Adding Choice to Linux Color Schemes

Choice is what Linux is supposed to be about. You may do things your way. You may add this, or take that away. You have your choice of desktops, You can make your Linux bloated, or you can make it lean and mean. Some important choice is missing in many Linux Distributions.

Unless you are new to Linux, there is a commonality among most major Linux Distributions. Let’s see how much Distro hopping you have done while using Linux, and after we are done I think you will agree with me, Linux has a huge Achilles Heel.

Desktops are plain vanilla across most Linux Distributions whether you use Cinnamon, Fluxbox, flwm, FVWM, GNOME, i3, IceWM, ion, JWM, KDE, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, Openbox, WMaker, Xfce, they mostly look the same with exception of color from major Distribution to major Distribution. Snooze.

Want to try a short Linux theme color quiz?  Good. Here we go.

1. Which Linux Distributions use a blue theme?

2. Which Linux Distributions use a green theme?

3. Which Linux Distributions use a brown theme?

4. Which Linux Distributions use a black theme?

5. Which Linux Distributions let you easily make changes to your desktop colors?

6.Which Linux Distributions have Icons of more than one color?

When is the last time you looked at your Desktop and thought, ‘Wow, I like this’?

Imagine going to purchase a kitchen appliance. There are five brand names that all have similar appliances. How about buying an automobile. Every base model is more or less the same as another brand’s base model, Imagine a world, if no matter what you wanted to buy from underwear to Automobiles, every company had their own pet color? And buying from Ajax Appliance means your new appliance has a blue stripe around the top surface?

I think you get the idea. Here we are with Linux, where we can have it our way, as long as we want one set color theme. Of course, there are downloads and various options to change your desktop, sharpen it up, or make it look different, and possibly, unique.

Unfortunately the newer Linux user is busy learning Linux basics. They may not know or know how to add desktop effects, or make what should be simple changes. If your Linux Distribution has a blue theme, is there any real reason, why you have to continue to look at a blue themed desktop if you want to change the color? What if you really dislike blue, or brown, or green, or red, or black.Ditto for other main Linux Distribution colors.

Linux in general is becoming plain vanilla, most of the larger distributions only have color themes to differentiate themselves from other large plain vanilla distributions. The days, of really having any real differences in implementation or speed of your favorite desktop are gone.

If your favorite Linux distribution uses one of these desktop environments (DE). More likely than not the DE is no faster on your Linux Distribution than it is on most other Linux Distributions. With the exception of perhaps Mint Linux, which makes all DE’s conform to the Mint Linux idea of the perfect DE, they all look more or less the same in one Linux Distribution as in another.

What got me thinking about this is I am back to playing with Makulu Linux. I find Makulu Linux a breath of frsh color in a color challenged Linux world. If you want to read a well written review of Makulu Linux, you can find it here:

MakuluLinux Flash 2020 Could Be an Xfce Desktop Game-Changer

Makulu Linux, daring to be different

Makulu Linux reminds me of what Linux used to be. Makulu uses color, color, and more color. Whether Makulu Linux is faster, slower, or just as fast as the Linux Distribution you are using right now, is a moot point. Makulu Linux developers are not afraid to be different,

I have a computer with a graphics card capable of displaying more than 16 colors, I don’t need all my icons to look the same as the other 50 plus icons. I like color, and I enjoy the creativity Makulu Linux takes in their product.

Color! Who would have thought!

If you are not afraid of diverging from the main five or six colors of the main Linux Distributions, Makulu Linux and other smaller distributions are game changers. With that being said, not all smaller Linux Distributions use or access repositories of tens of thousands of programs and files, twenty-nine plus thousand of which you will never use.

This is the third iteration of Makulu Linux in the last few years, and perhaps they did not get popular enough for further development, but Makulu Linux seems intent on not being another plain vanilla Linux.

Maybe the days of having Linux your way are gone by the wayside. At least you do not have to put up with being bored into mortification from four or five color choices differentiating your Linux Distribution from another Linux Distribution,

MX Linux, Patito fio is a Great Linux Distribution

My new Dell Computer with Windows 10 installed is quite picky about its neighbors. I would say it downright doesn’t like any neighbors. When I first bought this computer, the only Linux Distribution that would run on it was Ubuntu or an Ubuntu flavor. In my case Xubuntu.

Ubuntu is a great distribution, but it and the flavors are so well made, they fall into the category of well, boring. Except for the desktop choice, which adds its own flavor.

I bought my current Dell desktop in November. I have used Windows less than a few hours total in all that time. I decided it’s my computer and I want it my way. My Windows 10, no longer has a vote in who its neighbors are.

I also found a home for my old desktop. It is going to someone who rarely uses a computer. If you have ever filled the role of family admin, you know what that means. Every other day there is a new and exciting Windows error, problem, or virus. If left to their own devices, the user/owner has the computer all but bricked in a month.

As long as I was changing my choice of Linux distribution, I decided I would find one that makes me happy and meets the need of a new user. That distribution turns out to be MX Linux, Patito fio.

Great everyday Linux Distribution for any level user.

 

I only added a few programs (obviously Plank is one) and added the Home and Trashcan icons to the desktop. Those programs I don’t use, I can remove from the menu with the included menu editor. How slick is that?

But wait, it gets better. I was going through my pile of USB sticks looking for a few to donate with my old computer. I found four that were no recognized by Linux, my Mac, or Windows. I remember suddenly having flaky USB sticks some time ago. I think it had something to do with Windows, but who knows.

I was about to throw them away, when I came across a blip about saving seemingly broken USB sticks using, Live USB Maker. I had not looked at the program. and assumed it made a live USB out of the running MX Linux system. The blip caught my attention because it mentioned repairing broken USB sticks.

I ran the program, popped a broken USB stick in, and there it was, listed and waiting for me! I chose to format it. Live USB Maker works like a dream. Even one USB stick that was divided in two formatted back to one complete USB stick.

For the person getting my old PC, they will have a solid platform on which to learn the joys of addictive computing, excessive browsing, and playing a few games well into the night, without a crashing operating system.

That is as long as they remember if they click on a program in the menu, and they are asked for the ‘root’ password, they are starting down a slippery slope. Even then, if they manage to really hurt MX 19 Linux, and I can not fix it, I can use that slick little, ‘Live USB Maker‘ program and have them computing again in no time.

Needless to say, I am very happy with MX 19 Linux overall. Unlike Xubuntu which I was using, MX Linux has glitched a few times while using Thunar File Manager. I am not sure where the problem lies, and may be operator induced. Time will tell. Nothing serious happens, Thunar suddenly closes up. When reopened everything is as I left it.

I am sure, the MX Linux group would like you to take their new pride and joy for a spin. If you download it and try it out, leave a comment about your impressions. Also sharing is nice, as once you install it, you can tell your friends about your experience and lend them your ISO copy. If you think it’s the best thing since ice cream, you may wish to throw a few dollars their way.

Debian 10 Buster, Perhaps Your Grandfathers Distro

I have been using Debian for the most part of my twenty years of my using Linux. Debian was always difficult, stodgy, and unfriendly to new users. Nothing has changed, and it feels like I stepped into a time machine, and went back in time with Debian 10 Buster.

Not new user friendly, barely user friendly

I downloaded, installed and used Debian 10 Buster for a short time. Debian Buster, is not targeted for a general audience.

I attempted four installs. Each install was a little different from the previous. The fourth install wanted a proprietary driver for my unused LAN. The second and third installations, for whatever reason would not install Grub correctly. Each of the four installations consisted of superfluous questions, a few different on each install, which should be handled by the installer.

Installation is unbelievably SLOW. For a release that is a few days old, downloading and installing an extra 1220 plus packages for the default is crazy! I could have installed Xubuntu three or four times in the time it took Debian Buster to complete one successful install.

This may have been negated if I had used the DVD version, but if that is the case, why have a CD version? Long time Debian users will say, “Wait a month or two and then install”. Debian is not a cutting edge product and is well tested before final release. This was good advice in the 1990’s, but not in 2019 for a major Linux player.

Debian Buster has bad manners when it comes to disk management. I installed on a 1 gig hard drive split in two with only the first half the drive formatted. Buster agreed to use only the formatted half of the hard drive, but insisted on formatting the second half too!

After a long dreary process, Buster is installed. But we’re not done yet. We are told to remove the installation media, before rebooting. It is not clear wether the installation media is still being used or not at this point. Two of the installs, I removed the usb stick, and perhaps this is the reason for Grub failure.

Debian Buster is pretty sparse. To add insult to injury some of my favorite programs were not only not installed, but not available in the repositories. I find this surprising because they are in Debian 9 repositories. Did I mention, no email program installed?

From my reading, it seems Debian Buster is using AppArmor to Sandbox Firefox. Needless to say, this doesn’t improve the speed department. While some may feel AppArmor or another application like it is a requirement, I am not one of them. My computing time is very web-centric and happens on trusted web sites. AppArmor should be my decision, not the software’s.

In ending what is several paragraphs of negativity, Debian once again has created a release with as little appeal as possible for the general user. If you are not general desktop user, and require only mainstream popular programs, with little browser use, Debian Buster is just what you may want to use. As I read over at Distrowatch some years ago, Debian is not a good Debian Distro (probably paraphrased),

Bionic Pup 8 Linux. Fast, Small, Complete

The latest Puppy Linux is out, named Bionic Pup 8 (BP8), and I think it is a winner! Bionic Pup 8 comes in both 64 and 32 bit flavors, so there is a BP8 for everyone. BP8 has a small footprint, a little less than 400M for the 64 bit ISO. BP8 runs off a usb, and has so many programs, and can perform so many different tasks, one may forget BP8 is a portable Linux, and not an overstuffed, full blown ISO.

I find it amazing that so many programs and features in such a small footprint. From initial setup, to playing a game, there are enough features and potential tweaks to keep everyone happy.

Desktop and initial Setup

If you need audio tools there are more than a handful to choose from. Same goes for video and Graphics tools. Yet there is more. Puppy has a more than acceptable collection of Personal and Office Tools though not in a suite. If you prefer, Libre Office, the download and install option are in the menu. You may find you don’t need it.

For the web, there is Pale Moon web browser, Claws email, Messaging and GTK Radio to name a few programs. Bionic Pup 8 has more programs available than many people will ever use. Persistent storage is an option if you want to use it, showing up on shutdown.

Puppy Linux’ loads into Ram, making it slower on the boot, but very fast when running. I have been playing around with Bionic Pup 8 for about five days now. Once BP8 is loaded, it’s the fastest Distro I have. Using Bionic Puppy 8, I forget I am running off a usb stick, it’s that fast.

Puppy Linux has so much to offer, with several excellent modified Puppy’s. Slacko or Fat Dog used to be my go to Puppy’s, but Bionic Pup 8 has really hit a home run. This version comes with more than needed standard and perhaps not so standard tools depending on your experience level. Every use should be able to do anything that needs attention.

A Menu everyone can love

Now after saying all these great things about Bionic Pup 8, some things haven’t changed. As I spend most of my time in a web browser or editor, I’m not picky about them, but you may be.

Visually, Bionic Pup 8 Desktop is awesome! Some think it’s a little crowded, to each his own. Programs may be the bland side visually – for some, and a little retro looking when compared to large and nicely polished Distros; even the games are fairly light. But comparing footprints megabyte to megabyte, Puppy Linux has the power and speed advantage.

All Puppy Linux flavors expect you can perform the basics. You are expected able to set up your system the way you want. This includes Internet, Printing, and other things you may want, Samba and your Lan name for instance. This sets Bionic Pup 8 apart from hold your hand beginner Distro’s, but not too far apart. If you set up your current Linux Distribution, you can set up and use BP8 too. On the bright side, everything you need or want is a mouse click away, and generally there are ample instructions to help you as you go. You just need to know what you want for your system.

If Bionic Puppy 8 is something you want to check out, and you have a spare usb stick, head on over to the Official Puppy Linux Web Site. You can read about Puppy Linux, check the link options, and view screen shots. If you want more, there is the Official Discussion Forum, Blog, Wiki, along with more discussion forums on other sites. There is even a Puppy School link available on the Wiki. Puppy is well supported.

Puppy Linux has been around a long time, and always delivers a blazingly fast, small (as in usb) footprint, and offers persistent, encrypted and unencrypted storage. Bionic Puppy 8 is worth you checking it out, especially if you are beyond the beginner stage, or you enjoy Distro hopping. Best of all, Puppy Linux is portable.

If needed, I have a previous post about a program named, Etcher which takes care of getting an iso from your hard drive onto a bootable USB stick. Etcher now runs on Linux, Mac and Windows.

A Few Thoughts on Three Arch Child Distributions

I never had the desire to install Arch Linux from scratch. When I started with Linux, I installed Suse Linux using 3.5” floppy disks. I didn’t like it much, as I thought the mousing was too, “Precise” for me back in the day. Well, it is a long time since those days, and I have done so many installs and added software to them, it no longer gets me excited.

These days, most Linux distribution’s, mainstream distributions anyway, are becoming so plain vanilla, there is little need to start from bare bones system and build it up for home desktop use. Which brings me to the Children of Arch Linux. I have installed and used Arco Linux, Antergos Linux, and Manjaro Linux over the last few months.

I think I can safely write, these distributions have more in common than they are different. Each distribution is rock solid, as stable as Arch can be, and they each pretty much give me the desktop and looks I want. Arco Linux is different, in one of the its purposes to grow the user. By growing, I mean installing different desktop, adding programs, etc. Arco Linux is a great little distribution as is, if you do not wish to take it any further, or if you wish even better with video support (videos) to increase your Linux skills.

Antergos Linux shines in what it offers in the desktop realm. They have enough desktops to choose from upon install, that every user should be able to find what suits them. If you want to explore desktops, an Antergos is the way to go. If you try a new desktop and do not like it, just another desktop. Antergos has been tested with each of the desktops it offers on install, so one of the desktop choices should please just about everyone.

Manjaro Linux, with its new release, 18.xx, is a winner by a printer in my book, when compared to other Arch Children distributions. What sets Manjaro Linux ahead of the pack for me besides delivering a painless install, is my Brother Printer installed without a second thought, straight from the system settings. No more downloading Brother printer drivers from the Brother website and doing a manual install. I had given up on ever seeing such a smooth Brother printer install with Linux. I own a Brother MFC-L2707DW printer, if that is any help to you.

Manjaro Linux takes Best of Breed!

One rather unfair criticism I read about Manjaro Linux is terminal opacity. If the opacity of the terminal bothers you, click on settings as make the terminal as solid as you wish. I would think, if you are considering Arch or a Child of Arch, this would not be an issue for you.

Arch and Children of Arch have some serious side effects you may wish to consider, part of the Arch lineups dark side. Updates are fast and furious, you need some high speed bandwidth or you will reach new levels of frustration. Of course you may selectively choose to install only certain updated programs. Secondly, if you stray too far from the main road when installing programs you may find your favorite program needs some tender loving care. I had two programs, one of which refused to load, and the second refused to quit. Manjaro at least, has a pop up asking if you wish to terminate the program. You may also go through the terminal.

If you have installed a few Linux distribution’s and feel a little bored or daring, Give one of the Children of Arch a spin. Unfortunately, it is looking like you may still get a little bored with either Antergos or Manjaro. Depending on your pain tolerance, boredom is a good thing when using Linux. While Children of Arch distributions are a ways from being a beginning Linux Distribution, they are a long way from the expert level installation requirements of Arch Linux itself. If you can install Ubuntu Linux, Children of Arch Linux distributions are not out of your reach.