Although I’ve settled with Linux Mint as my main OS for the moment, I still like to keep an eye out for other distributions. The other day I discovered Pinguy OS, which is another distribution based on Ubuntu. According to their website (pinguyos.com):
Pinguy OS an out-of-the-box working operating system for everyone, not just geeks
This OS is for people that have never used Linux before or for people that just want an out-of-the-box working OS without doing all the tweaks and enhancements that everyone seems to do when installing a fresh copy of Ubuntu or other Linux based Distro’s.
I thought I’d give it a whirl. Rather than install it in a VM, as I normally do, I thought I’d install it directly onto my laptop. The process was painless, and done in less than fifteen minutes from a flash drive. After a reboot I was presented with this:
My first thoughts were that it looks quite pretty. It has a standard Gnome panel at the top of the screen. Clicking on the icon in the top left corner activates the main menu – Mint style. To the right of that is a drop-down menu that allows me to switch between currently running applications, or show the desktop.
Next to that is something that I’m more used to finding within applications; a menu showing File, Edit, View, Places and Help. It’s a nice touch, and the various options can be accessed by using Alt-F and so forth. If I wanted to create a new spreadsheet, for example, I would select “File > Create Document” and select ODS spreadsheet from the list. Unfortunately all is does is create the document (on the desktop), and it has to be manually opened for editing. I would have expected such an action to actually open Libreoffice directly, so I was a little bit disappointed.
On the right-hand side are the usual network, sound, messaging and calendar applets that you find in gnome, along with a few others which I may well remove – things like clipboard applet, system monitor and desktop switchers are unnecessary for me. The other icon is for the update manager, which is Mint’s version rather than Ubuntu’s.
Docky is used for the application launchers at the bottom of the screen, and to open common folders on the left. Again, I prefer to use the keyboard so it is rather surplus to requirements for me. Gnome-do is also installed, but again, I haven’t really used it. Or rather, never really got the hang of it! (One day, perhaps).
Conky is also installed, providing the HUD on the desktop.
Software management is done via the Ubuntu software manager. In my opinion this is far better than the one shipped with Mint. Synaptic is available too, for those so inclined.
Firefox 6 was released the other day, and that is the default browser. It comes with a list of add-ons as long as my arm:
- Adblock plus, Dictionary tooltip, Downloadhelper, Download statusbar, Downthemall, EmailThis bookmarklet, Fasterfox lite, Flash-aid, Plain Text links, Rehost Image, Resurrect Pages, SearchPreview, Shareaholic, Skipscreen, Speed Dial, YouTubeIT
AARGH. No, this is wrong. Extensions are very much a personal preference. Out of that lot the only ones I’m keeping are Adblock Plus, Shareaholic and Flash-aid which I’d never seen until now. I still have to install things like XMarks, Lastpass and a few others, and I also have to spend time uninstalling the add-ons I don’t need. I’d rather see the browser shipped without the clutter and let the user choose.
Email is handled by Thunderbird 3. Or rather it would be if the program hadn’t crashed. I got as far as entering my name, email and password on the setup screen before it crashed and left me with a blank window. After killing the process and restarting the program it did work, but once again it comes with a list of add-ons that I probably won’t need. Having said that, since Gmail appeared, I never use an email client.
Empathy is the default for instant messaging, and Gwibber is there for social networking. I prefer Pidgin for the former, and I have already installed Tweetdeck for the latter.
Skype and Dropbox are already installed, which is handy. Deluge is the torrent client and there are a few other bits and pieces, notably Teamviewer, which I happen to use a fair bit.
Libreoffice is the default, along with wxBanker personal finance manager and Calibre for e-book management.
Shotwell handles photographs and when I plugged in my phone, I was prompted to open Rapid Photo Downloader which displayed all the available pics and downloaded them. It does what it says on the tin, I suppose, although I would have preferred to choose where they were downloaded to, and whether they were left on the camera. I’ve never been a huge fan of Shotwell, but that’s down to personal preference. There’s Pinta for creating and editing images (never tried it), Simple Scan and a couple of programs for handling CD/DVD labels.
Rhythmbox is the default music player, which I definitely prefer over Banshee. Movie Player for Video playback and Openshot is there for video editing. VLC and XBMC are also installed, along with stuff for converting things to other things.
Overall it’s quite a tidy distribution. It combines some features found in Mint (like the main menu) with some of the better ones from Ubuntu (software manager). Flash works out of the box, and the Flash-aid Firefox add-on keeps it updated. The acid test for flash used to be getting the BBC iPlayer to work, but nowadays the test is with ITV player; it will not work on Mint or Ubuntu, but works perfectly in Pinguy.
The pros? Well, I think the File>Edit>Etc. menu on the desktop is wonderful. Anything that reduces mouse movement is welcome in my book. The desktop is pretty, as are its effects. I have my spinning desktop cube back for starters. I had no hardware issues, and my phone (SE K800i) was detected the moment I plugged it in.
The cons? The number of Firefox and Thunderbird extensions. With Mozilla’s new rapid-release schedule for Firefox, there is going to come a time when something is going to break, and to have so many installed by default is asking for trouble. I’d also prefer to see less clutter on the Gnome-panel.
Would I switch to it? I think I would, although I’d like to spend a little more time with Pinguy before switching completely, and I’d like to try the 64-bit version to ensure that Flash performance is as good.