Saturday, May 23, 2015

Have you ever used MX-14?

The MX-14 distribution first appeared in 2014 because the parent distribution, Simply MEPIS, became dormant.  The community project manager approached Warren Woodford, who made it clear that he is more interested in patent consulting than in continued development of MEPIS.

Anticapitalista was approached about modifying his antix distribution to form a compromise distribution based on Xfce instead of KDE.

It was MEPIS "X'd out, Xfce instead, released the first time in 2014, hence MX-14.

Like MEPIS it is very stable.  It is more up to date, so in some respect it is an upgrade.  It's also lighter than MEPIS' KDE, it has newer tools, and because of this it's my current 'stable system' of choice.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thanks for Every Day Linux User! has been one of the most helpful and active sites this past year, and I've appreciated reading the well-written articles from Gary Newell this year.

It's interesting, Gary often credits Jim Lynch, author of his own blog at and his forum at  I've seen Jim do the same, crediting Gary for some really good articles.  I agree; both have articles worth reading, and I have both on my regular reading list.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Comments on a recent antiX review and links to the review and other tutorials

AntiX is one of my favorite distributions, and I like it for the following reasons:

1. It is extremely flexible.
2. It is available in three forms under the "antiX" name: Core, Base, and Full.
3. It is a lightweight system, and it runs well on aging systems, and extremely fast on newer systems.

Though the original antiX was developed primarily for older systems, a more recent variation, also developed by the author of antiX, known as "anticapitalista", anti, as he's often called, also has collaborated with the MEPIS Lovers community since the origination of antiX, and over the past year, he also developed another excellent distribution, MX-14, an Xfce desktop distribution that uses a few more of the MEPIS-based tools, and he developed it based on mutual interest and with considerable help and feedback from the MEPIS community.

That same community has also been working on another KDE-based variation of MX-14 that some of the original MEPIS community is experimenting with. At this point, I've not seen an official build of this work. Instead, there are some instructions and tips for those who want to build a KDE version of MX-14 directly from the Xfce-based work. I have not personally verified or checked out that work, but in the past, I've built my own KDE and Xfce custom systems from either antiX Base or Full, and I have an existing Xfce-based system that I built from the ground up with antiX Core. I even wrote a now aged tutorial describing the steps I took in building that system, and a few people have used that tutorial to build their own similar systems.

The ease in which that can be done by someone with a moderate amount of skill shows that while, on one hand, the antiX Core effort may not be the choice for a beginner, it doesn't take years of expertise to put together your own system because antiX provides so many excellent tools. The fact that the current MEPIS Lovers Community has also performed similar work adds evidence to the claim that it's reasonably straightforward to build a wide variety of very usable custom systems from any of the antiX tools found in each one of these excellent distributions.

Creating your very own antiX core system from scratch, my old tutorial, can be found on this blog at:
This article is not the tutorial itself, but it discusses the tutorial, provides links to the original tutorial, and also to additional information about antiX.

I also wrote some comments on the Everyday Linux User blog in the article entitled

Give that old computer a boost with antiX Linux

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Where Peppermint OS fits into mobile computing

Tonight I happen to be using a Linux distribution that is desktop based, but takes features from both the classic desktop that most of us have been used to, and the newer cloud-based (read that Internet-based) applications that have become increasingly available as we use more mobile devices - first laptops and portables, then PDAs (Personal Data Assistants), then cell phones, then portable music players, which gained network access, then smart phones, which started to integrate the features of cell phones, music players, and personal data assistants.

More recently, netbooks and tablets have come onto the scene.  The netbooks were popular at first, but when the simpler and more powerful tablets appeared, the netbooks began to fade, though they have not disappeared entirely.

What is common about all of these devices is that they access the Internet and most of these devices can access the Internet without having to be fixed in a single location.  Because of wireless technology, the network can be accessed in many places.  Through what's known as "Wifi", which is really a Wireless Internet Router, you can connect to the Internet anywhere one of these devices exists.  The Wireless Router connects to a wire, which is, in turn, connected to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  The typical inexpensive router has four wired ports plus the connection to the provider, and it has an antenna that transmits its signal over a limited distance.

People who are smart about configuring their Wireless Router use encrypted signals, and they create an access point with a name, such as MyRouter, TheMasNET, 28Router, or whatever.  Often, your cable or Internet Service Provider will set one of these routers up for you.  Public places, such as malls, coffee shops, and other gathering places offer wireless router services, or "Free Wifi).  This is one way to connect to Internet-based services.

Another way to connect to Internet-based services is another class of service that is typically provided by cell phone and smart phone service providers.  These providers offer both phone services we're used to with cell phones and data services we've come to know as 3G, 4G, 4G LTE, and who knows what else we'll be given.  The "G" in these names stands for "Generation"; we're now on our fourth generation of wireless data services, which have become increasingly faster and expensive!

Getting back to the Linux distribution I am using tonight, this distribution recognizes that people want access to their information wherever they are, and they often view their information as an application, so this distribution, Peppermint OS 3, has created Web applications, which are nothing more than stand alone instances of Web bookmarks that can be called directly from a menu to invoke a particular application, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google GMail, Google Docs, and so forth.

I currently have an instance of Facebook, Yahoo Mail, Google GMail, a Screensaver program, and a more traditional Web browser active with two Blogger tabs active.  This approach is really nothing more than a blending of a traditional Web browser with a traditional application window appearance.  The Google Chrome and Chromium Web browsers started offering this feature, and Mozilla, along with a number of other Web browser vendors, have their own different implementations.

We have not really seen this approach take off because Smart Phones and Tablets have turned out to be far more popular.  Still, when you have a lot of typing to do - perhaps when you publish your own Blog, having a laptop or a desktop system, or some other form of system with a keyboard to use, you can take advantage of faster typing interfaces, which remain a key reason why many people still use laptop and desktop systems.  That's the reason why Peppermint OS emerged; it is a blending of Web-based technologies from the traditional desktop and the newer Internet-based mobile applications.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Debian Sid, via 19 MB mini.iso image and network installation

I tested the recently advertised Debian 7.0 Beta 1 installer, and Beta 1 was a complete bust.  It would not get past the network detection phase of installation, no matter what I tried, so I entered a bug report against it and it turned out that many encountered the same thing.

Within an hour of my bug report, the maintainer sent a message that the bug was closed.  I wrote back, thanked them for the quick response and asked where I could obtain a new image to test it.  They suggested I grab a mini.iso network image from the daily build tree.  I did so, it was around 19 MB in size, took seconds to download, little time to burn, but on my capped 262 kbps network, it took about two hours to install.

No problem; it worked perfectly, and I am writing this blog note using the Iceweasel (Debian-rebranded Firefox) Extended Support Release (ESR 10.0.6) Web browser.  It's fast; I set mine to use the Xfce desktop and it was a very good choice.

I selected a minimal set of process daemons to run, so this is light and fast too.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

antiX-base M12.0 has been set up for Mother to use!

I installed the antiX-base M12.0 pre-final version on a 2004-vintage Dell Dimension 3000 desktop that I acquired from my sister, and I put it in my Mother's den, and configured it to automatically login to a JWM desktop with Rox icons, containing a Web browser and a terminal.

With the automatic login feature enabled, my Mother can press the power button, wait about half a minute, and have a ready to use system that runs quite a bit faster than the Windows XP that was previously installed on this system. All she has to do is single click on a rather large desktop icon that I've labeled "Web Browser", and I've set up her browser with two tabs; one for Email, (which my sister had set up for her three years ago), a tab for the Detroit Free Press News, and a search widget in the top of the browser to research anything else that she is interested in.

Who says that Linux is too difficult to use, even for an eighty four year old woman, who is not very familiar with technology? She can use it on her own! I did have to teach her how to do it, but I made it as simple as possible, showed her how to turn on this "new" (for her) system, what to click, how to use the different mouse, and which buttons to use to turn it on, off, and navigate. She's able to use it, and has used it twice now in the past week, including earlier on Tuesday evening.

I give my Mother a lot of credit for being willing to try things out, and I take a little bit of credit for thinking about what can be easy and fast for her to use, and setting up things in such a way, that with a few clicks, she can do all the things that she needs to do, mostly reading Email from her children and from her friends at church and in her social circles - a humanities study group, and some women's travel groups. She is able to do all the things she needs with it, and its set up so that other things stay out of her way and don't confuse her.

Three cheers to anticapitalista and his team for having the wisdom to make both IceWM and JWM, which are easier for novices to deal with than the fancier dwm, wmii, and Fluxbox that the advanced users seem to prefer, for the decision to include a feature to optionally enable automatic login, perfect for someone like my Mom, and the decision to include a tool to switch the default window manager. I used those features to set up JWM with Rox icons, and enable automatic login. These choices make even a distribution normally thought of as a "hobbyist-based", light, flexible system, into something I can set up for nearly anyone to use.