usable a system can be that takes up less space on your drive than your holiday pictures. Puppy Linux and Unity were both easy to use, although the latter was a bit more polished (and bigger).
There can be only one winner in the context of our Roundup, and it should be Slitaz. It's fast, easy on memory, and comes with a considered selection of apps. Not being able to install new software easily apart from stuff in the Slitaz package format is one of the few drawbacks, but for a fast, lightweight desktop it's hard to beat.
All the versions tested here either install from a live version or have live versions available, so check that your hardware's compatible before you install. It's not always the case that the biggest distros are the most compatible – it varies, although those tested here should provide basic functionality (some sort of graphics, keyboard, mouse and wired network).
If your target is a laptop, you might be in for all sorts of difficulties. Many laptop parts aren't what they seem to be, at least as far as kernel drivers go.

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